The Fast Way to Commission Industrial Ethernet Switches

Editor’s Note: This article was created with expertise from Juergen Schmid, a senior product manager in our Hirschmann group.

The drive for productivity and high-availability manufacturing means you likely don’t have the time you would like to learn new things -even if doing so would ultimately save you time. In addition, you may be relatively new to industrial Ethernet networking and the equipment that comes with it.

If this is the case, you might be surprised to learn of the capabilities in managed switches, such as the Hirschmann RSP family, that make getting a switch up and running fast and easy.

Today, I am going to walk you through how to use features built into switches to speed up their commissioning and deployment. With only the time it takes to read this article, you will be able to make switches operational much faster next time.


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IT and Controls – Working Together for Better Industrial Networking

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Mark Wylie, a Belden manager with many years of experience working in both the controls and IT domains. He is responsible for our Industrial Ethernet Infrastructure and Certified Industrial Network programs.

If you are a controls or process engineer you will have noticed the direct involvement of IT while designing and deploying industrial Ethernet. While the networks and technologies come together easily, the language, culture and standard practices used by IT are very different. Indeed, they often pose a significant problem in a production environment.

If you are an IT professional working in a production environment you’ve probably run into a ton of resistance and anxiety from others based on perceived differences. Take heart, your skills are still valuable and may just require a few new twists and tweaks.

In today’s article, I hope to bring some understanding to both sides so that you can work together to better meet your company’s common goals.


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Commercial vs. Industrial Cables: 9 Essential Tests

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Loredana Coscotin, product marketing manager for industrial cable.

Nowadays, manufacturing businesses rely heavily on their automation, instrumentation and control data communications for industrial networking. When it comes to relaying signals between devices, machinery and the control system to there’s no margin for error.

Indeed network availability of 99.999 percent uptime or better is often the goal. Given this reality a robust industrial Ethernet infrastructure consisting of environmentally-hardened network cabling, connectivity and active components is essential to long-term performance and reliability.

Maximum productivity with minimal downtime is paramount for achieving network performance. If a switch, connector or cabling system in the plant fails, the cost of parts replacement and repair represents only a tiny fraction of the overall costs of production downtime. If a cabling system component or Ethernet switch fails in, for instance, a power generation facility, the repair/labor costs alone could be 15-20 times the cost of the component itself.

The indirect costs of Ethernet system failure in any industry must take into account loss of productivity, delayed downstream processes, cost of system shut-down and start-up, and the potentially devastating loss of service to customers relying on the plant’s mission-critical output.

That’s why investing in a high-quality; rugged Ethernet infrastructure designed specifically for use in harsh environments is a wise business decision – one that can provide tremendous peace of mind to network engineers and the organizations they serve.

Windows XPFig. 1 Industrial grade cable is essential for achieving high availability and productivity in manufacturing environments such as this power station.

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5 Steps to Selecting the Right Industrial Ethernet Cable

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Loredana Coscotin, product marketing manager for industrial cable.

Industrial Ethernet networks are becoming more sophisticated as organizations strive for high reliability and performance plus seamless data access and reporting. Flat networks are evolving into managed infrastructure and there are many new technologies, such as redundancy using PRP (Parallel Redundancy Protocol) to consider.

However, basic principles still apply and one of these is that it is essential to use the right industrial Ethernet cable to achieve reliable performance. Network components and media are the cause of over 70% of all network faults, with operating systems accounting for fewer than 20% of failures and application programs for the rest. Furthermore, when cable failures occur, they are often difficult to diagnose and resolve.

When the cost of cabling is compared to the high costs of network failure, which can be thousands of dollars per minute, it is abundantly clear that it makes good financial sense to select and install the right cable for the application.

This article outlines the 5 key steps to selecting the right industrial Ethernet cable.


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Integrated PRP Extends Industrial Wireless Applications – Part 2 of 2

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Julia Santogatta, Belden’s director responsible for the wireless initiatives and Dr. Tobias Heer, Belden’s Head of Embedded Development.

In Part One of this series we explained how recent advances in technology and standards have revolutionized reliability for industrial wireless applications; they are no longer the Achilles heel of signal transmission. Specifically, Parallel Redundancy Protocol (PRP) as defined by IEC 62439, is helping in this revolution as it greatly improves wireless network performance in three important areas:

  1. It drastically decreases the potential for data loss because it is a zero-failover design –renegotiation and signal recovery times are non-existent
  2. It improves transmission time by decreasing latency.
  3. It reduces jitter throughout the data transmission

The improvements in these areas are dramatic. In practical tests, the perceptible packet loss for an application with PRP was reduced to 0.00021 percent using a PRP connection. That’s a 500-fold reduction in packet loss!

It is quite unbelievable – but true to the level of improvement you could realize in the field. (See the technical article “Doubling Multiplies the Benefit” for more details on improvement measurements.)

Now, let’s build on the gains from standardized PRP and look at two additional developments that make today’s wireless even more practical. These implementation options include frequency diversification and the integration of PRP right into wireless equipment.


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New PRP Redundancy Extends Industrial Wireless Applications – Part 1 of 2

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Julia Santogatta, Belden’s director responsible for the wireless initiatives and Tobias Heer, Belden’s Head of Embedded Development.

Several months ago we asked whether you have moved wireless projects off the back burner yet. The reason we asked is because new advances in technology and standards mean it’s probably time to take a fresh look at industrial wireless.

One of the most common concerns about wireless for wide-ranging mission critical applications has always been – and still is – reliability. Will it work in your noisy environment? Will it be robust enough to ensure your data makes it to its destination? Can it ever provide you the assurance you need that it is stable enough?

These are all good questions. Up until now, there have been many techniques and planning guides written to help address those concerns. However, there hasn’t been an integrated, tried and true solution to really hit the mark I’m sure you’ve been striving for – zero failover, zero data loss.

Recent advances in technology and standards have changed this. These advances have made industrial wireless applications much more stable, reliable, fast, secure and a lot easier to deploy. This is in part thanks to the use of an updated and improved protocol called Parallel Redundancy Protocol (PRP).

In this Part 1 of a two-part series on redundancy techniques for reliable industrial Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs), I will explain why PRP technology makes wireless worth another look.

Yesterday’s Industrial Wireless Applications

  • Traditionally, wireless LANs have been used in industry when:
  • Cable is too heavy for the application.
  • Cable will not perform under the wear and tear of the application.
  • Cable is impossible to use because the application involves mobile machines or vehicles.

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Manufacturing IT: Separate the Industrial Network from the IT Network

One of the indicators that it’s time to update your network design is when troubleshooting issues take too long and having a significant impact on production. That was one of the issues Johnson Controls’ Automotive Experience Group was facing when it decided its “one size fits all” flat network infrastructure had to change.

The flat network design had been controlled by the IT department which initially did not understand how the good practices it used to manage the enterprise network were disrupting the plant floor network.

As the demand for real-time information has increased, more and more IT professionals are becoming involved with manufacturing networks. If you are one of those people, or if you are an engineer who wishes IT understood your operational network requirements, then the Johnson Controls story that follows may be helpful. Read more »

The Ultimate 600V Ethernet Cable for Heavy Industry

Recently we introduced a new industrial Ethernet cable to the market with a techy name, “DataTuff TC Cat 5e Cord Sets for 600V Cable Trays”. While I am not a fan of the name, I am impressed with what this puppy can do. If your application is in heavy industry, or you just want to learn about a very large and very feature-rich Ethernet cord set, I encourage you to read on.

As Ethernet networking gains popularity, it is starting to penetrate more deeply into industrial applications. Manufacturing, power utilities, oil and gas, transportation and other sectors want to attach more types of equipment to their industrial Ethernet infrastructures. This includes power hungry machines such as Motor Control Centers (MCCs), robots, mobile machines, and heavy equipment.

Cabling in these environments can be difficult to install, and it requires extra protection and resilience. Our long-named new cord sets meet these challenges remarkably well. Read more »

Industrial Ethernet Cable: Should It Be Copper or Fiber?

Recently I attended the Belden Industrial Ethernet Infrastructure Design Seminar and one of the sessions that I sat in on was regarding selecting copper and fiber cable. This event has traditionally focused on networking topics but the cable sessions attracted attendees seeking proficiency in end to end systems.

The fact that the majority of industrial network failures occur due to signal transmission issues is a very good reason to be more knowledgeable about cabling solutions. Downtime costs for mission critical networks can range from $25,000/hour for an oil pipeline to $45,000/hour for a power plant.

If damaged or unsuitable cable is at the root of an outage, its duration can be lengthy because it is difficult to troubleshoot cable issues. With cable then, there is a real incentive to install the right product for the job the first time. With this in mind, let’s consider industrial Ethernet cabling options.



Four pair copper cable is shown on top and fiber cable is shown on the bottom. Signals are transmitted via copper when using copper cable and by light when using fiber cable.

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Oil Refinery uses Industrial Wireless for Remote Monitoring

Looking back in time it might be fair to say that smoke signals used during America’s Wild West days were one of the original wireless communications. For their era, they were pretty effective.

Sending information quickly across distances is still important. Traditionally, landlines and wired connectivity have provided the best communications solutions. If it is not possible to link systems by wires, communication has been very difficult, particularly for industrial applications.

Into this wired world came wireless technology, for example, the personal mobile phone. While clunky and unreliable at first, now it is the preferred telecommunication method for millions of people.

Similarly, concern about wireless security and reliability in industrial settings has limited deployment in the past. However, current technology now supports robust and reliable industrial Ethernet-based wireless systems. We are at a tipping point for the adoption of wireless, as shown in the following example of how one refinery is using it in areas where cable is not available or is too expensive to install. Read more »

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