Time Sensitive Networking in manufacturing automation

There is much hype about one of the most significant and transformational developments in standard Ethernet technology – Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN). Enabling technology for industrial communications, it delivers Information and Operational Technologies (IT/OT) over a common standard Ethernet architecture. Specifically, it offers significant enterprise-wide improvements to enhance productivity, flexibility and responsiveness.

Mitsubishi Electric’s Jeremy Shinton, Product Manager for Edge Computing Technologies considers the importance of Time-Sensitive Networking of automation devices for agile and futureproof factories.

TSN is innovative technology at Layer 2 (Data Link) of the Open System Interconnection (OSI) reference model for communications. Defined by the IEEE 802.1 standards, it provides key functions to make standard Ethernet deterministic by design. This enhances industrial communications technologies, helping to coordinate network traffic as the volume of data continues to increase with the convergence of IT/OT.

TSN ensures synchronisation of all network devices to minimise jitter and prevent any resulting delay in high-speed data transfer. It also supports the prioritisation of urgent and regular data, by reserving time slots for both. During these intervals, only the transmission of scheduled or time-critical traffic occurs without any interference. This prevents network overloads and minimises the risk of data loss.

In practice, these capabilities hold the key to creating futureproof IIoT applications. Providing accurate methods to prioritise the transmission of urgent or mission-critical information, such as control data from the shop floor, allows the merging of distinct types of traffic on the same TSN-compatible network. This results in a flattened, simplified architecture needing less capital expenditure (CAPEX).

These architectures can also increase uptime by streamlining the identification and elimination of network errors. Furthermore, businesses can set up a more flexible infrastructure for adding, removing or reconfiguring TSN-compatible devices.

What built-in determinism offers

The convergence of IT and OT is at the core of future-oriented IIoT applications. It provides the essential ability to transmit multiple information types and protocols, whilst maintaining low jitter and latency. By creating TSN-compatible unified networks of automation devices, IT and OT networks can both operate over a converged Ethernet architecture.

Thus, producers benefit from the data-driven knowledge generated across their business and develop actionable insights into their manufacturing processes. Leveraging the in-depth understanding generated improves KPIs, leading to enhanced performance, productivity, efficiency and end-product quality.

TSN offers an unprecedented opportunity for companies, enhancing industrial communications and providing the tools to realise forward-looking smart manufacturing strategies. The implementation of TSN network technologies and automation devices is essential to help businesses succeed in their digital transformation strategies.

Adopting time-sensitive networking

Mitsubishi Electric recently released TSN interfaces across its automation systems product range. It provides communications technology for combining gigabit Ethernet bandwidth with Time-Sensitive Networking, CC-Link IE TSN. These enable both machine builders and end-users to make the switch to TSN or upgrade their current systems.

The range of products offered by Mitsubishi Electric includes PLCs, servo amplifiers, robots, HMIs, I/Os, variable speed drives and CNCs. Companies can enjoy the proven technologies that realise the full potential of Time-Sensitive networking to create agile and futureproof factories.

Speak to us about adopting Mitsubishi Electric components that incorporate CC-Link IE TSN into your business.

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