Connecting the networking dots

Networking involves many aspects including synchronization, selecting protocol conversion solutions, and integrating HMIs with PLCs and PACs.
By Jack Smith June 19, 2014

The cover story in this issue of AppliedAutomation covers the timing aspect. By properly synchronizing industrial Ethernet networks, advanced industrial Ethernet protocols can become more effective. As the author states, "Synchronization is a key element in modern automation systems to ensure that both simple and complex devices are always synchronized to each other, to external applications, and to events in a reliable, repeatable manner. By implementing synchronization, a consistent time base can be created across applications for any number of spatially separated industrial Ethernet-connected devices and machine sections."

This issue also includes advice about selecting protocol conversion solutions. Now more than ever, industrial control devices, such as PLCs and PACs, need to communicate with many different devices, which are often on networks that are not native or compatible with the controller. As the authors state, "Industrial gateways are designed to pass control system data from one protocol to another." The authors also point out that gateways can be useful when it comes to migrating a legacy PLC system to a PAC system.

The third article discuses integrating HMIs with PLCs and PACs. HMIs-local and remote-are required for real-time monitoring, control, and in some cases, data handling. The approaches for integrating HMIs with PLCs differ from those for integrating them with PACs. The author discusses both of these approaches as well as their pros and cons. However, regardless of which approach is chosen, there is at least one element in common. As the author states, "Tight integration between data gathering and presentation can help businesses improve diagnostics and overall system performance."

This article appears in the Applied Automation supplement for Control Engineering and Plant Engineering

– See the other stories in the Applied Automation supplement below.