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How Ethernet Is Expanding Its Role

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Elizabeth M
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Less is more
Elizabeth M   3/14/2013 6:02:26 AM
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Streamlining and standardizing on Ethernet is definitely the way forward for the industrial network. Having one network allows operators to better manage data, security, diagnostics and any devices that might be connected to the network, and also, as you mention, Al, greater agility. Thanks for this comprehensive update on this.

Pubudu
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Re: Less is more
Pubudu   3/14/2013 1:12:40 PM
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Exactly elizabath, Ethernet is the best option for the systems which has more data which is to be more secure specially like the systems in banks and financial institutions. 

Charles Murray
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Re: Less is more
Charles Murray   3/14/2013 3:45:25 PM
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Thanks for another story packed with information, Al. I know that one of the past concerns about Ethernet use was the lack of determinism. Has that been resolved?

Ann R. Thryft
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Which protocols?
Ann R. Thryft   3/14/2013 12:05:55 PM
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Thanks, Al, great summary of recent developments in industrial Ethernet. Any sense of how the different protocols--EtherCAT, EtherNet/IP, Ethernet Powerlink--are stacking up against each other? My guess is Ethernet Powerlink may be gaining ground because it's an open standard.

barheine
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Re: Which protocols?
barheine   3/15/2013 5:34:52 AM
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Hi Ann, I have got only old numbers from the year 2009 from IMS Research: Ethernet/IP (30%), Profinet (28%), Modbus TCP/IP (22%), Powerlink (11%), Ethercat (4%), and others (5%). Maybe, anybody here knows current numbers of the market shares of the different protocols?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Which protocols?
Ann R. Thryft   3/15/2013 12:37:39 PM
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Thanks, barheine. That gives at least some data points. 

RAGNAR175
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Ethernet easier
RAGNAR175   3/14/2013 12:57:08 PM
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I've configured all types of networks for our moitoring (laser gauges for example) with control electronics (industrial PC's) and have found ethernet the quickest and more simple for the customer to learn and install than Profi bus or RS-485/422 which require termination resistors and have seen mismatches that are sometimes hard to find (exept now because its the first thing I look for) ethernet is also cheaper I think and no limit to number of devices on network unlike Profibus and RS 485/422.

apresher
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Ethernet's Role
apresher   3/14/2013 5:47:14 PM
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Chuck, The automation control suppliers have overcome the limitations of Ethernet itself by implementing protocols which provide deterministic performance using the same physical layer.  Some solutions do use ASICs in addition to "pure" Ethernet hardware, and there is also ongoing work for some of the protocols to work seamlessly together. Thanks.

Charles Murray
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Re: Ethernet's Role
Charles Murray   3/15/2013 6:09:04 PM
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It's probably a sign that Ethernet has reached a poingt where it can no longer be ignored, Al.

apresher
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Ethernet Protocols
apresher   3/14/2013 5:53:17 PM
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Ann, How Ethernet protocols stack up against each other is an interesting question. EtherNet/IP has dominant market share in the Americas, and Profinet has a huge following. But there are a series of serious players who are winning by solving applications and winning over customers for different reasons. sercos III, Powerlink, EtherCat, CCLink, MECHATROLINK, Modbus TCP/IP and (there must be more) all have excellent technology. I'm sure we could get some good debate on which is "best".

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Ethernet Protocols
Ann R. Thryft   3/15/2013 12:35:12 PM
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Thanks, Al. I heard from automation and control distributors a couple years ago that Ethernet Powerlink was growing pretty fast, hence my question.

Jim_E
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I'm rooting for EtherCat
Jim_E   3/15/2013 9:21:15 AM
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I'm rooting for EtherCat, even though where I'm currently working, we don't even use it. 

We do use a lot of Ethernet/IP (what a horrible name!), ProfiNet and Modbus/TCP, but I really think that EtherCat is awesome due to its design.  I would feel confident doing time critical I/O over EtherCat, but not with the other protocols.

One of the best thing of modern Ethernet communications, is easy OPC support.  We run Kepware OPC servers and can suck in points from all kinds of disparate devices, giving us a layer of visibilty across entire facilities.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: I'm rooting for EtherCat
Ann R. Thryft   3/18/2013 12:02:15 PM
I agree with Jim_E, EtherNet/IP is a horrible name. You have to watch the spelling, 'cause otherwise it's easy to confuse this term with the general Ethernet over IP, a completely different animal.

Jim_E
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EtherNet/IP a poor name
Jim_E   3/18/2013 12:11:28 PM
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Ann, thank you for validating my EtherNet/IP naming opinion!  It gets my award for the most confusing/misleading protocol name.

As an interesting aside, when I first learned about EtherNet/IP, was when I was working for a company that made stationary, industrial barcode readers.  The common term for these devices are "barcode scanners", or just "scanners".  Well, in EtherNet/IP, a "scanner" is a specific type of network device.  Enter confusion, since our scanner can't be called a scanner anymore if using Ethernet/IP....  :)

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: EtherNet/IP a poor name
Ann R. Thryft   3/18/2013 12:46:15 PM
I'm with you on that one, too, and I recall a similar confusion when first encountering the term. But at least it's not an official, chosen-by-a-group-who-should-have-known-better protocol name.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: EtherNet/IP a poor name
Ann R. Thryft   3/19/2013 2:12:33 PM
I've got another whine about naming processes, this one more general. I don't know the specifics that resulted in the EtherNet/IP name we've been complaining about. But on the surface, it looks just like what I've seen far too many times: people who should know better coming up with a) a product/technology/protocol name that closely resembles a well-known generic term, chosen with the assumption that the resulting confusion will bring more business, b) a product or company name chosen by the founder's family members who know nothing about the  business or industry, so it fails to attract potential customers, and c) a company logo only the founder--or a very small industry in-group--understands that takes 15 minutes to explain to anyone else.

apresher
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Ethernet Protocols
apresher   3/15/2013 3:32:52 PM
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Barheine,  The latest numbers I've seen for 2011 cited shipments (not share %) and the only big change is EtherCat significantly higher and on par with Powerlink.

TJ McDermott
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Machine Safety
TJ McDermott   3/17/2013 3:37:22 PM
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Al, yet another aspect where designers have begun to rely on Ethernet is Machine Safety.  Safety circuits are now able to communicate back to a dedicated safety controller over Ethernet.  Traditional safety used dedicated, hard-wired circuits.

Ethernet safety relies on hardware that is safety rated at each end (safety inputs and outputs on a distributed I/O rack) and safety controller using them.  The safety hardware constantly monitors that Ethernet connection and initiates safe shutdown if it is ever lost.

apresher
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Ethernet's Role
apresher   3/19/2013 9:12:51 AM
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TJ, Good insight on Ethernet and safety.  Networked safety solutions are a definite trend over the next few years.  Another way to leverage the network and reduce the need for separate hardware controllers for specific functions.

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