Industrial networks refer to mediums that facilitate the large-scale transfer of data. In other words, industrial networks allow various devices to connect across long distances so that they can communicate, and they can transfer large quantities of data between them. Such networks play a critical role in the Industrial Internet of Things and facilitate the safe and efficient operation of a wide variety of industries. To satisfy a variety of different purposes and needs, there are many different types of industrial networks. We explain some of the most commonly used industrial networks to be aware of.
Foundation Fieldbus Network
Foundation Fieldbus is a two-way, digital protocol and open Fieldbus standard. It provides real-time distributed control and helps connect instruments in manufacturing and process industries to meet mission-critical demands. Further, foundation Fieldbus is a type of LAN for foundation Fieldbus compatible controllers and instruments. It is also compatible with Ethernet equipment. Foundation Fieldbus networks serve as the base-level network in intrinsically safe settings, such as factory or plant automation environments. Typically, this network is used in process industries, but power plants also have increasingly implemented it.
In automation technology, Profibus is a protocol for Fieldbus communication. It links automation systems and controllers with sensors, actuators, encoders, and other decentralized field devices. To exchange data, a single bus cable is used. Process automation and factory automation fields commonly use Profibus networks. It is ideal for complex communication tasks as well as time-sensitive applications. It is one of the most well-known and widely implemented open-field networks. The three different versions of industry-specific Profibus include:
- Profibus: DP
- Profibus: PA
- Profibus: FMS
Sensor networks are designed to help reduce the point-to-point wiring required to connect sensor devices to the interface. This connection can be formed either by putting a network driver inside of a sensor or placing the interface close enough to the sensor, so the distance between connections is minimal. After a connection has been formed, sensor networks can electrically detect the state of the sensor. This state is then converted to a 1 or 0 in status word, and it is transmitted across the networks to a terminating device (also known as a scanner). The scanner will assemble the status words from each sensor network node into a register in the device. What distinguishes sensor networks from other networks is that there isn’t any conditioning of the signal or other calculations provided. All that the sensor, actuator, and network node do is convert the sensor or actuator state to or from the network status word.
Sensor networks fall under the lowest level of the automation hierarchy, also known as the field level. Sensors provide basic data to the control system and are typically inexpensive. Their low cost helps offset the price of having to purchase a high number of sensors often required for typical applications. Depending on its purpose, the data that sensors provide to the control system ranges from the presence of a physical object to environmental conditions, such as the temperature of an area.
Serial Communication Network
Serial communication is the basic communication network provided for every controller. These networks can either be built into the processing module or a separate communication module. To implement this communication, protocol standards are used. The types of serial communication standards used the most often in manufacturing, energy, and other industrial industries include RS-232, RS-422, and RS-485. Such RS, or Recommended Standard, interfaces typically define the signal and mechanical interface characteristics, as well as the functions of each circuit in the interface connector. In addition, they also define the standard subsets of interface circuits for certain telecom applications. Typically, these interfaces help effectively transfer data at a high data rate between a PLC and a remote device. Examples of these interfaces are operator terminals and barcode readers.
Also known as a Fieldbus, a ControlNet network is an open industrial network protocol. It is used for industrial automation applications. Their design provides reliable, high-speed control and real-time data transfer of data between processors or I/Os on the same network. To do so, programming sets the logic to specific timing over the network. ControlNet also allows for the execution of time-critical and non-time-critical messaging without interfering with the transport of control and I/O data. Typically, ControlNet networks are used for redundant applications or applications that work well with scheduled communications.
ControlNet networks can be utilized on the device level as well as the field level of an industrial automation system. It uses the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) for the first three layers of a seven-layer Open Systems Interconnection (OSL) model. The primary four layers of the OSL model adapt to suit the needs of the ControlNet network. Devices that ControlNet network can communicate with include I/O chassis, Programmable Logic Controllers, HMIs, drives, robots, and personal computers.
Since its creation in 1979, Modbus has become a de facto standard communication protocol. Modus networks are now the most widely used protocol in industrial control applications. A Modbus network is an open system protocol and can run on several different physical layers. It facilitates the transmission of information over serial lines between electronic devices. This serial communication technique provides a master/slave relationship used to communicate between devices connected to the network. The device that requests the information is called the Modbus Master while the devices that supply the information are known as the Modbus Slaves. While Modbus networks are typically used with RS-232 and RS-485 mediums, virtually any transmission medium can implement this network.
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