Information Technology (IT) is becoming a key part of manufacturing operations and we are seeing more convergence between the factory floor and high-level IT levels. Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) offers an interesting way to increase this convergence and simplify the use of Ethernet communications.
Christian Bergdahl, is the Product Marketing Manager at HMS Industrial Networks, a member of the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA). He explains why technology is a game-changer. The trend is for highly productive, flexible and responsive manufacturing operations. They need to harness data and provide a unique understanding of what is happening on the factory floor in real-time. As a result, companies can run automated processes to ensure smooth operations at all times, maximising their efficiency.
Communication networks provide the backbone to connect every part within a plant or enterprise to share key information. However, we still have many Industrial Ethernet protocols and although these technologies are open in themselves, they provide little interoperability between the different types of Industrial Ethernet.
TSN can address this and help businesses create data-driven operations, Bergdahl explains. “The key feature of this technology is that it turns standard Ethernet into real-time communications with minimal jitter or latency. This is essential to help companies enhance productivity by creating responsive and flexible shop floors.”
More than simple determinism
He continues: “TSN will make industrial Ethernet deterministic by design and provide the basis of converged networks. In effect, the technology is being defined by the IEEE 802.1 specifications, which will set up a common, unified solution.
Moreover, it provides a reliable and responsive network, whose nature supports interconnectedness independent of vendor-specific solutions. This ensures openness and interoperability among automation devices and systems, simplifying the creation of well-linked plants and enterprises.”
Importantly, TSN has the ability to bring different parts of an enterprise, such as the OT and IT closer together.
Time Sensitive Networking
Automation system builders are becoming aware of TSN and in particular its ability to provide a unified way towards interoperability. Many companies are looking to adopt this technology. Furthermore, it is well-accepted that TSN will become a must-have in the short- to mid-term. In fact, the extensive rollout of innovative Industrial Ethernet solutions is a matter of when not if.
The creation of TSN-based solutions is experiencing a growth phase and it is a thrilling time for the technology specialists. Christian Bergdahl comments: “Fieldbuses and conventional Ethernet are long-established technologies although lacking interoperability. With TSN, engineers are up for a new challenge as they develop new products with ground-breaking capabilities. It is inspiring to see how committed and motivated these teams are.”
Expansion of TSN amongst suppliers
A challenge in driving the Time-sensitive Networking revolution is shaping successful collaborations between automation vendors, according to Bergdahl. “As the key element of TSN is interoperability, specialists need to be willing to collaborate to develop suitable systems and migration solutions. Within such a framework, existing networks of key automation players, such as the CLPA, are on the right path and have a competitive advantage.
“As part of the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) we were amongst the first to develop TSN-compatible devices by utilising the CC-Link IE TSN specifications. The first product from HMS is the Anybus CompactCom for CC-Link IE TSN, allowing device makers to implement this promising new technology.”
Go here to download the Time-Sensitive Networking White Paper