CC-Link IE TSN: Accelerate Smart Factory With TSN Technology

Feb. 22, 2019
The CC-Link Partner Association has created a new industrial open network specification, CC Link IE TSN, as the next-generation CC-Link IE network.

The new CC-Link IE TSN specification is the first to combine Gigabit Ethernet bandwidth with Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN). TSN is the addition to the IEEE Ethernet related standards that is starting to become popular for industrial networks. TSN’s key benefit is that it allows the combining of real-time control communication with non-real-time information communication while maintaining deterministic performance. This is not possible with conventional general-purpose industrial Ethernet.

CC-Link IE TSN adds TSN to increase openness while further strengthening performance and functionality. It supports more development methods, enabling easier implementation on a wider range of equipment and increasing the number of compatible products. It is expected to accelerate the construction of smart factories using the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

As customer needs grow more diverse and advanced, there is a growing trend in manufacturing industry toward automation, reducing total cost of ownership and improving quality, together with embracing new manufacturing methods. The information-driven society fueled by IT-based data continues to grow with the development of sensing technology, higher-speed networks, the spread of cloud/edge computing and other advanced technologies.

We are seeing the global megatrends moving toward the use of the IIoT in manufacturing industry, such as Industry 4.0 in Europe, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) in the U.S., Intelligent Manufacturing in China, and others. All of these share a common goal: the creation of smart factories in which everything is connected, data is used to the fullest, and optimized manufacturing takes place autonomously.

To create smart factories, essential issues include gathering real-time information from production processes, processing it and then transmitting it seamlessly to IT systems. Toward that end, one crucial need when making the most of production site data is a network capable of high-speed, stable control communication as well as large-volume information transmission to IT systems. In other words, it is important to combine industrial networks at production sites with IT system networks.

A wide variety of industrial networks are currently in use. However, it is difficult to achieve interoperability between them, leading to islands of automation that decrease process transparency. Demand for TSN support will increase, since this technology makes it possible to mix different networks on the same line and provide real-time communication through time synchronization.

CC-Link IE TSN was developed to meet this demand. The new specification enables seamless, smooth connection from upper-level IT systems to operations technology (OT) systems at production sites, allowing the expanded use of a wide variety of applications in manufacturing industry.

Created as a next-generation industrial open network to accelerate the construction of smart factories, CC-Link IE TSN builds on the benefits of CC-Link IE by improving communication functions and synchronization accuracy, as well as significantly enhancing motion control capabilities.

CC-Link IE TSN offers multiple features:

Integration of control communication and information communication. By giving a high priority to cyclic communication for device control and by allocating bandwidth preferentially over information communication, CC-Link IE TSN offers a network environment that communicates information with IT systems while controlling system devices with real-time cyclic communication. This mixture with information communication means that devices using UDP or TCP communication (such as machine vision systems) can be connected to the network for high-accuracy monitoring, diagnostics and analysis.

Rapid system setup and advanced predictive maintenance. CC-Link IE TSN is also compatible with SNMP, enabling easier diagnosis of network devices. Until now, special tools were required when collecting device status information. However, general-purpose SNMP monitoring tools can now be used to gather and analyze data from devices compatible with either CC-Link IE TSN or IP communication (such as switches and routers). This allows quicker system startup times and can reduce the amount of time and effort spent on system administration and checking the operating status of devices during maintenance.

The time synchronization protocol regulated by TSN is used to calibrate time differences between devices compatible with CC-Link IE TSN, keeping them synchronized with high accuracy. Time information stored in devices is kept synchronized to the microsecond. If a network error occurs, this makes it possible to check operation logs and accurately trace events up to the error in chronological order. This can help to identify problems and can lead to quicker recovery. It is also possible to provide production site information and accurate time information to IT systems. This will allow artificial intelligence (AI) enabled data analysis to provide further process improvement via predictive maintenance.

Maximize the performance of motion control and reduce cycle times. CC-Link IE TSN uses a time-sharing method with time trigger and bidirectional simultaneous communication to achieve microsecond or less cycle times. Adding sensors or increasing the number of servo amplifier axes required for control to expand a production line has minimal effect on overall cycle time in systems operated with CC-Link IE TSN. Cycle times might even be reduced compared with systems operated with conventional networks.

CC-Link IE TSN allows equipment with different communication cycles to be used together according to the performance of each device. Until now, devices connected to the same master station had to be operated using the same cyclic communication cycle (link scan time) throughout the entire network. CC-Link IE TSN allows for multiple communication cycles to be used within the same network. This makes it possible to optimize communication cycles depending on the characteristics of each device.

For example, devices (such as remote I/O) not requiring a high-speed communication cycle can be connected while still maintaining the performance of devices requiring high-performance communication cycles (such as servo amplifiers). This can also maximize the potential of slave devices on the network and improve productivity throughout the entire system.

For more information about CC-Link IE TSN, access the complete white paper at

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