Manufacturing AUTOMATION

High-performance automation for a connected world

May 31, 2013
By Ivan Romanow

The future of industrial automation is heading towards collaborative technologies and interactive communities that empower Enterprise Open Innovation.

The availability of proven connectivity protocols and cloud-based collaborative tools will empower companies of all sizes to a major advantage.

Future proofing

Using COM Express form factor in controllers in varying levels of ruggedization allows easy upgrades to the latest chip technologies during planned maintenance schedules resulting in simple, cost-effective upgrades for the processor alone without the expense to totally migrate to a new system. COM Express architecture separates the processor and carrier card resulting in shortened design cycles and lower validation costs and ensuring that performance keeps pace with changing needs and minimize cost for migration paths for the future.


Development and operation in the cloud

Cloud-based architecture enables controls to be created, configured, simulated, deployed and operated from a single point of connect via any devise with a browser.  It provides a collaborative online environment for building of systems, the reuse and sharing of entire applications and the exchange of ideas with colleagues.

Any automation network is more than the sum of its parts.  That’s why a revolutionary cloud-based platform for connected devices gives full functionality for creating, deploying, managing and maintaining control systems.

This single-point-of configuration for lifecycle management of the control system enables improved business performance and profitability in multiple ways.
• There would be no more software to install and maintain.  Instead, manage and access digital content from any device with a browser.
• Libraries of code and function blocks enable development engineers to find, co-create and implement software solutions for the task at hand.

This highly scalable platform turns a network of devices into an ecosystem primed for adaption and survival.

Building what is essentially the Industrial Internet, this platform can communicate with intelligent controllers that manage the automation system down to the nodes and back to the cloud.  The result is far greater resolution of the device-level data that can be  stored in the cloud for real-time automation control and lifecycle management of all critical devices.

Planning your move to the cloud

Understand your organization’s data security and privacy requirements.  Involve your legal, risk, and compliance counterparts to review privacy and data protection requirements.  If special data types must remain on-site, consider a hybrid deployment model.

Identify the necessary features of you current security solution and compare with the SaaS (software as a service) providers capabilities.  Determine if there are any missing features, review the SaaS road map, submit enhancement requests and build feature requests into contractual obligations.

Get ahead of the curve and protect your mobile device users.  

Carefully understand and negotiate service-level agreements for availability, reporting, performance and accuracy.  

Despite the robust availability that SaaS inherently provides, its imperative that you have a clear understanding of the SaaS provider’s disaster recovery plan in the event there is an incidence and what these implications are to you and what your plan is for that interim.

Leveraging the performance flexibility of Profinet

Profinet is a robust high speed network. Supports 1000s of nodes @ 1mS updates.  Robust redundant protocols, rich alarm and diagnostic information.  Among it’s strengths is its ability to operate in high-noise areas and cover large distances in real time.  This solution is ideal for those moving from centralized control systems to distributed structures where leveraging Ethernet based communications in all levels of automation.  Profinet provides flexible deployment that minimizes hardware and configuration issues, and improves application uptime with minimal cost.

The use of media redundancy protocol(MRP) in a ring topology allows customers to take a node down either through maintenance or accidental cut without taking down the system.  This powerful feature augments high-availability offering without adding external devices.  

The end results are new and exciting levels of machine-to-machine technologies that will transform the automation arena.

Ivan Romanow CET, is director of Sales Gescan Ontario a division of Sonepar Canada. To learn more, visit

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