Orbit Article


6 min read
Chris McMillen
Senior Product Manager

While technology moves at a rapid pace with exciting advancements and new discoveries, it’s the beneficial application of said technology that is key. In the world of Condition Monitoring and Protection, terms such as the Internet of Things, edge devices, smart sensors, cloud capability, digital, are the latest trends towards connecting machines in order to gather even more data for machine learning to provide insights. 

Data is becoming king with data coming from a variety of sources but, in the condition monitoring world, the data starts at the sensor level. Wireless is here and becoming both accepted and more prevalent as Condition Monitoring (CM) technology.

Where does wireless fit 

The familiar, and often used, P-F curve provides an excellent overview of CM technologies and supports the value in predictive vs reactive actions. All these technologies provide useful “data” and insights to machinery health whether individually or combined. Bently Nevada certainly has a bias towards vibration however! 

The Top of the P-F Curve

These CM technologies leverage “wired” as well as “portable” means both historically and today. While “Wireless” adds another tool to leverage, where does wireless fit?

Portables – a data collection and analysis mean via operator walk arounds typically done weekly to monthly. 

Wired – provides continuous monitoring, the fastest sampling rates, and is protection capable though it can be more costly to deploy and expand. 

Wireless – enables simpler deployments, easier expansion, faster data collection rates over portables, at a more cost-effective manner than traditional wired. 

By its cost-effective nature, wireless technology enables further condition monitoring with more asset coverage, more data, and more insights. That is not to say portables and wired are obsolete ... quite the contrary! Wireless can be the sentry lookout here.

Wired solutions provide the fastest data sampling rates and highest degree of condition monitoring and in some case, protection, for those critical assets or assets most critical to 
the entire process. Wireless has slower collection rates than wired systems but faster than portables. Wireless also offers ease of deployment and expansion and can identify potential assets that may warrant higher speed, wired solutions.

By nature of the their human element, portables are invaluable in the “see, touch, smell” scenarios that element by default that wireless or wired can lack. A wired or wireless sensor is only as good as the asset it monitors and not are not cognizant of potential surrounding situations. Again, wireless acts as the sentry for more assets and monitoring trends can quickly identify those assets that may warrant further analysis via portables. An optimization of portable data collection programs to portable data analysis as an example. 

Portable vs Wireless vs Wired
Wireless factors

When considering wireless condition monitoring, there are many considerations and 
options that can be daunting at first. There are a few key factors to consider in any wireless deployment strategy. While one would want to optimize each factor, realistically one can only fix 2 or 3 before running into some needed tradeoffs. 

  1. Range – this is the distance between the machine/asset sensor and is meant to communicate wirelessly to a receiver. Shorter range typically enables higher data frequency at the expense of distance. Longer range typically enables longer distances at the expense of data frequency.
  2. Data bandwidth and frequency – the type of data and how often is data collection desired. In the vibration CM world, is this an overall velocity or acceleration or is a spectrum and waveform also desired (a must in Bently Nevada’s opinion for diagnostic purposes)? Is once a second, a minute, an hour, a day needed? (Less than once a minute and one should question if wired is better suited here.)
  3. Protocol – IEEE802.11 (e.g. Wi-Fi) or 802.15.4 (e.g. Zigbee, ISA100, wHART) have several protocols today that certainly directly impact 1 and 2 above. 802.11 has great distance, bandwidth, and frequency but does require more power. 802.15.4 provides much reduced power at the expense of distance and data frequency. The next consideration is an open standard just as those under 802.11 or 802.15.4 for example, or a proprietary. A sensor on an open standard enables interoperability and is vendor agnostic with other sensors on same standard.
  4. Power source – wireless is meant to be wire “free”. Wireless still requires a power source and the most common is battery. If considering battery power be sure to consider a battery maintenance program. Are said batteries readily available? Are these batteries able to be replaced? What is the battery life expected? 
  5. Security – Cybersecurity is a must in today’s environment. Most often dictated by the protocol above, be sure to evaluate the various security encryption leveraged. High secure open protocol ISA100 and wHART both employ AES 128-bit encryption for example.
Wireless Factors Diagram

In summary, wireless is here and now. Wireless compliments traditional portable and wired condition monitoring technologies. All three can, and should, be leveraged to provide not only the data … but actional insights into any CM program when combined with Bently Nevada’s System 1 software. Consider the various factors in any wireless deployment to best fit your needs. 

Bently Nevada has a portfolio of offerings, including Bently’s wireless Ranger Pro, to meet 
your needs, so be sure to reach out to your local Bently Nevada Sales Manager if you have any questions.


Copyright 2019 Baker Hughes Company. All rights reserved. Baker Hughes provides this information on an “as is” basis for general information purposes. Baker Hughes does not make any representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information and makes no warranties of any kind, specific, implied or oral, to the fullest extent permissible by law, including those of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose or use. Baker Hughes hereby disclaims any and all liability for any direct, indirect, consequential or special damages, claims for lost profits, or third party claims arising from the use of the information, whether a claim is asserted in contract, tort, or otherwise. Baker Hughes reserves the right to make changes in specifications and features shown herein, or discontinue the product described at any time without notice or obligation. Contact your Baker Hughes representative for the most current information. The Baker Hughes logo, the Bently Nevada logo, and System 1 are trademarks of Baker Hughes Company.

Our Experts

Chris McMillen

Chris McMillen

Senior Product Manager

Bently Nevada Sensors


Chris is the Senior Product Line Manager for Bently Nevada sensors.  He is responsible for new developments and lifecycle management within the Bently Nevada sensor portfolio for both wired and wireless solutions.