Industrial IP Advantage

  • October 28, 2013
  • Feature

By Bill Lydon, Editor

CISCO, Rockwell Automation, and Panduit, in cooperation with ODVA, have launched an initiative to support IP network convergence between the enterprise and plant floor, called “Industrial IP Advantage.”  I had the opportunity to discuss this initiative with Kevin Davenport, Business Development Manager at CISCO Systems, and Dan McGrath, Panduit’s Industrial Automation Solutions Manager.

Davenport framed Industrial IP Advantage as an agnostic initiative for “dialog and conversations” around best practices in the application of IP. This initiative is consistent with CISCO’s support of the Internet of Things (IoT). CISCO has been an early visionary in the concepts of the “The Internet of Things,” joining Ericsson, SAP and others to found the non-profit IPSO Alliance Association (The IP for Smart Objects Alliance) in October 2008. IPSO seeks to extend the use of IP for a connected world, including energy, consumer, healthcare and industrial applications. I asked Davenport how the Industrial IP Advantage initiative fits in with CISCO’s vision and he commented that it fits squarely in line with their vision. He also believes that the real-time synchronization of enterprise business systems with the plant floor automation is going to accelerate as more devices are connected via IP.

Citing IMS Research information, Davenport and McGrath noted that in 2012 there were 131,345,900 industrial connected nodes with 27% utilizing industrial Ethernet. Forty-one percent (30,700,400) of the industrial Ethernet applications in 2012 accounts for pure Ethernet TCP/IP. The remaining share is broken down as follows:

  • EtherNet/IP – 18%
  • Modbus TCP/IP – 9%
  • PROFINET – 18%
  • POWERLINK – 4%
  • EtherCAT – 5%
  • SERCOS III – 1%
  • Gigabit Ethernet – 4%

Davenport noted that industrial wireless built on IPv6 is also part of the future, becoming more deterministic and running more applications.

McGrath described the IP Advantage initiative as a coalition of likeminded companies joining together to educate the market on the benefits of Ethernet, Internet Protocol and EtherNet/IP. The IP Advantage initiative is initially being supported by Rockwell Automation, Panduit, Cisco, and ODVA. He discussed the vision is to promote Holistic IP for faster adoption of emerging technology, enabling data between the plant floor and enterprise to be shared more quickly, ultimately leading to faster decision making and increased profitability. All of this is to be accomplished with a high level of cyber security. The IP Advantage initiative target audiences are control engineering managers, engineering directors, IT directors, plant directors, maintenance managers, and plant IT managers.

Davenport stated that the IP Advantage website and activities are an agnostic way to share best practices, information, and educate the industry to accelerate adoption of IP technology. He also discussed development of an industrial CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) program leading to certifications for industrial networking. CISCO has a range of established CCNA programs for IT.

McGrath emphasized that the IP Advantage site and initiative is agnostic, not vendor specific, but about the principles and keys to success applying IP technology. The call to action is that IP is the foundation for the “Internet of Things.”

Thoughts and Observations

The concepts of all devices connected with IP has been growing over the last number of years, and has been described by a number of names, including Internet of Things, Internet of Everything and M2M. In 2011, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence coined the term Industry 4.0 to describe a focus on the development steps towards the “Internet of Things” as cyber-physical systems incorporate embedded sensor-actuator systems with semantic M2M (Machine to Machine) communications. The ultimate goals are control of the full value chains of production in near real-time and very high resolution with networking of technological and business processes. The IP Advantage initiative seems to be in harmony with this thinking.

Cyber security continues to be a major concern and the ISA99 standard and ISASecure certification for industrial automation products are becoming recognized as a way for users to achieve secure networks. Read more in the article “ISA fully engaged in cybersecurity.”

There is a great deal of growth potential for industrial IP based Ethernet considering that the 2012 IMS data indicates 73% percent of industrial nodes were non-Ethernet based.

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