Stepping Up From Unmanaged Switches

Adding network redundancy and diagnostics capabilities is now possible without the additional IT resource requirements of fully managed switches.

Unmanaged switches are popular hardware devices in most industrial networks because of their simplicity and efficiency. They’re reliable pieces of equipment that ensure uninterrupted communication across manufacturing networks.

But as networks become ever more critical pieces of the automation infrastructure, the wish list for network capabilities tends to grow. Two of the most desirable capabilities for manufacturing networks are redundancy and diagnostics—neither of which are available in unmanaged switch products.

To help end users improve their networks without taking on the added IT resource requirements of managed switches, Belden has introduced the GECKO 4TX—a network switch that combines the features of managed and unmanaged switches, making it well suited for use in smaller networks or on the edge of larger installations. It can also be used for carrying video signals or transmitting control data.

IT Expertise Not Required

The GECKO 4TX offers simple network management and enhanced network availability. Network parameters can be centrally configured using a web interface, while redundancy and diagnostic functions ensure high network availability.

In designing the GECKO 4TX, only the most necessary switch management functions were integrated to enable configuration and monitoring. Plus, its low power consumption (less than 3 W) means the switch also helps cut long-term operating costs. This design approach allows GECKO switches to bring added value to areas where unmanaged switches cannot deliver the required performance.

Potential application scenarios include machine and plant engineering, material handling, robotics and connecting production cells for various industries.

With four Fast Ethernet ports (10/100 Mbit/s) and the ability to mount on a DIN rail, the compact dimensions (25 x 114 x 79 mm) of the GECKO 4TX require little space and in-active ports can be disabled to protect against possible misuse.

The switch can be managed through Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) or via HiDiscovery and Industrial HiVision from Hirschmann. A web interface for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) deployment is also available.

For monitoring purposes, the switch provides diagnostic and documentation options, such as a system log, Remote Monitoring (RMON) and Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP). Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP) and Quality of Service (QoS) functions are also supported.

Additional features include an IP30 protection rating, a wide operating temperature range, high resistance to shocks and vibration, and a 24 V DC power supply.

For more information about the GECKO 4TX, visit: http://www.belden.com/products/industrialnetworking/litemanagedswitches/gecko-4tx.cfm

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