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In this paper, wireless sensor networks are proposed as a distributed sensing and control (DSC) approach for productivity and safety improvement of harsh and dynamic industrial systems, such as factory automation, oil and gas industries, and wind farms. The proposed approach focuses on DSC middleware, which considers both application requirements and network resource constraints. By embedding complex application knowledge at different levels and configuring network topology in real time, the DSC system can accomplish effective task assignment, optimal network deployment, and device-level intelligence. IEC 61499 function blocks and intelligent agents are employed as modeling tools for the middleware implementation.