Wired and wireless networks gain strength


Wired and wireless networks gain strength

Behind all the integration and application of these technological advances are the networks that bind them all together. Both wired and wireless networks have undergone significant evolution over the past decade, providing greater opportunities for those who take advantage of the advancements of the next.

Ethernet evolution

Ethernet, both wired and wireless, has become the go-to network of choice throughout manufacturing and production. Ethernet has been used for all forms of communication, including data, audio, video, and industrial control networks using shared infrastructure. Speed ​​and performance continue to increase with Gigabit Ethernet (GbE or 1 GigE) and the accelerated use of fiber optic networks. With the rise in power, there have naturally been some interesting developments.

Advanced Physical Layer (APL)

The advanced physical layer is based on IEEE802.3. The IEEE P802.3cg 10Mbps Single Pair Ethernet Task Force is focusing on the use of a single pair cable operating at 10Mbps with power supply. This is intended to comply with requirements for use in hazardous locations up to Zone 0, Division 1.2.1 5G Wireless. The focus is on replacing the old point-to-point and point-to-multipoint, which includes 4-20mA, HART modem, RS-232, RS-485, CAN (Controller Area Network and FlexRay).

Key features of the APL include a short range and up to 1km distance, over a single pair of cabling, which can survive outage conditions and harsh automotive and industrial environments. Work is underway to define the requirements and develop the technology necessary to meet the requirements for use in hazardous locations up to Zone 0, Division 1.2.1 5G.

The FieldComm Group, ODVA and PI (Profibus & Profinet International) are work together promote developments for Industrial Ethernet in order to extend the use of EtherNet / IP â„¢, HART-IP â„¢ and PROFINET â„¢ in hazardous areas of the process industry by taking advantage of the work currently in progress within the group of work IEEE 802.3cg.

There is a lot of discussion and (in some quarters) enthusiasm about the prospect of a Time-Sensitive Network (TSN), which some say will become the only unifying deterministic network shared by all applications of the computer industry. Since TSN is a fully managed shared network architecture, all network traffic – including all industrial plant protocols – should conform and be compliant with the TSN set of standards; in order to obtain deterministic and reliable communications. Based on interviews and discussions I have had with people involved in IEEE committees, they report that the entire standard will be completed in a few years.

Creating a practical multi-vendor TSN architecture presents challenges and adds new layers of complexity for industrial Ethernet networking. Network synchronization has been closely associated with network configuration and management. A network like this, in my experience, was the Allen-Bradley Network and The ControlNet. It was a tightly-paced, scheduled and managed network dedicated to industrial control and surveillance, with those tightly-scheduled communications producing high determinism. Although complex, the scope of the problem was dedicated to industrial automation applications, with a set of software and controllers from a single vendor, Allen-Bradley.

In contrast, TSN is considered a common multi-vendor shared network for multi-mode communication for general computing, VOIP, professional audio, video, file transfer, industrial automation, building automation and all other data communication.

In order to take advantage of TSN’s timing planning, it would appear that the control programming software and controller firmware will need to be redesigned to accommodate the I / O point definition and variable timing specifications.

Since the goal is to support multiple industrial network protocols as well as data multimedia applications, this will require an industry-wide shared network manager and API standard that all vendors must adhere to. . Yet when asked several people about standardization in this area, it is clear that there is no defined open standard and certainly no identified certification group on the horizon.

Before the full standard is completed in a few years, there will likely be offers from industrial automation vendors, but I suggest buyers beware, these solutions could turn into “white elephants”.

The rise of wireless 5G and what it means for industrial automation

Wireless networks, in particular, are advancing in a way that opens up many possibilities for industrial automation. The idea of ​​wireless industrial automation has long been an elusive goal on the wish list of many users. But it might not be so elusive anytime soon, as 5G begins to make that goal a reality. Companies are already starting to roll out private 5G networks in factories and are seeing increased performance, determinism, low latency, and reliability. One example is a demonstration at Hannover Messe 2018, where Beckhoff and Huawei demonstrated high-speed, deterministic coordinated movement over 5G wireless communications. With the power of 5G, this probably won’t be the last example.

5G is the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications, intended to succeed 4G (LTE / WiMax), 3G (UMTS) and 2G (GSM) systems. 5G performance targets high data throughput, low latency, energy savings, lower costs, higher system capacity, and massive device connectivity. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) IMT-2020 specification requires speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second. The first phase of version 15 5G specifications will be completed by March 2019 to enable early commercial deployment. The second phase of version 16 is expected to be completed by March 2020 for submission to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as an IMT-2020 technology candidate.

According to the IEEE, 5G networks have three major advantages:

  • High data rates (1-20 Gbps)
  • Low latency (1 ms)
  • Greater network capacity and scalability

Another example of use is the effort of Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz Cars division to establish a local 5G network to support automotive production processes at its “Factory 56” in Sindelfingen, Germany. SNS Telecom & IT estimates that up to 30% of the investment, or approximately $ 2.5 billion, will be spent on building private 5G networks, which will become the preferred wireless connectivity medium to support the current revolution of the Industry 4.0 for the automation and digitization of factories, warehouses, ports and other industrial premises, in addition to serving other applications.

Corning and Verizon have installed ultra-broadband 5G service at Corning’s fiber optic cable manufacturing plant in Hickory, North Carolina. Corning will use Verizon’s 5G technology to test how 5G can improve functions, such as factory automation and quality assurance, at one of the world’s largest fiber-optic cable manufacturing facilities. Companies are also working together to co-innovate 5G-enabled solutions that can potentially revolutionize the way goods and services are produced. Low latency, fast speeds and high bandwidth of 5G
can improve the manufacturing process, improving capabilities such as machine learning, augmented reality, and virtual reality (AR / VR). Verizon and Corning engineers will explore how the factory of the future can use 5G to accelerate data collection, allow machines to communicate with each other in near real time, and wirelessly track and inspect inventory using cameras connected to 5G. They will also test how 5G can improve the function of
Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) helping them move around the plant more efficiently.

Support the growth of 5G

There are many working to support the growth of 5G wireless in industrial organizations. The 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation (5G-ACIA) serves as a central and global forum to address, discuss and assess relevant technical, regulatory and business aspects regarding 5G for industry. The 5G Alliance notes that one of the main differences between 5G and previous generations of cellular networks is in 5G’s emphasis on machine-type communication and the Internet of Things (IoT). The capacities of 5G thus extend well beyond mobile broadband with constantly increasing data rates. In particular, 5G supports communication with very low reliability and latencies, while also facilitating massive IoT connectivity. The organization comments that manufacturing, in particular, may see 5G having a disruptive impact as related building blocks, such as wireless connectivity, advanced computing or network slicing, end up in future factories. smart. The organization published the 5G-ACIA, 5G for Connected Industries and Automation white paper, which provides an overview of the basic potential of 5G for connected industries, particularly the manufacturing and processing industries, and describes use cases, requirements, and other relevant information.

This article is part of Bill Lydon’s Top Trends, his report on Automation and Control Trends for 2020-2021. Download the full report here

About the Author


Lydon brings to Automation.com over 10 years of writing and editing expertise, as well as over 25 years of experience in the design and application of technology in the automation and controls industry. Lydon began his career as a designer of computerized machine tool controls; in other positions he has applied programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and process control technology. In addition to working in various large companies (e.g. Sundstrand, Johnson Controls and Wago), Lydon worked for two years in a five-person workgroup, where he designed controls, automation systems and software for chiller and boiler room optimization. He has also served as a product manager for a multi-million dollar control and automation product line and president of an industrial control software company.

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