Delivering secure Ethernet/IP connectivity to manufacturers

Posted on 11 Oct 2012 by Tim Brown

Becoming more responsive without sacrificing efficiency is key to manufacturing success, and can be achieved through seamless, secure connectivity across the enterprise, says Rockwell.

Rockwell Automation provides the services & educational resources, together with the products to support network infrastructure convergence and tightly integrate technical and business systems using EtherNet/IP – the world’s leading open industrial Ethernet network.

Today’s manufacturing companies must become more responsive to changing market and operational conditions without sacrificing efficiency. This has created urgency for manufacturers to converge and connect the multitude of isolated production systems and processes throughout their entire value chain. To do that, they look for seamless, secure connectivity across the enterprise.

Traditionally, machine builders and manufacturers have used a dedicated network, a design strategy that requires specialised hardware and often leads to a more isolated system design where information is not easily accessible.

EtherNet/IP is designed and established to connect from the device-level all the way up to the end-customer’s IT infrastructure and across applications, including: discrete, process, safety, motion and drive control. By moving from multiple, dedicated networks to single, integrated, network architecture for the network plantwide, users can deploy an information-enabled architecture that helps reduces their engineering time, integration risks and total cost of ownership.

“To be competitive in a global manufacturing environment, engineers need access to real-time information on the demand side,” said Frank Kulaszewicz, vice president and general manager, Control and Visualisation Business, Rockwell Automation. “A single network architecture utilising standard Ethernet is the technology enabler for delivering this information, helping manufacturers achieve plantwide optimisation.”

When thinking of networks it is easy to picture an office situation, with clean conditions, standardised cables and connectors, no Electromagnetic Interference, structured cable trays, regulation connection boxes. However when a network goes into an industrial environment the world changes, with vibration from machines, equipment and operations causing signal noise, constant and rapid changes to machine placement affecting the architecture, together with high temperatures or moisture from the process. And these are only a few of the issues which need to be managed and controlled.

Rockwell Automation Network & Security Services are designed to support a project or system throughout its lifecycle, assisting our customers in understanding and solving network issues to help increase uptime and reduce future maintenance costs. The Network services provided within the lifecycle phases include:

Network Assessments

Evaluation of the current conditions of a designed or implemented network to determine if the architecture and system is able to meet the functional requirements needed to achieve production and business goals.

Design & Plan

Good network design and planning is the foundation upon which performance and reliability are built and can help customers realise the value of manufacturing convergence by enabling an integration of business and manufacturing systems. Together with a visibility and integration of technologies and communications to create a foundation for more innovative business models

Network implementation

The implementation consists of options from simple system configurations to turnkey solutions working with our Encompass partners that offer network installation.

Network Audit

Operational testing is an operational evaluation that tests system performance to help with more reliable communications and verify critical operating parameters. Confirms networks are installed according to governing body and/or customer standards using state-of-the-art network diagnostic tools. Audits validate system implementation and ensure performance is within standards outlined by TIA/EIA, ODVA, CNI or appropriate governing body.

Manage and Monitor

Services range from continuous monitoring or ad hoc diagnostic monitoring to periodic visits or emergency response, and can help improve network uptime when customers do not have the resources, tools and technical knowledge internally.

With our investment in skills and experience Rockwell Automation offers a network of over 200 trained engineers and in-house Network Consultants to provide support around the world. These highly trained engineers help customer provide solutions throughout the Network lifecycle, performing audits, assessments, design and implementation. And Rockwell Automation, through collaboration with industry leaders, delivers services and support to allow manufacturing companies to converge their network infrastructure with EtherNet/IP, delivering secure information throughout the plantwide network and ultimately improving business performance.

“Our value as a supplier is not just restricted to the technology we can deliver. Now it is also measured on how our services and support can assist manufacturers – either directly or via our comprehensive worldwide network of system integrators and distributors; helping them towards getting the best possible performance from their investment.”