Thursday, May 6, 2010

An integrated approach to Automation IT

Fast Track Switching is an innovative new switching technology developed by Harting that allows manufacturing organisations to integrate their office and automation networks into a single Ethernet-based communications platform: the Automation IT concept.

Unlike alternative proprietary Ethernet protocol approaches which use modified versions of the Ethernet standard compatible with automation technology applications, Fast Track Switching is totally based on standard Ethernet, but adds a new switching method to ensure that the specific requirements that automation technology places on performance and determinism are fully met.

Using Harting's Fast Track Switching, a user can port an Ethernet-based system into the automation world with the full use of all of the degrees of freedom that standard Ethernet has to offer. This includes the integration of components and subsystems from outside the traditional automation environment - such as vision or RFID systems - which may not support automation-specific protocols but which generally have an Ethernet interface.

This technology can also be used in diverse automation environments, so that a switch can be equally effective in PROFINET and EtherNet/IP environments, for example.

The key components in Fast Track Switching are Fast Ethernet switches in Harting's Ha-VIS FTS 3000 product family, which can detect and identify automation profiles (PROFINET, EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP and customised profiles), accelerate their data-transmission speeds and prioritise them. The product family includes the Harting Ha-VIS FTS 3100s-A, which allows the connection of up to ten network devices over shielded twisted-pair cable. It supports Ethernet (10 Mbit/s) and Fast Ethernet (100 Mbit/s).

The detection, acceleration and prioritisation mechanisms guarantee the necessary determinism and performance that automation technology demands. As Fast Track Switching is also protocol-neutral, it can be used with all market relevant Ethernet systems. In addition, vendor neutral, flexible and cost-optimised installations are possible due to the fact that the switch, as a network component, solves the performance and determinism problems according to the Fast Track Switching concept.

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