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Industrial Networking Desires Revealed

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In the last few years, we at Automation World have seen a noticeable shift in attitude among industrial automation professionals about Ethernet and wireless network technologies.

We first started seeing demonstrable proof of this in the Automation World Innovation survey conducted in late 2011 (See the January 2012 issue for results.)

In that survey, nearly half of respondents said the incorporation of Ethernet into plant floor systems was the most innovative advance to occur in automation over the past decade. With so many readers citing this development as being more innovative than any other, Ethernet’s advance onto the factory floor was recognized as the clear innovation winner, in readers’ opinions.

Recently, we conducted another survey to obtain insight into current engineering and management applications and opinions surrounding the use of Ethernet and wireless networks across industry. Nearly 1,000 readers from a variety of industries—ranging from automotive, chemicals, and electronics to food & beverage, oil & gas, and machinery/equipment OEMs—responded to this survey, co-sponsored by industrial network vendor Moxa.

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In addition to quantifying our belief that plant managers and engineers are not only open to the use of Ethernet, but actively evaluating and installing it for specific applications (see charts), one open-ended question caught our eye. We asked respondents to identify their unfulfilled industrial networking desires. Here’s what they had to say: 

· Connecting to the factory with a smart phone;

· Converting process control operator stations to Ethernet;

· Connecting work cells and machines to form a SCADA/MES system;

· Remote switching of power distribution networks;

· Increased support for Power over Ethernet by more vendors;

· Real-time instrument data feeds over Ethernet;

· Connecting dedicated safety controllers with Ethernet;

· Development of a complete wireless network connecting plant cameras, voice, data and control systems;

· Connecting servo drives with Ethernet; and

· Implementing IEEE 1588 precision time control.

Full results will be published in the December 2012 issue of Automation World and online at www.automationworld.com.

By David Greenfield, Automation World Media and Events Director

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