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Performance key when establishing industrial Ethernet systems

By Donna Donnawitz
December 21, 2012
Network performance is always a critical consideration, but the reality is that a dropped data packet or two doesn't really matter for most network functions. Unless you are dealing with video or another specialty data type, dropped packets just don't make much of a difference unless they are occurring constantly. This is not the case, however, in industrial Ethernet settings. In the industrial sector, organizations face a problem because Ethernet is just barely able to meet reliability requirements and any dropped packets present a major problem.

Taking a close look at industrial Ethernet
According to a recent Plant Engineering report, serial and other specialized network protocols have been common in industrial settings because automation and control infrastructure requires advanced functionality that Ethernet could not initially meet. In automation and control settings, dropped data packets and similar problems can lead to machinery malfunctions and related issues that are extremely detrimental to productivity.

In the past few years, however, Ethernet has advanced considerably and high-performance tools can now ensure that data packet droppage and similar problems do not occur. As a result, Ethernet has emerged as a key tool in industrial settings.

Ethernet is especially helpful in factories and similar settings because it enables organizations to unify their data and industrial network systems to streamline operations and simplify the broad network setup. While this offers many potential gains, it is vital that the Ethernet setup is established in such a way that the network can meet the unique requirements of automation and control infrastructure. The report said this involves bandwidth, performance, resiliency, power capabilities and redundancy, all of which have to meet the specific demands of industrial operations.

These issues are not the only problems industrial organizations have to keep in mind when implementing Ethernet systems - they also have to address interoperability concerns.

Interoperability issues in industrial Ethernet
When organizations establish industrial network setups, there is generally some equipment designed to function on a serial network. In many cases, pockets of a factor may be built entirely based on serial network systems. With Ethernet gaining prominence in such environments, serial to Ethernet solutions can play a prominent role in enabling interoperability. Furthermore, media converters with advanced functionality can go beyond interoperability and enable companies to actually improve network operations.

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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