The Industrial Communication in Detail
First of all, communication is considered to be the exchanging of information between two or more parties. For this, the information is transferred from one party to another party, which then receives it, processes it, and stores / discards it depending on its relevance. When the industry component is added, it is possible to speak of “industrial communication”. The definition becomes considerably more difficult, when the purpose, i.e. the data transmission between devices of a system, is formulated clearly from the start. A real explanation of the meaning only becomes apparent when the functions of this communication are listed. A comparison with the previous procedure, i.e. the wiring, facilitates our initial approach into this extensive topic.
The advantage of using industrial networks, as opposed to the previous wiring, can be found quickly: Modernization makes it possible to save considerable amounts of money and to lower the costs. In addition, communication via industrial units has advantages for functionality. However, the means that is used in the field of “industrial communication” differs strongly according to the location. As such internal office communication mostly works with systems based on the Ethernet TCP/IP standard, while automation technology uses many communication systems, which are however compatible with each other. However in recent years, there has been an increase in the industrial networks that are employed, regardless of the particular field that requires rapid and unimpeded communication. Based on the expansion of the automobile industry, the components of the industrial Ethernet particularly show an upward tendency. In fields controlled by highly efficient technology, the industrial communication is found in sectors such as serial machine building. In spite of all modernization and specification, it is mainly the fieldbus which, in the field of industrial communication, represents an important link.
For example, based on information concerning the trend in 2010, there was growth of 50 % (in comparison to the values from the preceding year). The development could also be seen in industrial Ethernet as well as in fieldbuses. For networks, it was mainly ModBus-TCP, EtherCat, EtherNet/IP and PROFINET that indicated growth. For fieldbuses, PROFIBUS, CC-Link and DeviceNet indicated growth. This tendency has not ended over the past two years, even though the transition from the installed fieldbus nodes to the Ethernet that was predicted during the 90s, is taking place considerably slower than was initially expected and hoped for. As such, range of applications related to the “industrial communication” medium has still got further to go and space for expansion. After all, modernization of the networks brings additional functions with it:
- Energy control - lowering of the operating expenses, especially in the sector of complex installations, through controls and the checking of the energy is an advantage of the industrial Ethernet and with it the “industrial communication” sector. The functions of all components of a complex automation system can be controlled via a programmable logic controller (PLC) which in turn, leads to saving in operating expenses.
- I/O signals - the industrial communication in the form of the industrial Ethernet can transmit I/O signals in real-time. As transmission in real-time is possible, this is also defined as real-time Ethernet. One and the same cable also can transmit IT data, e.g. files, notes for websites, or e-mails and their contents. Here also, the positive effect of cost minimizing can be seen in the case of extensive installations.
The Industrial Communication as the Basis for the Cost-efficient Modern Age
The theme of industrial communication is as wide-ranging and diverse as the general term for technology that it implies. The special feature of this form of communication which is illustrated by a clear expansion especially in connection with the required modernization of many sectors of industry, is the return of tried and tested techniques in order to bring about specification and progress. In all of its aspects, industrial communication already makes use of specified standards. Through optimization, the ability is found to establish new, improved standards in the field of communication technology. Use of this standard creates a basis on which to realize powerful networks for data transmission, which can demonstrate this performance consistently. This brings the decisive advantage of cost minimization, as all devices can communicate with each other by connection of a single sensor, and as in the past individual cables are not needed to realize a work process. This also facilitates the registration of all data within a system, so that finally, industrial communication brings the gain of integrating all parts to all technological sectors of a company.