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The Most Reliable and Cost-Effective 3G Solution for Remote Device Communication

Industrial applications involve various communication technologies and can take place at different field sites, and to guarantee suitability for a range of industrial uses, a number of solutions have been implemented. For the past decade, industry has been moving towards using wireless communication, which is now used for a variety of industrial applications. In particular, applications that need to be implemented quickly at field sites where wired communication is costly or impossible can benefit most from using wireless, and it’s often not just the best but the only solution for conquering geographical barriers. Of the various wireless communication solutions available today, 3G is highly recommended for current industrial requirements.

Why 3G Communication?

3G is the third generation of wireless telecommunications technology and services that provide data transfer rate of at least 200 kbps, with advanced 3G technologies reaching several Mbps. According to recent market studies from Informa Telecoms & Media, 3G networks served more than 1.5 billion subscribers in 2013 and the number of users is forecast to increase to over 4 billion by 2018, making 3G technology the mainstream communication method for mobile wireless networks. As the technology has matured, base stations have become more common, data communication speed has become more acceptable, and the cost has gone down, making 3G now the most efficient solution for wireless communication.

Many industrial applications have used 3G as the main media for data communication for various industrial tasks, including data acquisition, data analysis, and remote device control and monitoring. Furthermore, with High Speed Packet Access (HSPA), a UMTS-based 3G cellular network can offer high bandwidth streaming for video surveillance applications. Here are some examples of the use of 3G communications in industrial applications:

Feeder Terminal Unit Communication for Smart Grids

Since power plants are often located far from the population centers they serve, electricity needs to be transmitted across long distances. Feeder terminal units (FTU) play a crucial role in delivering electricity to consumers. These FTUs need continuous device communication to prevent the entire power grid from going down if one of the FTUs fails. With the help of 3G, when one of the FTUs goes down, remote control centers can receive real-time notifications to shorten power grid recovery time and simultaneously centralize data monitoring.

Variable Messaging and Traffic Monitoring System for ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems)

With the increased prevalence of intelligent transportation systems, drivers can receive real-time information of severe weather conditions, traffic jams, car accidents, and other warning messages from LED message boards located next to highways. By adopting 3G technology, remote sites can use wireless networks to deliver real-time traffic information to messaging systems, and simultaneously monitor remote devices used for video surveillance.

Criteria for a Reliable 3G Communication Network

Using an industrial-grade 3G gateway as the primary communication tool presents some critical challenges and requires special solutions to ensure stable and reliable operation.

• Hardware Reliability

The design of hardware used for 3G applications is critically important since wireless architectures are often implemented outdoors. A hardened, rugged design is essential since the devices are required to pass industrial-grade wireless certifications, such as EN 61000-6-2 and EN 61000-6-4, to ensure they can withstand higher levels of electromagnetic interference and provide a longer life time to achieve a stable operation in such harsh environments. In addition, power surge isolation is another factor for ensuring reliable operation for outdoor cellular applications, since the devices will not be affected by unstable or sudden ground voltages. It’s important to keep in mind that the failure of only one device can lead to complete disaster for the entire application.

• Software Reliability

With wireless applications often implemented outdoors at remote field sites where onsite checking and maintenance can be quite costly, software reliability is critical to ensure a stable signal connection. Even when the signal from the cellular base station is weak, the software must be able to guarantee a stable connection to avoid data loss. In fact, this is one of the most important factors in establishing a successful 3G network solution.

• Easy Device Management

Managing remote devices for outdoor and remote 3G networks is critical and requires a complete grab bag of management tools to ensure success:

  1. Remote and centralized management: Remote devices should be easy to manage, control, and monitor from the control center to reduce the total cost of ownership.
  2. Real-time device monitoring, debugging, and rebooting: Management should be real-time, and you should be able to easily reboot devices remotely when needed.
  3. Communication with private IP SIM cards over the internet: The vast majority (about 90%) of cellular operators assign private IPs to remote mobile devices, which makes it extremely difficult to access your cellular device from a public network. Traffic proxy manager software is required to access private IP network devices over the internet.
  4. Multiple communication interfaces for simple device communication: The 3G gateway should support different communication interfaces, such as Ethernet, serial, and cellular. When all these communication interfaces work simultaneously on a single 3G gateway, it's much simpler to deploy and manage complicated field sites.

These management capabilities can make device management easier and reduce the cost of system operation and maintenance.

A Cost-Effective Solution

Cost is always one of the key concerns when establishing an industrial application, but performance is also important, and system integrators should choose the solution that provides the best cost-to-performance ratio. Important considerations include hardware requirements, software capability, and the system integration flexibility. In addition, using products with a longer warranty period can also create a longer product life-cycle.

3G Gateway Solution with the Best Price-to-Performance Ratio: Moxa’s OnCell G3111/G3151-HSPA Series

A reliable 3G communication solution should combine a hardened hardware design, smart software capabilities, and convenient device management. To fulfill these key criteria, Moxa’s OnCell G3111/G3151-HSPA series offers you a reliable and cost-effective 3G communication solution suitable for a variety of cellular industrial applications. Engineered with HSPA, an upload speed up to 5.76 Mbps provides the high quality needed for uninterrupted, live video-streaming over cellular networks. Designed to meet industrial-grade standards, the OnCell G3111/G3151-HSPA series can withstand harsh environments and is suitable for mission-critical tasks for wireless applications. In addition, Moxa’s cutting edge GuaranLink technology and OnCell Central Manager Software offer stable cellular connectivity and make it easy to configure, manage, and monitor remote devices on a private network over the web.

The reliability and manageability delivered by Moxa’s new 3G gateway solutions not only increase wireless availability for consistent network transmission, but also reduce the operating time with easy management functions at a fair price. This optimal price-to-performance ratio makes the OnCell G3111/G3151-HSPA a versatile but affordable product that will let you reduce the total cost of ownership of your remote site applications.

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