What's fueling growth in networking for high performance motion control?
With our focus on integrated control architecture, we see significant growth in motion networking and networking for factory automation in general. For example, there has been a 50 percent year over year growth in networking on devices such as ac drives. One business driver for this growth and interest in networking is time. To be competitive, engineers must deliver flexible, more efficient control systems in less time.
What are important issues for engineers looking at motion networking?
Time and flexibility are the major drivers encouraging companies to embrace motion networking. Flexibility is important since nearly all companies are in some way anticipating the future. Engineers don't want to isolate a single function like motion control, but rather seek to include motion control in a comprehensive way into future architectures. The availability of information, not just data, in useful formats is becoming increasingly valuable to customers.
In pharmaceutical applications, traceability and production information requirements are specifically tied to motion control and to the "how and when" details of when products have been made and packaged.
Why is Ethernet a logical choice for motion networking?
Ethernet is a specific physical layer with well-known connections. From a motion standpoint, the technology is already in play on the factory floor for almost every control need, whether it's information, I/O control, drive control or managing peripheral devices. The question is how to apply Ethernet to motion control to make it a useful part of already existing architectures.
The industry has split into two views. Some suppliers have moved in the direction of modifying the standard 802.3 Ethernet physical layer to provide the necessary synchronization and "hard" timing for motion control. Other companies, through ODVA, are using technologies within the CIP (Common Industrial Protocol) portfolio. CIP technologies offer a uniform method for describing information, an object model, and an approach for time use (IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol). CIP Sync is the object for the use of time, and CIP Motion defines the connections and services for motion control.
What is the significance of the CIP protocol for motion users?
CIP motion describes information in a common format and uses a known and proven methodology to define how information moves on the network, whether the application is motion or another device. The core differentiator is that CIP information is understood by all devices and customers don't have to write application software to make information useful.
CIP Motion is applied above the motion control layer, and users can mix and match motion control and other devices such as video cameras, control systems and drives from multiple vendors. Different types of standard Ethernet devices work on the same subnet as motion control and may also be running services that are outside the domain of motion control such as TCP/IP.
How is the evolution of motion networks similar to device-level networks?
Compared to other fieldbus technologies, device-level networks for motion control evolved late in the game due to extreme real-time performance requirements. Today, we see a convergence of networks on the factory floor not only for motion control, but fundamentally in the way that customers view the role of all device-level networks. Ethernet/IP is viewed as more than a fieldbus, and the convergence to a single network is driven by the ability to have one wire and one network throughout the machine and process. We talk about the unique nature of motion control, but fundamentally the trend in networking is driven by larger, more global architecture and integration issues.