Understanding ISA100 Wireless Standard

ISA100 Wireless StandardBenefits of wireless communication can’t be unfold in a blog. Variety of (wired) communication protocols had been developed and used in the Industrial Control since decades,  however, wireless technologies are now getting noticed and infact are already in use at hundreds of industries. ISA100 Wireless Standard has been developed to streamline all necessary specifications, procedures and processes to be utilized in the testing and certification of wireless products, as well as decrease the time, costs, and risks of developing and deploying industrial wireless devices and systems for users, manufactures and all the stakeholders. ISA100 has been developed by subject matter experts from over 250 companies who participated in defining ISA100 Wireless. ISA100 Wireless is an open and flexible framework that accommodates legacy applications regardless of protocol, thus protecting end user’s existing application investments. ISA100 Wireless can simultaneously accommodate multiple protocols all within a single, interoperable network via the ISA100 Wireless object-oriented application model.  Examples available today include:

  • GasSecure gas sensor (ProfiSafe for enhanced security)
  • 3eTi network nodes (FIPS 140-2 for military grade security)
  • GE Bently Nevada Vibration sensors (proprietary protocol)
  • Honeywell Enraf radar level gauge (proprietary protocol

ISA100 supports Tunneling concept that allows for the secure movement of data from one network to another. Tunneling involves allowing private network communications to be sent across a public network, such as the Internet, through a process called encapsulation or Tunneling alows another way to transmit non-native protocols through ISA100 Wireless networks, thus tunneling gives device manufacturers multiple options when building ISA100 Wireless product.

ISA100 Wireless also supports object-oriented application model which enables the ISA100 Wireless HART Adapter to seamlessly integrate HART devices into the network while maintaining interoperability.

ISA100 also supports Internet of Things (IOT). IPv6 in ISA100 Wireless make the Industrial Internet of Things a reality today. Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the recent version of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the Internet. ISA100 Wireless is the only industrial wireless protocol standard to incorporate IPv6 directly as part of its network layer and transport layer. This gives ISA100 Wireless the advantage of seamless end-to-end routing with “anything anywhere” effectively in a single environment. IPv6 in ISA100 Wireless supports multiple subnets which enables sensors to be grouped together much like a VLAN for traffic and network management, while also breaking the network into zones for security reasons. Support for subnet-level mesh, as well as backbone-level routing, is also supported in ISA100 Wireless.

ISA100 Wireless provides robust, Multi-tiered, Policy-based Security to ensure the safety of system operations. Communications are protected using a time-enhanced application of the NIST standard 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) block cipher. Only devices that have legitimate and unique secret join keys are admitted to the network. Multiple-tiered AES-128 keys are derived from join keys and updated periodically. The security industry is evolving rapidly, and ISA100 Wireless’ security features are designed with change in mind. Scalable encryption in two security layers ensures that ISA100 Wireless products and systems will continue to meet users’ and regulatory agencies’ future security needs.

ISA100 Wireless is ready for use in wireless control applications such as:

  • Fully wireless control loop
  • Wireless actuator, wired sensor in control loop
  • Wireless sensor, wired actuator in control loop
  • Wireless sensor providing supplemental information to control loop

Above use of wireless applications improves reliability, control and saves cost. Other noticeable features of ISA100 Wireless are:

  1. Publication rates 1-2 seconds and capable of 100 ms latency.
  2. Flexible System Architecture: Engineered and scalable IP backbone and  High redundancy with  duocast communication and redundant hardware
  3. Mesh Networking: a) Mesh and non-mesh network topography.  b)  Interoperable peer-to-peer connections.   c) Function blocks at the device level.   d)Battery life is deterministic. e)Meshing access points and field devices
  4. Reliability: a)  Wireless transmission is deterministic.   b)Wireless transmission is received. c) Wireless transmission is accurate. d) Dual communication paths up to process control network
  5. Users should have an interoperable network that doesn’t sacrifice performance even if other wireless solutions are already installed. That’s why ISA100 Wireless is designed with coexistence in mind, delivering optimal performance in the presence of other wireless networks.

In summary, ISA100 Wireless provides easy integration with existing wired host systems, is extensible to cover specialty application protocols, covers a wide range of applications, open to a rapidly growing variety of device, strong security in every message for data protection and confidentiality, future-proof and scalable, simple integration with IPv6, Global use without license, improves performance and reduce Downtime, and reduces Asset Lifecycle Costs.


1. ISA Website www.isa.org, http://www.isa100wci.org


Understanding ISA100 Wireless Standard
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