Networking technology: Safety moves to Ethernet

By Control Engineering Staff October 4, 2006
Pilz Automation Safety’s PNOZ safety relay incorporates functions such as emergency stops, safety gates, and two-hand start devices.

Like many industrial networking technologies, safety is making the leap to Ethernet. As part of its exhibit at IMTS in Chicago last month, Pilz Automation Safety announced that its SafetyBus p system is now SafetyNet p, a combined Ethernet-based system for safety-related control applications. Claiming the #1 position for open safety networks, Pilz’s Safety Network International reports thousands of decentralized automation applications around the world in a wide range of industries.

Applications in discrete manufacturing and motion control are typical for safety networks, hence their showing at IMTS, but SafetyNet p has its eyes on process industries as well. “In the process industry, the use of a bus system is determined partly by the structure of the plant, but also by the signal quality,” says Matthias Brinkmann, chair, Safety Network International. “The design of the plant demands flexible topologies, which can be represented in any type of tree structure using SafetyNet p. Thanks to automatic mechanisms to identify the current topology, both commissioning and servicing are extremely simple.”

The critical hardware interface to drive SafetyNET p is Pilz Automation Safety’s product line of safety PLC’s, the PSS. In addition, Pilz has a large line of safety relays that can be used in conjunction with the system and that incorporatea functions such as emergency stops, safety gates, and two-hand start devices. These are designed to provide a variety of functions for machine and process equipment safety in a small package. Many relay models are only 12.5 mm wide and mount on a standard DIN rail.

SafetyNet p reports that its adaptability makes it suitable for many applications and industries. Its high level of decentralization means controller intelligence is transferred locally to field level in an effort to increase performance and adaptability. Moreover, Pilz promises that its open architecture allows users to implement it in parallel with other industrial Ethernet protocols, including EtherNet/IP and Profinet, along with any existing SafetyBus p applications.

Daily News Desk, Peter Welander ,
process industries editor , Control Engineering