Industrial Ethernet (IE) is growing at a startling rate. In fact, the latest estimates put the annual growth at a staggering 22 percent, which means some 52 percent of the connectivity market is now commanded by IE, putting it ahead of traditional fieldbus networks for the first time.
There are many reasons for this. In our opinion, these include the widespread accessibility of several IE protocols, a good degree of backward compatibility and the availability of rugged components (hardwired) that are typically protected from electrical noise. And it is important to not overlook the emergence of cloud technologies, as well as the pure and simple demand for more connected devices as part of industry’s smart factory evolution.
Smart factories look to eliminate downtime and enhance productivity, which is why the systems and equipment in such facilities must be far more intelligent, flexible and dynamic.
Data collection and analysis is at the core of this effort, an activity that is intended to aid faster and more informed decision making. It’s perfectly clear why all of you production managers out there would want to make decisions based on accurate reporting of what’s actually trending on the shop floor.
From a technical perspective, analytics can be accomplished in different ways. Data can be stored and retrieved as needed (acyclic data) or returned through the network in real time for immediate attention (cyclic data).
In either case, as already mentioned, there are numerous IE protocols which can help communicate this data, not least familiar ones such as Profinet, Ethernet /IP and EtherCAT. And each has its own set of attributes, but regardless of which best suits a given application, the proliferation of these protocols has made IE a major fixture in control systems around the globe.
While our industry is without doubt seeing more take-up of IE, the goal for automation equipment vendors has been delivering IE connectivity in a cost-effective and straightforward manner. For this reason, Parker has been busy developing a high-capability, high-reliability IE network node: the P2M node.
Designed with advanced factory automation in mind, Parker’s engineers have created the node so that it’s both easy to configure and cost-effective. The result is that the company’s H Universal ISO Series valve, Moduflex valve and H Micro valve families can now connect to the IE network. In fact, we can now offer a large range of IE connectivity options, including EtherNet/IP, Profinet IO, EtherCAT, Ethernet PowerLink, Modbus TCP/IP and CC-Link IE protocols.
Adding further to the options for easier and more cost-effective network connectivity is our H Series Network Portal, which delivers on-machine flexibility for IE applications. The portal handles machine digital or IO-Links I/O's, eradicating the necessity for extra PLC input and output cards or other remote I/O modules. Offering full configurable IO-Link channels on the valve manifold via the network portal facilitates straightforward and cost-effective centralised machine application, even in caustic, wash-down or hazardous areas and even where extreme temperatures are present.
Ultimately, the reality of low-cost connectivity with integrated diagnostics has at last arrived, serving to further reduce complexity and cost at the machine, while simultaneously meeting the requirements of smart factories and Industry 4.0. The IE compatibility of critical automation components such as pneumatic valves is paramount if industrial users are to leverage the full benefits that total and reliable connectivity can bring.
If you’d like to discover more about Parker’s P2M IE network node, please watch the video below:
Article contributed by Patrick Berdal, EMEA product manager for control devices, Pneumatic Division Europe, Parker Hannifin Corporation.