Data communication is a vital component in factory automation. The ability to have real time communication between a sensor-actuator network of devices and the controller/enterprise network is essential for maximizing quality and throughput. Zaxis has implemented EtherNet/IP in both our automated leak testers (Zaxis PD, and iKit) and our Electronic Variable Metering Pump (eVmP).
EtherNet/IP is an industrial network protocol designed for real time communication between all devices, not just those connected to controllers. This is accomplished by utilizing the traditional Ethernet infrastructure including hardware and both of the most commonly used collections of Ethernet standards, the Internet Protocol suite and IEEE 802.3, and integrating the Common Industrial Protocol.
What Does That Mean?
- Ethernet Hardware: Most commonly, when someone thinks of Ethernet they think of that cable plugged into their desktop or the printer at work. An Ethernet cable is one of the most common network cables, used to connect devices, such as computers and routers, together enabling them to share files with each other or connect to the internet.
- Internet Protocol suite: A standard set of transport and control protocols that handle the communication of information which is commonly used in the internet and most PCs
- IEEE 802.3: A commonly available flexible network architecture that can incorporate IP67-rated industrial connectors.
- Common Industrial Protocol: A communications protocol used to transfer automation data between devices. CIP utilized objects defined by each device on the network (required objects, application objects, and vendor objects). This created predefined device types with specific behaviors. CIP also contains messages and services tailored to factory automation including motion, control, safety and energy applications.
Put Them Together, What Do You Get?
“Data anytime, anywhere” says ODVA1, the global standards development group that manages EtherNet/IP. With the combination of traditional Ethernet and CIP, devices can communicate directly with each other rather than through routers or switches. With EtherNet/IP the automation or sensor-actuator network can be integrated into the enterprise network. No more dressing up for a clean room production floor or pulling on your steel toe boots just to make one minor adjustment, make whatever device adjustments you want from your desk.
The robust hardware, by itself, is optimal for a factory environment. Often on factory floors electronics have to withstand extreme temperatures, vibrations, or particulate matter. The Ethernet cable also saves time and frustration during set up. I/O network configuration can be daunting and time consuming as it requires the individual stripping and configuring of each wire whereas an Ethernet cable is simply plugged in.
EtherNet/IP can transfer basic I/O data, or it can upload and download parameters and programs, monitor state-of-change and more. The versatility of EtherNet/IP allows you to set up your facility customized to your needs with a wide range of system designs such as unicast (one-to-one), multicast (one-to-many), and broadcast (one-to-all) communication.
EtherNet/IP is a complete suite of network functionality that implements physical, data link, network, transport, session, presentation and application. Its quick response time provides greater throughput, couple this with its market saturation and continued vendor support, EtherNet/IP is an excellent factory automation solution for years to come.
- ODVA “EtherNet/IP” Oct. 2015, https://www.odva.org/Technology-Standards/EtherNet-IP/Overview