The GINSENG System for Wireless Monitoring and Control: Design and Deployment Experiences
Today’s industrial facilities, such as oil refineries, chemical plants, and factories, rely on wired sensor systems to monitor and control the production processes. The deployment and maintenance of such cabled systems is expensive and inflexible. It is, therefore, desirable to replace or augment these systems using wireless technology, which requires us to overcome significant technical challenges. Process automation and control applications are mission-critical and require timely and reliable data delivery, which is difficult to provide in industrial environments with harsh radio environments. In this article, we present the GINSENG system which implements performance control to allow us to use wireless sensor networks for mission-critical applications in industrial environments. GINSENG is a complete system solution that comprises on-node system software, network protocols, and back-end systems with sophisticated data processing capability. GINSENG assumes that a deployment can be carefully planned. A TDMA-based MAC protocol, tailored to the deployment environment, is employed to provide reliable and timely data delivery. Performance debugging components are used to unintrusively monitor the system performance and identify problems as they occur. The article reports on a real-world deployment of GINSENG in an especially challenging environment of an operational oil refinery in Sines, Portugal. We provide experimental results from this deployment and share the experiences gained. These results demonstate the use of GINSENG for sensing and actuation and allow an assessment of its ability to operate within the required performance bounds. We also identify shortcomings that manifested during the evaluation phase, thus giving a useful perspective on the challenges that have to be overcome in these harsh application settings.