Industrial Communication Advances on Display

Dec. 12, 2013
Several displays at the 2013 SPS/IPC/Drives show in Nuremberg, Germany, showcased how proven industrial networking technologies are making the vision of a modern connected factory a tangible reality.

The SPS/IPC/Drives is a massive show held annually in Nuremberg, Germany. The SPS show differs from the Hannover Fair event (help annually in Hannover, Germany) in that SPS focuses strictly on automation technologies (primarily PLCs, communication, and drives technologies), whereas Hannover Fair is more of a broad manufacturing event.

Given its focus on specific automation technologies, it’s easier to see clear trends on display at the SPS show. And this year there were two clear trends on display: industrial communication and HMI panel advances. This article focuses on the industrial communication trends. Access the article on HMI panel technology advances here.

With a booth display designed to highlight the four trends driving industrial communications today, Moxa’s booth showcased how its products addressed these specific trends. Martin Jenkner of Moxa Europe, explained that the four trends Moxa sees driving industrial communications are: security, wireless, fieldbus integration, and remote I/O.

On the security front, Jenkner explained that Moxa supports the defense in depth approach of having operations divided into separate zones and using different routers as firewalls in each zone. Addressing many users’ concerns about latency and security issues with wireless, Moxa highlighted its concurrent dual radio technology for zero-packet-loss communication. Moxa also addresses the need to integrate fieldbus communications and Ethernet with an array of industrial Ethernet switches and gateways. Rounding out Moxa’s focus on modern industrial communication is its remote I/O products that allow for remote access to systems using Ethernet.

The video below highlights how Moxa is addressing four key industrial communication trends.

Red Lion Controls has adopted the theme of the Connected Factory as a core element of it product design. At the core of its Connected Factory display at SPS this year, Red Lion featured its Graphite series operator panel. Mike Granby, president of Red Lion Controls, says the Graphite operator panels acts as a “communication focus point through which data can be brought from all the devices in your control panel.” Another key aspect of Red Lion’s display was its NT24k managed gigabit modular switch. Granby notes that this switch is “industrially fluent” because it “understands” the devices used in connecting, monitoring, and controlling in accordance with the Industry 4.0 initiative.

In this video, Mike Granby explains how Red Lion Control’s products are designed to support the architecture of the Connected Factory.

At Innovasic’s display, I got a better understanding of just how fast sub-microsecond reaction times really are. Just as knowing that a stack of one billion one dollar bills would be nearly 68 miles high, testing your response on a display that shows your reaction time in microseconds really drives home the point of how slow human reaction times are compared to a microprocessor. In my time at the booth, the best human time I saw recorded was about 200 microseconds—and that is with a very fast, hands-on-the-button, pressing it before it fully lights up reaction. Knowing this made it even more impressive to learn how Innovasic’s Fido5000, a real time Ethernet switch for Profinet IRT, can perform sub-microsecond actions even when translating between “absolute” and “relative” forms of IRT signal forwarding.

In this video, Tom Weingartner shows how the Fido5000 supports Profinet IRT communications using Siemens PLCs and switches.

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