20 years after its original release, HMS Networks has this week announced the arrival of its second-generation Anybus Communicator – a line of high-performing gateways for connecting devices and machines to industrial networks. Anybus Communicator for EtherNet/IP is now available and versions covering additional networks will be released later in this year and into 2021. The first version for EtherNet/IP will be followed by versions for Modbus TCP, PROFINET and PROFIBUS. The new Communicators are said to be modern, high-performing gateways which incorporate all experience gained by HMS Networks from interaction with users about the original line across the last two decades. The two generations will co-exist according to a separate product life cycle plan, says HMS.
All second-generation Communicators are powered by the Anybus NP40 industrial network processor (as used in all HMS’ embedded solutions), which ensures that they will match demanding requirements in terms of performance, reliability, and security. Depending on the usage application, data cycle times are up to 10 times faster than with the first-generation Communicators thanks to the new hardware and software. Users can also benefit from increased data exchange support as up to 1448 bytes can be transferred from the connected PLC to the gateway, as well as from the gateway to the PLC. Further, to meet current and future security challenges, all products are equipped with a security chip. A secure boot ensures that the firmware has not been tampered with. The Communicators are packaged in a new attractive slim housing for straight-forward DIN-rail mounting. Carrying all relevant industrial certifications such as CE- and UL-marking, a temperature range of –25 to +70degC is supported to ensure that the Communicators stay operational in demanding industrial conditions.
Before connecting the gateway to an uplink PLC, the user configures the Communicator to communicate with a subnet of one or more devices/machines. This is done by connecting to the Ethernet configuration port from a PC, after which the user can open any browser of choice to access the new graphical, responsive web-based second-generation Communicator user interface. Configurations are simply done using drag and drop and no additional software is needed, says HMS.
Initially, the second-generation Communicator is primarily focusing on Modbus RTU communication to connected equipment. Up to 150 Modbus commands are supported which allows for complex configurations with multiple nodes. Final configurations can be stored and managed in a secure way for future use. When done, the gateway is ready to be included as a node in the PLC-system on the other side of the gateway. The configuration port and its web interface also enable users to monitor and diagnose network traffic. The user can immediately see the status of the industrial network connection, the serial connection, as well as individual serial node status: communication logs are provided for further analysis by the user.
For system integrators, HMS states that Anybus Communicator is fully prepared to be delivered together with a device or machine as a preconfigured, external communication module. Manufacturers interested in this option benefit from a wide range of services from HMS related to OEM personalisation, brand-labelling and gateway pre-configuration.
During 2020 and 2021, HMS will release additional second-generation Anybus Communicators for the popular networks Modbus TCP, PROFINET, and PROFIBUS. Go to www.hms.se for further details.