Inside the world of industrial automation, manufacturing and process automation continues to increase rapidly due to the many benefits it provides. For example, while requiring minimal human intervention, productivity and efficiency can be improved. Additional benefits of implementing a fully automated facility include:
- Improving real-time remote management
- Saving future maintenance labor costs
- Decreasing production downtime
- Saving energy
- Adavanced event handling
- Improved production or process quality, accuracy, and precision
Despite the many advantages of establishing a fully automated facility, legacy equipment is still present in the production areas of many control systems because of the high investment cost and impracticality of disposing of such working assets. Continuing to use such equipment, however, can have several drawbacks. These include inflexibility and integrating challenges due to the reality that many independent machines have limited connectivity to the Ethernet TCP/IP network. In terms of implementing an industrial networking solution for control and automaton, however, the largest challenge is finding a way to network such legacy devices with newer industrial automation equipment. Networking such devices together will help satisfy the increasing demand for greater productivity, safety, control, reliability, and accuracy.
Fortunately, several industrial networking products can help support automation processes and provide industrial networking solutions to solve pressing issues facing the control and automaton. To learn more about these helpful forms of technology, and the benefits and solutions they provide for control and automaton, continue reading.
Industrial Networking Solutions for Control and Automation Challenges
Scalability and Flexibility
Scalability and flexibility play essential roles in control and automaton. Technological advancements leading to highly-developed Ethernet devices have greatly enhanced process automation equipment and manufacturing data transmission. Ethernet devices offer such benefits because they allow data to be accessed anywhere. Qualified personnel can remotely access, control, monitor, and manage responses to emergencies in real time. The scalability and flexibility that building an industrial network offers are especially important for technologies such as machine vision systems, as it allows for mixed-model processing to occur within the system.
Industrial Ethernet Networking Solution Products and Requirements for Scalability and Flexibility:
- Industrial Ethernet switches
- Ethernet fiber media converters
- Industrial wireless device servers
- Serial-to-Ethernet device servers
- Products integrated with serial, Lan, and WLAN (IEEE802.11)
- Port configurations equipped with fiber, SFP, Gigabit copper or 10/100MB, and PoE technologies
Reliability has an integral role in the successful function of the manufacturing process and automation industries. Examples of areas where reliability is especially important include CNC machines, the bottling industry, and machine vision systems where efficient and constant operation is essential when operating in harsh environments or vibrations. Without reliability, automation industries may experience a considerable amount of downtime. Such an interruption in production can be detrimental, as it may lead to unpredicted and defective goods. As such, facilities need industrial-grade networking equipment resistant to damage from vibrations and harsh environments to ensure constant operation and prevent downtime.
Industrial Ethernet Networking Solution Product Requirements for Reliability:
- Industrial networking products that passed certifications specifically designed and developed for the harsh environments present in the industrial automation industry.
- Industrial networking equipment containing built-in high EFT and ESD protection to provide data transmission between the equipment and network without interruption.
Ruggedized and Long-Lasting
The equipment used in manufacturing and process automation must withstand harsh industrial environments, such as extreme temperature changes, vibrations, and exposure to chemicals that may cause corrosion. This means equipment must have a ruggedized and long-lasting design, which is why facilities must implement a robust industrial automation network. Industrial industries and applications where such durability is important include the bottling and paper recycling industries, as well as when creating machine vision systems or building an efficient and reliable material handling network.
Industrial Ethernet Networking Solution Product Requirements for Durability:
- IP30/40/50/67 rated weatherproof housing
- Robust metal casing
- Wide operating temperature tolerance
- Vibration proofing
- High MTBF and noise immunity
Self-Healing Redundant Network
Due to the harsh environments that the majority of manufacturing and process automation facilities operate under, a robust redundancy network is essential. Robust redundancy networks can help protect systems and the network from failing in the case of unanticipated events that may lead to downtime. As previously stated, downtime can become detrimental in such facilities, as it may result in unexpected and flawed goods that can devastate many industries. Ensuring systems and production consistently and constantly function by utilizing a robust redundancy network can help avoid such issues. Bottling industry production and machine vision technology are just a couple examples of where self-healing redundant network support is paramount.
Industrial Ethernet Networking Solution Products and Requirements for Self-Healing Redundant Networks:
- Managed Ethernet switches
- Serial device servers
- Products that support redundancy features
- Products with built-in network redundant protocol to provide non-stop 24/7 networking by delivering ring redundancy network topology to re-route data communication back to the path.
Manufacturing and process automation facilities must have the ability to manage remote networks in real-time. Creating a robust industrial network that allows for such capabilities, however, can become highly challenging to many engineers and network planners within such industries. It’s important to simplify connectivity to build a robust industrial network.
Industrial Ethernet Networking Solution Products and Requirements for Simplifying Connectivity:
- Managed Ethernet switches
- Industrial wireless devices
- Industrial serial device servers
- Industrial devices pre-loaded with an ease-of-use web console interface allow for easy adaptation, quick setup, and deployment.
Antaira is a leading industrial networking communication and technology manufacturer. We provide a wide range of industrial Ethernet networking solution products that help make manufacturing and process automation easier, safer, and more cost-effective to operate and maintain. Our products include industrial PoE media converters, managed and unmanaged Ethernet switches, and industrial serial device servers, in addition to every product listed within this article—all of which comply with industry standards and are designed to perform efficiently in a wide range of harsh environments. For more information regarding our latest cutting-edge and reliable industrial networking solutions, contact us today.