Thursday 31 August 2023

What about AI-ready industrial switches?

Henry Martel of Antaira Technology discusses mastering industrial switch challenges in artificial intelligence deployments.

Although AI is only in its early stages of adoption, it is already transforming industry and society as we know it.

Industrial IoT applications are increasingly incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into the managing, controlling, and monitoring of operations. When properly implemented, AI empowers plant management to focus on the larger picture and gain visibility into uncovering new ways to optimize workflows, enhance safety and sustainability, streamline supply chains, improve asset reliability, or make more efficient use of resources. AI puts factories and plants in a continuous state of self-optimization, able to detect anomalies with advanced pattern recognition, conduct root-cause analysis, and take actions that minimize risk and maximize profits — all without human intervention.

With so many potential benefits of AI seemingly within reach, you are probably wondering how to implement AI in your organization. To begin with, you’ll need access to significant computing resources. Basic AI workloads can be handled by CPUs, yet multi-core GPUs are required for machine learning, deep learning, complex algorithms, and specific tasks involving large data sets. Massive amounts of storage are also vital to hold training data, software, and models.

However, the focus of this article is not on GPUs, CPUs, TPUs, or the intricacies of cloud storage. Instead, we are looking at another key component of AI: networking infrastructure, and specifically, the hurdles faced when deploying AI with industrial switches. AI is highly dependent on communications from sensors intelligent machines neural networks and other devices with neural networks. Only a high-bandwidth, low-latency neural network built on fast, reliable, and secure Ethernet switches can keep pace with the flow of data and ensure efficient management of the network traffic.

Here are five common industrial switch issues that may bottleneck an AI project and five effective strategies to overcome them.

Issue 1: Data Management and Synchronization.
Industrial Ethernet switches handle vast amounts of raw data from diverse sources. Ensuring efficient data management and synchronization with machine learning and deep learning models is a significant challenge. Solution: Develop efficient data handling techniques, including data preprocessing and compression, to minimize data overload on industrial switches and enable smooth AI data integration for machine learning.

Issue 2: Real-time Processing and Low Latency.
Demand for real-time decision-making in industrial settings requires industrial switches to process data rapidly and exhibit minimal latency input data only. Solution: Implement edge AI processing on industrial switches to reduce latency and achieve real-time machine learning, deep learning, and big data analysis without overburdening the central network infrastructure.

Issue 3: Security and Resilience.
Integrating AI with industrial switches necessitates robust security measures to protect sensitive data and maintain system resilience against cyber threats. Solution: Utilize secure communication protocols and encryption methods to safeguard data transmission between industrial switches and AI-enabled systems.

Issue 4: Interoperability and Protocol Compatibility.
Industrial switches must be compatible with various other industrial network protocols and existing network infrastructures to facilitate seamless AI integration. Solution: Deploy industrial switches with flexibility and adaptability to support multiple protocols, ensuring seamless compatibility with existing network frameworks.

Issue 5: Scalability and Redundancy.
Achieving scalability and redundancy in AI-enabled industrial computer systems, AI tools, and computer vision systems is vital for ensuring uninterrupted and reliable operations, particularly in large-scale industrial environments. Solution: Incorporate redundancy and failover mechanisms in AI-integrated industrial switches to further network redundancy to ensure system reliability and minimize disruptions in critical operations.

AI-Ready Industrial Switches.
Purpose-built to deliver speed and reliability, Antaira's industrial 10-Gigabit managed Ethernet switches check all the boxes for AI/ML applications. High port counts supporting both copper and fiber cables, combined with PoE up to 100W, enable the deployment of multiple edge devices while industrial-grade housings and wide temperature ranges protect connectivity in the most extreme environments. Antaira switches are available in DIN-rail mount models to fit inside tight control cabinets and in standard rack mount designs.

@AntairaTech @OConnell_PR #PAuto #Communications

Extended power range for frequency inverter.

Nord Drive Systems specifically developed its decentralised NORDAC ONSK 300P frequency inverters for the requirements of horizontal conveyor technology in intralogistics and warehousing. The inverters are characterised by an integrated Ethernet interface, IIoT capability, full pluggability and a compact design. Now, the power range of the NORDAC ON has been extended to 3 kW.

The NORDAC ON frequency inverters are part of the NORD modular system and can be optimally combined with the manufacturer’s motors.

NORDAC ON was designed for applications with asynchronous motors,
• NORDAC ON+ was designed for the combination with highly efficient IE5+ synchronous motors.

The drives can be used over a wide speed range and thus allow for variant reduction, for example in large intralogistics systems. The NORDAC ON is now designed for power ranges of up to 2.6 kW – the NORDAC ON+ for up to 3 kW. Both have integrated Industrial Ethernet interfaces. The communication protocols, for example Profinet, EtherNet/IP or EtherCAT, can be easily set via parameters. Firmware updates can also be implemented via Ethernet. This makes the NORDAC ON/ON+ frequency inverters optimally suited for integration into IIoT environments. The equipment also includes a diagnostic interface, M12 connections for sensors and actuators and, with the NORDAC ON+, an additional protocol-based encoder interface that is well protected against interference.

Economical plug-and-play solution.
The space-saving decentralised inverters can be perfectly integrated into conveyor systems, significantly reducing wiring efforts compared to centralised frequency inverters. Its pluggable connections make the NORDAC ON/ON+ an economic plug-and-play solution for intralogistics applications. The inverters are suitable for direct motor mounting or for wall mounting.

As with all NORD frequency inverters, the NORDAC ON/ON+ is equipped with a powerful PLC for functions close to the drive. It can process data from connected sensors and actuators, initiate control sequences and communicate drive and application data to the control centre, networked components or to cloud storage.

Optional extensions.
The following extensions are available for NORDAC ON inverters: Functional safety functions such as STO, internal braking resistors for dynamic start/stop processes, and an integrated brake control, which controls the motor holding brake without wear and ensures reliable holding of the stop position at standstills, for example in inclined conveyors.

Its temperature tolerances from -30 to +40C, make the NORDAC ON series also suited for deep-freeze applications.

@NORD_Drive @mepaxIntPR #PAuto #IIoT #Warehousing

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Particle monitoring.

The new VPC260 6-Channel Particle Counter from Teledyne FLIR, is an innovative solution that sets new standards in particle monitoring technology. The instrument provides unparalleled accuracy, intuitive design, and effortless configuration and control.

With six channels, the VPC260 captures an extensive range of particle sizes, delivering precise and reliable data for a comprehensive understanding of your environment's air temperature, humidity, and cleanliness.

It features an intuitive design that is lightweight and portable as well as a user-friendly interface, with data presented clearly on a high-resolution display.

@flir @mepaxIntPR #TandM #Environment

Multi-site management made easy.

Modern industrial networks use complex distributed architectures to keep up with business growth and expansion. These large infrastructures often require additional manpower to operate and maintain. They also fuel the risk of blind spots that might hamper efficiency, complicate troubleshooting, and lead to a lack of visibility that makes it difficult to keep track of network status.
Using MXview One Central Manager software from Moxa, network administrators and OT engineers can automatically consolidate the status and events of all local MXview One sites to a single centralized platform for complete visibility of the network no matter the size or location of the sites. Users leverage the information-packed dashboard, interactive map, reports, and event intelligence to monitor the status of multiple sites, helping them to quickly pinpoint issues, improve uptime, and maximize efficiency.

Key features of MXview One Central include:

  • Intuitive Dashboard: Single-pane-of-glass dashboard and real-time global map view.
  • Remote Access: One-click remote access to local MXview One Sites for troubleshooting.
  • Centralized Management: Group-based site management to easily organize multiple sites.
  • License Management: Centralized license management and allocation.
  • Consolidated Reports: Auto-generated periodical reports based on groups or sites.

@MoxaInc @OConnellPR #PAuto #Cybersecurity

Greater security for OPC Classic communication.

Now with an OPC UA tunnel to increase security for OPC Classic communication plus support for InfluxDB databases.

The dataFEED OPC UA Tunnel is a new component of Softing Industrial's dataFEED OPC Suite. It enables easy and secure access to OPC Classic servers across network boundaries and firewalls. A DCOM configuration is no longer required. Configuration of the two tunnel ends is quick and easy using Export/Import. 

The security mechanisms of the OPC UA standard, which include authentication of users by means of certificates as well as signing and encryption of data, ensure maximum protection. The suite currently supports up to 50 OPC UA tunnel connections.

Process data storage in Influx DB databases.
With version 5.30 dataFEED OPC Suite offers the possibility to store process data in an InfluxDB for subsequent processing and analysis. InfluxDB is one of the most widely used NoSQL databases. It ensures extensive scalability, high availability as well as fast writing and reading.

All-in-one data integration solution.
dataFEED OPC Suite Extended is a complete package for OPC communication and cloud connectivity, providing access to the controllers of leading manufacturers and to IoT devices. The suite acts as a gateway between the two OPC standards, allowing the integration of existing OPC Classic components and applications into modern Industry 4.0 OPC UA solutions.

@SoftingIA @mepaxIntPR #PAuto #Communications

Accelerating plant modernisation using artificial intelligence.

Simplifies and speeds transition to a modern automation architecture, reducing capital costs by up to 15%.

Emerson is helping customers more quickly and efficiently transition legacy technology to modern DeltaV™ automation architecture that modernises and digitises operations. Emerson’s REVAMP advanced software solution uses cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate up to 70% of system configuration, reduce errors and manual conversion work, and slash capital costs by up to 15%.  

“Modernisation projects too often surprise teams late in the process with cumbersome, unanticipated work and errors from manual conversion,” said Claudio Fayad, vice president of technology for Emerson’s process systems and solutions business. “Emerson’s REVAMP helps project engineering teams modernise their systems more easily, on time and within budget, while also minimising errors and disruptions to production.”

Organisations seeking to modernise control and safety systems often start with decades-old code that must be transitioned to current software. Manually converting and documenting this code is an arduous process that dramatically increases the time and capital requirements for these projects.

Emerson’s REVAMP advanced software combines an extensive knowledge base from similar modernisation projects with Emerson’s experience library to develop continuously updating AI models. Each modernised control system feeds back into the REVAMP software, creating learning algorithms that perpetually get smarter and faster at converting legacy code.

The applied AI in REVAMP informs project teams of the engineering requirements before migration projects even begin, making planning easy. The AI engine analyses native files from the existing distributed control systems, safety instrumented systems or programmable logic controller back-ups while using a global library of thousands of successful projects to sort, select and automate engineering tasks. The modernisation project is automatically fully documented, and significant portions can be generated in the DeltaV control system, enabling the latest capabilities and using modern standards.

Emerson project teams around the world have access to the most recent functionalities and libraries of this secure, cloud-native tool. And with embedded machine learning, the libraries grow and improve as projects become more efficient over

@EmersonExchange @EMR_Automation @Emerson_news @HHC_Lewis #PAuto #AI

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Digital twins: The key to factory optimization?

What they are, the different kinds, how they benefit businesses, and predictions about what innovations they may bring about in the future. 

Digital twins are like virtual copies that help factories work better. By analyzing these virtual models, companies can prevent costly mistakes, improve production speed, and even introduce innovations that weren’t previously considered. Francesco Rivalta of Hubs explains.

What exactly are digital twins, and what benefits do they offer?
Digital twins can be virtual representations of physical objects, systems, or processes that act as a bridge between the digital and physical worlds. The real-time data acquired from sensors and machines allows digital twins to offer insights for optimizing operations, enhancing efficiency, and making informed decisions.

When used in factories, digital twins offer an array of far-reaching benefits. For example, digital twins help engineers or designers anticipate equipment issues and resolve them before they escalate into costly downtime. This results in increased asset lifespan, reduced maintenance costs, and enhanced productivity.

They can also facilitate informed decision-making through simulations and scenario analyses, allowing engineers to test and validate strategies in a risk-free, virtual environment – leading to better strategic planning, faster problem-solving, and the ability to adapt swiftly to changing factory or market conditions.

In addition to their operational advantages, digital twins foster innovation and drive technological advancements. By providing a platform for continuous experimentation and prototyping, they expedite the development of new products and services, potentially shortening time-to-market.

Finally, digital twins enable manufacturers to align their sustainability goals with real-world outcomes. They can help optimize resource consumption, energy usage, and waste generation in factories, contributing to eco-friendly practices and reduced environmental impact.

(Pic: Siemens)

What are the types of digital twins?
Digital twins are categorized into various types to effectively capture the diverse range of applications and complexities they address. Grouping digital twins allows manufacturers to tailor their implementation to specific needs, such as optimizing product design or monitoring complex manufacturing processes.

Each type corresponds to a specific focus, allowing factories to deploy digital twins that align with their unique objectives. Here are four of the most common types of digital twins.

    Product digital twins.
    Product digital twins represent physical products and assets. They are used throughout the product lifecycle, from design and development to manufacturing, operation, and maintenance. Product digital twins help optimize machine or part design, simulate performance, monitor usage, and enable predictive maintenance.

    Process digital twins.
    Using digital twins, we can simulate and play out manufacturing processes and other complex workflows. They highlight bottlenecks, enhance production, and up the efficiency game. They’ve also proven to be quite useful in managing supply chain operations — a challenge many businesses have grappled with, as outlined in this report.

    System digital twins.
    System digital twins represent entire systems or environments, such as factories and industrial complexes, enabling holistic monitoring, analysis, and optimization of interconnected components or processes.

    Asset digital twins.
    Asset digital twins focus on individual physical assets, such as machinery, equipment, or infrastructure. They facilitate remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, and performance optimization.

The future of digital twins.
As digital twins technology continues to evolve, it will become woven into the fabric of manufacturing for any forward-looking company. From autonomous robotics to intelligent supply chains, the integration of digital twins will pave the way for smarter, more efficient, and highly responsive manufacturing ecosystems.

Despite the innovation in digital twins technology, there's room for further refinement. For instance, creating the digital twin is quite a complex process that requires specialized hardware, software, and professionals who need to understand both the technology and the domain to which it's applied. There is room for optimism that advancements in AI technology will streamline and simplify these aspects to some extent.

@HubsMFG @Protolabs #Manufacturing #Automation

IT-OT data convergence.

Seeq Corporation has announced a partnership with Databricks, the data and AI company, that brings a native integration between each company’s platform to simplify access to high quality asset and process data, unify IT and OT data processing and accelerate AI/ML adoption across the industrial manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and energy sectors.

"The Seeq and Databricks integration is a critical step toward bridging the communication gap between operations technology and information technology personnel, which will drive increased machine learning value across the enterprise,” says Megan Buntain, VP of Global Partnerships and Ecosystem at Seeq. “We’re thrilled to add Databricks to the Seeq partner ecosystem and look forward to continuing to innovate with their team to improve outcomes for manufacturers.”

This bi-directional integration enables users to seamlessly combine contextualized time series data from industrial assets with a vast array of enterprise data sources to deliver more robust reporting, analytics and predictions in their business. Databricks customers can now take advantage of Seeq’s extensive connectivity to time series data sources and power a wide range of analytical use cases across the enterprise. Insights developed in Databricks Lakehouse Platform can be operationalized in Seeq, introducing new opportunities for process experts and data teams to deliver data-driven solutions to increase industrial productivity, improve operational reliability, enhance safety, and accelerate progress towards sustainability goals.

For petrochemical manufacturer Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, the Seeq and Databricks integration accelerated the company’s ability to scale data science and machine learning efforts across multiple digital initiatives involving process and laboratory data.

Brent Railey, Chief Data & Analytics Officer of Chevron Phillips Chemical Company comments, “We are very excited about this partnership, as it will be mutually beneficial for Databricks, Seeq, and their shared customers. Seeq brings key time-series functionality that just isn’t available in other solutions. Seeq also simplifies the complexities of connecting to various types of process data sources. Databricks brings scalable, elastic data engineering and data science capabilities at an affordable price. Seeq can bring data to Databricks for complementary analytic purposes within Databricks. Databricks can serve cleansed and refined IIoT data to Seeq for self-service analytics. This partnership should make this one-two punch even more powerful!”

“Our collaboration with Seeq unlocks tremendous value for customers, making it simpler for organizations to operationalize and democratize IoT datasets by leveraging the open and secure foundation of the Databricks Lakehouse Platform. This significantly lowers the barrier to data-driven innovation in the industry,” says Shiv Trisal, Global Manufacturing Industry Leader at Databricks.

@SeeqCorporation @databricks @chevronphillips #PAuto #Comms

Multiloop logic solver plus...

The SLA Multiloop and Multifunction Safety Logic Solver and Alarm has been announced. As part of the Moore Industries FS Functional Safety Series, the SLA is designed and built from the ground up to IEC 61508:2010 standards and is exida certified for use in Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) for systematic integrity up to SIL 3 and for random integrity up to SIL 2. This launch responds to the rapidly growing demand by process engineers for cost effective and compact logic solvers with built-in voting capability for plant-critical IEC 61508 Functional Safety applications

“The IEC 61508 certified SLA finally provides safety practitioners with a cost effective, powerful yet easy to employ multichannel safety logic solver that fills the large functionality gap between high-end Safety PLCs and the limited capabilities of Single Loop Logic Solvers within Safety Instrumented Systems,” said Scott Saunders, Moore Industries President and CEO.

The SLA performs as a multiloop logic solver with built-in voting and enhanced math capability typically found in costly and complex safety PLCs. This allows the SLA to handle everything from simple alarming to more complex schemes that include 1oo2, 2oo3 or even 5oo8 voting architectures, enabling it to act on potentially hazardous process conditions; warn of unwanted process conditions; provide emergency shutdown; or provide on/off control in Safety Instrumented Systems and traditional alarm trip applications.

The 4-wire (line/mains powered) SLA accepts up to four discrete and six analog inputs from a wide array of devices and sensors. HART data from connected field devices is passed through the SLA to its analog outputs enabling connected hosts and asset managers bi-directional communication for continuous monitoring and programming. Its four relay outputs and up to four discrete contact closure outputs can be driven by any of 16 internally configured alarms, where individual or multiple alarms can be assigned to each relay or discrete output. Relay and discrete outputs can also be triggered by any input or internal diagnostic fault. Three optional analog outputs allow transmission of any input or internally calculated equation or variable. The SLA is easily programmable with any FDT compliant host utilizing the SLA’s DTM with simple drop-down menus and checkboxes; no custom or licensed software is required. This ease-of-use functionality includes a powerful equation editor that the user can employ to create monitoring, alarming, and control schemes involving simple to complex equations using timers, running min/max functions, prebuilt analog and discrete logic functions and more.

The SLA is made for today’s industrial networks, featuring secure programming and communications with security jumpers that can be set to prevent unauthorized reprogramming and ensure read-only communications through the Ethernet and MODBUS ports. It supports MODBUS/TCP and MODBUS RTU industrial protocols and has an embedded read-only web server that allows all inputs, outputs, internal variables and various other parameters to be read with a simple web browser.

The SLA is exida certified to IEC 61508:2010 for systematic integrity up to SIL 3 and for random integrity up to SIL 2. This means the SLA is approved for single use in safety applications up to SIL 2 and in a redundant architecture (1oo2, 2oo3, etc.) up to SIL 3. FMEDA certified safety data is available upon request allowing a functional safety practitioner to access the FMEDA data on the SLA to determine the SLA’s applicability in specific safety-related applications.

The Moore Industries SLA Multiloop and Multifunction Safety Logic Solver and Alarm is designed and built to expand the capabilities of our existing line of Safety Trip Alarm products and provide a very cost-effective solution for single and multi-loop alarming scenarios. Any process engineer or knowledgeable technician can program the SLA – no especially skilled programmer is required to take full advantage of its powerful application capabilities for Safety Instrumented Systems and process loops.

@MII_Worldwide #PAuto

Monday 28 August 2023

Transmitting data reliably.

ODU looks back on a company history of more than 80 years and established itself early on as a globally active contact specialist with currently more than 2.600 employees - 1.400 of them at the main site in Mühldorf am Inn (D).

Data Technology.
When exchanging information between different participants, communication protocols are the basis that define different framework conditions of data transfer. A distinction is made here between standardized network protocols such as TCI/IP and data transmission protocols such as HDMI® (High Definition Multimedia Interface) or USB® (Universal Serial Bus).

A reliable connection system is always an optimal interaction of three central components: connectors, termination technology and the right cable. A connector can meet the requirements of a specific customer application only in connection with the appropriate cable and a process-safe connection. If the connection system needs to achieve the desired transmission performance even under harsh conditions such as vibration, contamination or moisture, the corresponding standard interface plugs are not sufficient.

ODU remedies this with qualified cable assemblies for standard protocols, which typically include an ODU connector at one end of the cable and a standard interface connector at the other. At ODU you get the complete solutions quickly available with 100% tested quality and any length (within the frame of technical possibilities), and without any minimum purchase quantity. Likewise, other premium connectors can be integrated without any problems.

The data technology portfolio includes various circular and rectangular connectors for the following standard transmission protocols: 
• Ethernet/IP® 
• SPE 
• USB® 
• HDMI® 
• DisplayPort®
In data technology, a tested system solution is the right choice, as the process-safe execution of the cable assembly is tested for the specific protocol in terms of transmission properties and signal integrity. Here ODU guarantees the reliability of the cable assembly. ODU ensures the simulation of the entire transmission system and provides complex solutions that achieve high performance in real life scenarios.

Any quantity and length.
ODU offers qualified standard assemblies (see "Data Technology" catalog) starting at batch size 1 - rapid availability based on factory stocking.

The standard cable assembly is available in any length (within the limits of technical possibilities), so that customers do not have to limit themselves to predefined dimensions.

Advantages of the ODU cable assembly.
Customers benefit from the following advantages with ODU data technology cable assembly:
• Proven quality of the complete solution (data rates, attenuation, signal integrity, etc.))
• Fast availability
• Fair pricing (incl. cost reduction vs. individual acquisition)
• Length neutrality
• No minimum purchase quantity
• Development of exclusive and customized interfaces (even for samples or small series)
• Simulations and inspections already in the early development phase
• Reduction of effort, as the supply chain is limited to one contact person and only one part number needs to be managed by the customer
• The ideal combination enables the insertion of the connector systems in a wide variety of applications - whether as a standard version or as a customer-specific solution.

@ODU_Connectors  @PresseBox  #PAuto #Communications

Mast mounted UPS.

The AC/DC UPS UPSI-2406IP-38AC in combination with the mast mounting set PSZ-1100 from Bicker Elektronik, provides a robust and reliable emergency power supply solution for sensitive outdoor safety and measurement technology. In case of failure, shutdown or fluctuation of the AC supply voltage, the outdoor UPS ensures uninterruptible power supply of sensitive 24VDC applications, such as measurement and control technology, sensors, lighting, cameras and security technology. The energy storage solution used is based on the particularly safe and durable LiFePO4 battery technology, which enables long-term bridging of up to 100 hours. The intelligent DC emergency power supply with AC wide-range input thus reliably avoids system failures, downtime and data loss. The particularly robust design with IP65 protection makes the UPSI-2406IP-38AC the ideal choice for demanding environmental conditions. Four slotted holes on the housing enable secure and flexible wall or mast mounting (in combination with the mounting kit PSZ-1100). Typical applications include security, surveilance and building technology, energy, infrastructure, environmental engineering, communications, lighting, heavy industry, petrochemicals, agriculture, tunneling and mining.
All product advantages at a glance
• Outdoor AC/DC UPS for wall and pole mounting 
• Rugged aluminium housing with IP65 protection 
• AC wide-range input 90...264V with active PFC 
• Regulated DC output 24V/6A in battery mode 
• Temperature range -20...+50°C 
• Integrated LiFePO4 energy storage (330Wh) 
• Battery start function via push-button 
• IEC/EN 62040-1 approval 
• Pressure compensation element to prevent condensation in the housing 
• Matching mast mounting set PSZ-1100 optionally available 
• Direct link to UPSI-2406IP-38AC.

Rugged aluminium housing with IP65 protection.
The robust aluminium housing provides comprehensive protection for all components of the emergency power supply against mechanical impact. This includes the intelligent DC UPS control and charging electronics (24V/6A) with an upstream AC/DC converter as well as the built-in lithium iron phosphate battery pack. The housing elements and connections are carefully sealed and resistant to water, ice, oil and dust in accordance with protection class IP65. A built-in pressure equalisation element with membrane prevents condensation from forming inside the unit. The operating temperature of the UPSI-2406IP-38AC covers a wide range from -20 to +50°C. The high-quality input and output cables are permanently installed on the housing.

Long-term bridging for 24VDC applications up to 100 hours.
Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) of sensitive or safety-related 24VDC systems supplied from the AC mains is particularly important in case of blackouts, brownouts or flicker. For international use, the UPSI-2406IP-38AC has a wide-range AC input from 90 to 264 VAC with active PFC and high-efficiency AC/DC converter topology. In AC mains operation, which is automatically set after the input voltage is applied, the 24VDC output is activated and the integrated LiFePO4 energy storage is charged at the same time. In case of a voltage drop of the input voltage below the smallest nominal value, the UPS is switched to battery operation with regulated DC output voltage within fractions of a second and enables backup times of up to 100h. When the AC input voltage returns, the UPS is automatically switched back to regular mains operation and charging of the energy storage continues.

Integrated LiFePO4 high-performance battery pack.
The LiFePO4 energy storage (lithium iron phosphate) with 330Wh convinces in safety-relevant applications with a particularly stable battery chemistry, a long service life of at least 10 years and more than 6000 full charge and discharge cycles. Bicker Elektronik deliberately uses the particularly safe lithium iron phosphate chemistry for all high-performance battery packs, which makes thermal runaway almost impossible. The UPSI-2406IP-38AC also meets the safety requirements of the IEC/EN 62040-1 standard. The battery management system (BMS) monitors and controls the complete charging and discharging process of each battery cell of the energy storage unit. The integrated cell balancing ensures a balanced and even charge of all cells so that the full capacity of the lithium iron phosphate battery pack remains permanently usable. In addition, the UPSI-2406IP-38AC offers a battery start function, which makes it possible to start a 24V application from the battery by pressing a button on the UPS (up to 6 A max. load current), without the AC voltage supply being present.

@bicker_de @PresseBox #PAuto #UPS

Thursday 24 August 2023

Advanced industrial temperature measurements.

The SPOT pyrometer range from Ametek Land, has been relaunched with enhanced features and benefits for a wide range of industrial applications.

The new SPOT+ family offers a wide range of temperature measurements from 50 to 3500 °C (122 to 6332 °F) and a choice of different wavelengths for applications including metals, glass, cement and lime kilns and foundries. The range includes monochromatic and ratio pyrometers, fibre optic heads and sophisticated algorithm pyrometers for complex materials such as aluminium and galvanized steel.

Dr Fiona Turner
Dr Fiona Turner, Head of Product Management said: “The principles of infra-red temperature measurement don’t change, but over the last 10 years, there have been significant advances in automation and industrial ethernet. Customer focus on product quality and process efficiency has driven an interest in big data – and a risk of cyberattacks.

“I’m excited about the potential from using SPOT+ instruments for background temperature and emissivity correction of thermal imaging systems in IMAGEPro software. SPOT+ pyrometers provide more than just temperature measurements – emissivity outputs are key indicators of product surface quality, and the facility to log visible light process images alongside infra-red temperature measurement provides new insights into process conditions and product quality.”

A wide range of new communications interfaces makes the SPOT+ ideal for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) factory automation applications in addition to traditional 4-20 mA signals. Ethernet/IP, REST API and Modbus TCP/IP are standard on SPOT+, and an integrated web server provides easy access for control and setup using a standard browser. Upgraded cybersecurity functions reduce the likelihood of unauthorized access to the instrument functions.

An integrated video camera provides a visible light process view alongside infrared temperature measurement, which allows sighting to be carried out safely and easily. As the video images are available via the webserver and AMETEK Land’s IMAGEPro software, alignment can be checked remotely and images logged for quality purposes.

The SPOT+ can be used in the harshest of environmental conditions, and in hazardous area zones 1, 2, 21 and 22 when mounted in LAND’s high-specification EXSH enclosure. With response times down to 1ms, SPOT+ pyrometers are also suitable for fast-moving processes.

AMETEK Land’s SPOT pyrometers are built on extensive research and development and have always been at the leading edge of measurement technology. The new SPOT+ enhancements offer improved connectivity for easy integration with control systems, and the confidence that data transmission is secure. Upgraded electronic and electromechanical components ensure highly reliable and accurate operations, all backed by our 36-month warranty and supported by a range of extensive accessories for installations in the most demanding applications.

@landinst @codacomms #PAuto

Wednesday 23 August 2023

A tale of sausage skins.

Our correspondent recently purchased all of the sausages that he could find with artificial casings at his local supermarket. He then cooked them, and "yes they were as delicious as they look!"

"... as delicious as they look!
He submitted a case study which contains a useful comparison of artificial casings and ‘natural’ casings, whilst also explaining how a team of British food processing engineers developed a technique for manufacturing synthetic casings that trebled productivity. However, as he said, "every silver lining has a cloud, and much as I would like to tell you who the engineers were, they requested anonymity… sorry!"

They have developed a technique for manufacturing collagen sausage casings which protects product quality and trebles output. The process relies on precise monitoring of temperature and humidity with Vaisala sensors, combined with multi-stage feedback control.

Advantages of collagen skins.
The manufacture of collagen sausage skins from animal hide is a good example of sustainable production because it effectively recycles a potential waste product into a valuable commodity that helps to improve the quality and consistency of sausages. However, all sausage casings are delicate and require precise conditions and careful handling during manufacture, storage and distribution, and throughout the subsequent sausage manufacturing process.

Natural casings from the small intestine of meat animals tend to be variable in length, diameter and thickness, so they are not ideal for high-speed sausage manufacturing processes. In contrast, collagen casings offer reliable, consistent features, and are therefore ideal for fast, efficient processes. Also, collagen casings do not need to be stored in chilled conditions and have a longer shelf-life than traditional casings.

Collagen casings are ready to use straight out of the package, horn loading is quick and easy, and there is no requirement for soaking and untangling of bundles. There are no seasonal variations, and sausages manufactured in collagen casings offer improved cooking coverage which delivers a superior cooked appearance in comparison with sausages in natural casings.

Developing a new collagen manufacturing process.
Initially, the sausage skin manufacturer utilised a conveyorised flat sheet collagen dryer, but this incurred a level of friction that could lead to ripping and product wastage. The process was slow and wasteful, so the engineers were challenged to develop a new, less damaging technique for drying and processing the extruded cylindrical collagen cases that are used in sausage manufacture.

Sausage casings have very specific physical characteristics and need to be extremely consistent in their properties, so it was vital that the new process minimises friction whilst providing optimal levels of temperature and humidity. If humidity is too high or too low, it can negatively impact the quality of the finished product, so it was important for the equipment to be able to respond to ambient conditions, irrespective of their geographical location.

The new processing solution allows the casings to be inflated with hot, dehumidified process air provided by a silica-based desiccant rotor. New equipment was also developed for transporting the inflated gel using an innovative handling system.

The new system employs three precision sensors. A Vaisala HMT120 humidity transmitter monitors environmental humidity, so that dry air can be recirculated when outside conditions are too humid. In addition, two Vaisala DMT345 dewpoint transmitters monitor process air to ensure that the collagen products are maintained in ideal conditions by a multi-stage feedback control system.

DMT 345
The HMT120 transmitter contains Vaisala’s HUMICAP® technology; a thin-film polymer-based capacitive humidity sensor, which delivers accuracy, reliability, long-term stability and insensitivity to condensation or contamination. The DMT 345 dewpoint transmitters incorporate the Vaisala DRYCAP® sensor, which is also designed for accuracy, reliability and stability. The sensor is condensation-resistant and is immune to contamination, however, DRYCAP’s unrivalled performance is based on its capacitive thin-film polymer sensor and an autocalibration function. The sensor also has a rapid response time and quick recovery after getting wet.

Vaisala’s Juhani Lehto says: “This engineering team routinely utilises Vaisala sensors because their food processing equipment is supplied to customers all over the world, operating in a wide variety of environmental conditions. They therefore need sensors that are more than just accurate and reliable in the long-term; they also need to have a low maintenance requirement.”

In addition to the manufacture of collagen sausage casings, the precise measurement and control of process temperature and humidity is fundamentally important in a wide range of food and beverage processes. By minimising friction between the equipment and the casings, the new processing system resulted in less wastage, time-savings and a three-fold increase in productivity.

@VaisalaGroup @_Enviro_News #PAuto #Food

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Electrical certification simplified.

CertSuite™ is the latest generation of electrical certification software from Megger.

The cloud based system can be used on both Android or iOS smartphones and tablets as well as most browsers, allowing use on both laptops and desktops.

The software combines perfectly with the brand new MFT-X1 and you can save yourself hours of operational work as test results can be transferred directly to any test certificate or report via the CertSuite™ App.

The MFT-X1 introduces their first generation of platform based, user upgradeable MFTs, to add to the existing Megger MFT1700 range of multifunction testers. It incorporates a host of new features based on years of customer input. The MFT-X1 offers True Loop™, the industry leading loop impedance test with patented Confidence Meter™ technology, full CertSuite™ compatibility - to make certificate generation simple - high resolution loop testing, stabilised insulation voltage output, full colour screen and new operator interface are now standard. The user upgradeable operating software ensures the MFT-X1 has the ability to adapt to regulation changes and make it the perfect instrument for fast, reliable, accurate and adaptable testing.

CertSuite™ is intended for use on all low voltage electrical installations including EV charge points and domestic photo-voltaic systems, the range of test capabilities allow for general commissioning of installations and periodic maintenance as well as detailed fault diagnostics.

The eFIXX experts have produced a brand new video highlighting the ease of use and compatibility of the MFT-X1 and CertSuite™ (below)

This combination is of benefit both on and offsite.

• See also: Multifunction testers. (18 Nov 2022)

 @MeggerUK #TandM 

Static control report.

Inelco Hunter has announced the availability of a "No strings attached” Free ESD Static Control Survey and Report. The written Report provides feedback on existing ESD Control programmes. There is no contract to sign - Inelco Hunter simply asks for the opportunity to quote on any ESD items that would improve the current ESD programme. Inelco Hunter will offer a discount on any Desco ESD products ordered as a direct result of the survey.
Inelco Hunter stocks Desco Europe ESD products - a very broad range covering every aspect of ESD protection: Bags, Labels, Monitors, Flooring, Footwear, Garments, Gloves, Grounding Equipment, Masks, Ionisation, Meters, Packaging, Soldering Supplies, ESD Tape, Work Surface Matting, Workstation Acces-sories, Wrist Straps and Coiled Cords.

The ever-growing trend of component miniaturisation has greatly increased the potential damage caused by electrostatic discharge. The discharges are small, but the heat released can cause damage to components, potentially resulting in malfunction. The ESD risk is present during every stage of manufacture: handling, assembly, testing, shipping and so on. Damage to components will occur without any sense of static shock to the operative and will go unnoticed.

Using EN 61340-5-1 and its User Guide CLC/TR 61340-5-2, an ESD specialist will take onsite measurements and make observations of the existing ESD control plan. The ESD survey will verify ESD products meeting EN-61340-5 standards. The written report will list applicable EN61340-5-1 and -2 citations and indicate whether the current ESD control programme is in compliance and indicate where it's not.

Protecting components that are sensitive to electrostatic discharge is becoming increasingly essential and control products are needed to prevent the potential damage. The Free ESD Report will list the products needed to achieve EN-61340-5 standards.

@InelcoHunter @DescoEuropeESD #ESD #PAuto #Safety

Industrial Ethernet switches future-proof networks.

Moxa's EDS-2000 and EDS-4000 Industrial Ethernet Switches are available now from Impulse Embedded providing systems integrators with networking tools that play a pivotal role in connecting multiple devices within a Local Area Network (LAN). Acting as intermediaries, these switches facilitate the seamless transfer of data packets between connected devices, such as computers, Wi-Fi access points, servers, and IoT devices.

Effective industrial Ethernet switches must be durable to maintain seamless, uninterrupted network connectivity and make the most of their capabilities. Moxa’s EDS-2000 and EDS-4000 ranges meet all the requirements of industrial network environments.

Differences and Benefits.
The core main difference between the EDS-2000 range and the EDS-4000 range is their manageability. EDS-4000 Ethernet switches are managed, which provides a higher level of control, security and performance optimisation, making them ideal for medium to large-scale networks that require higher levels of customisation and monitoring.

EDS-2000 Ethernet switches are unmanaged, which means that these switches function out-of-the-box and will work the moment they're plugged in. These switches are simple and easy to use and are a cost-effective choice for simple network environments that will not require much configuration.

EDS-2000 Feature Highlights.

  • 5 or 8 Ethernet port options.
  • SC/ST fibre models are available for the EDS-2008-EL Series.
  • Full Gigabit ports for the EDS-G2000-EL/ELP Series.
  • Supports 12/24/48 VDC input.
  • Microsecond-level latency.
  • High EMC resistance.

When network data travels through an Ethernet Switch, there is no priority over which device takes precedence when entering or leaving. Ethernet Packets or Ethernet Frames arrive on an Ethernet Port and are directed through the switch based on the network table.

Quality of Service is a unique feature for unmanaged switches that addresses this challenge. Devices can assign priority to the traffic they are sending, and the unmanaged EDS-2000 switch can interpret and apply appropriate priority to the network packets being transmitted through the switch.

Broadcast Storm Protection is another essential feature for maintaining consistent network connectivity in the EDS-2000 range. Broadcast Storms can take place for any number of reasons; when a Broadcast Storm occurs, the network is overwhelmed with network traffic in a short period of time, overwhelming its capacity. The struggle to process this high number of broadcast packets can bring an Ethernet network to a standstill. Network throughput is either greatly reduced, or the network can crash. To maintain network stability and safeguard against these issues, Broadcast Storm Protection is crucial in any network setup, especially an Industrial Automation Ethernet network.

In addition, the EDS-2000 is a cost-effective option in a compact size, freeing up space inside cabinets for more device connections. Despite its form factor, this model doesn’t compromise on features and boasts easy data control and durability for harsh environments, including a wide operating temperature range. The EDS-2000 also features remarkably low power consumption figures, which not only leads to reduced energy costs but also aligns with today’s growing emphasis on environmentally conscious technology solutions.

The EDS-4000 range is the first IEC 62443-4-2 compliant industrial Ethernet switch, making it an optimal choice for cybersecurity and safeguarding against malicious activity. With 10/100Mbps Fast Ethernet, and 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet in the G4000 series, these switches boast incredible networking speed while your data packets are kept secure in a fully controlled network infrastructure.

A unique feature of Moxa’s EDS-4000/G4000 range is its modular power design, allowing the power unit to easily be removed and replaced in the event of a failure. This also makes Moxa’s Ethernet switches a seamlessly adaptable choice for varying power demands and redundancy requirements.

• See also:
1. Networking to help futureproof industrial automation. (16 Mar 2023)
Unmanaged Ethernet switches. (23 Apl 2020)

@ImpulseEmbedded @Moxa_Europe @proactivefleet #PAuto #Communications

Monday 21 August 2023

Partnership for out-of-the-box integration of pharmaceutical equipment.

iocto has joined the Körber Ecosystem Partner program as a “PAS-X MSI Plug & Produce” partner on certified level. iocto (formerly GFS) supplies pharma companies worldwide with measurement technology, automation, and sensor technology.

Lars Horning
“We are pleased to welcome iocto as a certified Ecosystem partner for the integration of measurement, automation and sensor technology into our Werum PAS-X MES,”
 says Lars Hornung, Senior Principal Alliances & Technology Partners Software, Körber Business Area Pharma. “Thanks to the MSI interfaces on the MES and equipment side, the effort involved in integrating equipment can be reduced by up to 75 percent.”

Körber and iocto have already been collaborating for over five years, which is why iocto received the "Certified" level for their “iocto MSI Core Framework” right from the beginning. The solution connects pharmaceutical control and monitoring systems with the Werum PAS-X MES Manufacturing Execution System via Körber’s Werum PAS-X MSI Plug & Produce interface. It enables the collection, integration, and transfer of data between equipment and MES and also provides the possibility to control the process sequences of the equipment from the MES side. With OEM support, the iocto MSI Core Framework can be seamlessly integrated into the equipment, resulting in a rapid “one box” solution.

Will Clark
The Werum PAS-X MES Suite from Körber controls, monitors, and documents manufacturing processes digitally and in real time. With just a few mouse clicks, customers can seamlessly integrate Körber’s best-of-breed ecosystem solutions through PAS-X MSI Plug & Produce. This no-code integration uses standardized message-based communication between MES and shop floor equipment as for instance outlined in the ISPE Plug & Produce Working Group's Concept Paper.

“To be able to exploit the flexibility of their system to create a way of turning traditional equipment into something that can plug directly into MES with minimal development effort has been very satisfying,” says Will Clark, Managing Director Research and Product Innovation, iocto GmbH. “The possibility to take a concept idea and turn it into a solution that meets the customer needs in a matter of weeks is a testament also to the power of the PAS-X MSI Plug & Produce interface. I’m looking forward to an even closer collaboration in the future.”

@KoerberPharma @WerumKarriere #iocto #PAuto #Pharma

Friday 18 August 2023

Collaboration on gas analysers.

Will support energy industries in the region with effective measurement of gas quality through the implementation of integrated analyzer solutions.

ABB has signed a framework agreement with Samsung Engineering in Saudi Arabia to collaborate in engineering and procurement activities in the Kingdom. With this agreement, ABB becomes a single-source vendor for gas analyzer system integration for Samsung in that country.

Together, the two companies plan to explore business opportunities and provide complete analytical solutions to the Saudi oil & gas market. Effective measurement of gas quality is key to safety and reliability, decreasing the environmental footprint and increasing profitability of the production process. ABB’s solutions support the most demanding applications.

“ABB is committed to helping customers in the energy transition. Between ABB and Samsung Engineering, we have an impressive portfolio that demonstrates technology expertise and technical capability. With this agreement, we are capable and ready to serve customers in Saudi Arabia,” said Javier Suárez Díez, Global System Integration Manager at ABB.

The analytical systems portfolio includes direct-read continuous gas analyzers, online gas analyzers using laser analytical techniques, rapid response process gas chromatographs and more. In addition to analytical systems, ABB provides gas analyzer system integration with fully customized analytical systems and solutions – from initial engineering through fabrication, testing, field start-up, and support.

ABB’s 10,000 square meter world-class integration facility for analytical systems, which the company is building in Dammam, will support the collaboration. The factory is expected to become a leader in the production of analytical systems in the region.

Both companies have worked together on several occasions, including on the Aramco Jafurah phase 1 project. With this agreement, they are ready to serve customers in Saudi Arabia.

@ABBgroupnews @ABBMeasurement @abb_automation @AdmiralPR @samsungeng_mena #PAuto #KSA

Thursday 17 August 2023

Innovative ultrasonic technology enhances portfolio.

A definitive agreement to acquire FLEXIM Flexible Industriemeßtechnik has been announced by Emerson. This company is a global leader in clamp-on ultrasonic flow measurement for liquids, gases and steam.

Flexim, headquartered in Berlin (D) brings highly differentiated, complementary technology and strong customer relationships to Emerson, with an installed base of more than 100,000 flowmeters, as well as approximately 450 employees. Flexim provides highly accurate, low-maintenance clamp-on ultrasonic flow measurement technology for a broad range of attractive end markets, including chemical, water and wastewater, life sciences, food and beverage, and power generation. The transaction will expand Emerson’s automation portfolio and measurement capabilities, complementing its existing flow measurement positions in Coriolis, differential pressure, magmeter and vortex flow measurement. Underpinned by favourable end market growth and technology leadership, the global ultrasonic clamp-on flowmeter market is expected to grow in the high single digits annually longer-term. 

Upon the close of the transaction, Flexim’s Berlin headquarters is planned to become Emerson’s Ultrasonic Flow Measurement Centre of Excellence.

“We are excited to further enhance Emerson’s capabilities with the addition of Flexim’s leading clamp-on ultrasonic measurement technology, which is a strong complement to our intelligent devices portfolio,” said Ram Krishnan, chief operating officer of Emerson. “Flexim brings an exciting new technology that will enable us to accelerate growth. The combination of Emerson’s comprehensive measurement suite and Flexim’s innovative technology will enhance the value we bring to customers across a variety of industries. We look forward to welcoming Flexim’s skilled and dedicated employees to Emerson, where they will continue to play a critical role in driving the success of the business.”

“We are thrilled to be joining Emerson, which shares our culture of innovation and focus on technology and R&D,” said Jens Helpert, chief executive officer and co-founder of Flexim. “This transaction will enable us to provide more comprehensive solutions to a broader set of customers, leveraging Emerson’s global intelligent devices leadership and commercial excellence. As we join forces with Emerson, we will continue to serve our customers and utilise our combined capabilities to solve essential measurement needs.”

The transaction is expected to close by the end of Emerson’s fiscal 2023, subject to customary closing conditions. Flexim is expected to be accretive to Emerson’s sales growth, gross margins and adjusted EBITA margins. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Flexim will be reported in Emerson’s Measurement and Analytical segment. For the transaction, Evercore is serving as financial advisor and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP is serving as legal advisor.

@EmersonExchange @EMR_Automation @Emerson_news @Flexim_Americas @HHC_Lewis #PAuto

Automation production facility opened in India.

Endress+Hauser has opened a new production building on its campus in Aurangabad (India). This milestone not only underlines the company’s commitment to the region but also reaffirms its continued investment in world-class production and working environments.

The formal inauguration of the building took place on 1 August 2023 in the presence of the Endress+Hauser Temperature+System Products management, as well as high-ranking representatives of various industry associations. 

After the official inauguration of the new building, a family party was held, giving employees’ relatives the opportunity to visit the new premises. In addition, employees celebrating anniversaries were honored for their many years of service to the company in the presence of their family members. The day was rounded off with an evening banquet at which traditional Indian cuisine was served.

Sustainable infrastructure and office concept.
The new production building is a modern facility for the manufacture of temperature measurement technology and system products as well as liquid analysis. The two-story building covers a total area of 5,400 square meters and was realized with an investment of 4.4 million euros. The first floor houses new production spaces for Endress+Hauser Temperature+System Products, offices and a modern cafeteria. The second floor houses production and office space for Endress+Hauser Liquid Analysis.

To minimize the environmental impact, a solar installation covers 80 percent of the building’s electricity consumption, in line with the company’s goal of CO2 neutrality. Special insulating glass reduces heat transmission and increases the building’s energy efficiency. The sustainable concept supports internal and external collaboration and promotes an inspiring work environment.

Continuous growth in the region.
Since its establishment 11 years ago, the site has become a key location for the production of high-quality products for customers in India and Southeast Asia. The newly constructed production building represents a strategic investment to support continued growth in the region and to serve these emerging markets even more efficiently with premium Indian-made products.

@Endress_Hauser @Endress_IN @Endress_UK @Endress_US #PAuto #USA

Servo drive series expanded.

Option of achieving more power and control in a compact, high-amperage servo drive that offers expanded integration possibilities to support complex motion capabilities in a simpler machine.

The new AKD2G 24A drive has been unveiled by Kollmorgen. Designed for applications in precision multi-axis servo systems, the new single-cable optimized drive builds upon the strengths of the AKD2G portfolio including upgraded safety features, SD card backup and a graphical display with higher amperage to support more applications with higher power requirements such as conveyors and vertical lifting applications.

“The AKD2G 24A delivers higher amperage for more applications,” said James Davison, Senior VP/GM at Kollmorgen. “This high level of flexibility and performance potential means customers aren’t forced to mix and match drives. Simply put, the expanded AKD2G servo drive family now gives customers more power and control with less complexity.”

Compared to other drives in its class, the AKD2G 24A servo drive provides 3x the continuous current rating during peak operation for up to 5 seconds — ideal for intermittent-use, high-power servo motors. In these peak-dependent applications, customers can potentially downsize their servo drive to this new 24A offering. Kollmorgen’s Motioneering sizing & selection tool provides guidance through the process.

The new AKD2G 24A servo drive provides configurable options including safety level, I/O, feedback and fieldbus. It supports a secondary brake through a standard X4 connector and allows for faster Smart Feedback Adapter (SFA) wiring with a standard X5 connector.

For high-performance applications — such as satellite ground stations, robotics, packaging, labeling and more — customers can rely on Kollmorgen’s unsurpassed support to optimize drive/motor synchronization, setup and performance. Worldwide product and service availability ensure long-term productivity and success.

@AboutKollmorgen @mepaxIntPR #PAuto

Enhancing industrial automation.

Henry Martel, Field Application Engineer, Antaira Technology, discusses "The Vital Role of NAT Routers in Secure Remote Access and Communication."

Network Address Translation (NAT) is a widely-used Layer 3 technology in which one or more local or "private" IP addresses are translated into one or more Global or "public" IP addresses in order to provide Internet access to the local hosts. Compared to NAT applications in residential or commercial networks, NAT in Industrial Automation and Control Systems (IACS) is more varied and complex, although the overall concept remains the same.

Antaira wired routers and wireless industrial routers are ruggedly engineered to IP30 rating standards, plus ensure a long service life with fanless cooling, shock and vibration resistance, and a wide operating temperature range.

In IACS, NAT is primarily about gaining access to information buried within a system outside your own. Consider a situation where a higher-level network outside the plant, for instance, the IT department, needs to access data located on a separate lower-level network or subnet in the OT department, consisting of a 12-port industrial Ethernet switch connecting PLCs, motor drives, IP cameras, and I/O devices. For the purpose of illustration, also assume there is a preventive maintenance application on a PC in the IT department. This application is seeking data such as heat, energy, and cycle times from a motor drive to predict its future maintenance needs. Since the two networks are on different addresses, however, the IT department PC is prevented from “talking” to the motor drive.

In this situation, an industrial NAT router can be deployed to assign a new IPv4 public address solely for the PC’s messages. Keep in mind this new address is not the private IP address of the PC itself. When a data packet is sent from the PC, the NAT knows to convert it to the motor drive’s address, therefore bridging the gap. When the motor drive responds with the requested data, the NAT subsequently converts the drive’s address back to the PC message address which in turn is sent to the PC.

Port Address Translation.
The above describes a straightforward example of the one-to-one static NAT protocol. In IACS, the Port Address Translation (PAT) version of the dynamic NAT protocol is often required when multiple devices are involved yet only one IPv4 address is available. So, let’s assume the same situation as above. Now, however, we need data from the motor drive as well as from three PLCs. Since we only have one IPv4 address we’ll need to assign a port number to each device’s IP address by adding a colon, i.e., to where the “3” indicates the port. When the PC sends a message requesting information from one of the three PLCs or the drive, the NAT router reads the address and knows to send it to whatever device is assigned to port 3, although all the devices share the same IPv4 address.

For an OEM machine maker, NAT is equally valuable. NAT allows an OEM to reuse IPv4 addresses without introducing a duplicate IP address error into the network architecture. For example, an OEM may use NAT for the replication of multiple control systems on skids and machines, including IP addressing, to help reduce development and commissioning costs. This way the end-user can have multiple machines on the same line configured with identical network settings and be able to perform remote support through a VPN connection.

Industrial Strength.
Like other industrial network devices, industrial NAT routers must be hardened to operate in environments where they will be subjected to extreme temperatures, heavy vibration, and electromagnetic interference. Carefully review a router's environmental specifications before deploying it, especially in an industrial area rated as Hazardous due to the presence of explosive levels of gases, dust, or liquids. 

NAT Router Applications.

  1. Control Rooms or Network Cabinets: Many industrial facilities have control rooms or network cabinets where networking equipment is housed. This is a common location for NAT routers, along with other networking components such as switches, firewalls, and communication gateways. The NAT router in this context would provide a gateway between the local industrial network and the external network (e.g., the Internet).
  2. Remote Monitoring Stations: Industrial facilities might have remote monitoring stations where engineers and technicians can access and monitor industrial processes from a distance. These stations might be equipped with NAT routers to facilitate secure remote access to the industrial network.
  3. Communication Gateways: In complex industrial systems, there are often communication gateways that connect different protocols and networks. These gateways might incorporate NAT routing functionality to manage communication between different parts of the system and the outside world.
  4. IoT and Edge Devices: As industrial IoT devices become more prevalent, NAT routers can be integrated into edge devices to manage communication between these devices and central servers or cloud platforms. This helps ensure that IoT devices can securely send data to and receive commands from remote locations.
  5. Robotics and Manufacturing Cells: In manufacturing environments that utilize robotic systems or individual manufacturing cells, NAT routers can be used to provide remote access for maintenance and troubleshooting, as well as to facilitate data collection and analysis.
  6. Energy Monitoring and Control Systems: Industries like energy production and distribution might employ NAT routers to enable remote monitoring and control of power generation, distribution, and consumption.
  7. Process Control Systems: In industries such as chemical manufacturing, food and beverage production, and pharmaceuticals, NAT routers can be used to securely access and control critical processes remotely.
  8. Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants: Facilities responsible for water treatment and wastewater management may use NAT routers to enable remote monitoring and control of pumps, valves, sensors, and other equipment.
  9. Mining and Extraction Operations: Industries involved in mining, oil extraction, and natural resource management can use NAT routers to establish secure connections for remote management and optimization of operations.
  10. Transportation and Logistics: In sectors like transportation and logistics, NAT routers can be employed to enable remote tracking and management of fleets, as well as for maintaining communication with vehicles and sensors.

Remember that the specific location and implementation of NAT routers in industrial automation setups can vary greatly depending on the complexity and requirements of the system. The primary goal is to ensure secure, efficient, and reliable communication between industrial devices and external networks.

@AntairaTech @OConnell_PR #PAuto #Communications