Before the existence of smart, networked automation components, one may have thought that the essential ability of a maintenance engineer was clairvoyance. They appeared to foresee the source of equipment issues, knowing the health of their facility as if it were their own.
Device-level networks, particularly intelligent components and EtherNet/IP, are these days assisting engineers to bridge the seasoned-skills gap by providing an easier way to increase productivity, capture equipment data and improve wiring.
Network innovations recently made the technology of just 15 and twenty years appear out of date. In the 90s, the device-level networks were concentrated on minimizing hardwiring between motor control-related components, like programmable logic controllers, relays and overload relays.
Devices that are electronically networked met the requirement for reduced wiring; however, their device-level networks left room for upgrading. For example, they needed special wiring tools, and users had to buy a separate software program to configure and designate different memory areas within their scanner. While engineers got device-level data, it was apparent that collecting device-level intelligence was a minor focus of the networks. Those early device-committed networks device-dedicated had minimal bandwidth since they were meant for discrete components, such as limit switches and push buttons. With bandwidth minimal, engineers were limited to only 5 or ten parameters of a device, like a smart overload relay, that may have 300 possible parameters. Additionally, when that data came, it did so as 1s and 0s that needed to be decoded before being understood.
The Advantages of Networking Components with EtherNet/IP
The world of automation is migrating toward EtherNet/IP since the network is intuitively understood, improves information sharing and meets the needs of users for ease-of wiring. The learning curve for EtherNet/IP is a lot quicker compared to those of other networks since engineers are already knowledgeable about dragging and dropping, plugging an Ethernet cable into a computer, and clicking a mouse an Ethernet. It is readily available, simple cable set to manage and does not need any special tools.
Joseph Lodwick, chief Engineer at Equustek Solutions Inc., states that clearer data is a lot more relevant data, and since the focus of EtherNet/IP is sharing information, it tremendously simplifies the procedure of understanding data. With EtherNet/IP, the 1s and 0s messages from previous device-level networks are replaced with decoded messages, which have relevant names allocated to them. For instance, if a pump motor suffered the loss of a phase, the network message would be apparent in the EtherNet/IP environment. A message like “Pump #4. Phase loss. Phase B.” is instantly clear. Engineers do not need to decode any 1s and 0s, as a result, there is no room for misunderstanding. They note that they have to replace the phase-B motor fuse.
Information is also relevant on the control side of the EtherNet/IP network. For instance, with earlier networks, engineers may code a 1 in a specific bit location to activate their output on a Relay One to rejuvenate a starter. They had to monitor what their codes meant. Currently, with EtherNet/IP, they place a little on the location that states Relay One, and there is no decoding needed.
EtherNet/IP as well makes the collection of data for predictive maintenance easy. Engineers may directly use historical data collection engines in their smart devices to gather data rather than using the programmable logic controller as the data concentrator, a process which traditionally needed extra programming. For instance, a business may track and trend the Current Draw information of a big motor every fifteen minutes as a predictive prognostic measure. If Current Draw creeps up ultimately, maintenance can be triggered to schedule an evaluation of the motor bearings.
Doubling Down on EtherNet/IP-networked Component Advantages with Dual Ports
Dual-port EtherNet/IP abilities in the recent components, even more, elevate system performance while reducing difficulty. Device Level Ring is a network technology that makes the most of the embedded-switch functionality in automation devices, as I/O modules.
EtherNet/IP simplifies installing devices with DLR since engineers are able to daisy chain device to device. This permits a linear topology, which gets rid of the conventional need for an external switch that was required in a center point Star configuration utilizing external switches. Also, this daisy chain, peer-to-peer structure decreases the associated cost and physical amount of cabling and usually prevents it being routed inside trunking with other power cables, reducing any possible electronic interference.
Eased Data Access to Drive Decisions
Receiving real-time information at the ideal time and the proper levels of the production environment will help to improve pretty much, every area of the operations of a plant. EtherNet/IP gives engineers a more deterministic network, which means there is a direct link between the controller and the end device. That permits speedy sharing of control information between the controller and the device. The network Remote device interrogation is also eased by the network, since most intelligent components now have a Web server that is embedded and can be remotely accessed with the use of a simple Web browser that is, password-enabled.
Nowadays, new maintenance engineers may not have the tenure of their predecessor’s forerunners; however, with EtherNet/IP networking their smart electronic components, they will seem like just as clairvoyant.