Ethernet in mechanical engineering - Part 4

Ethernet in mechanical engineering is one of the latest innovations in industrial communication systems. The idea of the system is to improve the relationship between production effort and final product - especially with consideration to the financial aspect.

The Advantages of Ethernet in Mechanical Engineering

The Ethernet technology increases the efficiency with use of:

  • Primary energy: Ethernet is an intelligent technology that can considerably unburden the central control of plants with the corresponding programming.
  • Raw materials: Here, Ethernet can make sure that the metering processes within production can be adjusted considerably more sensitively than before, which leads to less waste.
  • CO2 certificates: In the scope of the new environment policy, Ethernet in machine engineering can also consequently lead to a lower CO2 emission because of the savings in primary energy. As a result, Ethernet not only contributes to environment protection, but makes it possible for plants to spend less money for purchasing of CO2 certificates.

Furthermore, plants can expect the following from the use of Ethernet

Improved capabilities for monitoring of tolerances and measuring values can lead to a general improvement in quality. Short-term planning capability also permits stock reductions because of short-term acceptance of orders. In connection with this, longer downtimes can also be avoided.

What can Ethernet in mechanical engineering change for the concrete production process?

Synchronicity of the individual actuators involved in the process is one of the most important factors of industrial communication in mechanical engineering. When Ethernet is used in mechanical engineering, it a higher level of synchronicity can scarcely be reached:

The shortest cycle times in the microsecond range and a transfer rate of 100 Mbps make sure that all modules are always on the same level.
A vertical system structure enables simultaneous command transfer and execution and/or parallel diagnoses without having to fear loss of data from data collision.

Furthermore, Ethernet can be used very flexibly in mechanical engineering and also in general.
Because of the reduced time needed for installation, different modules can be repeatedly assigned to new tasks and can perform new tasks. The adaptability can be compared with the building block concept, where all parts can be combined with each other in all or many potential ways.

Further concrete advantages of the use of Ethernet in mechanical engineering can be found especially with regard to installation and maintenance of the system.

  • The basic installation is essentially less expensive, as only one cable has to be laid.
  • The training of installation and maintenance personnel also is considerably easier and costs less.
  • Fault correction is also less complicated and can be done more quickly. When required, it can even be done during ongoing operation.
  • In principle, the collected information is available to each component of the network.

Furthermore, all field components approved as equipment are certified for Ethernet and other industrial communication systems and are compatible with each other. The transitions from Ethernet to various fieldbus systems are also transparent.

Increased Operation Safety by Use of Ethernet in Mechanical Engineering

Industrial Ethernet in mechanical engineering is often installed in ring form. This not only reduces the danger of data collision, as in case of a short circuit, the system has a different path available for the transfer. This creates the capacity for fault correction during ongoing operation.
The operators of Ethernet systems have also made considerable advances in regard to data security. Various security programs and encrypted data transfer are the standard.
The security programs even offer the ability to automatically shut down machines which do not need to run, which reduces the hazard for employees and environment.
Ethernet in Mechanical Engineering as the industrial communication system of the future

The complexity of manufacturing processes has undeniably increased, so that the demand for coordination of these processes has also increased. The fieldbus systems used 20 years ago as high-tech are no longer adequate. More intelligent systems with higher performance are required. It is hard to consider what could happen in a highly modern installation if a valve is not opened or closed in time or a drive is not stopped because of a system fault.
For this reason, more and more companies all over the world rely on Ethernet systems. As the enterprises are under increasing competition pressure from globalization, they increase the efficiency of their operation and thus their market advantage with Ethernet. However, it is to be expected that Ethernet in machine engineering in the coming years will become a part of the standard equipment of production and manufacturing plants.

Control of the Ethernet systems

Even with increasingly complex systems, their operation still remains in the manageable range. Ethernet functions according to the master-slave principle. The slaves are coupled directly to the actuators of the production process. Their lines are pooled and are directed to a central control, the master. All master components can communicate with each other, but basically all components can communicate with each other. This should be more efficient than a detour via the slave-master connection.
This automated optimization of the system components, amongst other things, prevents the use of an unmanageable control.