These days, it is hard to imagine operating without reliable data flows and seamless communication. The same applies to production processes. Networked industrial communication enables all of a company’s business segments to be integrated, making it a central component of data availability and the Internet of Things.
The main objective of industrial communication is to connect all of a company’s business segments within a single networked system that encompasses the entire value chain from management to production. As a result, it enables the vertical and horizontal integration of production.
Using efficient end-to-end data networks increases the availability, flexibility and efficiency of machines and companies.
This aspect is an essential element of Industry 4.0: we can no longer imagine a Factory of the Future without networked industrial communication. Thanks to advanced industrial communication, sensors and devices in the field can be flexibly integrated into existing systems while providing seamless communication and increased productivity. We also speak about Industrial IoT.
Which technologies for high-performance industrial communication?
Many different technologies make it possible to transmit large amounts of data reliably and efficiently to all levels of a company. The following technologies form an important part of industrial communication:
- Industrial Ethernet enables wired and wireless connections (see further) to be established between machines and devices, thus facilitating the rapid exchange of data. All systems are connected by a cable to hubs, routers or amplifiers. Wireless connections are also possible, but the use of currently available technologies has been limited so far. It is also possible to develop redundant networks to reduce the number of outages to almost zero.
Modern network technologies, such as TSN, will be integrated into Ethernet and will enable real-time communication via Ethernet. In the future, all components for setting up a TSN network will have to be standardized in accordance with IEC/IEEE 60802 (TSN-IA), the first official version of which is expected in 2022. For Industrial Ethernet, there are different communication protocols and standard interfaces supported by different vendors. For more information
In addition to Industrial Ethernet, various protocols are supported by different service providers.
- The OPC-UA protocol is commonly used to enable open communication. More information can be found at the following address ( https://opcfoundation.org/ ). Thanks to this protocol, a large number of devices can communicate with each other and exchange data, regardless of their service provider.
Umati (“universal machine tool interface”) is close to becoming a generally accepted standard. It is an open standard for machine tool users around the world. For more information: www.umati.info
- If you are looking for a way to easily connect sensors and actuators to an overlying system (API, PC, Cloud solutions, etc.), IO-Link is the one for you. IO-Link Group Belgium represents Belgian companies that offer products using IO-Link technology. For more information: https://www.io-link.be/
- As mentioned above, enabling systems to communicate with each other can be achieved through a wired network. However, a device can also be connected to its environment through a wireless connection.
In addition to Wi-Fi and provider-specific wireless connections, 5G will have a key role to play in this regard, and will probably be increasingly used within the framework of industrial communication in the future. For more information on 5G – Read (in French) : Agoria and Capgemini Invent argue for moderately regulated zones and a legal framework for 5G