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Industrial networking technologies and applications.


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  Automation > Resources > Technologies > Industrial communication networks  

  Instrumentation technology basics

Networking fundamentals  


Basic knowledge, Protocols, Ethernet, Field networks, Control networks, Instrumentation networks, Virtual serial port, Vision system networks, Sensors and actuators networks, Wireless networks, Miscellaneous networks.

Talking With Automation Devices

By the time now, the networks should not be missed in the automation world to operate a plant as well as possible.

The industrial networks bring a high flexibility to the control systems, they lower the costs of cabling, they provide new capabilities in controlling and in surveying the automated plants.

All that for the benefits of the operators, of the maintenance teams, of the the production and of the management all together.

The various automated applications are operating in many very different contexts, with specific constraints and requirements.

Consequently, for historical reasons, for economical reasons and for technical reasons, the amount of solutions in industrial networking is superabundant.

Some of these solutions became standards and continue to evolve, others answer to specific markets, and still others come from manufacturers who want to impose their own solutions.

Some other solutions in industrial networking did not know how to evolve or could not, and became anecdotal or simply disappear.

The new technologies applied to networking incline the manufacturers to offer new solutions, with higher performances, with lower costs or with higher flexibility.

That leads the users to imagine new applications using these techniques.

This folder offers a selection of resources in relation with the networks and the digital communication techniques in general (the basics, the protocols, the technologies, the topologies and the architectures and more).

It also offers introductions of the most used digital industrial networks (Ethernet, field buses or sensors and actuators networks for instance), with a selection of technical papers and specifications.

Basics And Fundamentals In Networking

This introduction to the networks lists a set of technical papers reporting on the basic knowledge in data transmissions, in communication protocols, in the different technologies in usage, in the networks performances, in servers, in switching, in machine to machine (M2M) data exchanges and more.

You will get a very complete and very well written educational paper published by the "Lantronix" company.

Networks Protocols

Some protocols in usage to communicate through the networks are not attached to a precise technology.

They are being used as data interface and are not dependant of a specific hardware.

They can be encapsulated in other protocols, consequently they can use many different structures to transport the data.

The protocols introduced here are the OPC protocol and the DNP3 protocol.

Ethernet And Internet Networks

The Ethernet technologies are taking more and more importance in networking applied to the industry, because of its popularity, because of its low cost and because of its features.

Ethernet solutions especially dedicated to the industrial world have appeared to improve the basic specifications of Ethernet, with better responses to some constraints such as performances, real-time capabilities, shorter response times and more.

You will find here resources in the essential knowledge about ethernet and about internet technologies, about the local area networks (LAN) in general, about different implementations of Ethernet (Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, Real-time Ethernet and ISO-1588 protocol) and how Ethernet is used in the industry.

You will also get some informations about associations or about some utility software.

Field Buses

The field networks are the common networks used in the workshop (down to the field), to exchange data with sensors, with actuators, with programmable logic controllers (PLC), with operator panels (MMI) or with SCADA systems.

You will find here introductions and technical papers about Arcnet, BitBus (IEEE 1118), CC-link, CIP, Ethernet IP, Fieldbus foundation, FIP, Modbus, Profibus, Profinet and Safety bus.

Control Networks

The control buses are specialized networks with high performances providing "real time" features with short response time, and sometimes deterministic capabilities. They are used for motion control applications or robotic applications for instance.

Here are educational papers and technical documentation about CAN bus, ControlNet, Drivecom, Ethercat, MACRO, Mechatrolink, Powerlink and Open Powerlink, Profidrive, Sercos and Synqnet networks.

Instrumentation Networks

The instruments networks answer to specific needs to exchange data with instruments, smart sensors and other "intelligent" devices and interfaces.

They allow to exchange data easily and remotely for configuration, adjustments, calibration and diagnostics.

For the instruments used for measurement, we can find Din Messbus, GPIB (IEEE 488), the Hart protocol and the Hart modem, LXI, M-Bus and Profibus PA.

For specific networks in relation with image processing, we can find Camera link, Dcam (or Firewire, or IIDC or iLink or I-Link, referenced as IEEE 1394) and Gige Vision.

Virtual Serial Port Over Ethernet

A "virtual serial port" is a program or a driver which emulate a serial COM port and which redirects the data towards a terminal using another communication technology.

This technique is very useful when a software can only communicate with a remote device by using RS232 line, and when the distance is very large for instance.

In this case, installing "virtual port over IP" will allow easily a remote and stable connexion between the both devices.

Computer Vision System Networks

These high performing networks are specialized in image acquisition devices networks and in image transfer, answering two main constraints imposed by image processing applications which are a large data flowin association with a short response time.

They are also used as standard to interface easily the devices from many device manufacturers, leading in systems which are rather independent from hardware.

Such networks are Cameralink, IEEE 1394 (also called DCAM or Firewire) or Gige Vision for instance.

Sensors And Actuators Networks

These field networks operate at the lowest level in an automated factory. They allow to communicate with the sensors and the actuators (especially with the devices delivering boolean states) while they reduce the costs of cabling.

Some of these networks allow to manage the smart sensors and the smart actuators, by notably providing adjustment and diagnostic functions in the manner of IO link for instance.

Such networks are AS-I, DeviceNet, InterBus, IO-link, P-net, Profibus DP and Profibus IO.

Wireless Networks

Some applications in industrial automation benefit by evolving wireless communications, in particular by managing remote devices which operate in dangerous areas or which provide a difficult access.

The radio transmissions technologies ant the Wifi technologies seems the most popular and the most affordable wireless technologies used for industrial applications.

Basic concepts in radio communications, in Bluetooth technology, in Wifi, in wireless USB and in some alternative wireless communication technologies (Li-Fi, Infrared modulation) are tackled here, with the presentation of some wireless utilities, and with the presentation of some associations such CTIA or the ZeegBee Alliance.

Others Networks Eventually Met In The Industrial World

Networks or widespread communication technologies are sometimes used to give a solution to some industrial applications. We can talk about USB, for instance.

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