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Industrial Network Performance Factors: Types & Examples

Instructor: Euan Russano

Euan has a Phd degree in Engineering and offers private training and tutoring in Programming and Engineering.

In this lesson, you will learn about factors that affect network performance and things to consider to improve performance in industrial networks. We will also look at some examples.

Introduction

Different factors can directly affect the performance of industrial networks. You will learn more about these factors and how they assist to improve industrial network performance.

You will also find out how different technology plays a part in improving industrial networks in each example. We will see how these technologies provided solutions to problems that faced industrial networks.

Performance Factors

Interoperability

Interoperability can be described as the ability of industrial networks to exchange information between them. To achieve an end-to-end connectivity effectively, the industrial network interoperability has to be indispensable.

There are two types of network interoperability:

  • Syntactic Interoperability allows two systems to communicate and exchange data and enables different software to cooperate even if they are written in different programming languages.
  • Semantic Interoperability allows two systems to share unambiguously and the data exchanged is understandable to each system.

Through network interoperability, one can connect to any computer through the internet and this also applies to the ability to call any global system for mobile communication (GSM). Therefore, the more there are diverse networks that exist, the greater the need for them to interoperate so that end-to-end communication is achieved effectively.

Industrial Ethernet strategy must take into consideration the legacy of the hardware systems that had been put into place to get the job done as part of the future. This could be specific equipment types or partitions of the network that do not have to be changed. It is important to ensure compatibility in areas where the legacy tools make more sense as streamlined data workflows are created that help handle emerging data demands.

Power Delivery

Since the internet is one of the key drivers in the industrial sector, to power a large number of connected devices one must use 'Power-over-Ethernet' (PoE) capabilities which empowers industrial organizations to streamline energy delivery to the internet of things (IoT) and also to streamline deployment. This will spare the hassle of batteries or extra power cables which add too much overhead to any IoT plan. The Power-over-Ethernet functionality can be supported by industrial Ethernet solutions without sacrificing the performance.

Stability

Industrial settings can't tolerate dropped data packets; therefore, introducing determinism is one of the options to take when trying to get Ethernet networks up to demands in this area. It is important for industrial Ethernet to achieve a level determinism where data can reliably be delivered within a predictable time frame.

A deterministic Ethernet system will go a long way in ensuring that packets get to their destination without being dropped by the network. Uncertainty in applications that require highly-precise timing and coordination such as machine control cannot be tolerated. Other options may include the use of quality of service functionality, or even similar routing tools to optimize delivery for mission-critical and safety systems, thus ensuring that packets don't get dropped and traffic within the network is prioritized.

These advanced Ethernet capabilities available in specialized industrial Ethernet hardware overcome many of the inherent weaknesses in Ethernet solutions.

Flexibility

A lot of changes are happening in the industrial sector and they are happening quickly. Organizations tend to install networks that will get the job done now and will not limit their flexibility going forward. The pervasive use of Ethernet across a variety of sectors makes it more naturally suited to an environment that requires flexibility than legacy industrial connectivity systems.

One must take into consideration the amount of bandwidth that is going to be available within the network and also how cable architectures are going to limit the adjustment of infrastructure or physical expansion. Also, how to deal with device types including the ones that require a wireless connection must also be considered.

When establishing an industrial Ethernet network, building for flexibility is key as one must be sure to design with the future in mind to avoid complex and costly changes in the future.

Reliability

This refers to the network and device uptime and is the most critical performance element for automation and control networks. The need for high reliability is the reason why automation and control space historically lag behind the consumer space when it comes to adopting new technology.

Interruptions in operation and communication can result in immediate and substantial losses and, therefore, industrial users are more likely going to adopt a communication technology that can guarantee stability and reliability without interruptions under the actual operating conditions.

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