Rockwell Expands Industrial Ethernet Infrastructure

Rockwell Automation has long based its product strategy on “standard, unmodified Ethernet.” This means the company eschews custom silicon with “proprietary” protocols. Everything is based upon common Ethernet TCP/UDP/IP physical layer and protocol stack.

It has, through ODVA, developed the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) which forms the foundation of EtherNet/IP. Sticking with this strategy meant that it was later than its peers in developing a real-time, deterministic protocol for motion control and similar applications. But those have been released.

The upside is that standard Ethernet switches can be used in its networks. Partnering with a company with substantial Ethernet hardware expertise, Cisco, has also helped it bring industrially hardened switches to market in support of the strategy.

There will be many Rockwell announcements this week as the company celebrates another Automation Fair. Here is an early one concerning Industrial Network infrastructure.

Rockwell Automation is expanding its Allen-Bradley Stratix family of industrial switches and routers, and announcing new wireless and security products designed to meet industrial networking requirements.

Expansions include: Stratix 5700 managed industrial Ethernet switch with embedded Network Address Translation; Stratix 5900 services router; and new fiber and Power over Ethernet (PoE) options for the Stratix 5700, Stratix 8000 and Stratix 8300 switches. New products coming in early 2014 include the Allen-Bradley ArmorStratix 5700 switch and Stratix 5100 wireless access point.

“Manufacturers are migrating to standard EtherNet/IP networks – one reason for this is to better leverage technologies and capabilities, such as big data, cloud computing and virtualization,” said Rachael Conrad, business manager, Networks and Security, Rockwell Automation. “The trend to EtherNet/IP has also increased the recognition of the importance of a secure environment from the enterprise down to the end devices.”

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