How to Build an ISA100 Wireless Product

Learn about ISA100 Wireless products and steps to ISA100 Wireless product development and certification
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Have you ever wondered what it takes to develop and test wireless instruments and devices for the most demanding industrial applications? The ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute helps instrument and device manufacturers significantly reduce the time, cost, and effort required to develop and bring an ISA100 Wireless product to market.

Wireless instruments are now ubiquitous and fill many needs in industrial applications. There is a broad ecosystem of ISA100 Wireless products now on the market.

ISA100 Wireless product

1) Infrastructure

Some of these are wireless infrastructure products that form the backbone of modern ISA100 Wireless networks. These infrastructure devices include independent and integrated gateways, access points, and protocol adapters.


2) Measurement and control

ISA100 Wireless instrumentation and devices have been developed for most measurement and control needs, including pressure, temperature, flow, level, valve positioners, and digital and analog I/O interfaces.


3) Health, safety, and lifecycle

In addition, many wireless sensors have been developed to support health, safety, and equipment lifecycle applications, such as corrosion, vibration, gas monitoring, pH, and steam trap monitoring.

These sensors have proven to be highly reliable and have provided valuable data to the operating plant, resulting in short payback periods and considerable returns on investment.


Why develop wireless instruments?

Traditionally, process automation vendors have been conservative and somewhat reluctant to adopt new technologies, such as ISA100 Wireless.

However, with the growing portfolio of wireless devices and instruments now available and over a decade of service history, the benefits of offering wirelessly connected field instruments are very apparent.

The benefits of offering a wireless connected field instrument are:

– Swift ROI (Swift return on investment): wireless instruments have significantly reduced installation costs as compared to wired devices.


– Touch-free maintenance is now possible. ISA100 Wireless devices are able to be provisioned over the air, and configuration and upgrades do not require physical access to the instrument.

Touch-free maintenance

– The ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute (WCI) testing and certification program ensures that compliant devices can be installed in any of the growing numbers of ISA100 Wireless networks across the globe, with guaranteed interoperability.

Installation and interoperability

Steps to ISA100 product development and certification

Developing and certifying an ISA100 Wireless instrument is a straightforward process that will allow vendors to join the growing number of providers of certified ISA100 Wireless devices in all categories of products listed earlier.


Step 1: Define need and create requirements

The first step in the development and certification of an ISA100 Wireless product is to formulate the product requirements and create a field device architecture.

At this step, details such as estimating product battery life and identifying other project requirements and costs are documented.

New products typically are introduced to fill a perceived need in the industry, and meticulous product definition, architecture development, and project planning can set the stage for successful product development.

ISA100 Wireless product - Formulate the product requirements

Step 2: Develop prototype

The next step is to develop a functional prototype. The internal anatomy and architecture of a typical ISA100 Wireless field instrument consist of three elements:

1) A wireless communication module that includes a WCI-certified stack

2) An application-specific sensor, capable of measuring the variable of interest for the instrument

3) An application processor that collects readings from the sensor and forwards the data wirelessly via the communication module

ISA100 Wireless product - Develop a functional prototype

Step 3: Validate design with ISA100 Wireless stack

The benefits of using a pre-certified ISA100 Wireless communication module are many. First, a pre-certified communication module enables a simplified development process for the instrument, since it reduces the ISA100 Wireless knowledge required for development and provides the needed interfaces as part of the package.

Pre-certified ISA100 Wireless communication module

This reduces the time to market because only the sensor or actuator-specific functionality needs to be provided around the wireless module.

Pre-certified ISA100 Wireless module

The pre-certified ISA100 Wireless communication module also streamlines the WCI certification process because users need only achieve device certification, as the stack has already achieved certification.

WCI Certification Process

Once the application processor and source code are complete, the design should be validated by using the chosen ISA100 Wireless stack to transmit sensor variables via an ISA100 Wireless Gateway and then verifying the variables are being reported accurately and correctly.

ISA100 Wireless Stack

Step 4: Integrate hardware and firmware

Next, sensor-specific hardware and firmware are developed to integrate the wireless module and application processor with the module firmware. This is where enclosure types, antenna design, and battery access are determined.

ISA100 Wireless product hardware and firmware

Step 5: Add software and apps

Software system integration is then added to the design. Software components such as Device Descriptor (DD) files and configuration files (CFs) are designed and integrated with the hardware and firmware to allow end-to-end integration testing.

ISA100 Wireless product Software

The functional prototype is powered up, placed into a typical service area, and tested. Testing includes transmitting variable data via an ISA100 Wireless Gateway to the controller of choice, such as a DCS or PLC controller.

Functional Prototype Testing

Step 6: Validate at WCI

Once the prototype has been tested and the vendor has proven the performance of the device, it is time to have the device certified by the ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute. This is a four-step process:

1: The vendor joins the ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute (WCI) as a member.

join ISA100 WCI

2: The vendor purchases a Device Test Kit, also known as a DTK.

Device Test Kit

3: The vendor uses the DTK to run internal certification tests.

Internal certification tests

4: Once internal certification pre-testing is complete and successful, the vendor initiates the WCI certification process in order to obtain the formal WCI compliance certificate.

Formal WCI certificate

5: WCI hosts periodic interoperability workshops. Product developers are encouraged to participate to validate prototypes and build relationships with experts within the ISA100 Wireless community.

WCI workshops

Regulatory compliance and certification

WCI Compliance does not imply that other required certifications have been met, such as EMC, ESD, RFI, and safety testing.

As with any industrial field device, regulatory body testing per the requirements of the local jurisdictions must be done at this point. This includes testing to receive a CE, UL, FM, ATEX, or TUV rating for safety or hazardous location installation, as well as testing for conformance for ESD, EMI, and RF immunity.

Regulatory Compliance and Certification

ISA100 WCI training course

Ready to get started with the design and prototyping of your own ISA100 Wireless instrument, actuator, gateway, or adapter? Good news! The ISA100 Wireless Compliance Institute offers a one-day, hands-on training course to kick-start your effort. The training course includes an introduction to the ISA100 Wireless architecture, terminology, and development concepts.

ISA100 WCI training course

The training package also includes the WCI Rapid Development Kit with two pre-certified wireless modules. As a trainee, you will develop your first functional ISA100 Wireless field instrument prototype using the RDK.

WCI Rapid Development Kit

Want to Learn More?

We recommend checking the following related articles, if you haven’t already, to have a better understanding of an ISA100 Wireless Product:

WiFi vs Industrial Wireless | What is the difference?

What is ISA100 Wireless?

ISA100 Wireless Applications | Single, Plant-Wide Wireless Network

We hope you enjoyed this article on ISA100 Wireless Device Development and Certification. If you want to learn more about ISA100 Wireless, head on over to

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