System Integration & Control Systems Design

Futureproof industrial networks with technology from Pepperl+Fuchs

September 2021 System Integration & Control Systems Design

Preventing unplanned process interruptions, maintaining an overview and ensuring security are key requirements in modern cloud-based applications. Keep reading to find out which Pepperl+Fuchs technology and products are best suited for this purpose.

Protocols and communication

S2 redundancy is a function specified and certified at Profinet level. It enables devices in a network to communicate directly with a second redundant control system running in the background, if the first control system fails. All parameters are maintained accordingly, so that a smooth changeover can take place. This prevents process interruptions, which often result in high costs. Ethernet redundancy protocols (e.g., MRP) enable a ring topology that prevents complete failure of the segment even in case of a fault and continues communication via an alternative connection channel, all in real-time.

In addition to Profinet, Pepperl+Fuchs IO-Link masters support EtherNet/IP and EtherCAT protocols in a single device with the multi-protocol function. This means one device can be used in various applications, giving users a high degree of flexibility.

Alongside the deterministic protocols used for real-time communication with the control system, parallel communication can also be established. This MultiLink function is based on protocols such as OPC UA, MQTT, Modbus, JSON and REST API. Up to five protocols can be mapped simultaneously. This communication channel is not strictly deterministic and is used for communication with IPC systems, which can be integrated into cloud-based systems. OPC UA is a high-performance, manufacturer-independent, standardised protocol that can be easily integrated into applications. Pepperl+Fuchs combines this with powerful hardware to enable direct machine-to-machine communication.

Networks, services and security

Cloud computing is so much more than just communication via the open Internet. Additional security mechanisms can be implemented for national networking in the form of firewalls and edge gateways.

RocketLinx switches establish the Ethernet network as an infrastructure component. Unmanaged switches are a cost-effective solution for connecting end devices, while managed switches offer configurability and diagnostics. The PortVision DX free diagnostic tool enables users to scan entire networks, parameterise and retrieve diagnostics using the appropriate security functions. DeviceMaster devices operate as bridges or gateways to integrate other fieldbus systems or serial protocols into the network, which allows a complete higher-level network to be set up, in which an edge gateway represents the terminal end of the network.

Functionality and customer benefits in the application

To plan preventive maintenance or initiate a quick response in the event of a fault, the process conditions must always be known, monitored for errors and displayed in a transparent manner. Doing so enables the necessary steps to be taken proactively. While the PLC or an IPC takes over the IO control panel, further status data is sent to PC-based systems, where it is visualised. Bits and bytes can be clearly displayed in graphics and clear warning messages, regardless of the PLC location.

Systems that can function without PLC control go one step further. All data can be read and outputs enabled over the parallel communication channels via an IPC. Security mechanisms are installed for this purpose. Software implementation is often easier on an IPC and eliminates the need for a PLC and its programming. In non-time-critical applications, this can bring cost benefits.

Web server access can be very beneficial for cloud-based applications and configuring the devices without the need for software tools. Pepperl+Fuchs offers innovative products and additional integration services through its subsidiary, Neoception. This makes it easy to set up customised solutions based on existing applications and to generate a clear display system with a variety of response options from the cyber-physical layer – devices support Kepware from PTC or can be integrated into Azure from SAP.

In short

End-to-end communication from the sensor to the cloud enables transparency across all states and enhances diagnostic capability. Transferring additional information in parallel via MultiLink enables new intervention options in the processes. Tiered security concepts across multiple layers and on hardware and software ensure plant safety. Futureproofing is guaranteed through upgradeable devices and standardised communication via IO-Link and OPC UA, which creates a competitive edge and opens possibilities for new applications.


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