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Integration a key part of Ethernet deployments

By Max Burkhalter
August 3, 2011
Industrial Ethernet is a major area for networking expansion as a growing number of manufacturers consider network upgrades that can foster productivity, efficiency and communication between machines. According to a recent SA Instrumentation & Control report, Ethernet networks are continually becoming more popular in industrial settings, but a great deal of variety exists in terms of how manufacturers deploy the technology.

The report explained that many high-performance Ethernet services offer lots of bandwidth, advanced network appliances and industry-specific capabilities that can be critical for many manufacturers. However, these deployments can often only be used for specific applications and are difficult to align for cross-application functions, the report said. Therefore, more manufacturers are showing an interest in integrated industrial Etherent solutions, which may not offer quite as robust performance benefits, but are easier to manage and maintain.

Instead of using Ethernet technology in separate networks, each with a distinct purpose, the report said more manufacturers are integrating horizontal and vertical Ethernet networks to unify devices and bring together the network as a whole. The report explained this procedure helps bring network appliances and industrial devices under a single infrastructure for connectivity, easing management and helping manufacturers get the most out of their Ethernet infrastructure.

However, there are certain parts of an industrial Ethernet network that cannot be easily integrated with the rest of the network appliances without making too many sacrifices. The report identified industrial motion control systems as one such area, and said companies are increasingly deploying specific Ethernet applications to handle motion sensing needs.

In most instances, manufacturers are using COTS-based protocols for their motion sensing Ethernet infrastructure, but some are using physical media or replacing TCP/IP with real-time messaging protocols, according to the news source. The report explained that traditional motion sensing systems used serial technology to handle communication within the network. However, employing Ethernet to serve in this sector is providing significant performance benefits and productivity increases.

Industrial networks also need to take security into consideration when they deploy robust infrastructure. A recent SecurityInfoWatch explained that many industrial networks will soon require IPv6 because they depend so heavily on a large quantity of connected devices. As each of these devices is able to communicate with the network, it is important to take all possible security issues into account because information can be passed between network-connected objects so fast that a security issue could create major problems.


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