Industrial Networks

Oct 15

Fieldbus vs 4-20 mA

This blog post explains one of the most dramatic evolutions in Industrial Automation: The transition from 4-20 mA to digital Fieldbuses. It compares the two and highlights key benefits and new business models arising from the implementation of fieldbuses. The Difference Between 4–20 mA and Digital Fieldbuses The factory floor has evolved dramatically over the…

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Feb 15

What about Fiber in Hazardous Environments?

Is fiber ok in hazardous environments*? We got this question in one of our PROFINET one-day training classes while explaining APL (Advanced Physical Layer).  Ethernet is not intrinsically safe. Since IEEE 100BASE-TX Ethernet is the base technology for PROFINET, PROFINET cannot reach hazardous environments. There are options to go around this limitation. Some factories employ containment methods…

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Jul 15

Bringing Ethernet to the Plant Floor

Bringing Ethernet to the Plant Floor? Seven critical things to know before you do it. 1.  Do not to take Office topologies to the plant floor but implement plant/machine topologies with Ethernet. Office Ethernet infrastructures are typically based on commercial grade products meant to be located in a temperature controlled environment and Ethernet switches designed…

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Aug 8

Secure Your Network!

Your network is not secure! Whether you have all the security in place that’s possible or have not even thought about security – your network is not secure! Sadly, no network can be 100% secure. The best that you can hope for is to make it very difficult to hack. Let’s start at one of…

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Feb 28

Choosing an Industrial Ethernet, a Checklist

What should you look for when choosing an Industrial Ethernet? These things: Is it an open standard? Can anyone build products for it? PROFINET is an open standard. It’s part of IEC 61158. Anyone can buy the spec from IEC and build products. To build an EtherNet/IP product, you must sign a contract with ODVA,…

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Jan 24

The Importance of Open Standards

What makes a standard open? I’ve blogged that question before: Open Standards, Proprietary Standards, and in Between Open Networks: What’s in it for you? We just completed an update to our free PROFINET one-day training class material. In the course of that exercise we uncovered more detailed definitions. Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE),…

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Sep 27

Is That a Protocol?

Are these protocols: RS-232, Ethernet, OPC UA, PROFINET, MQTT? What is a protocol, specifically a network protocol? Merriam Webster says “a set of conventions governing the treatment and especially the formatting of data in an electronic communications system <network protocols>” This seems incomplete to me, so here’s Techopedia’s definition: “Network protocols are formal standards and…

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Apr 12

What did the blender say to the toaster?

What did the blender say to the toaster? I don’t know, but that apparently happens in the Internet of Things. What did the I/O block say to the PLC? Here’s my inputs and thanks for the outputs.  That’s the Industrial Internet of Things. When I read articles about the Internet of Things, I find them…

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Apr 5

Where Is the Edge of the Industrial Internet?

I’ve recently read a number of blog posts and articles talking about the Edge of the Industrial Internet of Things, including Vibhoosh Gupta’s blog post titled “Industrial Edge Node: The iPhone of Industry.” They made me think about where the edge really is.  I’ve heard “edge” defined differently by different people. This is my attempt…

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May 26

Why Use a Fieldbus?

There are two main reasons to use a fieldbus or Industrial Ethernet like PROFIBUS or PROFINET: Save wiring. Prevent downtime. Most users think about saving wiring as the most important reason.  Not just wiring, of course.  When you reduce the amount of wiring, you also reduce: The number of terminal strips the wire lands on…

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