Wireless mesh networks provide a stand-alone way of sending data across a site.
Data needs to somehow get from machine to servers or the cloud. The traditional way of getting legacy data from machines to servers is to use Ethernet or Industrial Ethernet such as EtherCAT, EtherNet/IP, PROFINET. While this is practical for Industry 3.0 with a few traditional programmable logic controllers, it becomes less physically practical for Industry 4.0 when there are lot more sensors.
WiFi is more flexible as it’s easier to install but tends to be unreliable in electrically noisy environments. For the sites where WiFi works, it tends to get overused, overloaded and unreliable. It’s also tends to be difficult to access due to over-protective system administrators.
Wireless mesh networks provide a way of providing a stand-alone network. The main choices are Thread, Zigbee, LoRa and Bluetooth. Bluetooth Mesh is particularly suitable for use on the factory floor where the environment can be electrically noisy.
“Bluetooth LE is presently raising more and more attention and is becoming one of the leading technologies for both IoT-oriented and industrial scenarios”
Wireless Mesh Networking: An IoT-Oriented Perspective Survey on Relevant Technologies
Mesh technologies operate at low power and are designed for sensing small amounts of data sent infrequently. This means that while it’s great for sensing, it’s not suitable for sending media such as images and video.