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European project aims to create the wireless real-time factory

17 September, 2008

A team of Austrian researchers has embarked on a three-year collaborative European project to develop wireless communications technologies that meet the needs of industry better than today’s technologies. The aim of the project – called flexWare (Flexible Wireless Automation in Real-Time Environments) – is to extend existing technologies to satisfy demands such as robustness, real-time operation and protection against failures.

The goal is to develop real-time communications based on wireless local area networks. This will require reliable synchronised communications, and mobile, real-time-enabled nodes that can roam between system access points. If these goals are achieved, it will be possible to operate entire, dynamically reconfigurable factories using wireless networks.

The project is being led by the Austrian Academy of Science’s Research Unit for Integrated Sensor Systems, with partners drawn from research institutes and industrial companies across Europe, including Schneider Electric and the Swedish industrial communications specialist, connectBlue.

"Compared to the situation today, flexWare will enable the possibility for inter-work between wireless nodes without restrictions in security and scalability," explains Mats Andersson, connectBlue’s chief technology officer. "The concept will facilitate dynamic reconfiguration of the network which, in turn, will allow for a guaranteed real-time behaviour which is a key component in industrial applications."

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