Ethernet standards may aid users, fuel market growth

A slightly lawless Wild West scenario is facing users, developers, and manufacturers trying to implement Ethernet and fieldbus-based networks. [See this issue's "What's Left to be Said About Industrial Ethernet?" article for more coverage.] To provide some degree of uniformity, several organizations and companies are trying to draft useful standards, strategies, or specifications for Ethernet...

05/01/2001


A slightly lawless Wild West scenario is facing users, developers, and manufacturers trying to implement Ethernet and fieldbus-based networks. [See this issue's 'What's Left to be Said About Industrial Ethernet?' article for more coverage.]

To provide some degree of uniformity, several organizations and companies are trying to draft useful standards, strategies, or specifications for Ethernet's physical, software, data link, and other layers. These include:

  • Industial Automation Open Networking Alliance (IAONA) Europe and IAONA America are becoming facilitators by establishing a technical steering committee (TSC) consisting of IAONA board members, cooperative partner representatives, and TSC's joint technical working groups' (JTWGs) members. Some JTWGs will deal with industrial Ethernet's real-time aspects; wiring, cabling, and installation; web services; safety; device profiles; and conformance.

IAONA, Interface for Distributed Automation (IDA), and Open DeviceNet Vendor Association (ODVA, Boca Raton, Fla.) recently agreed to co-promote ODVA's EtherNet/IP networking protocol, IDA, and other TCP/IP-based communication technologies.

  • IDA was founded in March 2000 by Phoenix Contact, Sick, Lenze, Kuka, Jetter and AG-E, which were joined by Schneider Electric (Paris, France) in August 2000. IDA's technical focus groups are also developing interface specifications. IDA was also joined by Real-Time Innovations (RTI, Sunnyvale, Calif.), which is helping IDA build open services based on RTI's real-time, publish-subscribe model.

  • EtherNet/IP, established by ODVA and ControlNet International (Boca Raton, Fla.), is a protocol stack that uses DeviceNet and ControlNet's Control and Information Protocol (CIP) for object modeling. Rockwell Automation recently unveiled a series of products with EtherNet/IP capabilities.

  • FOUNDATION fieldbus' High-Speed Ethernet (HSE) maps technologies from its existing H1 standard into Ethernet, such as scheduling, publisher/subscriber services, and the object model. HSE's Testing Kit was recently released, while further integration with data servers, and registration of Ethernet field devices are expected this year.

  • ProfiNet, developed by Profibus International, is an industrial Ethernet networking strategy that was expected to be formally released and demonstrated last month at Hannover Fair 2001. ProfiNet is based on Microsoft's DCOM protocol.


Hardware standards coming

Though much effort is focused on drafting standards for Ethernet's application layer, other initiatives are addressing cables, connectors, and other physical equipment. For example, the Telecommunication Industry Association/Electrical Industry Association (TIA/EIA) has defined electrical performance qualifications for RJ-485 connectors, and is expected to extend that standard to address industrially hardened Ethernet components in a couple of months.

Meanwhile, a six-company consortium arising from EtherNet/IP and ODVA, is working to define open specifications for Ethernet components, and may even release a standardized RJ-45 connector in June. Consortium members include Rockwell Automation (Milwaukee, Wis.), Anixter (Skokie, Ill.), Panduit (Tinley Park, Ill.), Siemon (Watertown, Conn.), Belden Wire & Cable (Richmond, Ind.), and CommScope (Hickory, N.C.).

In addition, M12 connectors, normally used for sensors, are now being used to harden Ethernet for industrial applications.

Jim Montague, news editor jmontague@cahners.com





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