Special Issue "Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication"

A special issue of Electronics (ISSN 2079-9292). This special issue belongs to the section "Microwave and Wireless Communications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Stefano Rinaldi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Information Engineering, University of Brescia, Via Branze, 38, I-25123 Brescia, Italy
Interests: instrumentation and measurement; industrial real-time network; wireless sensor network; smart sensors; communication systems for smart grids; time synchronization; Linux-embedded programming; embedded systems; power quality; smart grids; energy systems; smart building; energy management system
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Gaetano Patti
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Department of Electrical, Electronics and Computer Engineering, University of Catania, Viale A. Doria, 6, I-95125 Catania, Italy
Interests: real-time industrial networks; automotive networks; wireless sensor and actuator networks (WSANs); powerline communications and networks for mobile robotics applications
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Industrial communication is facing one of the most important transformations of the last decades. Various approaches, such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), one of the key technologies driving the so-called Industry 4.0 paradigm, are pushing industrial communication to its limits. Yet-to-come services will be offered in the automation scenario by industrial devices through a pervasive internet connection for pushing data into cloud systems. Currently, most efforts are in the design and development of solutions enabling horizontal interoperability among different applications domains. With respect to traditional IoT applications, time-related performance is still fundamental in IIoT. Consider, for example, motion control applications. In such a domain, the real-time behaviour of the communication system and time synchronization mechanisms are necessary preconditions. At the same time, the IoT approach in the industrial automation world is paving the way to innovative services for improving the efficiency, reliability, and availability of industrial processes and products. The IIoT takes advantage of the collection of a large amount of data by means of (wireless) links connecting smart sensors attached to the system of interest.

This Special Issue welcomes theoretical papers, methodological studies, and empirical researches (or combinations thereof) on time synchronization mechanisms in industrial applications, industrial internet of things, wireless sensor networks, reliability and availability, protocols, algorithms, and scheduling mechanisms to fulfil the timing and reliability requirements dictated by industrial applications.

The topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Industrial Internet of Thing
  • Cyber Physical Systems
  • Distributed measurement systems
  • Time synchronization mechanisms
  • Real-time indoor localization systems
  • Performance evaluation and modelling of communication systems and architectures
  • Software-Defined Networking (SDN)
  • Cloud and Fog computing in future factories
  • Real-time communication standards
  • Deterministic medium access schemes and real-time scheduling
  • In-vehicle real-time communications
  • Cooperating robot sensor networks

Dr. Stefano Rinaldi
Dr. Gaetano Patti
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Article
Comparative Assessment of the LoRaWAN Medium Access Control Protocols for IoT: Does Listen before Talk Perform Better than ALOHA?
Electronics 2020, 9(4), 553; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9040553 - 26 Mar 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1415
Abstract
Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWANs) are emerging as appealing solutions for several Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as healthcare, smart cities and Industry 4.0, thanks to their ease of deployment, low energy consumption and large coverage range. LoRaWAN is one of the most [...] Read more.
Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWANs) are emerging as appealing solutions for several Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as healthcare, smart cities and Industry 4.0, thanks to their ease of deployment, low energy consumption and large coverage range. LoRaWAN is one of the most successful LPWAN standards, as it supports robust long-distance communications using low-cost devices. To comply with the ETSI regulations, LoRaWAN can adopt as medium access control (MAC) layer either a pure ALOHA approach with duty-cycle limitations or a polite spectrum access technique, such as Listen Before Talk (LBT). The two approaches have their pros and cons that need to be carefully evaluated. The studies in the literature that so far have addressed an evaluation of MAC protocols for LoRaWAN refer to a previous and now obsolete version of the ETSI regulations, therefore they do not take into account the current limits on the timing parameters for polite spectrum access, such as that maximum time an end-node is allowed to be transmitting per hour. For this reason, the contribution of this work is two-fold. First, the paper discusses the restrictions that the current ETSI regulations impose on some timing parameters of the two kinds of MAC protocols for LoRaWAN. Second, the paper provides comparative performance assessments of the two protocols through simulations in realistic scenarios under different workload conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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Article
A Novel MAC Protocol for Low Datarate Cooperative Mobile Robot Teams
Electronics 2020, 9(2), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9020235 - 01 Feb 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 955
Abstract
Cooperative mobile robot applications enable robots to perform tasks that are more complex than those that each single robot can perform alone. In this application context, communication networks play a very important role, as they have to cope with strict requirements (e.g., in [...] Read more.
Cooperative mobile robot applications enable robots to perform tasks that are more complex than those that each single robot can perform alone. In this application context, communication networks play a very important role, as they have to cope with strict requirements (e.g., in terms of mobility, reliability, and bounded latencies). Recent cooperative robot applications foresee the support of low datarate communication technologies, that provide, among other benefits, lower energy consumption and easy integration with Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs). Unfortunately, the state-of-the-art solutions either entail high costs and complexity or are not suitable for low data rate communications. Consequently, novel solutions for cooperating robots are required. For this reason, this paper presents RoboMAC, a new MAC protocol for mobile cooperating robots that enables the integration of robots with WSNs, supports mobility and real-time communications, and provides high scalability. The paper also presents a proof-of-concept implementation that proves the feasibility of the RoboMAC protocol on COTS devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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Article
Dynamic Slot Multiplexing Under Operating Modes for TDMA-Based Real-Time Networking Systems
Electronics 2020, 9(2), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9020224 - 29 Jan 2020
Viewed by 894
Abstract
The Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) scheme has been proposed as the one which assures real-time messaging in a networking system. In the TDMA scheme, a networking system operates based on time slots which are defined as discrete time units. Some messages are [...] Read more.
The Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) scheme has been proposed as the one which assures real-time messaging in a networking system. In the TDMA scheme, a networking system operates based on time slots which are defined as discrete time units. Some messages are periodically and exclusively assigned to their own time slots and are assured to be sent between network nodes by their own deadline. In this paper, we note that an operating situation of a system determines what functions of the system run. More concretely, an operating situation determines what data the system requires and how frequently it requires them. We propose to introduce operating modes, each of which reflects its own operating situation, to the TDMA scheme. An operating mode is specified by a set of communication signals which are active under the operating mode. We propose a dynamic slot multiplexing (DSM) technique which switches operating modes and assignments of communication signals to time slots adaptively with operating situations. System designers are to schedule all messages of communication signals for every operating mode so that the messages are sent by their own deadline. Compared with a single-mode TDMA system, in which a single message schedule is determined for all communication signals, our approach optimally determines a message schedule for each operating mode so that it can avoid wasting networking resources. Our experiment shows that DSM technique achieves about 21%-37% lower operating frequency than static slot multiplexing one. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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Article
Novel Extensions to Enhance Scalability and Reliability of the IEEE 802.15.4-DSME Protocol
Electronics 2020, 9(1), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics9010126 - 09 Jan 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1219
Abstract
The Deterministic and Synchronous Multichannel Extension (DSME) of the IEEE 802.15.4 standard was designed to fulfill the requirements of commercial and industrial applications. DSME overcomes the IEEE 802.15.4 limitation on the maximum number of Guaranteed Time Slots (GTS) in a superframe and it [...] Read more.
The Deterministic and Synchronous Multichannel Extension (DSME) of the IEEE 802.15.4 standard was designed to fulfill the requirements of commercial and industrial applications. DSME overcomes the IEEE 802.15.4 limitation on the maximum number of Guaranteed Time Slots (GTS) in a superframe and it also exploits channel diversity to increase the communication reliability. However, DSME suffers from scalability problems, as its multi-superframe structure does not efficiently handle GTS in networks with a high number of nodes and periodic flows. This paper proposes the enhanceD DSME (D-DSME), which consists of two extensions that improve the DSME scalability and reliability exploiting a GTS within the multi-superframe to accommodate multiple flows or multiple retransmissions of the same flow. The paper describes the proposed extensions and the performance results of both OMNeT simulations and experiments with real devices implementing the D-DSME. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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Article
Hardware Support to Minimize the End-to-End Delay in Ethernet-Based Ring Networks
Electronics 2019, 8(10), 1097; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8101097 - 28 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1019
Abstract
Ethernet is a popular networking technology in factory automation and industrial embedded systems, frequently using a ring topology for improved fault-tolerance. As many applications demand ever shorter cycle times and a higher number of nodes, the popular ring endure to remain as a [...] Read more.
Ethernet is a popular networking technology in factory automation and industrial embedded systems, frequently using a ring topology for improved fault-tolerance. As many applications demand ever shorter cycle times and a higher number of nodes, the popular ring endure to remain as a valid topology. In this work, we discuss the factors that determine the ring network delay and show how they affect the network cycle time. Since increasing the link capacity has limited reach, we explore a time-triggered protocol that brings the nodes forwarding delay near to the physical layer delay. Additionally, we propose hardware accelerators based on FPGA technology that minimise the packet reception delay from physical reception to delivery to an application handler, preserving Ethernet layers and being compatible with its standard. This paper explains the accelerators concept and implementation, presents measurements using standard Media Access Control implementations, and shows the solution effectiveness with experimental results. We achieved a delay, from physical reception to the triggering of a user-level handler, of 1.1 µs independent of the packet length. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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Article
Experimental Interference Robustness Evaluation of IEEE 802.15.4-2015 OQPSK-DSSS and SUN-OFDM Physical Layers for Industrial Communications
Electronics 2019, 8(9), 1045; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8091045 - 18 Sep 2019
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1289
Abstract
In this paper, we experimentally evaluate and compare the robustness against interference of the OQPSK-DSSS (Offset Quadrature Phase Shift Keying-Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum) and the SUN-OFDM (Smart Utility Network-Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) physical layers, as defined in the IEEE 802.15.4-2015 standard. The objective [...] Read more.
In this paper, we experimentally evaluate and compare the robustness against interference of the OQPSK-DSSS (Offset Quadrature Phase Shift Keying-Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum) and the SUN-OFDM (Smart Utility Network-Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) physical layers, as defined in the IEEE 802.15.4-2015 standard. The objective of this study is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the impact that different levels of interference produce on these modulations, in terms of the resulting PDR (Packet Delivery Ratio) and depending on the length of the packet being transmitted. The results show that the SUN-OFDM physical layer provides significant benefits compared to the ubiquitous OQPSK-DSSS in terms of interference robustness, regardless of the interference type and the packet length. Overall, this demonstrates the suitability of choosing the SUN-OFDM physical layer when deploying low-power wireless networks in industrial scenarios, especially taking into consideration the possibility of trading-off robustness and spectrum efficiency depending on the application requirements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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Article
Monitoring of the Efficiency and Conditions of Induction Motor Operations by Smart Meter Prototype Based on a LoRa Wireless Network
Electronics 2019, 8(9), 1040; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8091040 - 16 Sep 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1472
Abstract
The installation of smart meters in the industry to monitor induction motors (IMs) provides easy access to the measurements of the electrical and mechanical variables, which improves the installation process. Using smart meters in industry requires temporary high-resolution data to improve the energy [...] Read more.
The installation of smart meters in the industry to monitor induction motors (IMs) provides easy access to the measurements of the electrical and mechanical variables, which improves the installation process. Using smart meters in industry requires temporary high-resolution data to improve the energy efficiency (EE) and power factor (PF) of IMs. For these purposes, Long Range (LoRa) is an ideal wireless protocol for the usage in industries due to its low energy consumption. In addition, it provides secure communications and long range indoors and outdoors. LoRa avoids the need to install antennas or routers to extend coverage, as each gateway can service 300 LoRa devices with distances of up to 10 km. For this purpose, this research successfully developed a new prototype for a low-cost IM Efficiency Monitoring System using LoRa (IMEMSL). IMEMSL is based on the Arduino open-source electronic platform. It sends the acquired data through the LoRa low-power wide-area-network (LPWAN) and cloud access gateway. This document describes the hardware and software design and implementation. The experimental results are presented and discussed. Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) and time on air measured endorse the use of LoRa for this type of meters. The approximate cost of the prototype was €72 and €93 for the versions without and with Global Positioning System (GPS), respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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Article
Methods for Large-Scale Time-Triggered Network Scheduling
Electronics 2019, 8(7), 738; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8070738 - 29 Jun 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1421
Abstract
Future cyber–physical systems may extend over broad geographical areas, like cities or regions, thus, requiring the deployment of large real-time networks. A strategy to guarantee predictable communication over such networks is to synthesize an offline time-triggered communication schedule. However, this synthesis problem is [...] Read more.
Future cyber–physical systems may extend over broad geographical areas, like cities or regions, thus, requiring the deployment of large real-time networks. A strategy to guarantee predictable communication over such networks is to synthesize an offline time-triggered communication schedule. However, this synthesis problem is computationally hard (NP-complete), and existing approaches do not scale satisfactorily to the required network sizes. This article presents a segmented offline synthesis method which substantially reduces this limitation, being able to generate time-triggered schedules for large hybrid (wired and wireless) networks. We also present a series of algorithms and optimizations that increase the performance and compactness of the obtained schedules while solving some of the problems inherent to segmented approaches. We evaluate our approach on a set of realistic large-size multi-hop networks, significantly larger than those considered in the existing literature. The results show that our segmentation reduces the synthesis time by up to two orders of magnitude. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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Article
MCC-CKF: A Distance Constrained Kalman Filter Method for Indoor TOA Localization Applications
Electronics 2019, 8(5), 478; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8050478 - 29 Apr 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1327
Abstract
Non-Gaussian noise may have a negative impact on the performance of the Kalman filter (KF), due to its adoption of only second-order statistical information. Thus, KF is not first priority in applications with non-Gaussian noises. The indoor positioning based on arrival of time [...] Read more.
Non-Gaussian noise may have a negative impact on the performance of the Kalman filter (KF), due to its adoption of only second-order statistical information. Thus, KF is not first priority in applications with non-Gaussian noises. The indoor positioning based on arrival of time (TOA) has large errors caused by multipath and non-line of sight (NLOS). This paper introduces the inequality state constraint to enhance the ranging performance. Based on these considerations, we propose a constrained Kalman filter based on the maximum correntropy criterion (MCC-CKF) to enhance the TOA performance in the extreme environment of multipath and non-line of sight. Pratical experimental results indicate that MCC-CKF outperforms other estimators, such as Kalman filter and Kalman filter based on maximum entropy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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Article
Regulating Scheduler (RSC): A Novel Solution for IEEE 802.1 Time Sensitive Network (TSN)
Electronics 2019, 8(2), 189; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8020189 - 06 Feb 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1675
Abstract
Emerging applications such as industrial automation, in-vehicle, professional audio-video, and wide area electrical utility networks require strict bounds on the end-to-end network delay. Solutions so far to such a requirement are either impractical or ineffective. Flow based schedulers suggested in a traditional integrated [...] Read more.
Emerging applications such as industrial automation, in-vehicle, professional audio-video, and wide area electrical utility networks require strict bounds on the end-to-end network delay. Solutions so far to such a requirement are either impractical or ineffective. Flow based schedulers suggested in a traditional integrated services (IntServ) framework are O(N) or O(log N), where N is the number of flows in the scheduler, which can grow to tens of thousands in a core router. Due to such complexity, class-based schedulers are adopted in real deployments. The class-based systems, however, cannot provide bounded delays in networks with cycle, since the maximum burst grows infinitely along the cycled path. Attaching a regulator in front of a scheduler to limit the maximum burst is considered as a viable solution. International standards, such as IEEE 802.1 time sensitive network (TSN) and IETF deterministic network (DetNet) are adopting this approach as a standard. The regulator in TSN and DetNet, however, requires flow state information, therefore contradicts to the simple class-based schedulers. This paper suggests non-work conserving fair schedulers, called ‘regulating schedulers’ (RSC), which function as a regulator and a scheduler at the same time. A deficit round-robin (DRR) based RSC, called nw-DRR, is devised and proved to be both a fair scheduler and a regulator. Despite the lower complexity, the input port-based nw-DRR is shown to perform better than the current TSN approach, and to bind the end-to-end delay within a few milliseconds in realistic network scenarios. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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Article
Emerging Trends in Hybrid Wireless Communication and Data Management for the Industry 4.0
Electronics 2018, 7(12), 400; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics7120400 - 07 Dec 2018
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 2722
Abstract
With the fast-paced realization of the Industry 4.0 paradigm, completely centralized networking solutions will no longer be sufficient to meet the stringent requirements of the related industrial applications. Besides requiring fast response time and increased reliability, they will necessitate computational resources at the [...] Read more.
With the fast-paced realization of the Industry 4.0 paradigm, completely centralized networking solutions will no longer be sufficient to meet the stringent requirements of the related industrial applications. Besides requiring fast response time and increased reliability, they will necessitate computational resources at the edge of the network, which demands advanced communication and data management techniques. In this paper, we provide an overview of the network communications and data management aspects for the Industry 4.0. Our global perspective is to understand the key communication and data management challenges and peculiarities for the effective realization of the fourth industrial revolution. To address these challenges, this paper proposes hybrid communications management and decentralized data distribution solutions supported by a hierarchical and multi-tier network architecture. The proposed solutions combine local and decentralized management with centralized decisions to efficiently use the available network resources and meet the requirements of Industry 4.0 applications. To this end, the distributed management entities interact in order to coordinate their decisions and ensure the correct operation of the whole network. Finally, the use of Radio Access Network (RAN) slicing is proposed to achieve the required flexibility to efficiently meet the stringent and varying communication and data management requirements of industrial applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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Review

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Review
A Literature Survey on Open Platform Communications (OPC) Applied to Advanced Industrial Environments
Electronics 2019, 8(5), 510; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8050510 - 08 May 2019
Cited by 42 | Viewed by 2729
Abstract
Extensive digitization and interconnection through networks have ushered in a number of new paradigms over the last years: Internet of Things, cyber–physical systems, Industry 4.0, etc. These challenging systems rely on an effective information communication between distributed components. Therefore, the heterogeneity of entities, [...] Read more.
Extensive digitization and interconnection through networks have ushered in a number of new paradigms over the last years: Internet of Things, cyber–physical systems, Industry 4.0, etc. These challenging systems rely on an effective information communication between distributed components. Therefore, the heterogeneity of entities, both hardware and software, must be handled to achieve an operative interoperability and a proper behavior. However, there is also a heterogeneous availability of solutions; different technologies, protocols, and architectures aim to achieve a seamless interconnection. Henceforth, the standardization still requires great efforts from industrial and scientific environments. In this sense, the interface of the open platform communications (OPC) has supported connectivity for automation and supervision infrastructures for more than two decades. The OPC comprises the so-called classic OPC, the original protocol, as well as the last specification, unified architecture (UA). The widespread utilization of the classic OPC together with the powerful functionalities of OPC UA, make the latter one of the main candidates to lead the standardization and systems integration. This paper presents a survey of recent OPC-based systems reported in scientific literature for different domains as well as research projects. The goal of this paper is to provide a broad perspective about the OPC’ applicability and capabilities in order to support the decision about communication interfaces. The results are analyzed and discussed putting special attention on the aforementioned new paradigms. Finally, the main conclusions and open research directions are highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Trends in Industrial Communication)
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