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Case Studies

EtherWAN Helps Keep Factory Automation Systems Connected


An Automobile manufacturing plant is one of the largest industrial facilities in the world, there are thousands of automobiles being produced everyday. An automotive assembly plant utilizes state-of-the-art robotic technology. Robotic machines are used in industrial automation to complete mundane repetitive tasks that are not desirable to workers.


Traditionally, serial protocol is the preferred communication method used in Industrial Automation applications; Ethernet was not accepted by large vendors with proprietary protocols, which prevented the wide acceptance of Ethernet on the factory floor until the early 90s New generation equipment utilizes new IP protocols devised for the control industry. As manufacturing facilities install new equipment, utilizing IP protocols they also need new Ethernet based networking infrastructure.


The industrial control environment is harsh compared to computer rooms and offices. Networking equipment and systems must be able to withstand high levels of electrical noise, dust, dirt, humidity and extreme hot and cold temperature levels. In order to run the plant twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, factory floor controllers must access data embedded in drive systems, operator workstations and I/O devices, on a real time basis. For example, terminating the fill operation on a bottle requires much more time sensitive communications than accessing the next page of an Internet site.


Automation control applications require accuracy of data transmission rather than bandwidth for large packet size. Any packet loss might mess up the operation flow or lead to an unaffordable result. EtherWAN's “α-Ring topology” provides network redundancy to guarantee network availability and reliability. Once connections are in problem, the network system can be recovered less than 15ms. The same efficiency is proved when 130+ switches are connected. The solution is to install the EX94005 (5-port unmanaged switch) in the robotic machine. Each control or assembly station may have multiple EX94005 unmanaged switches in line. All are then connecting with the EX73000 (16-port Hardened Management Switch) to form a redundant Ethernet Ring environment. The EX77000 (24-port Hardened Managed Switch), located in the centralized control room of the industrial zone, is also connected with EX73000 switches in the field. This will allow administrators monitor the production flow and take proper actions when demand calls.


EtherWAN's products are designed for hardened and heavy duty applications suitable for the extreme environments found in industrial automation applications. EtherWAN's series of Ethernet switches have UL1604/ ISA 12.12.01 safety certifications for Hazardous environments and proprietary technology α-ring to ensure that the data communications needs for real-time applications are met, as well as the ability to monitor them to arrange more flexible production demands. As a result of using EtherWAN's switches, the overall downtime rate is decreased, helping users to attain maximum availability and minimum day-to-day maintenance.

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EtherWAN – " When Connectivity is Crucial "
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