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Rockwell: Ethernet's Momentum in Automation Is Unstoppable
11/22/2011

One of the biggest advantages of an Ethernet-based protocol is that it offers secure remote access to the shop floor.   (Figure courtesy of Rockwell Automation.)
One of the biggest advantages of an Ethernet-based protocol is that it offers secure remote access to the shop floor.
(Figure courtesy of Rockwell Automation.)

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Only a matter of time
Ann R. Thryft   1/3/2012 12:23:02 PM
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I see a parallel here, sort of, between control and machine vision. In control there's been a gulf separating the functionality and usability of Ethernet/IP versus the control-specific protocols like EtherCAT and Ethernet Powerlink. In machine vision, there's been a parallel guilf, perhaps not so large, between  various open-sourced protocols like USB or GigE and their vision-specific versions like the very new USB3 Vision, and the not so new GigE Vision. And the gulfs all about that pesky determinism issue.


naperlou
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Re: Only a matter of time
naperlou   12/30/2011 12:54:53 PM
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Ann, you have hit the nail on the head by mentioning protocols like EtherCAT.  There are applications where standard Ethernet/IP can be used, but to replace the more specific bus standards like Fieldbus, you need a deterministic protocol.  These have now been developed.  In the IP realm, the increase in speed to gigabit and beyond helps mitigate some of the determinism issues.

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Only a matter of time
Alexander Wolfe   11/28/2011 2:35:52 PM
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The gets into the whole remote monitoring issue -- the fact that improved data links throughout the factory are enabling sensors to send data back to a central monitoring station. This, in turn, is enabling both tighter control of processes and also a reduction in outages, because failure points can be fixed right away.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Only a matter of time
Rob Spiegel   11/28/2011 12:46:16 PM
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That sounds like a good solution, Jack -- much more like the former process of sending reports. The real-time network, however, could send the data on a near-continuous stream. Not quite the same as letting other areas of the enterprise peek into the process to ascertain performance and results, but it would solve some of the security issues.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Only a matter of time
Jack Rupert, PE   11/28/2011 12:43:04 PM
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Rob - One possible solution to that particular problem is creating a one-way or read-only link.  The data can be sent out to the IT systems, but nothing can come in that way.  Yes, that adds a layer of complexity regarding updates, but it also makes sure that both the IT and Controls people sign off on the update schedules and implementations.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Only a matter of time
Ann R. Thryft   11/28/2011 12:23:02 PM
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I hadn't heard that about safety, Rob, but unfortunately, it makes sense. Sounds like the same principle operating in both cases, of security and safety procedures. At least in the case of security, both employee training and more robust safeguards in mobile equipment were required. 

 


Rob Spiegel
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Re: Only a matter of time
Rob Spiegel   11/28/2011 11:57:32 AM
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Yes, I've heard that personal smartphones have entered the workplace big-time, and it's causing problems for IT departments. But it's understandable. Employees are accustomed to their Androids and iPhones, and by comparison, their work BlackBerrys are not as advanced.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Only a matter of time
Beth Stackpole   11/28/2011 7:38:38 AM
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Part of what's fueling the security issue is the whole trend around the consumerization of IT. More and more employees, including plant managers and operators, are bringing their own smart phones to work and want to use those devices as part of their work tasks as opposed to maintaining two devices. That makes it hard for IT or the controls group to uphold proper security standards. Also, as Ann notes, the device can get lost or the kids can log on to download some Apps and presto, you have a breach or potential security problem on your hands.

vimalkumarp
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only a matter of time
vimalkumarp   11/26/2011 1:03:14 AM
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Data security is a major issue, but then it can be tackled effectively to a great extent. This initiave will definitely reduce cost implications byt enhancing remore accessing of test suites and sites

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Only a matter of time
Rob Spiegel   11/23/2011 1:05:58 PM
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Turning off security because it gets in the way of operating the machines! That's a good one. I've seen that with safety as well, I've seen employees and managers bypass or circumvent safety in order to speed up the line. 

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