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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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".
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, 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.... :)
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.
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.
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.
The series now can interface with a wider array of EtherNet/IP-compliant hardware across many industrial sectors, including factory automation systems, plastic injection molding apparatus, and materials-handling equipment.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.