Ethernet diversifying in industrial markets

Industrial Ethernet technologies are gaining prominence in a wide range of sectors.

By Donna Donnawitz
May 7, 2013

Industrial Ethernet solutions have long been a fairly niche technology as Ethernetplayed a fairly small role in a somewhat limited number of sectors. In many factories and manufacturing centers, serial technologies provide a central connectivity option for automation and control networks, making Ethernet a fairly complementary technology. However, Ethernet systems have evolved to the point that they can be used in a diverse range of manufacturing systems, including some automation and control networks. According to a recent ARC Advisory Group study, demand for industry Ethernet switching solutions is growing as the market for Ethernet solutions in various industrial settings rises.

The broadening industrial Ethernet market
The news source explained that industrial Ethernet systems have traditionally been used in automation architectures, but the technology is increasingly deployed for a wider range of uses, creating an environment in which demand for Ethernet switches is rising in such settings. In many cases, industrial Ethernet solutions are being used in more places than just factories. Companies are using the technology to support smart grid deployment, utility substation technologies, intelligent rail operations and a variety of transit projects that often depend on intelligent device architectures. This represents a considerable broadening of the industrial Ethernet market, leading to greater revenue potential in the sector. However, it also means a wider range of solutions will be necessary to support shifting industry conditions.

The study found that the wide market for industrial Ethernet solutions is creating a dynamic in which standard switching solutions are no longer going to get the job done in many instances. Instead, companies are going to have to explore the various industrial Ethernet technologies on the market, analyze their operational needs and identify the best possible option. This makes looking at issues like the number of ports on a switch, alternate media support options and performance capabilities a vital consideration for companies.

Using terminal servers to optimize industrial Ethernet systems
Industrial Ethernet systems, though more popular, are also not a complete solution in many sectors. Instead, serial technologies are often needed for a variety of purposes, despite Ethernet's rise. This creates an environment in which organizations have to prepare for multiple network formats in industrial settings. Terminal server systems can make it much easier to support such a setup by helping companies develop serial and Ethernet interoperability in a cost-effective way.

Perle's serial to Ethernet converters connect serial based equipment across an Ethernet network. The Perle IOLAN range of Console Servers, Device Servers and Terminal Servers feature built-in support for IPv6 along with a broad range of authentication methods and encryption technologies.


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