Switch to industrial Ethernet switches; rugged advantages

Rugged Ethernet switches and hardware provide advantages, says Rockwell Automation, including...

By Control Engineering Staff February 27, 2009

Rockwell Automation Stratix 8000 modular managed switch with Cisco technology is industrially rated and directly addresses the network convergence activities in manufacturing and IT organizations.

Ethernet’s advantage is that it is based on an open standard. Using standard, unmodified Ethernet rather than proprietary network technologies enables manufacturers to use commercial technologies alongside industrial equipment by providing one network that meets control and information needs, according to Mike Hannah, product business manager, NetLinx, Rockwell Automation .The manufacturing industry’s adoption of Ethernet for control and information has resulted in a need to develop products built to industrial standards, Hannah says, able to function in higher temperature, shock, vibration, and humidity ranges. Equipment often resides near or connected to the machine in small electrical cabinets with limited airflow, he says. Commercial switch challenges While less expensive than an industrial switch, commercial hubs pose problems in the manufacturing environment, Hannah says, because they:-Simply route the data to a device on the network and limit the bandwidth of your system;-Do not help eliminate data collisions on the network, so-Result in lack of determinism, making commercial hubs unacceptable for many control system applications.Industrial switches typically meet the Class 1, Div. 2 ratings, allowing use in hazardous areas typically found in automation applications. Industrial switch advantages Industrial Ethernet switches are advantageous, Hannah says, because:-A manufacturing environment needs fault-tolerant, resilient networks to have continuous uptime;-While a two-minute network interruption in the office environment is inconvenient, two minutes of downtime on the production floor is disastrous;-Industrial applications call for more robust product designs because industrial equipment runs in harsher environments than commercial products;-Higher temperature and vibration specifications must meet industrial ratings.-Machine uptime is critical, and manufacturers cannot afford to have a machine or cell controller network down because of a switch failure.

Also see: Plug into Industrial Ethernet Protocols with links to additional resources.

– Edited by Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief

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