The rise of the mobile worker

Sept. 12, 2013
How new technologies are bringing mobile advances to even small companies.

Mobility is relative. So are the technologies used to increase mobility in the workforce of plants and enterprises. The mobile worker was born the day the Internet-enabled laptop was first offered for sale. Combined with the cellular phone, workers could stay connected to their offices wherever they were. These tools helped managers and engineers, but weren't all that helpful for operators and maintenance technicians.

The process industries are generally thought to run about 10 years behind other industries in their adoption rate for new technologies. For example, the discrete industries, such as automobile manufacturing, have been using wireless sensors and even wirelessly powered robots for 10 years or more, and the process industries are barely over the early adopter phase for WirelessHART and ISA100 sensor networks. The entire world is blanketed with IEEE 802.11x wireless (Wi-Fi) networks, and process plants are still deciding where—or if—they will put one in the plant.

But things are changing and changing rapidly.

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