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What is Industrial Ethernet?

What is Industrial Ethernet? When Ethernet is employed in industrial environments—sometimes in conjunction with protocols that deliver real-time control and determinism, the system is called Industrial Ethernet. Industrial Ethernet devices must be more robust than standard office Ethernet equipment. Ethernet equipment designed to operate in industrial environments must tolerate an extended ranged of temperature, humidity, vibration, electrical noise, and physical contamination (oil, water sprays).

In manufacturing environments, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) communicate using such proprietary protocols as Ethernet/IP, Modbus, Sinec H1, Profibus, CANopen, DeviceNet or Fieldbus Foundation. Interconnecting PLCs with industrial Ethernet offers greater interoperability among such PLC-based systems. Engineers that specialize in industrial automation have adapted Ethernet to accommodate the stringent, deterministic-network requirements of manufacturing automation environments. These protocols feature a modified Media Access Control (MAC) layer that ensures the low latency and improved real-time performance required in an industrial control system. These protocol adaptations have produced a set of specialized Industrial networking protocols for communication between PLCs. These protocols include: EtherCAT, Ethernet/IP, PROFINET, POWERLINK, Sercos III, CC-Link IE, and Modbus TCP.

Industrial networks rely on specialized devices designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions while meeting the high-availability, and high-performance requirements of intelligent automation and process-control applications in manufacturing environments. The various devices on within the factory must be interconnected to create an Industrial network. The connectivity can be provided by an Industrial Ethernet Switch (also known as a rugged or ruggedized Ethernet Switch. Such a switch may be a managed Industrial switch or an unmanaged Ethernet switch. Often Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) technology is employed in industrial automation systems. In this case, a Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) Industrial switch would be installed.

Learn More: Industrial Ethernet Case Studies


Show Me: Industrial Ethernet Products


Unmanaged Industrial Ethernet Switch

FiberPlex FP1008E - Unmanaged Industrial Ethernet Switch
FiberPlex FP1008E
Deliver high-bandwidth or high-density Industrial Ethernet communications over a moderate bandwidth Gigabit fiber trunk for power/utilities, water/wastewater treatment, oil/gas/mining, process control automation, security access control systems, and intelligent transportation systems.

Managed Industrial Ethernet Switch

FiberPlex FP2008E - Managed Industrial Ethernet Switch
FiberPlex FP2008E
Deliver high bandwidth or high density connections for industrial Ethernet applications. Housed in a sturdy IP30-rated DIN-rail enclosure with wall mount options, the FP2008E is a fully manageable Layer 2 Ethernet switch, pre-loaded with a user-friendly web management console design.

PoE Industrial Switch

FiberPlex FP2008E/AT - PoE Industrial Switch
FiberPlex FP2008E/AT
Deliver high bandwidth or high density connections for industrial Ethernet applications. Housed in a sturdy IP30-rated DIN-rail enclosure with wall mount options, the FP2008E/AT provides EFT and ESD protection that prevents unregulated voltage or harmful transients. The operating temperature rating of -40 to 167°F (-40 to 75°C) supports operation in harsh industrial application environments. Physical layer interfaces include 8 x RJ45 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports, capable of providing up to 30W of PoE+ to PoE+ enabled end-points and two Gigabit SFP+ slots that can be used for fiber trunk connections.

Teach Me: Industrial Ethernet Products and Technology

Security is a chief concern when implementing an Industrial automation system. The network equipment must provide access-control mechanisms that protect against intrusions from outside the plant, as well as inside the plant from inadvertent or unauthorized access.

Firewall. Often, an Industrial network must connect to an office network or some external network such as the Internet. To control the data exchange between networks a firewall system is usually required. The firewall provides network separation that preserves the security, reliability and performance of the industrial network.

Industrial environments are generally much harsher that a typical office network environment where equipment is installed in a temperature-controlled wiring closet. In such industrial environments as a manufacturing floor, rail tunnel, or mine shaft, the equipment may be subject to oil sprays, water sprays, and physical vibrations. So, industrial devices are often protected in a ruggedized enclosure, and equipped with rugged, watertight connectors on one or both ends of the Cat-5 or Cat-6 cable. Such connectors include M12 connectors or M8 connectors, in contrast to the 8P8C connectors typically used in a home or business network.

Internet of Things (IoT). Because Industrial networks often interconnect devices that may also connect to the Internet, the technology is related to the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT may be defined as the connection of highly distributed physical objects, which have embedded electronics, computers, software, sensors or actuators, that connect to the internet for the purpose of collecting and exchanging data for monitoring and control. You can explore some IoT application scenarios on Patton's IoT Solutions Web.

In understanding Industrial Ethernet technology, it may be helpful to consider some real-world applications. Several such case studies are introduced below.

Industrial Ethernet IoT in Mine Shafts
What is industrial Ethernet? Industrial Ethernet products used in mine shafts
Coal Mine Shaft Solution

Communications from the underground operations to the above ground systems in coal mines is difficult. Running dedicated wiring is really not an option and most types of wireless communications won't work. Furthermore, Trinity Solutions needed the ability to transmit that data in all conditions including the preservation of critical communications after a cave-in. Patton, together with Trinity Solution, created a new product for delivering high bandwidth throughout, miles of underground, using those existing three-phase power lines; and it worked! The solution developed included some clever engineering to overcome the electrical noise generated by mining equipment.

IoT in Traffic Control Network
What is industrial Ethernet? Traffic Control Application
Traffic Control Application

The Maryland State Highway Administration had a mandate to modernize its traffic-control system. The existing system was a closed-loop architecture, which interconnected regional traffic controls over twisted-pair "outside-plant" using low-speed leased-line modems. The new system would be a centrally-managed IP network leveraging monitors in the intersections to provide intelligence to SHA on traffic conditions.

Video sensors mounted on traffic light support structures and inductor sensors are installed under the roadway between intersections. The sensors provide information about the density of drivers facing wait times and the rate of traffic flow through intersections. Patton's CopperLink Ethernet Extenders offer the perfect solution and was actually an in-state manufacturer of the needed networking devices. By enabling re-use of the existing infrastructure Maryland State Highway saved huge sums of money by avoiding new outside plant construction.

Related Terminology
Short Glossary of Related Acronyms
IE - Industrial Ethernet
PoE - Power over Ethernet
IoT - Internet of Things
DCS - Distributed Control System
SCADA - Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition
PLC - Programmable Logic Controller
RTU - Remote Terminal Unit
PID Controller - Proportional-Integral-Derivative Controller
GUI - Graphical User Interface

Related terms
Industrial Automation
Industrial Control System
Intelligent Automation
Automation Engineering
Automation Technology
Process Control
Control System
Control System Architecture

Industrial Automation Serial Protocols
RS-232 (aka TIA/EIA-232)
RS-422 (aka TIA/EIA-422)
RS-485 (aka TIA/EIA-485)

Technology Standards Associations
EIA - Electronic Industries Association
TIA - Telecommunications Industry Association
CCITT - Consultative Committee for International Telephony and Telegraph
ITU - International Telecommunications Union

Industrial POE Switches
FiberPlex, FP1008EAT
Un-Managed Industrial Gigabit PoE+ Switch 10 Port, 8 Copper 10/100/1000 + 2 x GigE SFP; industrial packaging
FiberPlex, FP2008EAT
Managed Industrial Gigabit PoE+ Switch 10 Port, 8 Copper 10/100/1000 + 2 x GigE SFP; industrial packaging
Managed Industrial Switches
FiberPlex, FP2008E
Managed Industrial Gigabit Ethernet Switch 10 Port, 8 Copper 10/100/1000 + 2 x GigE SFP; industrial packaging
FiberPlex, FP2008EAT
Managed Industrial Gigabit PoE+ Switch 10 Port, 8 Copper 10/100/1000 + 2 x GigE SFP; industrial packaging
Un-Managed Industrial Switches
Connect-IT, CT1005EX
Unmanaged 5-port 10/100 Mbps Class 1, Division 2 Ethernet Switch, Extended Temperature 13°-158°F (-25° to 70°C)
FiberPlex, FP1004E
Un-Managed Industrial Gigabit Ethernet Switch 6 Port 10/100/1000, 4 Copper + 2 x GigE SFP; industrial TD packaging
FiberPlex, FP1008E
Un-Managed Industrial Gigabit Ethernet Switch 10 Port 10/100/1000, 8 Copper + 2 x GigE SFP; industrial packaging
FiberPlex, FP1008EAT
Un-Managed Industrial Gigabit PoE+ Switch 10 Port, 8 Copper 10/100/1000 + 2 x GigE SFP; industrial packaging
FiberPlex, FP1108E
Un-Managed Industrial 10 Gig Ethernet Switch 10 Port, 8 Copper 10/100/1000 + 2 x 10 GigE SFP; industrial packaging
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