Editor's Choice


Moxa sets out to redefine futureproof industrial networks

March 2022 Editor's Choice IT in Manufacturing

Network convergence has become the de facto standard in industrial networks. Connecting multiple devices such as PLCs, IP cameras, drives, remote I/O, PCs and even the cloud into the same network infrastructure has become commonplace for automation systems.

Data collection for artificial intelligence, machine learning and IIoT applications also imposes additional demands on the existing networking infrastructure. All these systems connect to the same industrial networking infrastructure, which forces system integrators and system owners to become more and more reliant on these networks to keep their plants and control systems operational. This all makes the correct hardware choices more crucial than ever.

Industrial cybersecurity is also a major consideration when system owners look at their hardware portfolio. Devices form the backbone for connectivity between several interconnected systems which need to be protected from the component level all the way through to the application level. Devices with full IEC 62443-4-2 certification are the next step in ensuring customers can rest easy knowing that their industrial cybersecurity needs can be met.

Moxa’s latest generation of switches aims to unite networking and OT (operational technology) cybersecurity with a layered defence-in-depth approach. The company’s solutions cover security-hardened networking devices based on the IEC 62443-4-2 cybersecurity standard, with advanced IT (information technology) and OT network segmentation, threat prevention and tailored OT deep packet inspection (DPI) to create industrial intrusion prevention systems (IPS). These offerings allow industrial automation and control systems (IACS) to be built with reliable end-to-end connectivity to provide robust hardware, as well as high-performance and dependable networks.

One of the most efficient ways to achieve resilient industrial operations is to embrace new technologies. To capture, transmit and ultimately transform data into meaningful insights, organisations are implementing innovative networking technologies to speed up their digitalisation journey. However, connected equipment also poses new cybersecurity risks to business owners and therefore requires security features at the component level to mitigate these risks.

According to IDC’s ‘Worldwide IT/OT Convergence 2022 Predictions’ report, by 2025, 30% of G2000 manufacturers (an annual ranking of Forbes magazine’s top 2000 public companies in the world) will embed connected technologies into their products to increase reliability. The operational insights that can be gained by doing this will increase uptime and support an optimised maintenance supply chain. Industrial organisations that want to capitalise on the amount of services that can be provided by connecting more devices must ensure they are connecting devices securely and in accordance with regulations and standards to ensure data accessibility, integrity and security.

Moxa’s latest-generation EDS-G4000 Ethernet switch family fulfils these requirements as one of the first in the world to be fully certified to the IEC 62443-4-2 SL2 standard. These switches allow for greater connectivity from OT to IT, to allow connected systems to be achieved securely and reliably.

The EDS-G4000 series offers a wider range of options than ever before, with up to 68 different models to choose from. Options include ‘Fast Ethernet’-only (100 Mbps) models with or without built-in fibre; combination units with Fast Ethernet and gigabit (1 Gbps) SFP ports; models with Fast Ethernet, gigabit SFP ports and 2,5 gigabit SFP ports; and finally, all-gigabit models with up to six 2,5 gigabit SFP module ports. The EDS-G4000 series includes seven different device series providing 8 to 14 ports.

One of the greatest challenges automation experts face when their network hardware is down is mean time to repair (MTTR). Moxa has addressed this with the EDS-G4000 series, achieving the first-ever single-unit DIN-rail switches with a modular power supply design. This means that the industrial control network can be easily repaired when a power supply fails due to a power surge, lightning damage or incorrect installation.

The EDS-G4000 series now also includes options for low-voltage (12/24/48 V DC) and high-voltage (110 V DC/220 V AC) power supply across the series, meaning installation options are expanded significantly all the way from standard industrial control systems to utility substation applications.

The modular power supply orientation can also be adjusted to accommodate different installation requirements. Automation experts can decide to change from a front-facing to a top-facing power input, allowing for greater flexibility during installation. A new feature called ‘dying gasp’ allows the switch to continue operating for a short period after power failure to send a syslog file containing information about the system power failure, easing fault-finding during network failure events.

The EDS-G4000 series is certified by several certification bodies to allow for use in a wider array of industries. Ex, DNV-GL, EN 50121-4, IEC 61850-3/IEEE1613 and NEMA TS2 certifications mean the new switches can be installed in hazardous locations (Ex), marine bridge and automation systems, rail applications, utility substation applications, and they also comply with standards for installation in intelligent transportation systems (ITS).

The OT-centric design has been updated with a more intuitive user interface and improved diagnostic methods. All these new features are made possible by the new MX-NOS (Moxa Network Operating System) being implemented on all new Moxa industrial networking switches, including the already released MDS-G4000 series.

Maximising system availability is key to increasing system uptime, reducing unforeseen downtime and in turn improving the overall operational efficiency (OOE) of installed systems. With the EDS-G4000 this is made possible thanks to its intuitive design features. Ensuring reliability is part of the process of future-proofing industrial networks due to high bandwidth requirements, which also drives the need to be prepared for more connected systems. PoE (power over Ethernet) has made it possible for automation systems to require much less wiring and adds a level of flexibility that is starting to become customary. The EDS-4000/G4000 features 90 W IEEE 802.3bt PoE ports and support for 802.3af/at PoE/PoE+ devices.

Part of having a reliable and resilient network is the ability to manage and maintain the networking equipment. The EDS-G4000 series switches will be fully supported by Moxa’s network management lifecycle software package, MX-Studio, which includes MXView network management and monitoring software, the MXConfig mass configuration utility and the NSnap network configuration comparison tool.

Summary

Moxa completes the four pillars of resilience – security, usability, reliability and performance – with the new EDS-G4000 series switches. This enables the future-proofing of industrial control networks with high availability and uptime, advanced security features, high bandwidth and ease of use.


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