Ethernet

Digitalization with TSN, functional safety, edge computing, APL Ethernet, 5G

Industrial digitalization can involve many hardware, software and networking technologies, including these five.

By PI North America September 15, 2021
Courtesy: PI North America

Industrial networking has the potential to change manufacturing in many ways. Concepts such as industrial Ethernet are already helping manufacturing. Digitalization will continue and concepts such as time-sensitive networking (TSN), 5G and more will be at the forefront. Learn more about five networking technologies pushing the envelope.

1. Time-sensitive networking (TSN)

Even though Ethernet speeds have been improving over the years, there is another key performance factor: Determinism. A deterministic network exchanges data in a precise manner with a defined latency. Since Ethernet communication is based on the best effort principle, data exchange in Ethernet networks lacks determinism. Until now, deterministic data exchange in Ethernet is only possible with proprietary solutions, but time-sensitive networking (TSN) aims to change that. TSN’s focus is making Ethernet deterministic by design.

2. Controller to Controller (C2C) & C2C safety

Today’s industrial networks are very complex. Industry trends drive continuous network improvements with added connectivity capabilities. Complex configurations require multiple controllers and controller to controller (C2C) communication. C2C communication enables horizontal integration and advanced network configurations in two ways:

  1. Communication between controllers from different manufacturers
  2. Communication between controllers in a hierarchical network with a central controller and sub-level controllers.

3. Edge computing and vertical integration

Vertical integration is the concept of interconnecting automation networks to higher-level systems. Industrial Ethernet solutions, such as Profinet, can be easily integrated with existing higher-level enterprise systems, including manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Data from the automation network can be made available to supervisory staff in real-time from almost anywhere in the enterprise. Vertical Integration can provide better management of plant, skills, and assets and lead to improved production scheduling and order processing.

Edge components are key enablers for vertical integration. They can be existing network devices with edge capabilities or external devices added to the network. In both cases, the edge components gather data from the factory floor. They then turn it into valuable information for higher-level systems.

Industrial Ethernet solutions, such as Profinet, can be easily integrated with existing higher-level enterprise systems, including manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Courtesy: PI North America

Industrial Ethernet solutions, such as Profinet, can be easily integrated with existing higher-level enterprise systems, including manufacturing execution systems (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Courtesy: PI North America

4. Advanced physical layer (APL)

The goal of APL is to bring Ethernet down to field level instruments in hazardous areas. Ethernet at the field level will make digitalization for process industries a reality. Ethernet adds its universality and speed to existing field device installations.

APL limits current and voltage in the physical Layer to have an intrinsically safe solution for Zones 0 and 1/Div 1. The physical connection will be a rugged two-wire connection with power over this cable. Finally, APL will exceed the 100 m limit of 100BASE-TX Ethernet networks to be suitable for large process manufacturing facilities. Currently, APL is not available. But work is proceeding quickly on this exciting technology.

5. 5G-fifth generation cellular (5G)

5G is a broad term describing a range of different technologies and implementations and can mean many different things to many different people. Even among the major consumer cellular providers, the 5G that each provides can be different from the next.

Generally these offerings span either: low-band, mid-band, or high-band. There are benefits and trade-offs for each. Low-band 5G yields better penetration and distances, but at lower speeds and bandwidths. High-band 5G provides more performance but at the expense of longer distances.

– This article originally appeared on PI North America’s website. PI North America is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, web content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, cvavra@cfemedia.com.


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