Replacing Legacy Networking Protocols with Ethernet Webcast: Questions answered

More answers about replacing legacy network protocols with Ethernet, the topic of a Mar. 10 Webcast, are provided by a senior electrical engineer. Topics include mobile device security and communicating via Ethernet or cellular.

By Nicholas Hitchcock March 18, 2016

Ethernet networks have been used in industrial applications for many years, but large numbers of facilities still maintain older systems that lack many beneficial capabilities. Companies considering an upgrade can gain improved network connectivity along with hardware flexibility and availability.

Those answering questions below are:

– Nicholas Hitchcock, PE, senior electrical engineer, Patti Engineering, Inc.

Additional answers from Hitchcock follow below, related to replacing legacy networking protocols with Ethernet.

Question: What about deploying Broadcom BroadR-Reach 2 wire Ethernet in industry—it is now making its way into the automotive electronics—is there any place for this interface in other industries. 

Hitchcock: I am not familiar with this, so I cannot really speak to it.

Q: How are companies accepting these conversions to Ethernet? Is it being well-accepted?

Hitchcock: In my experience, very well. The ease of remote access to their devices is usually the most appreciated aspect.

Q: As part of their planned transition, we often hear from clients who have dial up modems in the field… but want to communicate via Ethernet or Cellular to and from the host. Is there a reliable way to do this?

Hitchcock: If access via a wired broadband Internet service provider (ISP) is available at the location, you can get that installed, if not there are many manufacturers of cellular routers that will give you access to high speed Ethernet as long as there is good reception (you might want to check several providers). Either route, we would suggest installing a vpn/firewall appliance between the router and your local network. This will provide added security and allow you to set up direct connections between the host and the remote network via encrypted VPN tunnels. There are a number of manufacturers that make industrialized VPN/Firewall appliances that are built to withstand the harder environments.

Q: What type of devices are being networked, manufacturing equipment? Is this being networked along with other building management systems (BMS) (HVAC, building security systems, etc.)?

Hitchcock: It depends on the customer. Sometimes they are kept separate. Many times they are networked together, just not necessarily on the same subnet. 

Q: Is shielded Ethernet cable a best practice?

Yes, it is a best practice.

Q: What type of mobile devices can be used and does this pose additional security concerns?

Hitchcock: This depends on the application. Does the particular mobile device have an app for interacting with the rest of the equipment? If not, you will most likely just be using the device’s browser to pull up webpages. Then it depends on the content of the pages and if the device can support it all.

Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, Control Engineering,

ONLINE extras

Watch the related Webcast, "Replacing Legacy Networking Protocols with Ethernet" to see more on this topic. 

Control Engineering has an Ethernet page.

See selected Control Engineering articles on Ethernet protocols linked below.