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Routers and Switches Continue Directing Industrial Network Traffic

July 30, 2009
The Once and Future Network Traffic Cops: Routers and Switches Continue to Up the Toll on the Network Highway

As more industrial devices with built-in Ethernet capabilities are introduced, networks will become more complex and crowded with signal traffic. "This will increase the need for Ethernet switches and routers with advanced functionality that can limit collisions, control bandwidth and create virtual local area networks (VLANs)," says Chris Vitale, senior product manager with Turck's network and interface division (www.turck.com).

"An advantage of today's LAN switches over earlier LAN hubs and repeaters is the presence of microprocessors in the switch to selectively direct communications from one remote device to another," explains Jim McConahay, PE, senior field applications engineer for Moore Industries International (www.miinet.com). "The LAN switch intelligently determines which remote sensors are connected to a particular LAN cable. It sends only those addressed communications back and forth, thereby blocking unneeded LAN chatter from other devices."

Industrial plants also use switches as a redundant pathway, should one LAN cable become damaged, thus restoring the system to full LAN communications instantaneously, he explains "LAN switches provide the means for the IT department to electronically isolate the LAN communications on the industrial side of the plant from the front office LAN equipment, and also from outside hackers," continues McConahay. "At the same time, LAN ports can help management to monitor the industrial side of the plant activities, data log and even communicate with their counterpart facilities throughout the world, all with security passwords. While earlier LAN hubs and repeaters shared LAN communications, the modern LAN switch selectively shares LAN communications."

Erik Syme, technical support manager at ProSoft Technology (www.prosoft-technology.com) doesn't foresee the extinction of switches and routers in industrial applications because the intelligence in the devices can drastically improve communications. "With switch technology improving all the time, we will see a greater emphasis on improving the intelligence built into switches and routers that will allow someone who is well-trained in Ethernet to make dramatic improvements to their device communications," he says.

"Ethernet routers and switches will not go the way of hubs and repeaters today because they provide industrial engineers with two valuable items, control and flexibility, whereas hubs and repeaters only provided connectivity," explains Bruce Hofmann, director of marketing, Weidmüller North America (www.weidmuller.com). "Ethernet switches provide engineers with the ability to extend Ethernet networks indefinitely via copper or fiberoptic cabling. They also, in the case of managed switches, provide additional capabilities such connecting two ports together to increase throughput, to set up self-healing networks and to monitor and manage network bandwidth and information priorities with quality-of-service (QoS) features." Routers provide even more functionality and control by giving users or engineers secure, direct access via a wide area network (WAN) to specific networks and specific devices, he adds. "This type of access allows engineers to diagnose, upgrade, evaluate or monitor a system or device from virtually any telephone line or Internet connection anywhere in the world," says Hofmann.

 "Routers and switches allow intelligent routing of messages to their final destination and allow networks to be broken up into several collision domains," says Ernest Cisneros, development engineer, Ultra Electronics, Nuclear Sensors & Process Instrumentation (www.ultra-nspi.com). "They have become a standard network building block; they're simply more efficient. Any future network devices will probably be variants of these."

"Given the decentralized nature of IP networks, there will always be a need to connect network edge devices and route traffic for both performance and security needs," says Paul Wacker, product manager at Advantech Industrial Automation Group (www.advantech.com). "Managed switches will continue to decrease in price, while incorporating network routing—layer 3—capabilities of routers, limiting the need for routers to extremely high-capacity network core applications."

The progression from hubs to switches and then to routers and layer-3 switches is an example of more useful functionality becoming available with less incremental cost, explains John Shaw, executive vice president at GarrettCom (www.garrettcom.com). "The added complexity and cost of higher-function industrial networking devices is often not justified today and layer-2 switches dominate, but layer-3 switches and even more sophisticated security-enabled devices will someday become relatively commoditized and commonplace," he says.

From a hardware standpoint, switches replaced hubs and repeaters for networking devices together, explains Marty Jansons, networking consultant at Siemens Energy & Automation (www.sea.siemens.com). "Routers were implemented when connecting two or more networks, as well as connecting multiple remote sites together to access the Internet," he says.

Bradcommunications 200 Series Direct-Link industrial Ethernet unmanaged switches are equipped with five-, eight- or nine-port switches and are plug and play. Other features include auto-sensing, auto-polarity and auto-crossover.  Each is DIN-rail- or panel-mount and equipped with redundant, dual dc power inputs. The 300 Series of managed switches are equipped with IGMP snooping, VLAN and QoS for prioritization and support redundant ring network technology and advanced network management. Direct-Link SNMP Management Suite converts SNMP messages into OPC tags that can be incorporated into and portrayed by HMI OPC client software.
The 19-in. rack-mount MACH100 switches operate 0-50 °C without the use of fans. The switches include two Gigabit RJ45/SFP combo ports and are offered with either eight or 24 permanently installed 100 mbps ports or as a modular device with eight ports and slots for two other eight-port media modules.  These modules, which are designed for 100 Base-TX, 100 Base-SFP or 100 Base-FX (multimode and single-mode), can be changed during operation by means of a hot-swap function.
Noise Immune Switch
The EKI-4654R is an IEC 61850-3 compliant managed Ethernet switch for grid automation applications. IEC 61850-3 certification ensures environmental and EMI immunity. The switch features 24 10/100Base-T Ethernet ports and two 1000Base-T SFP slots. It has a wide range of redundant power inputs, allowing connection to two separate power supplies and guaranteeing operation in the event one source goes off-line. The switch supports X-Ring, standard Spanning Tree and Rapid Spanning Tree protocols.
Advantech Industrial Automation Group
Smart Switches
The Stride line has been expanded to include industrial-grade unmanaged Ethernet switches and media converters with aluminum housings. Designed for wide-temperature (-40 to 85 °C) applications, these true plug-and-play devices automatically determine and remember devices connected to each port and only route messages through the appropriate ports, increasing speed and bandwidth. Even under heavy I/O and data exchange, Stride switches and the Ethernet control network maintain more consistent cycle times.
Messaging Module
The Message Manager ILX56-MM module is a multi-system data transfer engine that resides in a single slot of a ControlLogix chassis. The module enables PLC-to-PLC data transfer without requiring message programming or ladder logic. The module is configured using a built-in graphical Web-based configuration tool with easy-to-use, intuitive user prompts. Data transfers can be set up by users at one location for up to 16 different Rockwell Automation and Siemens controllers.
ProSoft Technology
Simple Managed Switch
This industrial Ethernet ring switch offers the performance features of a managed switch with the simplicity of an unmanaged switch. The switch comes preconfigured for ring redundancy, offering virtual plug-and-play performance, and it utilizes self-healing ring topology. The switch provides the port mirroring, broadcast storm protection and priority queuing of a managed switch. In addition to offering fast recovery time of 30 msec + 5 msec/hop, the switch allows for real-time data transfer with IEEE 802.3 Ethernet compliance.  
Ultra Electronics
First FISCO Fieldbus
The Route-Master Fieldbus System has a new ATEX approval (FM pending) as a redundant intrinsically safe fieldbus system, permitting the connection of any mix of FISCO and Entity devices. This is the world's first fieldbus system approval to offer FISCO compatibility and power redundancy. A Route-Master system consists of up to eight trunk isolator modules in a 19-in. rack, each connected to one or more RM100 fieldbus device couplers.
Moore Industries-International
Sync Your Clocks
The EL6692 EtherCat bridge terminal improves synchronization for highly complex machines and production lines with numerous EtherCat masters. In the most complex systems, data may have to be exchanged between individual EtherCat systems or the distributed clocks of different systems may have to be synchronized. The bridge terminal is an ideal solution as it cost-effectively implements these tasks directly in the I/O system. In addition to normal data exchange, the EtherCat bridge permits distributed clock synchronization.
Beckhoff Automation
Fully managed, eight-port PoE switch is designed to power network devices intelligently and enable PoE infrastructure via fiber. The ruggedized device comes with built-in dual fiber uplinks and is backed by a lifetime warranty. The SISPM1040-182D-LR(T) provides fiber connectivity and can power wireless access points. All RJ-45 ports support Auto-negotiation and AutoCross, and all SFP ports support both 100Base-FX and 1000Base-X SFP optics. The eight RJ-45 ports w/POE fully support the IEEE 802.3af standard, providing a full 15.4 W to as many as eight devices.
Transition Networks
852 series Ethernet switches offer an alarm contact, enabled via dip switch, to signal an error condition on the switch. The power input connector on the switch has two dedicated alarm circuit connections that can be wired to any warning device, such as a PLC. Error conditions that can be monitored include port link failure, power supply disruption/disconnect or power supply voltage out of specified range.
Entry Level Switch
The Scalance X family of industrial Ethernet switches has been expanded to include the simple-to-use, space-saving and affordable Scalance XB. The entry-level Scalance XB unmanaged industrial Ethernet switch can be used in a line or star topology where simple plug-and-play connections and low-cost port expansion features are required.  The Scalance X family of switches are available with up to eight 10/100 Mbit/sec ports.
Siemens Energy & Automation
Multi-Port Switches
The EK series of rack-mount industrial Ethernet managed switches are offered in 26-port and 32-port models. These switches are industrial-rated and designed to meet the requirements of power substations (IEC 61850/IEEE 1613), traffic control (NEMA TS2), railway applications (EN 50121-4) and maritime use (ABS/DNV/GL). The compact 1U rack-mount packaging fits into standard EIA, WECO and ETSI racks 19-24 in.
USB Hubs
This four-port hub and this seven-port hub are both USB 2.0 compliant, providing a full 480 Mbps data rate to the host, and are backward-compatible with USB 1.1 and 1.0 devices. Each includes a convenient wall-mount ac adapter that supplies a full 500 mA to each attached USB peripheral. Both hubs are housed in rugged plastic enclosures. The hubs are supported in Windows, Linux and other USB-aware operating systems.
Sealevel Systems
High Throughput Radio
The 702-W Industrial Wireless Ethernet Radio offers a high throughput. IEEE 802.11n support allows the radio to utilize three antennas and multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) technology for increased throughput, yielding much higher data rates than devices supporting only 802.11a/b/g. The radio also supports 802.11a/b/g compatibility for existing wireless networks. Extended environmental specifications allow operation in temperatures from -40 to 70ºC. Auto sensing 10/100Base-TX also is included.
I/O Hub System
This stand-alone Ethernet hub system is part of the X20 slice I/O series. The modular design of the active hub allows it to be used as a 4x or 6x hub. Even the smallest version is a beneficial solution as a 2x hub for extending Ethernet sections up to 200 m. Besides standard Ethernet, the modular hub system also can be expanded with an X20 bus controller module with an integrated 2x hub for Ethernet Powerlink.
B&R Industrial Automation
Intelligent Switch
The Smart Managed Compact Switch (SMCS) has eight ports capable of simultaneous Gigabit operation. The SMCS is suitable for Profinet, EtherNet/IP and standard Ethernet applications. Two versions are available, one with eight twisted-pair ports and another with six twisted-pair and two fiber ports. The switch's integrated Web server provides easy access to switch functions and settings. It can be configured using the Web browser, simple network management protocol (SNMP) or a serial connection.
Phoenix Contact
Gateway to DeviceNet
This DeviceNet gateway joins Turck's Profibus-DP and CANopen gateways in its BL20 economy system. BL20 economy gateways provide a cost-effective solution to expand fieldbus I/O. The gateway allows connection of up to 32 I/O modules, including digital and analog, resulting in a system that can handle up to 512 digital I/O points or 128 analog I/O points. A combination of digital and analog I/O on a single node also is an option. 
Versatile Switch
The entry-level industrial-grade Magnum 6KQE Ethernet Managed Edge Switch is a compact, environmentally sealed managed Ethernet switch designed for physically and environmentally constrained installations. Its modular design supports up to 8 10/100TX and 2 GigE Ethernet ports, with configuration options for TX or fiber interfaces and optional power over Ethernet (PoE), as well as several integral power supply options. The switch provides advanced networking features such as RSTP and VLANs, as well as management interfaces.
Stratix 8000 modular managed switch line with six to 26 ports includes the resilient Ethernet protocol (REP), DHCP per port and CIP sync protocol. It uses Cisco Catalyst switch architecture and feature set and can be configured using RSLogix 5000 programming software. It automatically generates Logix tags for integrated diagnostics. Switches have a removable compact Flash card.
Rockwell Automation
ASi Modules
The VBA-4E4A AS-Interface junction-box modules are just 28.65 mm high and deliver 4-in/4-out functionality to support up to 62 nodes per network. All I/O is powered directly by the AS-Interface module, eliminating the need for an additional power source. Industrial dual-lock mounting strips increase the total mounting height to 35 mm. Removable terminals enable programming and module change-outs, and LED indicators help with troubleshooting. 
Secure Routers
This new line of industrial Ethernet routers is designed to provide engineers with networking options and network controls such as firewall protection, remote network access, virtual mapping of networks, virtual private networks, DHCP server options, DNS server functionality and network callback features. The routers provide the tools and capacity for superior network security such as SSH tunneling, VPN, virtual mapping (NAT), port forwarding, port filtering and a packet-level inspection firewall.
Anybus X-gateway's new feature connects PC-based OPC-client applications through standard Ethernet networks and the X-gateway to all major fieldbus networks. The new OPC connectivity feature is available for 19 industrial Ethernet to fieldbus versions of the X-gateway family with more than 50 combinations to choose from. It enables PC-based OPC DA client application to access data of distributed field devices located in a fieldbus network without the need for a PCI fieldbus interface card.
HMS Industrial Networks
Rugged Router
The Digi Connect WAN 3G IA is a third-generation (3G) wireless WAN router for secure primary and backup connectivity to remote devices in severe environments. It supports industrial protocols and features high-speed 3G connectivity. The router provides support for both HSDPA (GSM) and EVDO (CDMA) connections and features Class I, Div. 2, industrial certification. It also includes Modbus TCP support for easy connectivity to programmable logic controllers, remote terminal units and other industrial devices. 
Digi International
Extend the Data
LDM heavy-duty modems extend the distances that computers, terminals and other devices can communicate in hazardous industrial and institutional environments. Six models communicate over continuous dedicated wire pair and distances to 12 miles using standard RS232/485 protocols. Two additional models feature fiberoptic data links for total electrical isolation and operation to two miles.
PowerTrans series of IEC 61850-3 and IEEE 1613 compliant Ethernet switches protect against electrical, EMI and other critical threats. Modular rackmount design with high optical fiber and Gigabit port density make the switches well suited for both retrofitting existing stations as well as establishing networks for new substations. Layer 3 routing is supported for better performance on large-scale substation LANs.
Moxa Americas
6U CompactPCI NETernity CP982RC and CP980RC 24-port Layer 2 Gigabit Ethernet switches feature Layer 2 switching at wire speed. Front ports on the CP982RC can be 10/100/1000BaseT, 10000BaseLX or 1000BaseSX, while rear I/O ports are 10/100/10000BaseT. The CP980RC provides 10/100/1000BaseT support for both front and rear (copper) ports. On both switches, 24 (copper) ports are routed to the rear, or alternatively 22 ports can be routed to the rear and two ports to the front. High availability hot swap is supported by both switches.
GE Intelligent Platforms
X-Press-Pro SW five- and eight-port managed and unmanaged Ethernet switches are designed to connect industrial networking products to an Ethernet copper 10/100 BaseT or fiber (multi-mode with SC connector) network for ranges to 2 km. All products comply with IEC61000-6-2 EMC generic standard immunity for use in industrial areas and offer full wire-speed forwarding rate.
TuffHub is a MIL-STD-810F vibration-tested USB/Ethernet hub that is USB 2.0 certified, making it easy to add peripherals such as GPS, scanners, card readers and printers. In-vehicle video can also be added via a RJ45 Ethernet port. The MIL-STD-810F standard was developed by the Department of Defense. TuffHub has been validated against automotive OEM standards to perform in mobile vehicle environments.
NEIA-EDR01 Ethernet/IP-DeviceNet routers allow the operating condition of a DeviceNet safety system to be configured and monitored from a general-purpose Ethernet device. An ED router makes it possible to program controllers and slaves from network configurators running on a PC connected to an Ethernet or EtherNet/IP network.
Omron Scientific Technologies
Instant Internet Interface
WIZ100SR is a plug-and-play gateway module that converts RS232 protocol into TCP/IP protocol. It enables remote checking, managing and control of devices via Ethernet and TCP/IP by connecting existing RS232 equipment at up to 230 Kbps to a network. The gateway is a protocol converter that automatically converts and transmits data sent by serial equipment to TCP/IP data, and converts the received TCP/IP data into serial data for the equipment. Measuring 2x1.2 in., the gateway uses simple software for setup.

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