Manage Your Network

Ethernet, Security and Complexity Call for Managed Switches and Routers

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More automation processes moving to Ethernet-based control and a growing concern for network security and safety are leading to increasingly managed switch and router functionality.

A virtual local area network (VLAN) is an important function for managed switches, says Charlton Buck, product manager, North America, industrial communications and power networks, at Harting ( "As an example, you may want a packaging line to use certain ports—port 4, filling; port 5, washing; port 6, accumulation—to ensure your manufacturing batch process is not being accessed by potentially malicious users," he explains. "You can set up policies on your batch process ports—port 1, mixing tank; port 2, water softener; port 3, boiler—to restrict user access, or if you want to access a particular server without cross-traffic from other routers."

Fully managed switches, used primarily where Ethernet is the primary automation control, also have applications in network redundancy and remote viewing, notes Mike Wightman, sales manager, fiberoptic products, at Ultra Electronics, NSPI ( Managed switches can also trigger email messages to a smart device in alarm situations, and can have self-healing ring (SHR) capabilities to keep the network up and running.

Industrial network traffic increases as companies seek ways to increase their net income and improve margins, Buck notes, adding that more information is being extracted from atypical resources. In some cases, managed switches can make better use of network bandwidth. For example, having machine control on the same network as voice-over-IP (VoIP) phones or printers could slow down the network. "This is similar to using a 100 ft fire hose to water your tomato garden, wash your sports car, and put out a three-alarm house fire," Buck says.

"More and more data are being placed onto Ethernet backbones (such as alarm systems, HVAC, office machines such as printers and servers, audio and video), making the systems more complex," Wightman says. Increasing complexity leads to increased data traffic, and in turn a need for faster processing speeds. "Most industrial networks have standardized on 100 MHz Ethernet switch speeds for their control applications. However, this bandwidth can be saturated quickly if customers also require video over IP for manufacturing surveillance cameras, for example. The GHz platform addresses these concerns, and provides a migration path for control networks should future products require increased data throughput."


Secure Gigabit
EDR-G903 Firewall/VPN secure router supports three combo Gigabit ports with built-in RJ45 ports and SFP slots for connecting to a WAN, a LAN, and a WAN or DMZ. The dual WAN feature is ideal for establishing a reliable Internet connection backup and for providing a secondary option for load sharing two Internet service providers. It supports intelligent firewall functions and Quick Automation Profile helps enable more than 25 common fieldbus protocols.

 Industrial Switch Wireless Smarts
Smart Switch industrial frequency-hopping Ethernet radios for the 2.4 GHz and 900 MHz spectra intelligently route packets over the network, managing the wireless network like a standard Ethernet switch, creating peer-to-peer wireless Ethernet communication. The radios provide long-range wireless connectivity and support 1.1 Mbps data rates. A serial port can be used to pull data from a serial device and send to a client via wireless Ethernet.
ProSoft Technology
 Ethernet Gateway

Gateway to Ethernet
Ethernet Remote I/O communication gateway and backplane enable LB/LB remote I/O to speak a new communication protocol as a virtual bridge between traditional field instruments and Modbus TCP-based Ethernet with data transfer rates to 100 Mbps. A single gateway controls up to 80 analog or 184 discrete signals. The high transfer frequencies require LWL connections for long distances, while the copper lines are suitable for distances up to 100 m.

 Gateway Switch

Gateway Switch
BL20 Economy gateways for EtherNet/IP and Modbus TCP for distributed I/O have an integrated Ethernet switch that allows a line topology between multiple gateways without using an external switch, eliminating the need for additional cable runs to the PLC. BL20 gateways accommodate up to 32 I/O modules and are available with an integrated power supply, eliminating the need for an additional power module to feed the I/O bus.


Stratix 8000 and 8300 managed switches software Release 6 have enhancements to broken wire detection, precision time protocol and Smartports. New Stratix 6000 software features include spanning tree protocols, SNMP and VLAN trunking. The new release has added flexibility in building network architectures.

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