According to CLPA, the CC-Link Partner Association, Industrial Ethernet is about to take a paradigm leap forward with a ten-fold increase in communications rates to 1Gbps with the release of a new fast, flexible and fault-tolerant open communication standard known as CC-Link IE (Control and Communication Link Industrial Ethernet).
CC-Link IE is claimed to be the first completely integrated gigabit Ethernet network for industrial automation. It combines the best of many existing technologies and applies them to an optical industrial network system with a redundant architecture that enables extremely high-speed (1gigabit/s) and reliable data transfer between field devices and other controllers via Ethernet links. The data rate of 1Gbps will redefine users' expectations and systems capabilities; it will be more than enough to cater for the real-time communications requirement of today's manufacturing industries - and provide scope for future developments.
In addition to enabling control data transmission to equipment such as PCs, PLCs, HMIs and motion controllers, CC-Link provides for seamless transmission of data between the various communications layers from shop floor to top floor.
The frequency of the cyclical communications is independent of load and therefore constant for any given network, making it predictable and deterministic. This means that data updates do not slow down when data traffic is heavy, such as during major plant operations or emergency actions. In fact data can be sent from any station to any other station (and read by the receiving station), even across interlinked networks. Any station can be monitored, programmed, reset and reprogrammed from any other station within the network.
A dual-loop architecture gives network redundancy, which ensures that communication can continue if a cable is broken or a station is lost. The dual-loop architecture is self-healing around a problem, as data can be transferred in both the forward and reverse direction, enabling continuity of data transfer to be maintained.
The ring topology also enables very large networks to be developed. In fact a single network can include up to 66km (42 miles) of fibre optic cabling with no loss in communication speed. As many as 120 stations can be integrated into each network, and 239 of these networks can be directly linked together to create total systems with over 14,000km of cabling integrating 25,000 or more nodes - enough to solve most users' industrial communications problems!
Furthermore, the network is said to be simple to set up and maintain without any Ethernet knowledge