The EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) has announced the release of the new ETG.5003-1 device standard for the semiconductor industry. With the ETG.5003-1 standard and its corresponding nine specific device profiles, the ETG is now designed to be a starting point for a new generation of tools in the semiconductor industry.The release of the new device profiles ensures that EtherCAT will be used for more than just motion control, I/O, sensors and gateways in semiconductor manufacturing machines. From now on industry specific devices such as mass flow controllers or vacuum valves can be implemented directly into the EtherCAT system. On the technical side of this process, Florian Häfele supervises the ETG Semiconductor Technical Working Group and explains: “Since the release of the device profiles developed in 2012, we responded to machine builders’ demands to establish EtherCAT in the semiconductor industry as well to facilitate the creation of new industry-specific devices. We expect that EtherCAT will be found in nearly all tools, at the very latest when the 450 millimeter wafer diameter standard has been adopted for all semiconductor manufacturing machines.”The new profile, ETG.5003-1 (Common Device Profile = CDP) describes the general requirements for devices that are published within the specification series ETG.5003. At the moment this concerns nine different device types which are defined in the so-called Specific Device Profiles (SDP). Together with the CDP they provide the starting point for a new generation of devices with which more advanced machines of the future will be designed. The benefits of the new standard, according to ETG, include the fact that EtherCAT even devices from different manufacturers are now equal regarding their data structures and synchronization modes. This makes replacement and handling easier and significantly more understandable for tool manufacturers. Additionally, the industry-specific devices will get a more unique look and feel as a result.
Thermoelectric generators are devices based on the Seebeck effect that convert temperature differences into electrical energy. Although thermoelectric phenomena have been used for heating and cooling applications quite extensively, it is only in recent years that interest has increased in energy generation. This rising interest will continue and the growing market for thermoelectric energy harvesters will reach $875 million by 2023, according to the IDTechEx report “Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting 2013-2023: Devices, Applications, Opportunities.” Industrial applications taking off Wireless sensor networks are already beginning to adopt energy harvesting technologies, with industrial applications being at the forefront in this space. System integrators offering condition monitoring solutions in the process industry are adding energy harvesting-powered wireless sensors into their product portfolio, due to customer demand for wireless capability without the need for replacing batteries. Examples include the Logimote from Logimesh; small sensor nodes that can be mount directly onto internal combustion engines commonly used on well drilling rigs and natural gas compression packages using temperature differences between the engine and ambient air in order to generate power. Another example is the WiTemp, launched in 2013 by ABB, a wireless temperature transmitter for process industry applications powered by thermoelectric energy harvesting. The device features fully integrated thermoelectric generators and power management as well as standard thermowell or surface-mount installation.  It uses intrinsic process heat to power the full device (indicative required temperature difference ΔT = 30 K). In terms of data transmission, the device uses the wireless HART 7 communication protocol (2,4 GHz). It further ensures forward compatibility due to WirelessHART as well as secure data transfer. One user of this technology is Robinson Brothers, a specialty chemicals manufacturer in the U.K. that uses wireless sensors powered by energy harvesting to measure the temperature of their central heat distribution network (steam or oil) at certain points and transmit measurement values to office buildings without the need for wiring inside the process building. The device was installed in November 2012 and since that time it is powered permanently by process temperature as it is high enough to get a 100 per cent power supply from TEGs. Although the WSN segment is expected to initially grow slowly, as can be seen in the graph below, it is going to account for over a third of the overall market for thermoelectric harvesters by 2023. Non-WSN applications in the industrial sector will also see initially conservative growth but will account for almost a quarter of the market by 2023. An interesting application in this space is a concept proposed by Marlow Industries, the patent pending EverGen TEG Plate Exchanger that combines thermoelectric power generation with the high heat transfer rates, scalability and compactness of traditional plate exchanger technology. Electrical output ranges from single watts to kilowatts, depending on size and application needs. Gross volumetric power density can approach 1kW/ft3 for large systems, depending on the temperature differential available. This and other devices in industrial environments, such as steel foundries, combined heat and power plants or even applications such as hybrid solar thermal systems, are just some of the main markets that will be absorbing a large share of thermoelectric harvesters of varied shapes, sizes and performance characteristics. Dr. Harry Zervos is a senior technology analyst with IDTechEx. For more information on the industrial sector’s uptake of thermoelectric harvesters and for further details on other market segments such as consumer electronics and electrics, military and aerospace applications, as well as complete market forecast and segment penetration for the next decade, please visit
The convergence of industry and technology, minds and machines, hardware and software, intelligence and connectivity can provide multitudes of efficiencies from better scheduling and fuel savings to better maintenance. But all that must start with getting useable data from the plant floor. Selecting industrial networking protocols helps improve production efficiency and quality with enterprise connectivity, although Ethernet of the industrial kind requires specialty knowledge and practices beyond Ethernet for home and office. When installing or operating an industrial Ethernet network, there are some key essentials to consider, including cabling, signal quality, ground loops, switches and traffic. To help manufacturers accommodate evolving networking requirements, such as decentralization of control, integrated diagnostics and simplified maintenance, network protocols integrate with industrial equipment and control systems to communicate crucial status updates and production data. This results in a powerful industrial tool to streamline manufacturing production with reliable, enterprise-wide connectivity, providing the highest level of visibility, control and flexibility achieving increased productivity and reduced operating costs. With the migration away from point-to-point connection, advanced networking architectures ensure connectivity, collaboration and integration from the device level to enterprise business systems. By maximizing production control, enterprise connectivity can improve product quality, customer satisfaction and company profitability. When choosing a networking solution, users must understand the individual communication requirements as well as any environmental challenges present in each application. Evaluating the performance capabilities, features and characteristics of industrial protocols can assist manufacturers in selecting the ideal networking solution for critical communication needs. Which cable is the right cable?The Ethernet physical layer was developed with the primary purpose of conveying large amounts of information. Applied first to office-level networks, where multiple clients use the network to share information, Ethernet has expanded beyond traditional usage to the plant floor, especially with the advent of industrial Ethernet protocols. Ethernet communications can be used for industrial data collection, transmission and monitoring. Industrial environments are subject to temperature ranges, dust, humidity and a host of other factors not normally found in a home or office. What’s the right choice of cable? In an office, commercially-rated cable like Category 5 is good for up to 10 MB and Category 5e is good for up to 100 MB. The ANSI/TIA-1005 standard states that Category 6 or better cabling should be used for hosts or devices that are exposed to an industrial environment. Category 6 cable is good for up to 1 GB at 100 meters and 10 GB at 55 meters. Category 6a cable can do up to 10 GB at 100 meters. Category 6 cable is generally less susceptible to cross talk and external EMI noise than Category 5 and 5e cables. Industrial Ethernet cables are designed to be less susceptible to physical deterioration in the harsher industrial environments. When installing Category 6 cable, ensure that the RJ45 ends and jacks are also rated for Category 6. For the best results, use premade patch cables for short runs, with factory installed connectors. For long runs, install jacks. Cables, shielding, ground loopsSome applications require shielding, but improperly installed shielded cable can create more problems than it solves. Shielded Ethernet cable may perform better in high EMI environments if run outside of conduit. Proper grounding is critical with shielded cable. One ground reference is essential. Multiple ground connections can cause ground loops, where the difference in voltage potential at the ground connections can induce noise on the cable. A ground loop can wreak havoc on your network. To get this right, use a grounded RJ45 connector on only one end of the cable. On the other end use a nonconductive RJ45 connector to eliminate the possibility of ground loops. If the Ethernet cable crosses power lines, always cross at right angles. Separate parallel Ethernet and power cables by at least eight to 12 inches or more for higher voltages and longer parallel runs. If the Ethernet cable is in a metal pathway or conduit, each section of the pathway or conduit must be bonded to the adjacent section for electrical continuity along its path. In general, route Ethernet cables away from equipment that generates EMI, such as motors, motor control equipment, lighting and power conductors. Within panels, separate Ethernet cables from conductors by at least two inches. When routing away from EMI sources within a panel, follow the recommended cable bend radius. Fiber opticsFiber optic technology has many benefits for industrial networks, including high levels of electrical insulation and isolation, easy installation and survivability in hostile environments. Upgrading can bring these and more, such as greater security, robustness and signal integrity. Designers from many industries turn to fiber optic data links as an alternative to copper media. Fiber optic solutions result in reliable data links that are capable of communicating over distances—ranging from inches to kilometres—and are more immune to noise. Although both copper and fiber are used as a transmission medium, fiber optic solutions offer some clear benefits for the system designer. Industrial Fast Ethernet working hard clad silica (HCS), for longer data links, has numerous advantages over copper solutions. While copper-based communication links are susceptible to electromagnetic (EM) fields and emit EM noise, which may interfere with other instrumentation, fiber optic links are immune to EM fields and do not generate any electromagnetic interference (EMI). Other advantages of choosing fiber over copper include: low weight, complete galvanic separation between link partners, easy field termination and maintenance, easier installation due to short bending radius and less susceptibility to performance changes caused by temperature extremes and humidity. Fiber optic solutions are also well suited for noisy, industrial environments that have motors and high-voltage. At the higher networking level, industrial Ethernet connects engineering and management workstations to industrial Ethernet hubs for data sharing and control across the enterprise. The value proposition is significant. Fiber solutions are available with various data rates, like 1Gb and 10Gb, along with achieving distances of 2 km for multinode fiber and greater with single mode fiber with connectors that serve industrial communications and factory automation applications. Best of all, fiber has been successfully applied for more than 30 years and is widely used in enterprise and industrial applications. Switches and hubsTo put it simply, never use a hub in an industrial Ethernet environment. Hubs are nothing more than multiport repeaters. Eliminating the use of hubs leaves the choice between managed and non-managed (or unmanaged) switches. While managed switches are generally preferable, they are also more expensive than non-managed switches. Every device on a network has a unique identifier, referred to as a media access control (MAC) address. This is the key to the much more discriminating behaviour of a switch compared to a hub. When a switch first powers up, it initially behaves like a hub broadcasting all traffic everywhere. As devices pass information between ports on a switch, it watches this traffic, figures out which MAC address is associated with which port and places this information in a MAC address table. Once it figures out the MAC address of a device connected to a particular port, it will watch for information intended for that MAC address and transmit such information only to the port associated with that address. An industrial Ethernet network carries three types of traffic. Unicast traffic routes from one point to another point. Multicast traffic routes from one point to many points. Broadcast traffic routes from one point to all points. Once a switch has built its MAC address table, managed and unmanaged switches treat unicast and broadcast traffic identically. Generally, keep broadcast traffic under 100 broadcasts per second, at a bandwidth of 100 Mb. A little bit of broadcasting is an integral part of any network. An example of devices that may initiate broadcasts is a print server, announcing itself periodically to the network. Snooping One of the primary differences between managed and unmanaged switches is how they treat multicast traffic. Multicast traffic typically comes from smart devices on plant floor process networks, in a connection-oriented producer-/consumer-based technology. In this context a connection is simply a relationship between two or more nodes across a network. A device needs to be a member of a multicast group to receive group data. All members of the group receive data. You do not need to be a member of a group to send data to the group. The main problem with multicast traffic in a producer/consumer model is that traffic grows exponentially with the number of hosts. This is where the managed switch comes in. A managed switch has the ability to turn on Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP). Here’s how snooping works. When enabled, IGMP snooping sends out broadcast traffic to determine the members of any multicast groups. This information, combined with the MAC address table, allows a managed switch to route multicast traffic only to those ports associated with members of a multicast group. A non-managed switch treats multicast data the same as broadcast data and sends it everywhere. If the network uses producer/consumer technology or has multicast traffic, a managed switch is a must and worth the price premium. TroubleshootingThere are other reasons to consider a managed switch. This class of switches usually provides error logs, control of individual port speeds, duplex settings and the ability to mirror ports. These extra capabilities allow more precise control of network behaviour and can be an invaluable help troubleshooting issues that will certainly occur on the network at some point. When network performance issues occur, the first suspect often is the switch, though the switch rarely is the core of most network performance problems. Switches tend to be the lowest latency points in a system, typically operating 10 to 50 times faster than all other network components. While there is excellent software to help troubleshoot network performance issues, most of it can only see broadcast and multicast traffic. That’s fair enough, because many performance issues are caused by unrestrained multicast traffic or excessive broadcast traffic. If you need to examine unicast traffic for any reason, port mirroring is the only way. It is OK to use a non-managed switch if there is no multicast traffic on the network. On very small, simple networks with a few devices, many people use non-managed switches. Sometimes they take half-steps and combine the two, having a few remote devices on a non managed switch, which then feeds into a managed switch. As a general practice for networks of more than a few nodes, if cost is not a primary concern, go with a managed switch, which is often a much better choice in hindsight. Ivan Romanow, CET, is director of sales and marketing with Gescan Ontario, a division of Sonepar Canada. For more information, visit This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.
The Fieldbus Foundation has released the latest version of its FOUNDATION for Safety Instrumented Functions (SIF) Interoperability Test Kit (ITK). This test solution has been updated with new test cases to verify the functionality of H1 (31.25 bit/s) fieldbus devices based on the current FOUNDATION for SIF technical specifications, including the newly introduced H1 dual-mode device capability employing powerful field diagnostics. FOUNDATION for SIF ITK 1.2 is designed for troubleshooting and debugging fieldbus instruments, and provides all hardware and software required to ensure a manufacturer's complete device interoperability as specified by the Fieldbus Foundation's official registration testing procedure. By using the test kit, device developers can run tests identical to those used by the foundation before submitting their device for registration. Fieldbus Foundation director-Fieldbus Products Stephen Mitschke said, "The updated FOUNDATION for SIF ITK verifies advanced functionality such as the new dual-mode H1 device capability allowing automation suppliers to bring new safety products to market without having to design two entirely different devices. Developers can implement H1 instruments with SIF features activated or de-activated. More importantly, this means that plants will only have to stock one type of instrument that can be used as either a process device or a safety device." According to Mitschke, multiple FOUNDATION for SIF pilot projects are underway at locations around the world with different end users. Saudi Aramco has successfully launched two pilot projects and is preparing to install working systems within operating oil and gas facilities. After these smaller pilot projects are complete, the company plans expanded deployment of FOUNDATION for SIF technology in order to exploit its benefits on larger, mega-scale projects. In addition, Shell Project & Technology has specified FOUNDATION for SIF for use on the Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) project in the Netherlands. These companies, along with other major end users, are encouraging the automation equipment industry to develop safety-approved products for their initial installations. The FOUNDATION for SIF ITK includes a host of test cases verifying the functionality of a fieldbus device and its conformance with the FOUNDATION fieldbus function block and transducer block specifications. It also incorporates a DD "Super Viewer" allowing examination and verification of a device's DD, and a conformance test procedure for the Physical Layer. Device developers can "walk" their DD, execute methods, and render visualization elements supported by DD 5.1 technology. The interoperability test suite can be paired with an ITK automation tool designed to eliminate several manual intervention steps required when performing pre-registration testing of fieldbus devices. The tool improves ITK schedule efficiency and provides a direct reduction in the person-hours needed to complete the testing phase. It is available with a maintenance agreement to keep the test suite software up to date with the latest enhancements. FOUNDATION for SIF ITK 1.2 is available to current users with maintenance agreements, as well as for new purchases. For more information, please visit the Tools page of the Fieldbus Foundation Website or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
The Fieldbus Foundation today announced approval of a backhaul architecture model, developed in collaboration with International Society of Automation standards committee ISA100 that provides a common framework enabling multiple industrial communication protocols to run over a shared wireless backhaul network in process automation systems. Completion of this work is a key milestone supporting implementation of the Fieldbus Foundation's wireless High Speed Ethernet (HSE) backhaul included in FOUNDATION for Remote Operations Management (ROM) technology. In June 2008, ISA100 leaders established a new working group, ISA100.15—Wireless Backhaul Networks Working Group—to develop standards and technical reports to address one or more dedicated or shared wireless backhaul(s) to support technologies running multiple applications. At the same time, Fieldbus Foundation end user members identified the wireless backhaul as critical for FOUNDATION for ROM development. To expedite the work, the Fieldbus Foundation and ISA began joint collaboration on wireless networks combining Fieldbus Foundation application protocol expertise with ISA100 communication networking resources to complete the architecture model. ISA will publish the work as technical report ISA-TR100.15.01, Backhaul Architecture Model: Secured Connectivity over Untrusted or Trusted Networks, within the ISA100 family of standards. Dr. Penny Chen, principal systems architect with Yokogawa and co-chair of the ISA100.15 working group, praised the results of the wireless backhaul collaborative effort. "Working together, dedicated engineers have a developed a solution meeting industry requirements for a wireless backhaul transport network to facilitate interoperability, end-to-end security, and end-to-end quality of service in industrial wireless installations," Dr. Chen said. Dave Glanzer, Fieldbus Foundation director of technology development and co-chair of the working group commented, "The Fieldbus Foundation has consistently supported wireless advancements, and this joint initiative is crucial to FOUNDATION for ROM. Our ROM solution extends the capabilities of FOUNDATION fieldbus to countless wired and wireless devices installed in some of the world’s harshest and most remote locations. It provides a unified digital infrastructure for asset management in applications ranging from tank farms and terminals to pipelines, offshore platforms, and even OEM skids." According to Glanzer, plans are underway for a series of field demonstrations using the FOUNDATION for ROM wireless HSE backhaul. Major end users hosting the demonstrations include Reliance Industries (India), Petrobras (Brazil) and Saudi Aramco (Saudi Arabia). Additional end user sites in Japan and Europe are expected to join the program. The field demos will offer a look at the full functionality of FOUNDATION for ROM, including wireless device integration, remote I/O integration, and wireless backhaul capabilities.
The market for industrial wireless devices is growing rapidly, and a new report from Frost & Sullivan suggests the technology will soon be a critical part of plant optimization processes. The report, Analysis of Wireless Devices in European Industrial Automation Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $218.0 million in 2011 and estimates this to reach $539.5 million in 2016. "Wireless devices reduce maintenance costs, boost productivity and improve quality of production," said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Anna Mazurek in a statement. "At the same time, initial implementation does not require vast restructuring or expensive machinery replacement. This combination of plant optimization, quick return on investment and easy installation is highlighting the benefits of industrial wireless automation." The study found that industrial wireless devices optimize the working of plant equipment through better asset allocation and monitoring machine health. They support plant staff with constant data access and easy communication. Constant and instant access to real-time data also supports enhanced operational flexibility and mobility. However, the perception of wireless devices as a non-critical improvement threatens to limit penetration levels. The technology provides end users with connections that are often already covered by wires and likely to last another decade. Moreover, plant managers do not yet perceive wireless technology as the harbinger of significant production process improvements. "End users need to realize that wireless technology not only replaces wires but has the potential to reshape and optimize production process," said Mazurek. "Vendor efforts to promote the technology have fallen short, particularly among the more reluctant potential wireless adopters." Wireless devices manufacturers need to educate end users not only about basic technological features, but also on the full range of usage benefits and opportunities offered by wireless communication. "Most importantly, end users will need to be educated on how the technology can be tailored to address their particular needs," said Mazurek. "The market needs another four to five years of pilot applications and technology trials to address all pending concerns about the technology performance and convince end users on the advantages of deploying industrial wireless devices."
The Fieldbus Foundation has released a major revision to its AG-181 System Engineering Guidelines.  AG-181 is a comprehensive guide that includes best practices and recommendations for a complete FOUNDATION fieldbus installation, from engineering and design through commissioning, startup, operations, and maintenance. The guide includes recommendations on topics from selecting cable to wiring installation, grounding, implementing plant asset management systems, and best practices for project management.The new edition of AG-181 has been reformatted and reorganized to make it easier to read and access information. Some content has been rewritten to include more up-to-date information. This includes sections covering the Fieldbus Intrinsically Safe Concept (FISCO) fieldbus design rules, cable length, surge protection and segment scheduling. A section on the use of existing wiring has also been added.According to Larry O'Brien, global marketing manager for the Fieldbus Foundation, the FOUNDATION fieldbus System Engineering Guidelines is "one of the automation industry's best-kept secrets" that belongs in the library of almost every process control engineer. It is a highly valuable resource for the growing number of end users, system integrators and engineering firms involved in the implementation of FOUNDATION fieldbus."One of the things we try to do at the Fieldbus Foundation is put information into the hands of those who need it around the world. We want people to become proficient in the use of our technology, from engineering and design to installation, maintenance, and operations," said O’Brien in a statement. "Our System Engineering Guidelines document contains the distilled wisdom of many of the world's leading fieldbus technology experts, from those in the engineering and construction world to end users, systems integrators, educators, and suppliers. It offers many good pointers on how to do your fieldbus project right the first time, and is an essential part of the toolbox of any FOUNDATION fieldbus professional. If you already have the older version, the latest update will look more streamlined and contains several new sections, as well as rewrites of old sections."The FOUNDATION fieldbus System Engineering Guidelines is separated into 11 sections, each covering different aspects of the fieldbus project lifecycle. Specific topics include: General Considerations, Fieldbus Definitions, Fieldbus Project Requirements, Host System Requirements, Software Configuration, Field Device Requirements, Segment Components, Network/Segment Design Guidelines, Site Installation Guidelines, Acceptance Testing, and Documentation Requirements.O'Brien indicated that the FOUNDATION fieldbus System Engineering Guidelines provides accurate and current fieldbus information in a vendor-neutral format, and is revised periodically to reflect changes to FOUNDATION technology. He said, "There is no better guide to implementing FOUNDATION fieldbus available today."To obtain the FOUNDATION fieldbus System Engineering Guidelines (Document Reference No. AG-181), visit the Fieldbus Foundation's Technical References page under the End User Resources section on The document can be downloaded in PDF format.
An increasing number of manufacturing organizations are looking at industrial networking as a discipline. Many of these companies are bringing together traditional automation engineering with corporate IT to gain a cross-functional view of how industrial network performance can be improved.In 2012, the need to reduce operations cost continues to be a pressure. As manufacturing processes become increasingly complex, manufacturers are asked to be more flexible and agile to meet their customer and global supply chain demands. At the same time, manufacturers are also pressured by the need to reduce the risk of adverse events, driving greater scrutiny and accountability. While this pressure has decreased from 37 per cent to 27 per cent, the focus on risk cannot be an afterthought. All of this translates into a greater need for timely and informed decisions, enabled by making real-time data available to more people in more locations than ever. Aberdeen used four key performance criteria to distinguish the Best-in-Class from Industry Average and Laggards, where the Best-in-Class are the top 20 per cent of performers, Industry Average are middle 50 per cent of performers, and Laggards are the bottom 30 per cent (Table 1).{nomultithumb}As Table 1 shows, the Best-in-Class companies are able to directly influence the efficiency of their network by optimizing their industrial network with an average of eight hours of network downtime per year (99.91 per cent uptime) as compared to Laggards, who experience 135 hours, or five days, (98.45 per cent uptime) of network downtime per year. At the same time, they are also able to reduce manufacturing operations costs by reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by 11 per cent. The Best-in-Class do this all while improving their manufacturing productivity with an OEE rate of 90 per cent and overachieving their operating margin by 25 per cent, compared to Laggards who only achieve 60 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. Business capabilities With millions of dollars invested in enterprise business and engineering systems, and millions more invested in process control and factory automation systems, companies are looking for ways to power the enterprise with a real-time capability that capitalizes on the untapped synergies of these two domains. The Best-in-Class enable this synergy by implementing the following business capabilities (Table 2). As more manufacturers are seeing the benefits of using Ethernet's Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) technology as their industrial communication standard, network architectures are changing. Manufacturers have to navigate the complex architectures and pick one that will ensure minimal network downtime, all while enabling the same productivity levels. To overcome this challenge, the Best-in-Class are first defining networking standards and then implementing those practices across their enterprise. Part of the challenge with industrial networking is that a lot of manufacturers do not know where to start. If there is a defined roadmap, it makes it much easier to implement and share best practices across the company. In addition to this, the Best-in-Class have outlined standardized practices for introducing new equipment and incorporating it into the network. When manufacturers do not properly connect their assets to the network, they risk not receiving the critical information from those assets. Providing and sharing these kinds of best practices across the company removes any frustration and doubt, and thus minimizes the time needed to implement, manage and maintain the system. At the same time, while these business processes are an important foundation, they can't be implemented without the right organizational structure. The Best-in-Class understand the importance of having an executive sponsor and ownership for improving the network architecture of the facility. Without a true budget holder, it becomes extremely difficult to find the funds needed to invest in equipment, services and training. Simultaneously, an organization needs a leader to drive the change in the culture. With the developments in technology, it has blurred the traditional lines between business (IT) domain and the real-time domain of control engineering and operations. This in turn has created a cultural battle between automation and control engineers and corporate IT. The Best-in-Class are forming cross-functional teams that include both IT and automation and control engineers to build out a network strategy that has a balanced view from all groups. Issues such as network topology, isolation, security and network management are critical - and why the Best-in-Class are developing teams with the domain knowledge to design, implement, and manage such environments. The cross-functional team needs the knowledge to make appropriate decisions around questions like: 'How are system upgrades and patches managed?' 'How should network traffic be managed to ensure mission-critical applications are getting the bandwidth they require?' Indeed, these issues cannot be overlooked and they drive the need for an organization to create better alignment between corporate IT and plant IT. The manufacturing industry is at a tipping point. As more and more facilities adopt Ethernet, it opens up the door to implementing different kinds of technologies that will only help improve manufacturing operations. Therefore, the Best-in-Class are quantifying these benefits and have the ability to calculate the cost-benefit of upgrading to new equipment and implementing the latest technology. Technology enablersIndustrial networks are a different animal from day-to-day business networks. Industrial networks differ from traditional networks in their need for determinism, reliability, and speed in the transmission of data. The network architecture is key to enabling the ability for manufacturers to gain real-time visibility into operations at the plant floor as well as at the executive level. When the network architecture isn't developed with both of these goals in mind, it leads to islands of disconnected networks from the field level to the manufacturing operations level to the enterprise level. In turn, this leads to many manufacturers having multiple networks at the same layer (with multiple skill sets and software) that do the same thing. As exemplified in the figure below, by using industrial Ethernet as the backbone for the network, manufactures can more easily integrate their manufacturing and enterprise network. In doing so, they are better able to connect the multiple applications from the field level to the manufacturing level to the enterprise level. In the traditional network architecture, there is a gap in the ability to bridge manufacturing and enterprise networks because manufactures are not using the same protocol. Instead, at the corporate level, they are only using TCP/IP and at the field level, they use multiple fieldbus protocols. Over the years, Aberdeen's research has seen the progression and adoption of industrial Ethernet in the manufacturing environment. In fact, Aberdeen’s Industrial Networking: Real-time Foundation for Manufacturing and the Enterprise uncovered that Best-in-Class have recognized the many benefits of industrial Ethernet and are twice as likely than their competitors to have a fully industrial Ethernet network architecture. Indeed, before an organization plans on implementing industrial Ethernet, they need to understand that it takes a combination of organization restructuring, defined best practices, and the ability to have real-time visibility from the network, to the plant level, to the executive level.Aberdeen's research has seen decision-makers at both the plant and enterprise level demand greater transparency to sense, detect, decide, and respond in time to take corrective and preventative action. Companies are looking to adopt the latest industrial networking technology to harness the real-time capability of the plant floor. To find out more about how the Best-in-Class are successfully implementing a reliable Industrial Network, read Aberdeen’s Industrial Networking: Real-time Foundation for Manufacturing and the Enterprise.Nuris Ismail is a research analyst with the Aberdeen Group. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Reid Paquin is a research associate with the Aberdeen Group. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
The Fieldbus Foundation today announced registration of the first isolated device couplers based on its FOUNDATION H1 (31.25 kbit/s) device coupler test specification. Devices from MTL and R. Stahl successfully completed the foundation's rigorous registration process. As part of a FOUNDATION fieldbus infrastructure, isolated device couplers are installed where the fieldbus trunk (i.e., home run cable) is connected to the various device spurs. Isolated device couplers are specifically designed to allow automation end users to connect more devices per coupler while permitting live segment work in hazardous plant areas. These couplers provide isolated, conditioned power to multiple fieldbus devices and protect against short circuits caused by excess current in a spur. By enabling more devices per segment, they also help reduce controller input/output (I/O) points and associated installation costs.MTL's 9370-FB Series Fieldbus Barrier provides a range of complete integrated enclosure systems, instead of stand-alone barrier modules. All internal components are live pluggable, meaning that field maintenance can be carried out quickly and safely. Surge protection devices for the trunk and spurs can be easily fitted without requiring product re-design. The product series includes 6- and 12-spur versions in stainless steel or GRP enclosures, as well as a redundant option enabling improved system availability in critical fieldbus networks.R. Stahl's Series 9411/21 and 9411/24 isolated device couplers are suitable for use in Zone 1, Zone 2 and U.S. Division 2, and are available with plastic or stainless steel housings that can be tailored to fit customer requirements. The series also includes a unique power management feature: during the start-up of a fieldbus segment, the spurs energize one after the other. This reduces the inrush current on a segment by up to 50 percent, requiring less spare energy and making longer segment lengths possible.The Fieldbus Foundation's Stephen Mitschke, director-fieldbus products, commented, "The device coupler test specification provides a high level of robustness in fieldbus systems. And recent enhancements to the FOUNDATION fieldbus physical layer specifications provide end users with greater confidence that registered fieldbus equipment can be employed in a tightly integrated, interoperable control system architecture that is well suited to the most demanding industrial environments," Mitschke said.
The prospect of adding wireless devices to the process automation architecture is a compelling one from the perspective of tangible business benefits and incremental operational improvements. Availability of robust industrial wireless network protocols, such as WirelessHART and ISA100.11a, for use with IEEE standard technology makes the prospect even more attractive relative to past proprietary, often standalone wireless implementations. This potential is somewhat offset, however, by competition between these standards that leads customers to fear that wireless is emerging as the next platform for the automation fieldbus wars.
Virus problems in the office network are merely inconvenient when compared to expensive virus disruptions and unwanted data traffic in a production network. In order to minimize the risk of disturbances and production downtime caused by unauthorized access or malware, one leading manufacturer decided to implement greater security precautions.
With flexibility, cost savings and user-friendly characteristics, wireless technologies today can be seen in many applications and industries. One more recent arrival to the wireless scene is the automotive factory floor.
Honeywell's Limitless WDRR Wireless Din-Rail Receiver for industrial, construction, machine, material handling and heavy transportation applications, is a din-rail or panel-mountable receiver designed to receive wireless signals from up to 14 different position-sensing switches, and communicate the individual switch status to a PLC or any controllers capable of receiving NPN/PNP inputs. The Limitless wireless network includes the WDRR and WPMM receivers, and the WLS and WGLA limit switches; uses the global, license-free RF wireless 802.15.4 WPAN protocol; provides up to a 305 m (1000 ft) line-of-sight communication range; and prolongs battery life with advanced power management technology, the company says.
Is wireless better than a wired network? The answer is no; it's different. A plethora of wireless technologies exists to suit a variety of users. Is it for every application? No. But for many, wireless can be more flexible, versatile and cost effective than wired networks. Yet, questions regarding security, reliability and capacity of wireless continue to prevent conservative end users from reaping its benefits. Can these be overcome?
Manufacturing is an industry with complex operations, where the success of any organization lies in producing high quality products at lower costs at the right time. This requires companies to enable real-time visibility into operations at the plant floor and executive levels to make intelligent decisions. The Aberdeen Group, in collaboration with Manufacturing AUTOMATION, surveyed more than 150 executives to understand how industry leaders are taking advantage of industrial networking to enable real-time visibility into data to optimize production, maintenance and safety. Below are highlights from the survey.
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