CC-Link’s Time-Sensitive Networking Update

April 28, 2023
The CC-Link Partner Association shares news of time-sensitive networking applications being implemented in industry.

Time-sensitive networking (TSN) was developed by the IEEE 802.1 working group with the aim of advancing the capabilities of standard industrial Ethernet to support future-oriented, smart applications. The technology’s key standards for industrial automation applications are IEEE 802.1AS for time synchronization and IEEE 802.1Qbv for traffic prioritization and scheduling.

John Browett, general manager of the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) Europe, says this success of TSN lies in its ability to drive convergence—the ability to combine multiple network traffic types to enable Industry 4.0 applications.

“By driving network convergence while ensuring determinism, the first obvious benefit of TSN is its ability to simplify architectures, reducing the number of networks necessary to support data sharing and communications of different kinds,” says Browett. “Besides enabling leaner infrastructures, TSN-supported convergence also facilitates visibility, transparency and accessibility. These characteristics can greatly improve operations, boosting responsiveness, productivity and efficiency as well as streamlining troubleshooting and maintenance. Even more, the walls that have traditionally separated information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) can be torn down, enabling decisions based on better access to process data that enhance competitiveness.”

Browett notes that the CLPA was the first to add TSN functions to industrial Ethernet, launching CC-Link IE TSN in 2018. “Early adopters immediately began to develop and implement CC-Link IE TSN-compatible development tools and industrial automation products,” he adds. “Now more than 50 end users are leveraging the technology or plan to do so.”

Current applications of CC-Link IE TSN include:

  • The Instrumentation Technology Economy Institute of the People's Republic of China (ITEI), which promotes best practices in manufacturing, has created a full-scale manufacturing system based on CC-Link IE TSN to demonstrate the benefits of TSN. “This demonstration facility features a converged network architecture, which enables the transfer of data from machining, assembly and logistics areas as well as CNC condition monitoring and tool protection systems through a unified infrastructure,” says Browett. “As a result, the ITEI can highlight the reduction of complexity while increasing transparency and productivity.”
  • Shashin Kagaku, a Japanese supplier of manufacturing equipment, has introduced machines that offer a significant increase in performance while being simpler to build. Using CC-Link IE TSN, a key laser system in Shashin Kagaku’s equipment production process is tightly integrated with a high-precision motion control system, reducing overall production costs and time-to-market. “Ultimately, the resulting machine is ten times faster than previous models without TSN functions,” says Browett.
  • Orisol, a supplier of automated systems for footwear production, is now offering an assembly unit for heat-activated adhesives to bond different shoe components. “This unit can deliver unprecedented speed and responsiveness as well as the connectivity required for Industry 4.0 applications,” says Browett.
  • CC-Link IE TSN is also being used across the lithium-ion battery industry in China to advance key aspects of production. According to Browett, TSN enables better integration of the highly critical motion control processes with safety and general I/O control traffic while maintaining high performance operations.

“The CLPA, as the first organization to launch a network technology compatible with TSN, has been playing a key role in enabling vendors and users to leverage this leading innovation,” says Browett. “Even more, the association has developed an unrivalled understanding of the technology by collaborating with a broad range of automation specialists in building and certifying CC-Link IE TSN development options and compatible products.”

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