Why Use Industrial Ethernet?

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One of the topics we cover in the PROFINET one-day training classes is the industrial automation trends that have led users to Industrial Ethernet.  And more importantly, the results they can expect in using Industrial Ethernet, especially PROFINET.

We were recently able to expand on that topic in an article in Control Engineering.  It’s been published in the May issue – the print edition and on the web.

They also included a report by their editor Mark Hoske from National Manufacturing Week on the various Industrial Ethernet protocols: Ethernet isn’t a protocol.  (We blogged on this NMW session earlier.)  Many folks think that “Ethernet” defines everything needed for communications when it really just defines what happens on the wire (the physics and the communication-related data structure).  Something still needs to define what the automation data looks like.  As Mark says “multiple protocols have emerged to operate through the Ethernet physical media.”

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’ve been through this before in earlier days of automation integration:

Carl: How will you communicate with this piece of equipment?

Customer: It has an RS-232 port.

Carl: Good.  What protocol does it use?

Customer: It has an RS-232 port.

Carl: RS-232 just defines what happens on the wire.  There also needs to be a protocol that defines how the data is communicated.  What protocol does it use?

Customer: It has an RS-232 port.

Carl: ARGH!  [Followed by counting to ten and a phone call to the equipment manufacturer in the fervent hope that the protocol will be the Semiconductor Equipment Communications Standard.  I like SECS.]

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