What kind of fieldbus is needed for Industry 4.0?

High connectivity and powerful communication capacity are necessary between equipment and servers to realize the dream of connecting smart manufacturing with all things. Fieldbus foundations are seeking new ways to adapt the new needs of the industry.
By Aileen Jin September 6, 2015

Martin Rostan is executive director of EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG). Courtesy: Control Engineering ChinaRegardless of Industry 4.0 or the Internet of Things (IoT), high connectivity and powerful communication capacity are necessary between equipment and servers to realize the manufacturing world’s dream of connecting smart factories with all things. High-speed, efficient, and safe fieldbus provides the basic guarantee to smart factories.

"Traditional Ethernet has three problems in real-time communication, including low utilization of broadband, stacking, and lag of exchanger," said Martin Rostan, executive director of EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG).

Right now, the fastest industrial Ethernet technology can take only 30 µs to update 1,000 input/output (I/O) devices; one Ethernet frame can process 1,486 bytes of process data exchange, at most, and communicate with 100 servo axes per 100 µs, while providing nanosecond synchronization.

Transition to Industry 4.0

If there is one ideal to summarize the hottest topic Industry 4.0, Rostan believes that it is the integration of automation and information. For seamless connection with all enterprise information, the data transmission should be implemented from the equipment and control layers to the manufacturing execution system (MES) and enterprise resources planning (ERP) layers. The future fieldbus will be closely connected with enterprise-level networks and even the cloud.

Based on such a vision, ETG and OPC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the Hanover Exhibition held in April 2015, declaring that both parties will develop a common interface to better meet users’ needs in the era of Industry 4.0 and IoT. ETG and OPC aim to apply protocol to the real-time communication between controllers at the equipment layer and slave stations; use the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) for the communication between horizontal controllers and controllers in the field; and apply OPC-US to the vertical communication to connect non-EtherCAT systems so as to meet all communications required for the vertical and horizontal integration of Industry 4.0.

Aileen Jin, editor-in-chief, Control Engineering China, explains that the new environmental protection law in China may translate into large investments in controls, automation, and instrumentation. Courtesy: Control Engineering ChinaFuture of a fieldbus foundation

As a nonprofit organization, ETG does not collect membership fees from its members, and members also are provided free access to protocol stacking, sample codes, evaluation toolkits, and implemented support and other services at a lower price. This is the reason why EtherCAT may be well accepted in the world. From February 2014 to February 2015, 412 members joined the ETG.

– Aileen Jin, editor-in-chief, Control Engineering China. Edited by Joy Chang, digital project manager, Control Engineering, jchang@cfemedia.com

Key concepts

  • High connectivity and powerful communication capacity are necessary between equipment and servers in order to realize Industry 4.0.
  • Right now, the fastest industrial Ethernet technology can take only 30 µs to update 1,000 input/output (I/O) devices.
  • For seamless connection, the data transmission should be implemented from the equipment and control layers to the manufacturing execution system (MES) and enterprise resources planning (ERP) layers.

Consider this

Is the fieldbus technology you are using ready for the Industry 4.0 transformation?

ONLINE extra

This was translated and edited for Control Engineering from Control Engineering China.

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www.ethercat.org 

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