Meet the Board: William H. “Bill” Conley III – Industrial Wireless Industry Pioneer

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 12:42pm
WDD Staff

An industrial wireless background that dates to the beginning of the industry, and position on oneM2M standards group, prompts Conley’s selection

William H. “Bill” Conley III is B&B Electronics’ M2M systems development engineering manager. As an electrical engineer (EE) with a career spanning almost 30 years, he is an industrial wireless industry pioneer.

Since joining B&B in 2006, Mr. Conley has designed and managed many industrial wire replacement product lines for the company, from the Zlinx Xtreme Wireless I/O Modules and Radio Modems – a P2P (peer-to-peer) and P2MP (peer-to-multi-peer) wireless communication system for serial or sensor data – to the Spectre 3G HSPA+/GPRS/GSM cellular routers.

Bill was chosen for Wireless Design and Development's editorial advisory board for his leadership position in the wireless design industry, his extensive wireless background, and for his position with oneM2M. As an electrical engineer who’s been part of the industrial wireless industry since its infancy, he has deep technical expertise, but he also offers a unique, visionary perspective.

Mr. Conley is a frequent author and speaker, with conference speaking engagements in 2013 at Remote, ISA Automation Week, Sensors Expo and M2M Evolution. He will also speak at Sensors Expo 2014. Before joining B&B Electronics, Mr. Conley owned several technology and consulting companies.

Serving on oneM2M Standards Group Working Towards Global M2M Interoperability

Mr. Conley was tapped in 2013 by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) to participate as a TIA delegate on oneM2M -- a global partnership aiming for a standardized approach to machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity promoting interoperability across vertical industries and networks.

Mr. Conley’s TIA presentation on the need to simplify the cellular network certification process prompted his nomination. Conley demonstrated the complexities that device makers encounter while certifying M2M devices, and that users encounter while connecting such devices to carrier networks. He then proposed some solutions, including a central, industry-supported M2M certification center that would encourage more collaboration between developers and carriers. Mr. Conley’s TIA presentation: A Framework for “Plug and Play” Industrial M2M Solutions

According to Cheryl Blum, TIA vice president, Mr. Conley’s ideas to eliminate certification complexity struck a nerve with the audience that spilled into the hallways after his presentation. “Conley’s wireless expertise and his intuition of how carriers and manufacturers can work together will help oneM2M achieve global standards,” said Blum. 

Industrial Wireless Industry Pioneer

Starting his career in 1987 as an embedded design engineer, Mr. Conley and his initial designs contributed to the birth of the industrial wireless industry. Using licensed radio, which was the only option to transmit wireless data in the 1980s, Mr. Conley designed SCADA and microcontroller-based telemetry solutions for remote monitoring and control systems – the forerunners of today’s M2M or Internet of Things applications. 

Wireless Analog P2P & P2MP & Bi-directional I/O:

He was one of the first to design wireless analog P2P and P2MP systems that could wirelessly transmit analog and digital I/O bi-directionally, an invention that earned Conley the "Most Innovative" Award at Sensors Expo 2002.

His wireless sensor transceiver technology, which connected data loggers, controls or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) equipment with sensors, was the industry’s first to use wireless radio to emulate wired communications.

Wireless Modbus:

Conley was also one of the first to embed Modbus RTU into a wireless device to create a wire replacement solution that could eliminate 4,000 ft of wire.

“I was in wireless before it was cool,” said Conley. “It has been amazing to watch the industry unfold, participating in the beginning methods of sending data from point to point, and in the birth of wireless protocols such as Wi-Fi, ISM (Industrial, Scientific, Medical) bands and Zigbee,” he continued.

Conley Holds Four Patents in the Industrial Wireless Field

1.    System for authenticating remotely generated optical control signals
U.S. 7,620,812 – May 21, 1996
2.    Emergency lighting test system and method
U.S. 6,285,132 – September 21, 2001
3.    Emergency lighting remote monitoring and control system
U.S. 6,538,568 – March 25, 2003
4.    System for authenticating remotely generated optical control signals [Revised]
U.S. 8,171,290 – May 1, 2012

Internet of Things: Aggregating and Translating Wireless Data Streams into Usable TCP/IP

"For connected machines to operate without human intervention, and yet deliver useful data to humans, the system must aggregate data from various machine languages (Modbus, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc), translate it into one and then transmit it to the cloud in Ethernet TCP/IP,” said Conley. As an example of this, Conley has designed a remote water well monitoring system for the Pinal County, AZ Well-Owners Co-Op, giving them access to the well sensor data and a security camera’s live video feed over any Ethernet connection, anywhere on the planet.

The system (see Fig) required networking of a variety of protocols. Modbus and Ethernet-based sensors monitor a holding tank, a pressure tank, and numerous pumps. A 3G cellular router/aggregator serves as the Ethernet backbone, aggregating data from the different protocol inputs. The security camera communicates directly to the router over an Ethernet cable, while the sensors communicate their data using 2.4 GHz RF radios. The cellular router then translates the disparate data streams into Ethernet TCP/IP and transmits it to a control center in Phoenix.

A Parallel Career as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff

Mr. Conley has served his community in Southern Arizona for more than 20 years as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff. On the job here, his wireless networking expertise is important as well. He and others in his department use wireless cellular technology to network mobile equipment in their patrol cars - Mobile Data Terminals (MDT), ticket printers, etc. - connecting them all to the processing facility over the cellular telephone network.

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