Software helps industrial network communications

Industrial network stacks and other industrial connectivity software work to enhance connectivity among devices and systems. OPC UA, MTConnect, EtherNet/IP, and CC-Link are among software that organizations provide. Middleware also provides connectivity between the plant floor and other systems.

By Mark T. Hoske January 13, 2019

Network stacks provide industrial network connectivity; middleware also can provide communication functions among devices and systems. Better communications helps the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrie 4.0, and other frameworks designed to enhance industrial productivity. See summaries below and table with links to related articles.

Summaries: Industrial network connectivity

Six related articles in the Control Engineering January 2019 print and digital edition provide more information along with summary information below.

OPC United Architecture (OPC UA) from OPC Foundation is a platform independent service-oriented architecture that integrates all functions of the individual OPC Classic specifications into an extensible framework. It was released in 2008 and is IEC 62541.

MTConnect from MTConnect Institute: “Running machines, controls, sensor packages, or software that support the MTConnect standard means shop data is available in XML format with data item definitions that don’t vary by manufacturer.” The organization has a standards committee that advises on enhancements and oversees new capabilities.

EtherNet/IP from ODVA “provides users with the network tools to deploy standard Ethernet technology (IEEE 802.3 combined with the TCP/IP Suite) for industrial automation applications while enabling Internet and enterprise connectivity.” Like other ODVA Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) networks (DeviceNet, CompoNet, ControlNet), EtherNet/IP uses CIP for its upper layers, following the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, which defines a framework for implementing network protocols in seven layers: physical, data link, network, transport, session, presentation, and application.

CC-Link from CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) is an “Open-technology fieldbus network with performance up to 10 Mbps providing absolute deterministic behavior and cost effectiveness, flexibility and ease of use.” CC-Link IE TSN (uses IEEE Time-Sensitive Networking) technology for Ethernet bandwidth time sharing and priority control can help build flexible IIoT systems, CLPA said.

Kepware from PTC: KEPServerEX is a connectivity platform that allows users to connect, manage, monitor, and control diverse automation devices and software applications through one user interface using OPC and IT-centric communication protocols (such as SNMP, ODBC, and web services) to provide users with one industrial data source.

Industrial network connectivity

Industrial network connectivity software and network stacks include the following.

OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) from OPC Foundation

MTConnect from MTConnect Institute

EtherNet/IP from ODVA

CC-Link from CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA)

Kepware from PTC

EtherCAT from EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG)

Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), a CFE Media content partner, promotes industrial Internet and is part of the Object Management Group Inc. (Data Distribution Service and other specifications).

MQTT (messaging query telemetry transport)

Profinet from PI North America, the organization representing Profibus device network and Profinet industrial Ethernet network in North America.

Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media,, from information on respective organizations’ websites.

KEYWORDS: Industrial networks, network software, connectivity

Industrial network protocols and other software help interconnect devices and systems

Organizations provide standards and software.

Industrial Ethernet is among networking protocols.


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Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.