EUROMAP Association Defines Ethernet Best Practices

EUROMAP is an association of plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers based in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.  This group has produced a comprehensive set of Technical Recommendations for its members to follow.

The EUROMAP technical committee has recommended implementation of realtime Ethernet communications for peripheral devices.  Document 75-2, for example, defines network architecture and specifications for line topology (daisy chain), ring topology, and star topology.

If you are thinking about network topology and communication protocols for your project, the EUROMAP Technical Recommendations can provide valuable examples of best practices as determined by a group of leading-edge industrial machinery companies.

Defining Your Next Network Architecture: Topologies and Global Standard

As many machine builders, OEMs, individual plants, and large corporations decide to move from the “bus” to the “net” (Profibus or DeviceNet to Profinet or EtherNet/IP) they have a chance to look at all the new architectures available and decide on which is the best for them.  Here are the first two topics to take into consideration:

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How Ethernet Works… for Dummies

I recently watched a short webinar recorded by the PI North America organization and it really helped me understand the basics of how ethernet communication comes together.  There are so many protocols and standards and they all communicate on the same media.  Carl and Hunter do a good job presenting ethernet in a technical but easy to understand way.

The webinar is here.  Their topics include:

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Where does IO-Link go in 2011?

As I sit and ponder what 2011 will look like, only one thought comes to mind, the endless possibilities of IO-Link.

I have written many entries on IO-Link and as I see it there are much more to come.  Why more IO-Link?  The answer is simple; we have just scratched the surface of the potential of what an IO-Link system can offer an end-customer or OEM.  Let’s talk about a few upcoming milestones in 2011 to look forward to:

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3 Steps to Evolve to Ethernet Networked I/O

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Let’s face it; an installed base, a trained maintenance crew, and an established set of procedures all make it really difficult to try to implement any new technologies in a running manufacturing facility.  The idea of an industrial network providing detailed data about your processes and improving productivity sounds interesting and valuable,  but where do you begin?  Retrofitting everything with the newest technology isn’t an option in today’s economy, the capital investment is just too great.  But there is hope!  And with small steps, time and training, any plant can move forward into the ethernet realm and beyond.

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The Basics of Profibus and ProfiNet, Revealed!


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Regularly I attended free one day seminars on Profibus & Profinet put on by the PI Organization.   They have two different classes that they offer in cities all over the US and Canada.  There are usually about 50-100 attendees and it is a great opportunity to network with local engineers from and around the area in a wide variety of industries.

In the seminars they cover these topics in general:

  • The history and breadth of the PI Organization
  • Different ways to build I/O architectures and how to integrate them
  • Why networks are important and how to select a network

And they cover in detail (using vendor products and Siemens PLCs):

  • How to design a network
  • Configuration of a network using the PLC
  • Installation considerations, cabling & hardware
  • Commissioning a system
  • Long term maintenance and troubleshooting
  • Plantwide Energy Conservation

During breaks, multiple vendors of Profibus & ProfiNet related products were available to discuss applications and projects with the attendees and provide valuable resources for industrial network design.

We (Balluff) are a sponsoring member of the seminars and I was attending to discuss IO-Link, Profinet and Profibus industrial network applications with potential and current customers.

If you are unfamiliar with Profibus, ProfiNet or IO-Link I recommend you attend one of these seminars to learn about how it can help your machine design.

I updated the text in this entry on 3/8/2011.

One M12 Port = Endless Possibilities

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Paradigm shifts in automation are always occurring. The need for cost savings and higher diagnostics caused the shift from IP20 I/O to IP67 I/O.  Now, we are in the midst of a shift to reduce or eliminate enclosures in industrial applications by removing control and power from the cabinet.  With the reduction of IP20 I/O and enclosures, adding more I/O (discrete and analog) or specialty devices (RF identification, measurement devices, etc…) is now more difficult.  In the past it was relatively easy, but expensive, to add another “slice” of I/O to an existing IP20 solution.

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That 1 Channel of Analog!

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In most industrial applications 80-90% of the I/O going back to the PLC is discrete points.  Multiple times I have been asked, “How can I easily, quickly, and cost effectively get one channel of analog back to my PLC”.  The solutions in the past have either involved an IP20 slice I/O solution in a J-box, which is expensive and labor intensive, or an IP67 network module, which reduces labor costs but still carries a high cost.  A common drawback to these solutions is that you have to pay for 2, 4, or even 8 channels when only one is required.

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