As more industrial devices with built-in Ethernet capabilities are introduced, industrial networks increasingly need better tools for directing signal traffic.
"With the growing size and complexity of Ethernet networks in industrial applications, traffic management is very important," explains Andre Jordao, product manager—network connectivity, Weidmüller North America (www.weidmuller.com). "In many cases, by using managed switches with features such as QoS (quality of service), VLAN (virtual local area network) and IGMP snooping (for Ethernet/IP), networks would work more reliably. These tools are very important in mitigating the traffic in industrial applications."
QoS is used to prioritize messages, VLAN allows users to create subsections in the network that are isolated even though they’re on the same infrastructure equipment, and IGMP snooping routes multicast and broadcast traffic, explains Jordao. "Without these tools, networks are not as responsive and certainly not deterministic as is typically needed in industrial applications," he says. "As more devices are put on the same network, and since Ethernet is used for controlling and monitoring more applications, it is critical to look at the network equipment more carefully to make sure that they run properly."
The demand for industrial Ethernet switches is expected to increase, predicts Scott Killian, global director, presales solutions, Sixnet (www.sixnet.com). "In order to proactively manage and control data and voice traffic across the network, organizations will need rugged industrial-grade switches packaged with enterprise-class networking functionality," he says. "These switches are able to seamlessly prioritize network traffic to meet quality-of-service levels while providing advanced security to protect customer data."
Managed Ethernet software with VLAN capabilities enables networks to be segmented into separate traffic domains for added security and efficiency, says Jim Krachenfels, marketing manager, GarrettCom (www.garrettcom.com). "Ethernet switches might also be networked to provide redundancy via the use of dual-homing ports, whereby one port switches from standby to active status in milliseconds," he says. "Industrial device information can now be accessed securely and remotely over the Internet."
More industrial devices with Ethernet capability will mean more installed nodes on industrial control networks, explains Arun Sinha, director of business development, Opto 22 (www.opto22.com). "This might have some effect on the speed and performance of the network, but, at the same time, industrial Ethernet networks are keeping pace and becoming fast enough to where those concerns are less of an issue," says Sinha. "But as the number of nodes increases in a specific industrial application, the amount of data also increases, and there might be times when network latency becomes an issue, especially in high-speed applications. In cases such as this, managed switches will play even more of a key role."
Mach1040 Gigabit Ethernet switch is a 19-in. rack-mount Layer-2 switch with 16 front- or rear-facing Gigabit Ethernet RJ45/SFP combo ports. The small-form factor pluggable ports support 100 Mbps and Gigabit transceivers. The rear-facing option provides a cleaner look and restricts unauthorized access to the cabling. Four ports are available with power over Ethernet.
Stride line includes industrial-grade unmanaged Ethernet switches and media converters with aluminum housings. Designed for -40 to 85 °C)\ applications, the plug-and-play devices automatically determine and remember devices connected to each port and only route messages through the appropriate ports.
EKI-2528PAI ruggedized eight-port unmanaged power-over-Ethernet (PoE) switch has eight 10/100BaseTX Ethernet ports, four of which can supply power to PoE-compliant devices. With an internal dc-to-dc converter, 24 Vdc input power is boosted to the 48 Vdc required for powering PoE-compliant devices. Packaged in a DIN-rail mount metal chassis, the switch has redundant power inputs, 4,000 Vdc Ethernet ESD protection and power line surge (EFT) protection of 3,000 Vdc.
Advantech Industrial Automation Group
Seven-port 852-104 100BaseTX + 2-Slot 100BaseFX industrial managed Ethernet switch provides multiple configuration methods, alarm contact to signal errors via email, event monitoring/reporting and port testing. The switch provides XPress Ring and Jet Ring redundancy technologies for networking convenience and reliability.