Trends in Industrial Networking

Networks expand across control areas; intelligence moves into field Who's using industrial networks? Everybody, networking touches all areas of control and automation as it evolves beyond simple communication, as fieldbus applications gain ground against hardwiring, as all types of hardware are equipped with networking and intelligence capabilities, and as all these solutions are linked t...

By Jim Montague January 1, 2002

Networks expand across control areas; intelligence moves into field

Who’s using industrial networks? Everybody, networking touches all areas of control and automation as it evolves beyond simple communication, as fieldbus applications gain ground against hardwiring, as all types of hardware are equipped with networking and intelligence capabilities, and as all these solutions are linked to higher-level monitoring, control and enterprise systems. Increased efficiency, more capabilities, less labor and lower costs are always driving forces, but observers report that more networking solutions are being implemented now because users are beginning to grow more comfortable with them.

Gaining acceptance

In the first two weeks of September 2001, Cahners Research (Newton, Mass.) compiled 255 qualified responses to a web-based survey from Control Engineering subscribers involved in evaluating, specifying, recommending, purchasing and/or installing industrial networks. Just over three-quarters of the respondents to the Control Engineering/Cahners Research 2001 Industrial Networking Product Focus Study reported their primary applications for industrial networking are in process controls.

Also, more than 90% of respondents now use or plan to use in one year programmable logic controllers (PLCs), I/O devices, sensors and/or operator interfaces with their networking applications (see Present and Future Use chart). While most respondents expect very slight declines in use of network-related products over the next 12 months, sensors used in networks are projected to increase slightly. Meanwhile, use of PC-based control products in networking applications is expected to increase significantly from 68% at present to 74% in the coming year.

Present and expected use of network-based solutions in the 2001 survey increased across all product categories compared to the 2000 survey. A year ago, 59-72% of respondents used network-related operator interfaces, I/O devices, PC-based controls, sensors and drives, and only 44-54% of 2000’s respondents planned to use them in the following year.

Increasing familiarity

In addition to using more network solutions, the survey’s 255 respondents reported growing familiarity with many traditional and new networks and fieldbus protocols. Familiarity with Ethernet increased to 92% in 2001 from 66% in 2000, while those who buy or plan to buy Ethernet increased to 87% and 89%, respectively, in 2001 from 73% and 53%, respectively, in 2000.

Likewise, familiarity also increased in 2001 for other well-known networks, such as ControlNet and DeviceNet, Profibus-PA and -DP, FOUNDATION fieldbus H1 and High-Speed Ethernet (HSE), HART and others. Even traditional networks, such as RS-485, RS-232, and 4-20 m/A, secured double-digit percentage gains in familiarity among users between 2000 and 2001.

Besides increasing year-to-year, some networks achieved gains when users reported their 2001 purchases and future buying plans. For example, 51% now buy DeviceNet and 61% plan to in the next 12 months; 8% buy FOUNDATION fieldbus HSE and 23% are planning to buy it; 36% buy ControlNet and 42% say they will; and 6% buy SERCOS and 11% plan to buy it.

Intelligence shifts

While 84% of network intelligence now resides in controllers, respondents indicate this intelligence will shift to final control elements and sensors in the future (see Network Intelligence chart). Most overall intelligence will likely reside in PCs in the future (57%), though this is projected to be a slight decline from the present (61%). Huge gains in resident intelligence are expected among sensors, from 23% now to 44% in the future, and among final control elements, from 15% now to 34% in the future.

Industrial network products

For an expanded version of this Product Focus article and more product listings, visit . For more information on industrial network products, circle the following numbers or visit . For more manufacturer listings, visit Control Engineering ‘s Buyers Guide at .

Distributed I/O aids intelligent networked measurement

Austin, Tex. Engineers can now use National Instruments’ LabView embedded on compact industrial measurement I/O nodes to build real-time distributed monitoring and control systems. Using these nodes, powered by NI’s FieldPoint 2000 family of network modules, users can create reliable, standalone measurement and control solutions. National Instruments

Wireless DeviceNet can communicate up to 500 m

Schaumburg, Ill. Omron Electronics’ Wireless DeviceNet allows users to connect to any DeviceNet-compatible product. Using its one wireless ‘master’ to ‘N’ slave, star and other topologies are possible by allowing a sub-network that can extend an additional 500 meters in any direction. Also, multiple wireless masters can be placed on one DeviceNet network, which makes multiple, flexible topologies available on the same system. Omron Electronics

Operator interface family adds Ethernet/IP

Milwaukee, Wis. Rockwell Automation has added EtherNet/IP networking capability to its PanelView operator interfaces to give users real-time control of I/O devices. This will give users a complete EtherNet/IP-for-automation network with real-time control, device configuration, diagnostic information, and multi-vendor interoperability. EtherNet/IP will be available PanelView 550, 550 Touch, 600, 600 Touch, 900, 1000 and 1400. Rockwell Automation

Fieldbus I/O integrates safety relay

Harrisburg, Pa. IB IL 24 Safe 1 module in Phoenix Contact’s Inline Fieldbus I/O system allows emergency stop switches, protective doors, light curtains and safety devices to be connected via fieldbus technologies, including DeviceNet, Interbus, Profibus and Ethernet TCP/IP. The safety relay module reliably switches off power to subsequent output modules in the Inline Fieldbus I/O system, and reduces conventional cross wiring of safety functions in control cabinets. The module can be used in applications up to Safety Category 4, as defined in EN 60 954-1. Phoenix Contact

Distributed Profibus I/O offers motor control

Alpharetta, Ga. Simatic ET 200S distributed Profibus I/O rack from Siemens E&A can be combined with up to 64 modules, each with up to 128 bytes for inputs or outputs. ET 200S features a Profibus interface module, digital and analog electronic modules, process-oriented modules for counting and positioning tasks, and integrated motor starters. All ETS 200S modules are plugged into purely mechanical modules. Siemens Energy & Automation

OptoTerminal is Ethernet-enabled OI

Temecula, Calif Opto 22’s OptoTerminal-G70 is a graphics-based operator interface for use with the company’s Snap Ethernet I/O and Snap Ultimate I/O systems. OptoTerminal is an 8.3 x 6.3-in. mountable display terminal with Ethernet port, 5.5-in. diagonal, 320 x 240 pixel, and color touchscreen. Opto 22

Author Information
Jim Montague, news editor