Ethernet has slowly gained momentum in industrial settings, positioning the network protocol to become one of the dominant communications technologies in the sector.
This isn’t to say that fieldbus and other connectivity options aren’t still prominent – Ethernet isn’t dominant yet.
Instead, it has been rising and is continuing its expansion as Industry takes hold.
Organizations must consider the role that networks play in the new era of manufacturing that is emerging across the industry, and getting Ethernet investments off to a good start is critical here.
An industrial revolution is underway as connected devices, robotics advances and data integration into day-to-day processes all come together to change the way organizations get the job done.
Essentially, the Internet of Things and other data-driven IT solutions are combining with robotics systems and similar technologies to gather, deliver and use data in new and more intuitive ways.
This drives productivity and efficiency increases while also optimizing the supply chain to keep costs down and eliminate waste.
All of this adds up to transformation across industrial sectors, but it is only achievable if data can be moved across different lines of business without disruption.
This is where the recent rise of industrial Ethernet becomes essential.
Ethernet’s ability to work seamlessly with business and industrial systems makes it a natural fit for Industry.
Keep the following considerations in mind as you work to implement a new Ethernet network to support the demands of a changing industrial sector:
“Ethernet’s ability to work with business and industrial systems makes it a natural fit for Industry.”
Any industrial Ethernet strategy must be taken on with consideration of legacy hardware systems that are still getting the job done and part of your organization’s future.
These could be fieldbuses for specific equipment types or partitions of the network that you don’t want to change for any reason.
Serial to Ethernet media converters can help you overcome the compatibility challenges that come up when rolling out Ethernet.
You don’t have to go Ethernet everywhere to take advantage of the technology. Instead, building out Ethernet throughout your areas of operations and ensuring compatibility in areas where legacy tools make more sense creates streamlined data workflows and helps you handle the data demands emerging across the sector.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the key innovation drivers across the industrial sector.
This means that organizations will need to figure out how to power a large number of connected devices, and batteries or extra power cables are a hassle that add too much overhead to any systems plan.
Instead, using power-over-Ethernet capabilities empowers industrial organizations to streamline energy delivery to IoT devices and streamline deployment.
Ethernet provides a major edge here, as industrial Ethernet solutions can support power functionality without sacrificing performance.
Dropped data packets can’t be tolerated in industrial settings.
Introducing determinism is one option when trying to get Ethernet networks up to demands in this area.
A deterministic Ethernet system ensures packets get to their destination without being dropped by the network.
Other options include using quality of service functionality or similar routing tools to optimize delivery for mission critical and safety systems, ensuring those packets don’t get dropped and prioritizing sensitive traffic within the network.
These advanced Ethernet capabilities – often available in specialized industrial Ethernet hardware – overcome many of the inherent weaknesses in Ethernet solutions and make them more suitable for the factory floor.
Ethernet technologies can help industrial organizations keep up with changing demands.
Extreme temperatures, humidity, vibrations, dust and similar issues can add up to put a huge strain on networking equipment.
These conditions can cause interference in cables, disrupt signal transmission through switches or cause damages in hardware that make it difficult to sustain adequate network performance.
Standard Ethernet tools alone aren’t going to be able to get the job done. Industrial Ethernet solutions are designed with these circumstances in mind, however, and the rugged, hardy infrastructure will withstand the unique conditions that emerge in manufacturing environments and empower organizations to transform their networks.