Honeywell recently brought the reliability and flexibility of wireless technology to the fire alarm market with the new Smart Wireless Integrated Fire Technology (SWIFT) devices. Although the technology has a lot of very cool features, one of the most exciting aspects of the SWIFT devices is the way in which they communicate: through the innovative use of a Class A mesh network.
In the last 10 years, mesh networks have become increasingly common in consumer applications, primarily for providing reliable, widespread Internet access. And by bringing mesh-networking technology to the fire alarm world, Honeywell has given installers and end users the flexibility they’ve been wanting for a long time.
Let’s take a closer look at mesh networks to get a better understanding of how they work in the SWIFT system.
Basics of Mesh Networks
Honeywell’s SWIFT wireless modules form a Class A mesh network within a facility, which means that each device in the array of smoke detectors and monitor modules forms its own bi-directional communication structure. Each device also acts as a repeater, so communication goes from point A to point B.
The mesh network ensures that SWIFT systems are incredibly reliable. It uses frequency-hopping to prevent system interference. In addition, the Class A mesh network creates redundant communication paths between each device, so if one device is lost, the devices immediately find another path for communication.
The mesh network uses a patented time-slotted communication scheme called Cascading Wave Protocol to send information back and forth between the wireless devices and the Gateway, which is the system’s main controlling element. Each SWIFT device features bi-directional communication for reliable data transmission. We call it a “parent-child” relationship: Every child device has two parents to send information through to the fire panel and every fire panel command is routed through two paths to the destination devices. That way, inbound and outbound waves of information—including alerts, remote test functions and other commands—can cascade their way through the parent and child devices, ensuring that every message is received.
Every device transmits information to their parents at a specific, repeatable times. In each system, the Gateway is the master timekeeper for the entire mesh network. This ensures that every device “checks in” continuously.
To find out more about the SWIFT line of wireless devices, click here. And be sure to join us for our next mesh technology blog, in which we’ll explore how mesh networks stack up to other wireless communication alternatives.
About the Author
Andrew Berezowski is an ACS Engineering Fellow at Honeywell Fire Systems