Supplementing EtherCAT with TSN for Use in Heterogeneous Networks

Supplementing EtherCAT with TSN for Use in Heterogeneous Networks

Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) defines the future of networking. Most of the specifications have been agreed upon by the IEEE 802 committee, only a few remain to be completed. I have written a White Paper describing OPC UA over TSN for information communication. This corroborates the idea that information is where the new momentum lies within manufacturing and production technologies.

One topic of concern to many regards whether or not TSN will supplant current fieldbus technologies. Indeed, on the surface it appears that TSN can perform most, if not all, of those functions.

Therefore, it behooves the fieldbus groups to figure out how to work with this new technology in order to add value for users.

The EtherCAT Technology Group (ETG) has taken the initiative and supplemented EtherCAT with Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) technologies, expanding the field of possible EtherCAT applications to include heterogeneous network environments. With the help of TSN, industrial controls can contact a number of different EtherCAT segments in real-time through Ethernet networks.

In doing so, no changes to the EtherCAT slave devices are required: the EtherCAT Device Protocol, including all high performance characteristics, is fully preserved. Also expanded by TSN is the EtherCAT Automation Protocol (EAP) for communication between controls, which will result in even more deterministic performance on this level.

The ETG has specified the technology expansion in the form of a profile, which highlights the fact that no changes to the TSN standards are needed. This approach also considerably simplifies the adaptation to the final versions of the TSN technologies, because specification in the IEEE is not yet fully complete.

The ETG has supported the development of TSN from the very beginning through active participation in the IEEE committee, and is coordinating the specifications through a liaison with the IEEE 802.1 Working Group. This ensures that the ETG will also be able to access the IEEE 802.1 specifications that have not yet been adopted. Therefore, the technology can be introduced almost at the same time as TSN.

EtherCAT uses the TSN streams with any data rates for real-time communication above EtherCAT device segments. In the segment itself nothing is changed – the unique performance of the EtherCAT protocol built upon processing on the fly, highly precise synchronization, flexible topology selection, excellent diagnostic capabilities and simplicity through fully automated addressing of devices are all fully preserved. Similarly, the thousands of different EtherCAT devices available worldwide do not need to be modified at all. The stream adaptation feature that connects the EtherCAT segment to the heterogeneous TSN network can be placed either in the last TSN switch or in the first EtherCAT slave device.

Dr. Guido Beckmann, Chairman of the ETG Technical Committee classifies the new specification as such: “The incorporation of TSN standards will significantly improve the real-time characteristics of generic Ethernet. With our technology expansion we make use of TSN in an ideal way, and exactly where TSN can offer significant advantages – in the factory networks. As one frame is sufficient for EtherCAT to communicate with a whole segment, and thus with the entire fieldbus network, EtherCAT is virtually predestined for integration with TSN networks. We achieve this without turning our technology inside out. EtherCAT together with TSN offers the ‘best of both worlds’. Therefore, this prepares EtherCAT for the future perfectly.”

Infrastructure-as-a-Service Simplifies and Accelerates Network Deployments

Infrastructure-as-a-Service Simplifies and Accelerates Network Deployments

Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Remember several years ago when Amazon started selling space and time on its servers? And people thought they were crazy. Is this a business?

Well, as the old vaudeville comedian and TV pioneer Jimmy Durante used to say, “Everybody wants to get into the act.”

We have lots of “–as-a-service” things going on over the past 15 years or so. Software, Application, Platform. Here Rockwell Automation leverages its partnerships with Cisco, Panduit, and Microsoft (who has its own Infrastructure-as-a-Service) to offer an extension to its longtime strategy of using Ethernet as a networking backbone to its Connected Enterprise vision.

Designing, deploying and maintaining this infrastructure can be complex and time consuming for many companies, and is often too costly for their capital budgets. Rockwell Automation has introduced its Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering to address these challenges.

Rockwell’s IaaS reduces the burden of network deployments by combining pre-engineered network solutions, on-site configuration and 24/7 remote monitoring into a single five-year contract. The result is simplified ordering and commissioning upfront, and can help improve network reliability long term. The service can also ease budgetary strains by shifting networking costs from a capital expense to an operating expense.

Rockwell’s Solution

All aspects of IaaS are aligned to the Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE) reference architectures developed by Rockwell Automation and Cisco. Leveraging best-in-class technologies and architectures, companies can optimize their network infrastructure’s performance, efficiency and uptime, as well as address security risks.

“Companies of all sizes are eager to digitally transform their operations in a Connected Enterprise, but many are limited in their ability to connect their infrastructure,” said Sherman Joshua, connected services portfolio manager, Rockwell Automation. “Often, a combination of time, talent and budgetary constraints hold them back. IaaS helps relieve these pressures by combining turnkey networking solutions with our highest level of support.”

IaaS is offered with two Rockwell Automation pre-engineered network solutions, including the Industrial Data Center (IDC) and the Industrial Network Distribution Solution (INDS). These solutions are designed for industrial use and incorporate industry-leading technologies from Rockwell Automation Strategic Alliance partners Cisco, Panduit and Microsoft.

The IDC provides all the hardware and software needed to transition to a virtualized environment, and is designed to deliver high availability and fault tolerance. The INDS is a network distribution package that helps end users achieve secure, high-capacity connectivity between the control room and throughout the plant floor.

Under an IaaS contract, Rockwell Automation will size, assemble and test the infrastructure, including configuration and on-site deployment at the customer’s facility. Contracts include 24/7 remote monitoring of critical system parameters to help prevent outages and failures, as well as proactive system maintenance and checks to improve reliability. Support response is guaranteed within 10 minutes, but actual response times average three minutes.

Siemens User Conference Highlights Connectivity, Visibility

Siemens User Conference Highlights Connectivity, Visibility

Siemens Automation held its annual Users Conference the end of June at the Boca Raton Resort in Florida. Digitalization comprised the underlying theme, however connectivity technologies highlighted the important announcements and discussions.

MindSphere holds the top place as the most important Siemens technology at this time. Users and Siemens professionals highlighted two use cases at the conference both centering on condition monitoring / predictive maintenance.

The other connectivity announcement concerned PCS 7, the Siemens DCS. The company unveiled new I/O featuring Profinet connectivity. The new, denser I/O includes a user-configurable product, as well as traditional digital and analog modules. Ethernet connectivity featuring Profinet held center stage in the press announcement.

Siemens introduced MindSphere to me at Hannover 2016. Its evolution has been swift. Now dubbed an Internet of Things platform, it includes a set of APIs and libraries. It includes an “App Store” open to 3rd party developers in addition to Siemens apps. If you are a developer, just register and app and pay a royalty based on data or connections.

MindSphere placed in context is similar to what I’ve seen from Cisco, Dell EMC, GE, Microsoft, and SAP. I’m sure there are more and that we’ll see more in the future. Dell EMC’s platform is open source. MIMOSA, an industry standards organization provides a similar platform called the OIIE based on standards containing no proprietary components.

All of these platforms are important for maintenance and reliability professionals, as well as for plant management, engineering, and operations because of the increased data and visibility into operations and assets. This will result in improved planning, more efficient operations, and increased percentage of uptime.

Components of the platform include:
• MindSphere Apps – Siemens and 3rd party ; data analytics
• MindSphere Sphere – Azure, SAP, AWS, etc.
• MindSphere Connect – open standards, right now OPC UA, gateway, integrated with S7, build your own connectivity



Avnu Alliance Members Endorse TSN Market Value at Hannover Messe and Deterministic Ethernet Forum

Avnu Alliance Members Endorse TSN Market Value at Hannover Messe and Deterministic Ethernet Forum

The Time Sensitive Network (TSN) standard is in development by the 802 committee of the IEEE. This is the Ethernet committee as TSN is a set of standards (some have been adopted) extending Ethernet into the realm of determinism. One driving force behind development and implementation of the standard is the Avnu Alliance.

First, a quick look at the standard. Three relevant standards exist. IEEE 802.1AS (IEEE 1588)—Timing & Synchronization; IEEE 802.1Qbv—Forwarding and Queuing; IEEE 802.1Qcc—System Configuration. These deal with a synchronized clock, deterministic packet delivery, and system setup.

Now the news. Members of the Avnu Alliance, the industry consortium driving open, standards-based deterministic networking, actively endorsed Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) and advanced the TSN device roadmap at Hannover Messe from April 23 – 27, 2017 and Deterministic Ethernet Forum (DEF) from April 27 – 28, 2017. Members across the industrial and automotive markets participated in presentations and trainings, as well as product and testbed demonstrations at the events.

“The business value of TSN for industrial and automotive applications was a theme in the presentations and panel discussions at DEF this year. It is more clear than ever that Avnu Alliance is the place where leading manufacturers are working together to ensure we have a common, interoperable infrastructure for TSN and a future-proof network,” said Kevin Stanton, Avnu Board of Directors Chairman.

A key demonstration at both events was the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) sponsored TSN Testbed that Avnu Alliance and many of its members participate in.  As the world’s first testbed for TSN, it was developed with two major goals – to show TSN’s readiness to accelerate the marketplace; and to show the business value of TSN in converged, deterministic IIoT networks. At Hannover Messe, the TSN Testbed was on display in both the IIC booth and the OPC Foundation booth for attendees to see demonstrations of a real-world TSN network with numerous Avnu member products and prototypes from companies including Analog Devices, Belden, Bosch, Cisco, Hilscher, National Instruments, Renesas, Schneider Electric, and TTTech.

The testbed highlighted the ability for the IIoT to incorporate high-performance and latency-sensitive applications. The work coming out of the TSN Testbed is already having a direct impact on suppliers and manufacturers who see the technology as a value add for their system structure.

Avnu members Cisco and Belden both made TSN announcements at Hannover Messe. Cisco announced that it has added TSN support to the IE4000 Switch family of products. Belden in turn presented the company’s TSN upgrade path for select products from its industrial switch portfolio, starting with the RSPE35 and RSPE37 switch family. Analog Devices also showed TSN at the PROFINET International and ODVA stands at Hannover Messe. These demonstrations showed TSN compatibility with existing Industrial Ethernet protocols as well as convergence of TSN with standard Ethernet traffic. Later the same week at the DEF hosted by TTTech, Avnu Alliance leadership delivered the welcome address and members led discussions around topics such as, “How the IIC Testbed Drives Vendor Interoperability” and “Deterministic Ethernet Will Help to Meet the Need for Speed for Future Automotive Applications.”

Standards are just nice ideas unless there is a conformance test and a test and certification agency. For example, such a system assures WiFi device compliance to that standard.

In 2017, Avnu Alliance will continue work towards Avnu certification of TSN devices and offer collective multi-industry experience and networking expertise to manufacturers looking to expedite advanced networking implementations, ultimately leading to a faster path to market for industrial manufacturers. “With IIoT, there is a strong reliance on open standards to enable secure, predictable, reliable, and uninterrupted flow of information from sensor to cloud. Avnu members influence and shape the evolving standards; thus enabling them to deliver the value of TSN for customers and instil confidence in the stability of the technology. With the rapid adoption of TSN as a foundational technology for automation, the community is increasingly counting on an interoperable set of network services and infrastructure.  The conformance testing and certification provided through Avnu will be critical to provide the needed interoperable network for the IIoT,” said Todd Walter, Avnu Alliance Industrial Segment Chair.

Industry Support for TSN and Avnu Alliance:

“Open standards are key to enabling the data-centric applications of Industrie 4.0 and the IIoT.” said Dr. René Hummen, senior architect technology and innovation at Belden. “IEEE TSN is an important piece in this puzzle by providing for deterministic and reliable data transmissions, converged data networks, and continuous data access without gateways. Avnu certification of TSN will ensure interoperability of the various end-systems and network infrastructure devices that IIoT applications rely on.”

“Great interest in TSN became apparent at Hannover Fair in the IIC Consortium, OPC Foundation and TTTech booths. There was encouraging feedback we received around the broad possibilities TSN offers for the different industries. These possibilities were also on the agenda at the successful Deterministic Ethernet Forum in Vienna, with 250 participants from 23 countries, representing industrial and automotive companies, consortia as well as semiconductor companies,” said Markus Plankensteiner, VP sales industrial North America and global alliance manager at TTTech Computertechnik AG. “The tremendous progress of TSN in the last months was conveyed with presentations from industry experts. Also, concrete products utilizing the technology were announced, among them a variant of the Intel Cyclone V SoC, featuring TSN switching functionality by TTTech. It is crucial to use the momentum of the technology to start building great products that will increase the acceptance of TSN even further.”

“Hannover Messe is an enormous trade show and this year TSN seemed to be everywhere – much more than in previous years, “said Tom Weingartner, Marketing Director, Deterministic Ethernet and IIoT Communication Technology for Analog Devices. “We received positive feedback from the demonstrations of TSN we gave at the show. Interoperable networking protocols like TSN make convergence on the network seamless and help ensure that as the IIoT expands, there is a strong infrastructure supporting it.”

The Avnu Alliance is a community creating an interoperable ecosystem of low-latency, time-synchronized, highly reliable networked devices using open standards. Avnu creates comprehensive certification programs to ensure interoperability of networked devices. The foundational technology enables deterministic synchronized networking based on IEEE Audio Video Bridging (AVB) / Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) base standards. The Alliance, in conjunction with other complimentary standards bodies and alliances, develops complete solutions in professional AV, automotive, industrial control and consumer segments.

Are We Ready For Time Sensitive Networking (TSN)? Belden Is.

Are We Ready For Time Sensitive Networking (TSN)? Belden Is.

Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) will be the most important addition to Ethernet and networking since WiFi. The standard has not yet been adopted, but it is close. So Belden is jumping into the fray early with a “TSN ready” product.

While I’m in Hannover in a couple of weeks, this is one of the things that I’ll be researching.

Belden is to release a software update for the modularly-managed Hirschmann switch types RSPE35 and RSPE37. The update, which will be available in the second half of this year, will enable Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) features. As a visible sign, the devices will have a “TSN ready” logo on the front panel. In addition, older switches of both RSPE types can also be upgraded for the new real-time technology. The “TSN ready” logo is not exclusive to the RSPE35 and RSPE37: other Hirschmann industrial Ethernet Switches with fitting capabilities will display the logo as well in the near future.

“For the first time, TSN allows a simultaneous transfer of time-critical and non-time-critical data with a guaranteed end-to-end latency via Ethernet in accordance with IEEE 802.1 and 802.3,” says Dr. Oliver Kleineberg, advanced development manager at Belden. He adds: “Because of the comprehensive functions and high bandwidths, the technology is suitable for nearly all automation applications. Moreover, since TSN is not a proprietary system like many other established real-time solutions, it can be used with devices from different manufacturers, which paves the way for the Industry 4.0 in modern heterogeneous industrial networks.”

The managed switches of the RSPE product family consist of a basic unit with eight twisted pair and four combo ports, which can be expanded through the various media modules. The RSPE35 and RSPE37 versions support the Precision Time Protocol (PTP) in accordance with IEEE 1588-2008 and feature a FPGA module (Field Programmable Gate Array), which means it’s possible to implement selective hardware-based redundancy mechanisms such as HSR (High-availability Seamless Redundancy), PRP (Parallel Redundancy Protocol) and DLR (Device Level Ring) directly in the field. The new software update, which also enables TSN, can now be loaded into the FPGA as an alternative to previous redundancy mechanisms. “This provides users with an additional possibility for responding flexibly to the wide range of requirements and building high-performance industrial IT infrastructures,” according to Dr. Kleineberg.

For additional information about TSN, please refer this white paper “TSN – Time Sensitive Networking”.


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