Device-level benefits of industrial Ethernet

Ethernet improvements, smart remote I/O and peer-to-peer technology can lead to better, more flexible control.

10/01/2009


An industrial enterprise can grow too big for efficient automation control using traditional technology. Advances in industrial Ethernet, however, can provide a solution. Using additional techniques such as smart remote I/O and peer-to-peer technology can result in better and more flexible control, along with a change in the way Ethernet is used.

For one quick example of the benefits possible, consider a site with widely scattered oil tanks. Monitoring the level in those tanks is best done with remote Ethernet-based smart I/O modules. Polling the tanks one by one to get their level works but the amount of time needed increases with the number of tanks. Smart remote modules with peer-to-peer capability can send a message to a control room if the level in a tank is lower or higher than a set point. The effect is a real-time update, done in a cost-effective way that scales easily with increasing site size.

For end users, having Ethernet everywhere in the enterprise means the first two layers of the standard seven-layer communication model (the physical and data link layers) are the same throughout the enterprise. This eases the task of network integration and helps with network configuration and reconfiguration. It also means that one skill set can handle the entire network, reducing or eliminating the need to maintain specialized technical expertise for other networking technologies.

Smart I/O among peers

In the traditional master-client mode found in serial and proprietary networks, a controller has to read input module data. It then sends data back to the output module, completing the input-output loop. Those transactions require a controller, along with wiring to and from the I/O module. This back-and-forth sequence can take extra time if the controller is busy with another task. It also can be difficult to scale for a variety of reasons. It may involve a proprietary network, which may only be able to cover a limited distance. Likewise, there could be scaling problems if the number of connections to the controller overwhelms the device or proprietary protocol.

Peer-to-peer can decrease wiring

In contrast, peer-to-peer connections run from specific input channels on one module to specific output channels on another. Data automatically transfer from one to the other, simplifying the entire I/O process. One obvious advantage is that no controller is needed, saving system hardware costs. A less obvious benefit is that the wiring can be simplified, since it need only run from one module to the next. If connections are done using industrial Ethernet, then the wiring options become very flexible.

For an example of how peer-to-peer technology can help solve some real world problems, consider a company with three branches in separate countries. At headquarters, personnel in a control room monitor the gates leading to the other sites over an Internet connection. Given the desire to actively control the gates, one solution would be to run a separate communication network. With peer-to-peer modules, however, that control can be done over the existing intra- and Internet by placing a module at the control room and each gate. The control room module can act as a controller for each gate through the remote module.

Of course, there are different ways to implement peer-to-peer connections. One is to simply map the channel of one module to another, ensuring the security and pairing of the connection by only allowing a specific IP or MAC address control authority. The other is a more advanced case, with multiple modules mapping to one on either the input or output side. Advantech’s Adam series of controllers offer such a capability. They enable flexible channel mapping while offering a response time of less than 1.2 milliseconds for wired modules and less than 30 milliseconds when in an ad hoc wireless mode.

To see more resources, including the full whitepaper “Benefitting from Industrial Ethernet at the Device Level with Smart Remote I/O and Peer to Peer Technology,” visit www.controleng.com and search “Industrial Ethernet.”



Author Information

Peishan Juan is a technical writer with the Industrial Automation Group of Advantech Corp.




No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Leaders Under 40 program features outstanding young people who are making a difference in manufacturing. View the 2013 Leaders here.
The new control room: It's got all the bells and whistles - and alarms, too; Remote maintenance; Specifying VFDs
2014 forecast issue: To serve and to manufacture - Veterans will bring skill and discipline to the plant floor if we can find a way to get them there.
2013 Top Plant: Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Bring focus to PLC programming: 5 things to avoid in putting your system together; Managing the DCS upgrade; PLM upgrade: a step-by-step approach
Balancing the bagging triangle; PID tuning improves process efficiency; Standardizing control room HMIs
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.