GaryThumb14You cannot attend a Rockwell Automation event and escape an industrial Ethernet discussion. This year’s Automation Fair was no exception. I met with Sr. VP and CTO Sujeet Chand and a host of Cisco people for a half-hour to discuss networking technology and the health of the Cisco/Rockwell partnership (it’s healthy, by the way).

This year we discussed a lot of wireless. And one announcement from the event was the release of a white paper/design and implementation guide, “Deploying 802.11 Wireless LAN Technology within a Converged Plantwide Ethernet Architecture.” The detailed design guidance is designed to help control system engineers, IT network engineers, and system integrators implement standard, IP-based wireless networks in a more robust, secure and scalable way.

The guide provides in-depth information on 802.11 wireless LAN (WLAN) solutions within a “Converged Plantwide Ethernet” (CPwE) architecture, including design considerations for fixed position, nomadic and mobile equipment use cases. It also includes explanations for how to configure, maintain and troubleshoot WLAN for each use case, and detailed documentation on how the architectures were tested and validated by Cisco and Rockwell Automation. With this new resource, network designers can create a small network within a plant using a single autonomous access point, and scale up to create a larger, unified WLAN architecture.

“Wireless has an increasingly important role in the industrial network infrastructure,” said Ashok Patel, network architect at Owens Corning, the world’s largest manufacturer of fiberglass technology. “Managing both data collection and automation control over 802.11 is viable today if you understand and deploy the architecture and design best practices outlined in the new resources from Rockwell Automation and Cisco.”

“Wi-Fi networks (or IEEE 802.11) are incredibly useful in factory and plant applications – so useful that manufacturers must thoughtfully plan their Wi-Fi networks as an infrastructure serving all types of applications,” said Harry Forbes, senior analyst, ARC. “This new and timely resource from Rockwell Automation and Cisco incorporates lessons that many manufacturers learned through experience.”

Rockwell Automation and Cisco are committed to being one of the most valuable resources in the industry for helping manufacturers improve business performance by bridging the technical and cultural gaps between plant-floor automation and higher-level information systems. Through successful collaboration on products, services, validated architectures and educational resources, the two companies help manufacturers converge their network infrastructure, and bring together IT and operations using a secure, IP-based network to help drive the vision of The Connected Enterprise.

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