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Manufacturers need versatile industrial Ethernet solutions to overcome modern obstacles

By Max Burkhalter
November 24, 2015

Industrial Ethernet hardware adoption has skyrocketed over the past few years. A study performed by IMS Research predicted that annual investments in industrial Ethernet equipment by process industries will reach $8.6 million in 2016, said Plant Engineering. This would represent a 96 percent increase over annual sales in 2011, and the large discrepancy over five years reflects a growing demand for interconnected, automated and wireless technology supplementing operations on the factory floor. Unfortunately, access to this type of equipment alone does not always translate into automatic improvements to daily workflows.

This knowledge gap is to be expected, given the relative newness of modern Ethernet applications on the factory floor. Manufacturing Business Technology pointed out that even if manufacturers have previously deployed Ethernet gear to manage information collection, additional resources are necessary to network control systems, automate activity on the supply chain and monitor energy consumption. Some balance can be brought to this equation if companies are willing to seek out the right industrial Ethernet gear. Plug-and-play integration and built-in security features are just a sample of the many ways high-end Ethernet equipment can ease the burden of updating the factory floor.

"Ethernet gear can ease burdens on the factory floor."

Durably constructed hardware simplifies organization on the factory floor
One way that versatile industrial Ethernet gear can streamline integration is by being built to withstand large amounts of interference from nearby equipment. Traditional Ethernet hardware is vulnerable to high or low temperatures, electrical shocks and vibrations, and shocks, requiring regular maintenance and replacement. Otherwise, IT specialist are forced to create a means of operating network equipment at a safe distance from the floor.

Manufacturers can sidestep this quandary completely by investing in rugged Ethernet equipment. The ability to deploy managed and unmanaged Ethernet switches that are prepared for the rough operating conditions of the manufacturing industry is a huge asset for companies interested in integrating solutions like predictive analytics into their process. Failure to take these extra steps could turn analytics investments into a boondoggle.

Applications depend on reliable data to perform correctly
Specialized business applications form the backbone of many manufacturers' network architecture. Unfortunately, even the most advanced analytics and automation tools will deliver inconsistent performance if the data feeding calculations is less than reliable. This is often the case when companies attempt to set up a high-performance Ethernet network on the factory floor without investing in appropriate network gear. That's why selecting heat, cold, shock, vibration and impact resistant industrial Ethernet equipment is so important. Military, transportation, utility, mining and energy sector manufacturers all require this level of sophistication and protection when upgrading their networks.

Updating operations means turning your factory into a wireless network.Updating operations means turning your factory into a wireless network.

Managed industrial Ethernet tools maintain network security
Security, and by extension compliance, should be a major priority for manufacturers as they create wireless networks to run their business. Attempts to set up networks without these tools in place can create considerable holes in the company's privacy strategy and exposed to cyberattacks and compliance fees. This speaks to the advantage of managed industrial Ethernet switches, which are capable of limiting the broadcast of data traffic between specified data points. While there are many scenarios where cost-savings can be achieved by investing in unmanaged industrial Ethernet gear, chances are that the extra upfront costs will pay themselves off down road when the company evolves with respect to scale.

The right choice for manufacturers in terms of industrial Ethernet equipment depends largely on the company's daily operations, but purchasing versatile Ethernet gear is a smart way to future-proof the factory floor.

Perle has over 516 models of Managed Industrial Ethernet Switches with the vast array of options including 10/100/1000 Ethernet, PoE, fiber and combo ports. Perle IDS Industrial-grade Ethernet Switches are ideal for the harsh environments found in industrial factory systems and outdoor applications.


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