Time-Sensitive Networking: the gamechanger for Industry 4.0
20 Apr 2022
Christian Bergdahl of HMS Industrial Networks explains why Time-Sensitive Networking is a gamechanger and how companies can benefit from high-speed, reliable communications for Industry 4.0 applications...
Those firms that represent the connected industries of the future are highly productive, flexible and responsive because of their ability to leverage the power of data which can offer a unique understanding of what is happening on the factory floor in real-time.
As a result, companies can run automated processes to ensure smooth operations at all times, maximising their efficiency. The backbones of such systems are their networks, which connect every part within a plant or enterprise to share key information. In order to support Industry 4.0 functions, these infrastructures should be able to ensure the large volume of data generated is transmitted with high reliability and in a timely manner. The move towards gigabit bandwidth is further supporting these requirements.
Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) can provide further support and help businesses create data-driven operations. The most emphasised feature of this technology is its ability to turn standard industrial ethernet into a real-time communications system with extremely low jitter and latency. Therefore, it provides the key network technology to support the latest data-driven solutions and Industry 4.0 applications. These, in turn, are essential to help companies enhance productivity by creating responsive and flexible shop floors.
TSN will make industrial ethernet deterministic by design and provide the basis of converged networks. In effect, the technology is being defined by the IEEE 802.1 specifications, which will set up a common, unified solution. As a result, any user will be able to benefit from a highly reliable and responsive network, whose nature supports interconnectedness, independently of vendor-specific solutions. This ultimately ensures openness and interoperability among automation devices and systems, simplifying the creation of well-linked plants and enterprises.
Furthermore, TSN has the ability to bring operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) sectors closer together. The technology was originally developed for transferring audio and video streams in commercial applications. Only later, this solution has been looked at to support industrial automation systems.
A challenge in driving the TSN revolution may be shaping successful collaborations between automation vendors, according to Christian Bergdahl. As the key element of TSN is interoperability, specialists need to be willing to collaborate closely to develop suitable systems and migration solutions. Within such a framework, existing networks of key automation players, such as the CLPA, are on the right path and have a competitive advantage.
HMS Industrial Networks has benefited from being part of CLPA – the CC-Link Partner Association. As well as providing access to a community of leading automation experts, it allows the development of TSN-compatible devices by utilisation of the CC-Link IE TSN specifications. This is the first network technology incorporating the innovative TSN standards that was released to the market. By offering the earliest solutions with TSN, we can enhance our role and acceptance in the automation sector, particularly in Asia, where the CLPA’s technologies are de facto standards.
Christian Bergdahl is product marketing manager at HMS Industrial Networks