UK manufacturing is recognising that low productivity is a problem. The time has gone when producers were prepared to accept new products based on low introduction costs, but higher unit costs.
The growing recognition of the benefits offered by the Industry 4.0 concept reflect this. It is based on seamless interconnectivity between equipment and devices. Importantly, linking with production machines, enterprise systems and sources of data in the wider world.
Production networks need to communicate a wide variety of different data types from time critical machine control to data-heavy monitoring demands. Accommodating this often leads organisations to implementing multiple data networks. This adds complexity to system design, construction and maintenance. It makes data sharing across different types of equipment more challenging too.
Unsurprisingly, it is rare to fine true integration in most production environments. Cisco recently surveyed of 1,845 IT and business decision-makers in the United States, UK, and India across a manufacturing and commerce. It found almost three-quarters of IoT projects are failing.
Even where you have a greenfield opportunity, there are still challenges. Firstly, you need to specify the network of your choice. Secondly, to convince all the machine and equipment providers to supply compatible equipment, and finally to get it all communicating in the way you need.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the key to this interconnectivity. At its lowest level it requires low-cost, easily integrated sensors, actuators and systems. However, as the number of connected devices and data grow, networks will need more resilience, more speed and more bandwidth. Planning for the future of Industry 4.0 will need open gigabit ethernet.
The first Industry 4 open gigabit ethernet
To overcome these difficulties, manufacturers need a different kind of open communication network. CC-Link IE is the first open industrial network offering gigabit Ethernet performance. At 1Gbps, CC-Link IE offers deterministic performance up to 10 times that of similar protocols available today. A single network can incorporate a total of 120 stations and interconnection of up to 239 networks.
Based on standard IEEE 802.3 Ethernet, CC-Link IE offers great flexibility in network design, including ring, line and star topologies. By combining its line and star topologies, the network provides a system offering maximum application flexibility. The ring and line connections are also attractive, as they permit simple “daisy chaining” of devices. This avoids the added cost and complexity of network switches.
I/O, safety and motion on one cable
It also allows considerable application flexibility by supporting multiple protocol types on the same network. This reduces costs and increases maintainability. In addition to the standard I/O control, it also offers safety (SIL3), and motion control on the same cable. The network uses commercially available Ethernet infrastructure, such as standard gigabit switches, Cat5E cable and RJ45 connectors.
To simplify integration into existing networks, the CC-Link Partner Association worked with PROFIBUS and PROFINET International (PI) on a coupler device. This allows the two networks to be freely interoperable. Moreover, the CLPA is also working with the OPC Foundation to develop support for OPC-UA with CC-Link IE.
Unlike industrial protocols built on the standard TCP/IP (UDP/IP) stack, CC-Link IE combines the physical and data-link layers of the OSI hierarchy with an open protocol that extends from the network to application layers. The result is improved cybersecurity, thanks to an open, but controlled knowledge base that CLPA partners are free to implement, but reduces the exposure to unauthorised use.
CC-Link IE offers manufacturers the benefits of greater connectivity across their sites, improved network performance, high-speed data through, deterministic performance and inherent security. It is ready to deliver IIoT and Industry 4.0 open gigabit ethernet.
More information, from CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) Europe