Engineers' Choice 2006 - Networks

02/27/2007



Engineers Choice Competition
New Products for 2006: Networks, Communications Hardware/Software

Control Engineering — February 15, 2007
The annual Control Engineering Engineers Choice Awards highlight significant new products from the previous year as selected by readers of Control Engineering print publications and electronic newsletters. The following new products are nominees for that competition. To be eligible, a new product must have been introduced to the U.S. marketplace and available for purchase between December 1, 2005 and December 31, 2006. All descriptions have been provided by product vendors, and Control Engineering makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the claims.

The Control Engineering Engineers Choice Awards honor the products from this list that survey respondents chose as the most exceptional or noteworthy based on technological advancement (innovation), service to the industry (usefulness) and/or market impact (would buy it tomorrow if I could). Results are announced in the April 2006 issue of Control Engineering .

 

Hardware, switches, routers, hubs

ADAM-6520
A foundation of Advantech's Industrial Ethernet offering, the ADAM-6520 is a best-in-class 5-port unmanaged 10/100 Ethernet switch. The ADAM-6520 was the first of its kind– an Industrial-grade 5-port switch at just slightly more than $100 (list price).
In addition to standard features, such as auto-MDI/MDI-X crossover detection, auto-negotiation, Ethernet link and activity indicators, broadcast storm protection, and a wide 10 to 30 VDC input voltage range, the ADAM-6520 also features 4KV ESD protection on Ethernet, 3KV EFT protection on the power input, flexible DIN-rail or direct panel mounting, a 1,580,000 MTBF and a -10 to 70 °C (14 to 158 °F) temperature rating for reliable operation in harsh environments. For even more demanding applications, an extended -40 to 85 °C (-40 to 185 °F) temperature range model is available.
The ADAM-6520 has brought affordable Ethernet switches to both end-users and equipment manufacturers without sacrificing reliability or convenience.

USB22 Series of Network Interface Modules
USB22 Series of Network Interface Modules (NIMs) is the only ArcNet interface in the industry providing a cost-effective solution for transferring ArcNet data over high-speed USB. They allow easy connectivity between desktop or laptop computers to peripherals, provide a very high-speed interface (up to 480 Mbps), and do not require inserting a separate NIM into the computer.

netX networX on a chip
The ROC827 supports “smart field” architectures employing wired or wireless field instruments that are HART and Foundation Fieldbus compliant. It is a core component of Smart Remote Automation, an extension of Emerson’s PlantWeb

Magnum 6KQ Ethernet managed field switch
Magnum 6KQ Ethernet managed field switch from GarrettCom can be configured with up to 12 100 MB fiber ports, or user selected combinations of 10 MB, 100 MB, and Gig fiber ports of any fiber port connector types. Copper port options include 10/100/1000 RJ-45 copper ports and up to eight 10/100 PoE (Power over Ethernet) ports.

DriveControl Z-card
The improved durability of the pH glass electrode, the increased stability of the reference electrode and the overall reliability of the mechanical design have produced sensors that live longer, respond faster and drift less thereby minimizing maintenance and lowering the total cost of ownership.

TRUNKSAFE Fault-Tolerant Fieldbus System
One difficulity still remains with fieldbus technology: All segment communications and power integrity are vulnerable to a single broken twisted wire cable. The only ways to protect plant-critical segments were expensive duplication of an entire segment’s hardware, complex software voting schemes, and restricting the number of devices per segment.
The TRUNKSAFE Fault-Tolerant Fieldbus System provides a cost-effective, yet highly reliable, strategy to maintain continuous communications between field devices and a DCS in the event of any single point failure (such as an open- or short-circuit) on a FOUNDATION fieldbus™ H1 or PROFIBUS PA segment.
Designed for important and plant-critical segments, TRUNKSAFE is comprised of two redundant DC power conditioners and a specially-engineered device coupler that, in combination, provide a secure fieldbus physical layer. In the event of a failure on a fieldbus segment, TRUNKSAFE automatically switches network communications to a redundant path. This unique architecture substantially increases segment availability since no single point of failure will shut down the fieldbus network.
With TRUNKSAFE, critical process loops can use fieldbus technology without worrying about cable failures. This allows full access to advanced diagnostics and uninterrupted measurement and control communications that can be realized using fieldbus technology.

UPort 1450/1450I
MOXA Introduces Hi-Speed USB-to-Serial UPort Hubs with Patented COM Preserver™ TechnologyMOXA is introducing a new series of USB-to-serial hubs that come with the patented COM Preserver™ technology. COM Preserver™ makes serial device management easy, since the USB-to-serial hub can be unplugged and re-plugged (either in the same or a different computer), without changing the COM numbers assigned to the attached serial devices.The UPort 1200/1400/1600 hubs provide users with an easy-to-install, plug-and-play, COM port expansion solution. The fact that the UPort 1400/1600 are the world’s first USB-to-serial hubs that support hi-speed USB 2.0 puts them in a class of their own. In addition, the hubs provide a serial transmission speed of up to 921.6 Kbps, and feature MOXA’s patented COM Preserver™ technology. Most USB-to-serial products cannot fix their COM names on the host PC, which causes the names of the COM ports to change when the device isplugged into a different USB port (either on the same or a different computer).UPort 1200/1400/1600 USB-to-serial hubs are able to store their COM names in the UPort’s internal memory. When the user enables the “COM Preserver” function, COM names will follow the UPort device, and host PCs can create the same COM port names across different host PCs. By using this feature, you do not need to modify application programs, or re-build the entire project every time you install a new operating system or upgrade the computer.Mini DB9-TB terminal block The UPort’s robust metal box and screw-on power jack are designed specifically for use in harsh industrial environments. In addition, MOXA’s new mini DB9 to terminal block attachment offers users the convenience of easy wiring for RS-422 or RS-485.MOXA multiport serial board solutions with built-in 2 KV IsolationProtection for RS-232/422/485—isolation- eliminates ground loops!A common problem in many industrial applications is ground loop currents that flow through the ground line when ground voltage levels differ between connected devices. To eliminate this problem, MOXA’s industrial boards and full function converters are available with optical isolation up to 2000V.MOXA’s multiport serial board solutions come with built-in 2 KV isolation protection for the RS-232/422/485 signals. Not only do we offer complete signal conversion between RS-232 and RS-422/485 signals, but the built-in 15 KV ESD surge protector also provides comprehensive protection against current overload.

EDS-510A
The new EDS-510A is a DIN-rail mounted 7+3G-port Gigabit Managed Redundant Ethernet Switch that includes 7 10/100 Mbps Ethernet ports and 3 gigabit Ethernet ports. The 3 gigabit Ethernet ports allows for two of the ports to be utilized for network redundancy while the third can be used as an uplink port. The gigabit Ethernet Redundant Turbo Ring (recovery time & 300 ms) increases the reliability and speed of your network backbone.The EDS-510A comes equipped with both gigabit Turbo Ring capability as well as Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (IEEE 802.1W) that gives system administrators a convenient means of setting up a reliable gigabit Ethernet network. In addition, Quality of Service (QoS) provides a traffic prioritization capability to ensure that important data is delivered consistently and predictably, and EDS-510A supports GMRP and IGMP Snooping for filtering multicast traffic on the Ethernet LAN. This switch also supports VLAN technology, which can be used to segment and isolate parts of your network, and IEEE802.3ad (LACP) provides optimum bandwidth utilization. RMON (Remote Network Monitoring) allows various network agents and console systems to exchange network monitoring data. Furthermore, IEEE802.1X and https/SSL are available to enhance network security. Lastly, the switch also accepts Moxa’s ABC-01 (Automatic Backup Configurator) which allows easy upload/download of saved management configurations.

EDS-518A
MOXA’s new EDS-518A DIN-rail mounted 18-port managed Ethernet switch includes 2 hot-swappable gigabit ports with RJ45 or SFP ports for gigabit fiber optic communication.

9000 Series version 3 firmware
N-TRON™ announces the release of the 9000 Series version 3 firmware, which includes N-TRON’s N-Ring™ technology. N-TRON’s 9000 Series Ring Manager using N-TRON’s N-Ring technology offers expanded ring size capacity, detailed fault diagnostics, and a standard heal time of 30ms.

FieldConnex Advanced Fieldbus Physical Layer Diagnostics Module
The FieldConnexents are transmitted in real-time to the maintenance station.
The module is also available as a fully interoperable mobile unit that supports all Fieldbus installations. This mobile unit provides the exact segment and individual device data needed for analysis of the fieldbus physical layer, and intermittent segment malfunctions can be traced without the need for a permanent connection.
The module takes complexity out of FOUNDATION Fieldbus and Profibus installations. Consider some examples:
• Fieldbus validation time can be reduced by up to 50 % using the module to pinpoint errors using the Diagnostic Manager Software. The module’s automatic documentation reduces repetitive and time intensive work.
• During commissioning, the module takes a snapshot of communication quality. It trends changes over time. Sudden water ingress, aggressive substances or small plant modifications all influence signal quality by adding additional resistance, changing insulation levels, EMI and other effects. When communication quality reaches critical levels, the module alarm triggers pro-active maintenance for increased plant-availability.
• The built-in oscilloscope feature demonstrates the module’s true capability and– more importantly – the most plant cost savings. This feature allows selection and combination of events for triggering. Engineers can now analyze specific events from the control room, aiding in a faster time to repair.

Managed Ethernet Switch SE-44M-E924
TURCK’s industrial Managed Ethernet Switch is a fully epoxy encapsulated IP 67 rated device offering the end user the flexibility of installing the switch in harsh environments without a protective enclosure. The encapsulation provides a high degree of protection from RF noise found in many industrial manufacturing facilities.

Direct-Link Industrial Ethernet Switches
The Direct-Link Industrial Ethernet switches support both unmanaged and managed applications. Plug and play for easy installation, Direct-Link Industrial Ethernet switches support Ethernet 802.3 protocols and are available in a variety of configurations that support both copper and fiber wiring. Packaged in a unique ergonomic shape rated for IP30 environments, Direct-Link Industrial Ethernet switches can be DIN rail or panel mounted. For DIN rail mounting, a dual clip system makes attachment quick and easy while the friction fit eliminates rattling.
Direct-Link Industrial Ethernet managed switches provide traffic control using VLAN and IGMP. Diagnostics can be easily performed using SNMP, RMON and Port Mirroring. Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol for fault-tolerant loops and redundant power supply are also supported. Configuration of the switch can be done in two ways; using the local RJ-45 configuration port, or by using a remote web interface provided with the switch. The web interface provides a quick and easy way to configure the switch from a PC.
For additional diagnostic support, Direct-Link SNMP Management Suite (SNMP MS) is also available. This software tool, based on OPC technology, works with the existing HMI application running on a PC. Direct-Link SNMP MS converts SNMP agents being sent to the PC from the Direct-Link Industrial Ethernet switch into OPC tags, which can then be easily displayed in the HMI application.

I/O products, cables

BK9105 Ethernet/IP Bus Coupler
The BK9105 Bus Coupler from Beckhoff Automation makes the comprehensive Beckhoff Bus Terminal I/O system of over 200 different signal types fully available to Ethernet/IP users. The BK9105 is ODVA-certified and follows the producer and consumer model for I/O data. Developed using the most advanced industrial Ethernet technology, but costing just $318 (U.S.) at list price, the BK9105 provides users with a dramatic price-to-performance ratio.
The BK9105 is well-equipped with twelve different LEDs that offer users a wealth of diagnostic information without requiring additional tools, including: simple voltage displays, Ethernet port status and a wide range of information regarding established connections and Ethernet/IP communication status.
The BK9105 Bus Coupler acts as an Ethernet/IP slave and uses standard RJ45 connectors and auto-negotiates either a 10-Mbit/s or 100-Mbit/s Ethernet connection. The coupler has an integrated dual port Ethernet switch which allows for extremely flexible topology configurations. I/O nodes can be configured in a line topology as an alternative to the traditional star topology. In many applications, the line topology and use of RJ45 connectors significantly reduces the required wiring effort and cabling cost.

EL6601 Switch Terminal
The new EL6601 Ethernet switch terminal from Beckhoff Automation seamlessly links Ethernet devices with the next generation EtherCAT fieldbus. With this 1-port Ethernet switch terminal, Beckhoff introduces a solution that enables connection of essentially any peripheral with Ethernet connectivity into EtherCAT networks.

ecolink cordsets
ifm efector's ecolink cordset family features a "lock-in-place" coupling nut that secures the cordset and prevents it from detaching– even in high shock and vibration environments.

CC-Link/LT Sensor Level Network
1. Technological Advancement:Offers fastest update time (as short as 2ms) combined with greatest I/O capacity (up to 1024 points) of any technology specifically intended to network simple digital devices. Network bus length is also further than any current technology; up to 700 meters.2. Market Impact.CC-Link/LT is a further development of the highly successful CC-Link device level network. This is an established open network technology with third party estimates of over three million installed nodes world wide. CC-Link/LT is fully interoperable with CC-Link to bring the benefits of this network to lower level applications.3. Service to the industry.CC-Link/LT provides a service to the industry in a number of ways:a) Shortens development. By representing all network I/O points as local controller I/O, there is essentially no learning curve for becoming familiar with and implementing the technology. b) Reduces system costs. Discrete wiring harnesses can be eliminated by a single network cable.c) Reduces labor costs. The amount of time spent on wiring and testing is significantly reduced, as connections can be made without any need to cut or strip cable. d) Increases system performance. All network communications are handled at 2.5 Mbit/s, offering higher performance than discrete wired I/O.e) Decreases downtime. By including full diagnostics on the status of network stations and communications, system problems can be quickly located and resolved, in comparison to discrete wired systems.

Active Ethernet I/O ioLogik E2210
The Active Ethernet I/O server enhances the flexibility of PC-based data acquisition and control systems with proactive condition-based reporting and control of I/O device status.Whereas I/O servers are traditionally passive and must be polled for data, the Active Ethernet I/O server reports and controls I/O status based on user-specified conditions. This report-by-exception approach, new to PC-based I/O monitoring, requires far less bandwidth than traditional polling methods. Critical sensor data can be obtained immediately instead being subject to polling intervals. The Active Ethernet I/O server is designed for flexible and easy implementation. It supports multiple protocols for data transmission, including TCP/UDP, SNMP trap, SMTP (e-mail), and Modbus/TCP. Condition-based reporting and control can be configured in minutes using the patent-pending, intuitive Click&Go logic interface, which requires no programming knowledge. VB, VC++, and BCB programming libraries are provided for easy integration with user-developed applications. I/O signals can be easily and cost-effectively extended over Ethernet using peer-to-peer I/O communication. This provides duplication of digital or analog signals between Active Ethernet I/O servers at different locations, without a PC or master PLC.

SNAP PAC R2
The SNAP PAC R-2 is an “on-the-I/O-rack” controller ideal for cell control, data acquisition, and remote monitoring
applications where the I/O needs are geographically contained. The new SNAP-PAC-R2 supports up to
512 points of SNAP analog, digital, and serial I/O modules, providing more flexibility than its predecessor, the
SNAP-PAC-R1. In addition to I/O processing, the SNAP-PAC-R2 offers powerful control capabilities—including PID
loop control, floating point math, and string handling—and dual Ethernet communications with serial PPP for
remote monitoring applications.
The SNAP-PAC-R2 includes two independent, auto-negotiating 10/100 Mbps Ethernet interfaces, which can
be used for network segmenting or Ethernet link redundancy; a 32-bit multitasking processor with floating point unit;
16 MB of RAM, 8 MB of flash memory, and 2 MB of battery-backed RAM; and one RS-232 port with hardware
handshaking control.

SNAP PAC Learning Center
The SNAP PAC Learning Center is a standalone system that includes a SNAP-PAC-R1 programmable automation controller, three analog and two digital SNAP I/O modules, a SNAP I/O mounting rack, load panel, and assorted accessories. Also included with the Learning Center is a comprehensive nine-lesson tutorial, complete with illustrations, screen captures, and procedural diagrams to help users get started quickly. The nine lessons cover concepts such as flowchart-based programming, digital and analog control, scripting, building an operator interface, trending, and alarming. Collectively, this system effectively instructs, simulates and operates as a real-world industrial control, monitoring or data acquisition application.
The SNAP PAC Learning Center comes bundled with a fully licensed version of Opto 22’s ioProject, used to configure and operate the system. ioProject’s control programming software, ioControl™, lets users quickly begin developing applications using flowcharting, scripting, or both. Users gain experience configuring, reading, and writing to I/O points, developing simple and advanced control strategies, and performing real-time debugging in an intuitive, visual environment. Advanced supplementary tutorials for the SNAP PAC Learning Center cover PID loop tuning, FTP and file management, and radio frequency identification (RFID) integration.

Wireless

Wireless Solution
A signal transmission vendor with focus on wire and cable goes wireless: Belden Wireless Solution uses a unique Channel Blanket topology to allow each radio channel to be used everywhere, at every access point, thereby creating blankets of continuous wireless coverage with no roaming latency or co-channel interference problems.

Wireless SmartPack Starter Kit
The SmartPack™ Starter Kit is a fast, easy way for customers to get started with wireless measurement devices. SmartPack includes a secure, self-organizing wireless network ready to go out of the box. The Smart Wireless self-organizing network from Emerson is unique because all the devices in the network communicate with each other. If a temporary obstruction blocks a direct connection, the network automatically reroutes the signal to an adjacent device, ensuring greater than 99% data reliability. SmartPack also comes with SmartStart™ Services which include a wireless technician onsite for your first start-up to facilitate installation and seamless integration with existing wired networks. No special tools, site surveys, or training are required. Emerson also provides a guaranteed upgrade path to future industry standards.

XPress-DR+ Wireless
This new industrial device server is Lantronix first 802.11 wireless solution catered specifically to the industrial market. It allows customers to take advantage of advanced remote diagnostics and real-time event notification to improve uptime and reduce service costs. With the addition of wireless, customers have the added mobility and flexibility needed to access and continually monitor critical devices where running cable is impractical or cost-prohibitive– wiring can account for roughly two-thirds of the total cost of installation in an industrial environment. In Ethernet mode, the XPress DR+ Wireless also features Lantronix patent-pending SwitchPort+ platform technology, enabling multiple industrial serial devices to be cascaded from a single network backbone connection which can again eliminate the need for expensive hubs and cabling. It can also operate reliably under extreme temperatures (-40° to 70°C) and resists the effects of exposure to electrical interference, vibration and physical abuse (15KV serial ESD protection and2.5KV Ethernet isolation). In addition, with state-of-the art, built-in security and encryption, wireless applications are just as secure as wired applications.
The XPress DR+ Wireless adds an unprecedented level of flexibility, is a rugged, easy-to-customize and cost-effective solution designed to remotely connect, communicate and control virtually any type of industrial equipment.

ISO 15693 compatible 13.56 MHz IDENT Control
The IDENT Control Series Q R/W heads now bring 13.56 MHz operation into the harsh automation field. It is now possible to utilize low cost ISO 15693 tags with quality electronics built for factory automation, and these R/W heads allow fast data transfer making it possible for users to read large amounts of data on the fly. Another advantage is their minimal R/W to R/W cross talk which is particularly important when several R/W heads are located in close proximity. This occurs frequently at automatic test lines and narrow width pallet loop systems. Series Q R/W heads can be controlled simultaneously without concern for read and/or write errors, which increases the overall system performance and throughput.
Additionally, this HF-based system now allows integrators and users to benefit from industrial-quality IDENT Control while satisfying the FDA mandate for item level tracking in pharmaceutical applications. It is competitively priced compared with comparable UHF systems in applications requiring a large number of code/data carriers because tags operating at this frequency utilize a unique coil design making it possible to implement RFID chips at considerably lower costs.
The IDENT Control RFID system features a graphical display and configuration keys for easy setup and operation. This reduces the implementation time because operational parameters can be set locally, tag data is shown on the display and commands can be activated via the configuration keys. The cast aluminum housing is field and enclosure mountable, reducing the installation time and cost for in-field mounting. IDENT Control has superior noise immunity and operational availability due to its unique continuous-shield design. The system supports DeviceNet, PROFIBUS and several EtherNet based protocols including EtherNet/IP, as well as RS232 serial communication.

INTERFACE RAD-802.11XD
Technological AdvancementThe RAD-802.11XD is a first of its kind “WiFi” device with advanced security features that is designed specifically for the industrial customer. The 802.11 a/b/g industrial radios feature 802.11i/WPA2 security with AES-CCMP encryption and 802.1x authentication for the highest level of security available.
Additional advances include integrated serial port and device server functionality for connecting legacy serial devices to the network. The DIN rail variant is also available with addressable and expandable I/O meaning remotely located I/O can be easily brought onto the network wirelessly.
Market ImpactBy providing wireless network connections, support for legacy serial devices, and the ability to address add-on I/O, the RAD-802.11XD has enabled completely new networking possibilities in the industrial space.
Service to the IndustryThe RAD-802.11XD was intended to bridge divides between IT departments and Control Engineers in a few ways. Support for commonly used industrial protocols such as PROFINET, MODBUS TCP/IP, and MODBUS RTU assure compatibility with the Control Engineer’s installed bus networks. Additionally the integrated device server and I/O connectivity facilitate networking of legacy devices. For the IT department the security features are critical while the embedded set-up software and access to I/O conditions via XML pages provide familiarity.