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GE reveals new modules promoting Ethernet-based industry communications

By Max Burkhalter
January 21, 2014

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced three new PAC​Systems modules for industrial networks, providing communication protocols as "in rack" solutions. These new modules could significantly boost automation opportunities for firms, as well as increased performance across Ethernet I/O networks. However, the new modules would require firms to convert their proprietary networks to Ethernet LAN environments.

"By replacing proprietary networks with an Ethernet LAN and modern automation systems, industrial companies can improve device-level connectivity, network reliability, simplify deployment and leverage data from their machines to improve operations," said Mark Reitzel, mission-critical segment leader, GE Intelligent Platforms. "Electrical subsystems have a rich heritage of communication standards, and the PACSystems platform now integrates with them."

The new systems could greatly enhance a firm's ability to embrace automation and improve communication between systems and controllers, allowing users to troubleshoot downtime and repair issues remotely by making systems within the controller more accessible and actionable.

In order to achieve these goals, however, and implement new systems that include a full conversion to Ethernet IO, firms will need to consider their legacy systems and their compatibility. Many machines still operate solely on serial, requiring high-quality serial to Ethernet and RS232 to Ethernet converter solutions to make any transition seamlessly. The advantages offered by new, "in rack" hardware would be wasted if legacy systems were unable to communicate effectively with the controller after the conversion to Ethernet.

Furthermore, GE's new PACSystems modules offer fiber support, which presents an excellent opportunity to incorporate fiber-optic cabling with their networks, but only with the adequate media converter solutions in place.

These improvements mark a significant evolution of industrial network technologies, but not all companies are ready to fully convert. By utilizing top quality media converters and serial to Ethernet solutions, these firms can begin to harness these new potentials without discarding their legacy machinery just yet, and start focusing on automation and other trends in order to boost productivity and drive the revenues necessary to continue upgrading.

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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