EtherNet/IP‚Ñ¢ Brings Simplicity

  • June 10, 2011
  • Feature
June 2011
By Katherine Voss, Executive Director, ODVA
The expression “Less is More” reminds us about the importance of simplicity as a design goal. This goal is especially true for information and communication technologies used in the industrial world, where moving information quickly and seamlessly between supply chains, distribution systems and the production domain - and to and from the decision makers - is critical to overall business competitiveness. To accomplish this feat, users are looking to industrial Ethernet to integrate systems and layers. 
However, the variety of specialized and often proprietary networks in this domain can result in a network architecture that is too complex to realize this critical design goal. In addition to lacking simplicity, most of these specialized Ethernet networks do not adapt to changing business needs. Perhaps, for a given application, such a network may offer performance advantages, but unless it can easily accommodate multiple applications and keep pace with Information Technology (IT) advancements, such application-optimized networks are short-lived, resulting in lower ROI over time.
Forward-looking users are adopting EtherNet/IP to create a common eco-system for control engineers, machine builders and IT professionals in order to enable sharing critical production data with business-level systems. EtherNet/IP offers a single network architecture that eliminates specialized networks and provides the simplicity and seamless environment users need for optimizing overall business productivity and responsiveness.
Introduction to EtherNet/IP
EtherNet/IP is the world’s leading open industrial Ethernet network, capable of handling the widest range of applications, including safety and high-performance motion control. Designed and established to connect across applications and from the end customer’s IT infrastructure all the way down to assets on the factory floor, EtherNet/IP streamlines control and information flow and offers the best pathway to achieve a simple and unified network architecture, allowing the movement of data from assets to systems to process.  EtherNet/IP delivers the real-time performance, resiliency and security of proven, but technically mature, fieldbus solutions, while making available the bandwidth, open connectivity and future-proof adaptability of standard Ethernet.
Because EtherNet/IP can be integrated with readily available, off-the-shelf media and complies with IEEE 802.3 and the TCP/IP suite of standards, IT professionals and engineers can collaborate easily to deploy and maintain security, reliability and quality of service across the enterprise and throughout the plant floor. EtherNet/IP allows common network management tools to be used for both industrial and enterprise networks, in combination with a diverse hardware environment that can include standard industrial products alongside IP cameras and telephony. As a result, users can take advantage of the ongoing advancements of standard Ethernet and TCP/IP technology, making EtherNet/IP a scalable, future-ready network architecture. 
To bridge the cultural gap between manufacturing engineers and IT professionals and help balance the difference in priorities, a plethora of educational resources are available. These resources help converge the network infrastructure using EtherNet/IP technology to deliver secure visibility while providing control networks with the greatest possible flexibility.
Minimize Long Term Risk with EtherNet/IP
For industrial users, the choice of an industrial Ethernet technology is a strategic investment. This is especially true for manufacturers who expect their equipment to last years longer than the typical IT components used in the office. Thus, when it comes to selecting a networking technology, users need to minimize their risk for the long term. To do this, users should select a technology which can support a “yes” answer to each of the following questions:
  • Is the technology a vetted, global standard – ensuring acceptance of the technology throughout the global enterprise?
  • Is the technology strategically supported by multiple leading automation control suppliers - demonstrating broad-based support and long-term availability of the technology?
  • Is the technology supported by a wide range of vendors of devices, media and infrastructure – ensuring that there is both the ability to solve a range of applications and choice of best-in-class products?
  • Is the technology backed by conformance tested products - to help ensure compliance of products with the underlying technology standards and interoperability in multivendor systems?
  • Is the technology backed by a strong, open and independent standards development organization (SDO) – helping to ensure that the standards underlying the technology not only are maintained but also continue to evolve in an open process that protects the legitimate intellectual property rights of the contributors to the technology along with the freedom to implement by adopters of the technology (both vendors and users)?
EtherNet/IP delivers interoperable products from a large community of industrial automation suppliers. Today, more than 300 companies provide 1,000+ product lines and millions of installed devices on EtherNet/IP. It is impossible to count all the installed nodes of a truly open network, but the number of vendors supporting EtherNet/IP and the market preference of the network by global manufacturers, such as Kimberly Clark, Asahi and automotive manufacturers, including General Motors and Nissan among others, indicate its success.
The standards for the EtherNet/IP technology are maintained and managed by ODVA, an open and independent organization with a balanced membership of vendors contributing to the maintenance and evolution of the technology and associated standards. Supporting ODVA and EtherNet/IP technologies on a strategic level, ODVA's five principal members - Bosch Rexroth, Cisco Systems, Omron, Rockwell Automation and Schneider Electric - demonstrate ODVA’s ability to bring together competitors for the pro-competitive purpose of developing, maintaining and evolving an open, standard, interoperable information and communication framework for the overall benefit of industry.
ODVA recognizes its media-independent Common Industrial Protocol, CIP™, as the technical anchor in this framework and as the primary common interest of its current membership. With CIP Networks like EtherNet/IP, one protocol bridges and routes data throughout all networks independently and communicates to controllers natively. Combined with CIP, EtherNet/IP supports all key applications for industrial automation including control, safety, synchronization and motion, energy, network management and information. Unlike other industrial Ethernet networks, EtherNet/IP does not isolate real-time capabilities from the information capabilities and therefore, unique among industrial Ethernet networks,  permits routing of high performance information between assets, systems and process  for real time data logging, first-fault detection and machine interlocking.
A World without Boundaries with EtherNet/P
Put your networking strategy on a future-forward path with one standard network, and experience a world without limits using EtherNet/IP.
With EtherNet/IP, you can remove the boundaries between manufacturing applications with capabilities such as CIP Safety™, CIP Sync™ and CIP Motion™. CIP Safety allows standard control and safety devices to reside on the same network while still meeting demanding requirements for SIL3 applications. CIP Sync provides the increased control coordination needed for demanding events sequencing, distributed motion control and other highly distributed applications, where absolute time synchronization of devices is vital. With this technology, synchronization down to 100 nanoseconds can be achieved using a standard Ethernet infrastructure. CIP Motion delivers an open, high bandwidth, high performance solution for multi-axis, distributed motion control. CIP Motion's use of time-stamped data along with its simple timing model eliminates any hard synchronization constraints between the drive and the controller.
With EtherNet/IP, you can optimize energy usage with forthcoming energy-oriented objects and services within CIP that permit the transparent and seamless flow of energy information and enable systems to perform energy metering and management. And, in the long term, demand-response mechanisms will allow the industrial consumer to exchange energy with the power grid in a dynamic energy consumption-production environment. 
With ODVA’s large community of device vendors who make and sell EtherNet/IP-compliant products, you can collectively gain an approach to your network architecture that is:
  • Comprehensive in its long term view of the need for sustainability and the opportunities for return on investment;
  • Scalable across the industrial ecosystem;
  • Inclusive of products, devices and systems from the simple to the complex; and
  • Open by virtue of its use of multivendor, interoperable standards managed by an independent, vendor-neutral organization.
Imagine a world without boundaries – and then start living in it, by replacing your multi-tier network infrastructure with EtherNet/IP - a simple and seamless strategic approach to information and communication technology for industrial automation that will meet your business needs today and adapt to your future business challenges.

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