Time-sensitive networking: a key automation network technology

28 November 2016

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Belden Inc. has highlighted how Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) is the key to the future of automation networks. At SPS/IPC/Drives 2016 in Nuremberg, Belden showcased TSN using Hirschmann’s RSP series of Ethernet switches and TSN configuration using the Hirschmann Industrial HiVision network management system.

Engineers from the company’s Hirschmann brand have made significant advancements in bringing standardised real-time communication to industrial applications through TSN. Firstly by making significant contributions to the IEEE 802.1 TSN standardisation process, and subsequently by integrating the emerging standards into the company’s industrial networking equipment, making it possible to take advantage of this technology today.

According to Dr Oliver Kleineberg, advance development manager for Belden’s Hirschmann brand, Belden continues to make TSN a reality: “It can be deployed as a key technology in automation networks as TSN standards allow simultaneous transmission of time-critical messages and background traffic. TSN offers a range of benefits to industrial networks. These include guaranteed, specific end-to-end latency for mission-critical and time-sensitive applications as well as low jitter; interoperability across vendors to create a seamless ecosystem that can evolve; and greater flexibility for manufacturers to quickly adapt and leverage standard Ethernet technology innovations, such as higher link speeds or new physical media.”

Although TSN requires more configuration effort than standard Ethernet, products and technologies from Belden’s Hirschmann brand can help to leverage the advantages of TSN without introducing a large network management overhead.

Dr Kleineberg says: “TSN networks can be managed by accessing, configuring and supervising each switch and end device individually, just as it has been done with managed switches for quite some time in automation networks. TSN adds additional complexity to this configuration process, which is a direct result of the necessity to configure the IEEE 802.1Qbv Time-Aware Scheduler parameters on each switch and end device. While it is still possible to do this manually, the proper tooling can save a lot of time and effort in setting up TSN real-time networks and makes this technology feasible for actual use. And in case of malfunctions in the network, for example due to configuration errors in the scheduling parameters on a device, it is very hard to spot these kinds of errors without adequate tooling and visualisation.”

Hirschmann Industrial HiVision with its MultiConfig feature can be used to visualise a network topology and to conveniently deploy TSN schedules to all participating devices with only very few operational steps. Once set up, Industrial HiVision can supervise the TSN network time schedule and can help to track down configuration weaknesses or errors through a graphical representation of the schedules on the network devices. With the combination of Hirschmann TSN technology in network devices and Industrial HiVision network management software, the real-time automation networks of the future become feasible for deployment and use.

Dr Oliver Kleineberg concludes: “With the unique challenges introduced by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0, TSN provides a standardised solution for real-time Ethernet communication, enabling mission-critical networks to provide high-bandwidth and the possibility to support communication streams with different quality of service on the same network.”

Follow the link for more information on IEEE 802.1 & Time Sensitive Networking.

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