Foxboro adds 'mesh' network to I/A Series

Foxboro Automation Systems has introduced ''mesh'' network technology to its I/A Series automation platform. The new technology incorporates commercial off the shelf (COTS) Ethernet switches, ports, and fiberoptic media in meshed configurations that provide multiple communication paths between network stations, and can withstand multiple points of failure without losing communications. Foxboro is a unit of Invensys plc.

10/02/2003


Foxboro Automation Systems has introduced ''mesh'' network technology to its I/A Series automation platform. The new technology incorporates commercial off the shelf (COTS) Ethernet switches, ports, and fiberoptic media in meshed configurations that provide multiple communication paths between network stations, and can withstand multiple points of failure without losing communications. Foxboro is a unit of Invensys plc .

Foxboro’s mesh technology can be used to configure ultra-availability, 100Mbps/1Gbps, switched-Ethernet process control networks and field networks for new I/A Series systems. It can also be used to efficiently extend existing I/A Series systems.

''With its redundant/fault-tolerant configuration, and no single point of functional failure, Ethernet-based I/A Series 'Nodebus' established a clear standard for process control network availability when Foxboro introduced it more than 15 years ago,'' says Steve Young, Foxboro’s VP. ''Today, widespread use of intelligent, fieldbus-based devices, plus increasing information requirements in today's plants, place even greater demands on process control networks. With our new mesh network technology for I/A Series, we once again raise the bar for process control network availability and performance.

''Unlike conventional redundant networks, our new mesh networks can be configured to maintain nonstop communications even when faced with multiple points of failure, such as the simultaneous loss of a communications port and a wire break. To the best of our knowledge, this capability is unprecedented in the process control industry.''

Upon rapid detection of one or more network faults, for example, I/A Series’ diagnostics automatically reconfigure the communications path to maintain system communications. ''In effect, the network is smart enough to heal itself,'' says Young.

Foxboro adds that its mesh technology can be used to configure plantwide process control networks, and provide a secure, high-performance link between I/A Series control processors and associated fieldbus I/O modules. Where it’s appropriate, I/A Series workstations, control processors, device integrators, and fieldbus modules can all be placed on a common mesh network.

In addition, Foxboro’s upcoming generation of I/A Series A2, meaning '' ArchestrA ready ,'' systems will enable I/A Series users to continue to leverage the latest open technologies into the foreseeable future to continuously improve plant performance.

—Jim Montague, news editor, Control Engineering, jmontague@reedbusiness.com





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