Industrial Networks

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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Apr 14

Industrial Wireless: What to Consider

Lots has been written in this space about using industrial wireless with PROFINET. This is mostly the ‘what’; this post is to address the ‘how’. “How do I implement industrial wireless in a PROFINET network?” Just to recap, while wireless is not just one thing, this will focus exclusively on the most common type of wireless:…

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Nov 18

Open Standards, Proprietary Standards, and in Between

I’m a fan of open standards like PROFINET and PROFIBUS. But there are other kinds of standards out there. Here’s a continuum of standards from proprietary to open to too open… and in between. Open Standards Wikipedia definition: “An open standard is a standard that is publicly available and has various rights to use associated…

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Nov 4

The Virtualization of Control

I always love it when a speaker begins their presentation with: “Are you all ready to geek out for a little while?” So began Rich Carpenter, Chief Technology Strategist for GE Intelligent Platforms, in his breakout session at the inaugural GE-IP User Summit. And while there were many interesting talks at the event, perhaps because…

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Mar 25

Contracted Security

Should securing your network follow the model of securing your plant?  Most factory security guards that I’ve encountered don’t work for the company that owns the factory; they’re contracted.  Should you contract securing your network?  You probably contract at least some of your automation engineering to a System Integrator.  Is this any different? This line…

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Jun 11

Open Networks: What’s in it for you?

It takes a village to raise a… standard, at least, an open standard.  In the case of PROFINET, that village consists of like-minded companies that recognize the benefits of working together towards a common, open standard.  What’s in it for them?  At least these couple things: 1. A cross-pollination of ideas from many sources fulfills…

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Mar 12

Industrial Ethernet Security in X Steps

Are fieldbuses less secure than Industrial Ethernets?  I think not (in a rare disagreement with Mike Miclot and Brian Oulton from Belden in the webinar “Industrial Security in the Real World: Practical Steps”).  They said Industrial Ethernet is more secure.  I think the potential security problem with fieldbuses is that they connect to controllers which…

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Nov 6

IT and Automation Synergies

“The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language,” George Bernard Shaw is supposed to have said. I said something similar in my first year of blogging: IT and engineering – two organizations separated by common technology. One of my pet peeves then, as it is now, is the notion…

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Jul 30

Why Aren’t More People Getting on the Fieldbus Bus?

Indeed: “Why Aren’t More People Getting on the Fieldbus Bus?” as Bruce Brandt asks at Control Engineering.  I would answer that with one word: “inertia.”  That’s short hand for those still stuck in the hard wiring mode saying “We’ve always done it this way.”  Of course, what they’re missing is improved uptime – uptime achievable…

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