Ethernet in mechanical engineering - Part 3

Nowadays, many producers use Ethernet technology. In mechanical engineering, it increases the efficiency of production, as it permits cost-benefit optimization, namely the duration of production in regard to the finished product without a huge increase in costs.

ETHERNET as network of the future in Mechanical Engineering

The multi-functionality and complexity of production processes is increasing, as is also the complexity of coordinating production. Nowadays, the fieldbus systems, which 20 years ago were high-tech, are no longer adequate.
The use of industrial and Fast Ethernet systems in mechanical engineering considerably accelerates and simplifies the exchange of data between the actuators of the manufacturing process.
Most Ethernet systems distinguish themselves by real-time communication that enables optimal performance of the industrial communication systems and installations by high synchronicity and short cycle times.
A machine builder above all should appreciate Ethernet because he is aware of the necessity for precise control of manufacturing processes, for example when controlling valves.

Data transfer in Ethernet systems

The synchronicity of Ethernet networks in machine building operations are virtually guaranteed by transfer rates of 100 Mbps. The cycle times of Ethernet systems are in the microsecond range.
The vertical structuring of the systems enables several modules of an Ethernet system to send data and operate at the same time, i.e. for example, issue commands or send or generate diagnoses, as a collision-free data flow is assured.

Adaptability of Ethernet

Industrial or Fast Internet represents an important piece of the puzzle for medium- and short-term planning and/or production conversion especially in machine building.
Thus, because of the sharply reduced installation work, individual modules for working on different tasks can be combined differently with each other. Basically, the individual parts of the manufacturing process in a type of kit can always be adapted to a (changing) task type by intelligent control.

Is Ethernet not far too complicated to be used in machine building?

The answer is no. The high requirement for the flexibility of Ethernet systems, even in machine building, is met in the following way for the operators of this kind of industrial communication systems:
Multiple individual components of the process, the so-called slaves, are controlled by a common controller, the master. This results in a line structure for the control, typical for production processes. The individual masters can communicate with each other via a network. If the efficiency of the communication between the individual components needs to be more efficient with direct data exchange, this is also possible. This form of cross communication of Ethernet systems in mechanical engineering among other things also enables data exchange between sensors and drives or certain valves.
Furthermore, the communication of the masters and/or slaves with each other reduces the load of the central control of the network and can be considered as the basis of a decentralized control of highly complex systems.

What are the advantages of Ethernet in Mechanical Engineering?

In addition to the already described real-time data transfer, Ethernet for mechanical engineering saves on raw materials, as well as primary energy and thus lowers the production costs considerably. 

Furthermore, the capacity for order-related production improves with Ethernet, so that the stock can essentially be reduced. The number of errors in the production can be reduced by the ability of Ethernet for continuous monitoring of measuring values and tolerances. In connection with this, the predictive diagnoses made possible by Ethernet cause a reduction of down times.

Furthermore, the trend to Industrial Ethernet should not be disregarded.
In the course of globalization, more and more enterprises put emphasis on optimization of their systems by using Ethernet. The initial users of these communication systems will generate a market advantage in regard to the others, but it is only a question of time until Ethernet and similar systems will become a essential requirement for the commercial success of manufacturing and production plants.

Increase in operational safety

The capability of the components of Ethernet systems enable installation of networks in ring form. The by now rather transparent transitions between different Ethernet systems and/or fieldbus systems even minimize the obstacles to the use of different system types. If a signal path of these ring systems should fail because of a short circuit or similar, the users of Ethernet in mechanical engineering do not have to stop the entire operation, as other signal paths are now available. The relatively simple and cost-efficient correction of faults permits even fault correction during ongoing operation.

All Ethernet systems are also dependable tools for data transfer. They offer encrypted data transfer and various security programs, which for example switch off a machine in case of an unwanted operation and thus help in minimizing hazards for employees and environment.

Conclusion

Ethernet systems are the efficient solution for industrial communication processes. With their high performance, excellent security, and flexible applications, they meet all requirements for modern automation networks, which are becoming more and more important especially in mechanical engineering.
Transparent transitions and a certification of the field components, which by now has become established, as well as the use of standard TCP/IP protocols enable use of the best Ethernet system for the respective production section.