Using fieldbuses with multi-vendor automation systems

Steve Jones, General Manager of the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA), reviews the principles behind fieldbus communications and looks at the advantages.

It is rare to find a control or automation system in which all of the components are from a single supplier, so there is a need to get the diverse products to communicate with each other effectively, elegantly, securely and deterministically. Industrial fieldbuses offer a means by which this can be achieved.

A fieldbus is a field- or device-level network that provides high-speed, deterministic communication for controlling and monitoring a wide range of automation equipment such as drives, PLCs, HMIs, motors and sensors over a single cable. Significantly a field bus is "˜open', that is to say it can accept data signals from devices made by many different companies, mixing and matching these as required.

The need to develop fieldbus technologies has arisen because automation systems are seldom consist of equipment from a single supplier. The few mono-vendor systems that are installed tend to lose their purity fairly quickly, as the inevitable upgrades and redevelopments bring in components from other vendors.

Until the mid-1990s most automation equipment manufacturers seemed to ignore the fact that their products could not communicate with other manufacturers' products. Perhaps they thought that this helped them secure areas of the market and freeze the opposition out. End-user engineers had the choice of working hard to maintain their mono-vendor systems, or working hard to develop interfaces that would allow them operate different brands of equipment on the same system.

'Mix and match' automation systems

This all began to change about 10 or 15 years ago. I do not know whether vendor engineers came to their senses and decided to become more flexible and responsive towards their customers, or whether end-user engineers rose up in revolt and forced their suppliers to start co-operating a bit more. It does not really matter how it happened; that is history. What matters is the result: the fact that we can now 'mix and match' makes of equipment fairly freely, which removes a major headache and aids the advancement of automation through a wide range of industries.

Today open fieldbuses provide the necessary multi-vendor communications backbone for machine, cell and process control industries ranging from semiconductors to food and beverage, automotive to pharmaceutical, materials handling to building automation.

Their installation and operational simplicity has also encouraged other sectors to take up automation for the first time. Now, for instance, tractor-towed machines are planting or harvesting produce far faster and more accurately than farm hands, while scientists have been able to develop more sophisticated experiments and pilot studies. They are used in subsea cable laying vessels, on the Eurostar's passenger comfort systems and in many energy-saving systems developed in recent years.

There are now three major globally accepted fieldbuses in the industrial automation sector, of which CC-Link is the youngest: CC-Link, which was developed in Japan and remains the dominant choice throughout Asia-Pacific and for those companies exporting to these regions; DeviceNet, developed in America and often the preferred fieldbus there; and Profibus, of European origin and found on much equipment built in Germany. Counting up the number of installed nodes suggests that CC-Link is rapidly gaining ground due to its ease of use. CC-Link is becoming one of the globally dominant fieldbuses.

Significantly, although these systems are not compatible, it is not unusual to find two or even all three functioning side by side in the same machine or plant. If such an installation had been a greenfield development, designed and built in one go, then it is likely that only one fieldbus would have been used; when two or more fieldbuses are found together it is a sure sign of retrofitting and staged developments of the system - one of the primary benefits of fieldbuses.

Fieldbus benefits

There are a number of core benefits to fieldbus networks, beyond the original objective of allowing the free development of multi-vendor automation systems. Perhaps the feature that best illustrates the new paradigm that fieldbuses have created is that CC-Link networks can be up to 13.2km long with no degradation of communications speed.

Because CC-link and other fieldbuses systems are arranged as a single network that provides both communication and power, the amount of wiring required is reduced massively (often by an order of magnitude). But the materials cost saving is dwarfed by the cost of installing the wiring, and fades to practically nothing when you consider the cost of ownership of a plant over five, 10 or 20 years, in which maintenance, upgrades and reconfigurations have to be carried out.

Communication over CC-link is fast and does not slow down even when the volume of data is very high. Crucially it is also deterministic for real-time control; that is to say, data is transferred in an accurate and predictable time, and its arrival is assured. (In non-deterministic communications - such as standard Ethernet - this is not the case; this may be completely unacceptable in a high-speed or safety-critical installation.)

Safety and industrial Ethernet

There are many more benefits to CC-link and fieldbus communications relating to reliability, reconfigurability and the ease with which automation information can be processed into production data, management information, commercial and financial forecast. With CC-Link Safety, users can leverage traditional CC-Link cables, and communications between existing CC-Link remote I/O and remote device nodes are supported in addition to CC-Link Safety nodes. Thus, safety control systems are implemented with reduced wiring, and maintainability is improved through centralised configuration and monitoring of network devices from a master node.

Since the 'Fieldbus Wars' of the 1990s, the automation fieldbus has led a quite revolution that has changed control engineering for ever, making it easier to implement and develop control systems as conditions dictate. What makes fieldbuses interesting is that the market and technology is far from static. We are seeing some bus networks being integrated into others, the inevitable increased interest in industrial Ethernet for some applications and, to support intelligent devices on the network, FDT/DTM and EDDL

There are many benefits of open networks: they simplify the integration of equipment plant-wide; improve the plant control and efficiency; reduce downtime; and improve the information flow to management. The important thing is to encourage more equipment suppliers to integrate the protocol into their product. In the UK, for example, one of CLPA's members - Mitsubishi Electric - is a leading supplier of automation equipment, so it makes sense for third-parties to integrate CC-Link into a product. The benefit to that supplier is not only easier access to sites using that control supplier, but CLPA also actively supports them by including their products in partner catalogues and circulates their information worldwide.

CC-Link Partner Association - Europe (CLPA)

Gothaer Strasse 8
40880 Ratingen
GERMANY

+44 (0)7768 338708

partners@clpa-europe.com

www.clpa-europe.com

More from CC-Link Partner Association - Europe (CLPA)

Time Sensitive Networking – what’s in it for machine builders?

Posted 3 months ago

CLPA creates Global Strategic Advisor role for Smart Factories

Posted 9 months ago

Benefits of TSN discussed at ARC Industry Forum Europe 2019

Posted 1 year ago

CLPA to show Ethernet innovation at SPS IPC Drives Italia 2019

Posted 1 year ago

CC-Link IE TSN attracts attention at Hannover Messe

Posted 1 year ago

Why is 100Mbit industrial Ethernet insufficient for Industry4.0?

Posted 1 year ago

Why open industrial networks are essential for Smart Factories

Posted 1 year ago

CC-Link IE TSN: the next-generation Ethernet-based network

Posted 2 years ago

Factory networks take a big step forward at SPS 2018

Posted 2 years ago

CC-Link IE is Mitsubishi's network of choice for Industry 4.0

Posted 2 years ago

Slip rings use CC-Link IE for gigabit data transfer

Posted 2 years ago

Coupler enables interoperability between CC-Link IE and Profinet

Posted 2 years ago

CLPA highlights growth of CC-Link IE development options

Posted 3 years ago

CLPA OPC UA companion specification for CSP+ for Machine

Posted 3 years ago

Is Gigabit Industrial Ethernet key for Industry 4.0 goals?

Posted 3 years ago

Working group: security for open industrial automation networks

Posted 3 years ago

Hilscher plans first "˜coupler' between CC-Link IE and PROFINET

Posted 3 years ago

Benefits of open gigabit Ethernet illustrated at ARC Forum

Posted 3 years ago

Integrated factory automation networks key to Industry 4.0

Posted 3 years ago

CC-Link Partner Association at SPS Italia 2017

Posted 3 years ago

Implementing Ethernet at the field device level

Posted 3 years ago

Working with multiple networks and growth in Asia

Posted 3 years ago

CLPA webinar shows benefits of open gigabit industrial Ethernet

Posted 3 years ago

Weidmüller develops CC-Link IE products to drive Industry 4.0

Posted 4 years ago

New CC-Link IE and Profinet interoperability specification

Posted 4 years ago

CLPA brings networking accessibility to SPS/IPC/Drives 2016

Posted 4 years ago

CLPA helps cable manufacture expand into Asian markets

Posted 4 years ago

Balluff I/O blocks enable quicker CC-Link IE network building

Posted 4 years ago

CC-Link IE and CC-Link adoption soars

Posted 4 years ago

Production machines and automation products for the Asian market

Posted 4 years ago

PROFINET and CC-Link IE cooperation will expand open networks

Posted 4 years ago

Twelve things you need to know about CC-Link networks

Posted 4 years ago

CLPA to show CC-Link IE and CC-Link open at SPS Italia

Posted 4 years ago

Reports of fieldbuses' usage disappearing are premature

Posted 4 years ago

OPC Foundation and CLPA sign Memorandum of Understanding

Posted 4 years ago

CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) opens office in Mexico

Posted 4 years ago

Lapp Group grows with CC-Link IE & CC-Link

Posted 4 years ago

White paper previews CC-Link IE and PROFINET interoperability

Posted 4 years ago

CC-Link IE - the natural choice for Industry 4.0

Posted 4 years ago

SLMP for integrating FAG SmartCheck into industrial automation

Posted 5 years ago

CC-Link keeps up with demand for water in Denmark

Posted 5 years ago

CC-Link Partner Association marks its 15th anniversary

Posted 5 years ago

Major Asian and European network collaboration announcement

Posted 5 years ago

Changes in the network security landscape

Posted 5 years ago

CC-Link IE and CC-Link set new record for global installed base

Posted 5 years ago

CC-Link Partner Association brings on Cisco as Board member

Posted 5 years ago

Global networking specialist acknowledges importance of CC-Link

Posted 5 years ago

Building chips for CC-Link IE is good for business at Renesas

Posted 5 years ago

SLMP for CC-Link IE: exploit open industrial Ethernet protocol

Posted 5 years ago

CC-Link IE wins IEC61158/IEC61784 certification

Posted 5 years ago

More development options for CC-Link, CC-Link IE device makers

Posted 5 years ago

One year on, the CLPA's Gateway to Asia is still wide open

Posted 5 years ago

Double link strengthens approach to Asian automation

Posted 5 years ago

The future of open automation networks - gigabit CC-Link IE

Posted 6 years ago

Molex becomes a CLPA board member

Posted 6 years ago

CC-Link opens up Asian markets for measurement specialist

Posted 6 years ago

CC-Link plans major board member announcement at SPS/IPC/Drives

Posted 6 years ago

Skydivers practise indoors with CC-Link industrial network

Posted 6 years ago

CC-Link gives Cognex a clear view of Asian opportunities

Posted 6 years ago

New CLPA Chair is world-renowned production engineer

Posted 6 years ago

CC-Link partner Festo is using nature to inspire automation

Posted 6 years ago

Conformance testing ensures clear open communications

Posted 6 years ago

Industrial Ethernet connects systems, improves energy efficiency

Posted 6 years ago

Safety networks: The route from zero accidents to zero risk

Posted 6 years ago

CLPA announces EUR10,000 support for CC-Link product developers

Posted 6 years ago

CC-Link opens actual Gateway to Asia with new Turkish branch

Posted 6 years ago

CLPA appoints first European member to Managing Board

Posted 7 years ago

Open industrial networking associations ASI and CLPA forge links

Posted 7 years ago

Industrial automation changes up a gear with CC Link

Posted 7 years ago

CC-Link seminar explores opportunities for growth in Asia

Posted 7 years ago

Berners joins CLPA to help companies export to China

Posted 7 years ago

CLPA unveils major developments at the SPS IPC Drives 2013 Fair

Posted 7 years ago

Car manufacturer sees benefits via use of CC-Link open networks

Posted 7 years ago

Multiple approvals enhance CC-Link's global acceptability

Posted 7 years ago

CC-Link membership booms as interest in open networks grows

Posted 7 years ago

Sensors and communications combine to improve production hygiene

Posted 7 years ago

CC-Link widens partner product development options

Posted 8 years ago

CC-Link highlights industry solutions with key European partners

Posted 8 years ago

CC-Link expands horizons with management board appointments

Posted 8 years ago

Learn more about CC-Link anytime, anywhere with a virtual booth

Posted 8 years ago

Indian sub-continent gets local support for CC-Link

Posted 8 years ago

CC-Link adds energy management capabilities

Posted 8 years ago

CLPA shares open networks for success at the 2012 EMS Summit

Posted 8 years ago

CC-Link helps Ford & Mazda stay flexible in China

Posted 8 years ago

Energy management and FPGA on show at SPS/IPC/Drives Fair

Posted 8 years ago

Free Gateway to China business kit on 4GB USB stick

Posted 8 years ago

Strengthening the CC-Link open network partnership

Posted 8 years ago

CC-Link sponsors major European manufacturing summit

Posted 8 years ago

Gateway to China from the CLPA for potential new markets

Posted 8 years ago

White Paper explores strategies for entering the Chinese market

Posted 8 years ago

Starter kits make CC-Link adoption a simple step

Posted 8 years ago

CC-Link IE Field Ethernet-based network gains motion control

Posted 8 years ago

CC-Link enhances productivity for flat-panel LCD plant

Posted 8 years ago

SIL 3 safety layer added to CC-Link IE Field Industrial Ethernet

Posted 8 years ago

CLPA celebrates 10th anniversary of CC-Link

Posted 9 years ago

CC-Link becomes 'The Non-Stop Open Network'

Posted 9 years ago

CLPA to promote FDT as an international standard

Posted 9 years ago

Mitsubishi opens CC-Link conformance test centre in Germany

Posted 9 years ago

Financial benefits of retrofitting open fieldbus networks

Posted 9 years ago

CC-Link to be incorporated within FDT protocol standard

Posted 9 years ago

Automation and robotics training centre features CC-Link

Posted 9 years ago

CC-link exceeds 1500 members and 8,500,000 devices

Posted 9 years ago

Open architecture control systems offer plant-wide benefits

Posted 9 years ago

CLPA-China celebrates ten years of CC-Link in China

Posted 9 years ago

Free webinar explains CC-Link 'Gateway to China' programme

Posted 9 years ago

'Gateway to China' programme to feature at SPS/IPC/Drives

Posted 9 years ago

CLPA offers three chances to win an iPad

Posted 9 years ago

'Gateway to China' movie helps companies enter Chinese market

Posted 9 years ago

CC-Link network supports automation of winemaking

Posted 9 years ago

John Browett named Acting General Manager of CLPA - Europe

Posted 9 years ago

CC-Link selected for biogas cogeneration plants

Posted 10 years ago

New Anybus-CC drive profile modules for CC-Link

Posted 10 years ago

Heavy-duty CC-Link I/O modules are sealed to IP67

Posted 10 years ago

CC-Link selected for crane upgrade project

Posted 10 years ago

CC-Link survives in harsh die casting environment

Posted 10 years ago

CC-Link helps maintain productivity and quality in pharma plant

Posted 10 years ago

CC-Link connects eleven Danish boreholes

Posted 12 years ago

CC-Link network expands to encompass entire factory

Posted 12 years ago

CC-Link connects conveyor inverters to PLC network

Posted 12 years ago

CC-Link helps to ensure reliability of pumping station

Posted 12 years ago

A guide to the CC-Link industrial fieldbus network

Posted 12 years ago

Integrator GB Innomech uses CC-Link for building control

Posted 12 years ago

CLPA offers assistance to UK OEMs selling into Asia

Posted 12 years ago

New version of CC-Link based on Industrial Ethernet

Posted 12 years ago

European applications for the CC-Link industrial fieldbus

Posted 13 years ago

New CLPA office supports use of CC-Link in Turkey

Posted 13 years ago

CC-Link adopted by Polish universities

Posted 13 years ago

CLPA to show CC-Link IE at SPS/IPC/Drives show

Posted 13 years ago

CC-Link partners launch new safety fieldbus, CC-Link Safety

Posted 13 years ago

CLPA sponsors European Manufacturing Strategies Summit

Posted 13 years ago

More technical articles
2 days ago
Boxing clever
A new chainflex cable box means big shipping cost savings for customers
2 days ago
New industrial vision online channel sees the light of day
Industrial vision provider IDS is making its expertise as a manufacturer of digital industrial cameras available free of charge and readily accessible on a new platform
2 days ago
Ball screws help protect buildings from earthquakes
Ball screws from NSK are helping to protect structures and people in earthquake zones
2 days ago
ATEX certification for new pneumatic valve island
Pneumatic process control offers numerous benefits, especially in hygienic applications. Bürkert says that its new Type 8652 AirLINE valve island provides users with improved safety features, communications and diagnostics
2 days ago
ABB launches condition-based maintenance service for robots
New service enables users to plan ahead and optimise production performance
2 days ago
What the UK-EU trade deal means for UK vehicle manufacturers
Now the UK has left the EU, the transition period has ended and the two parties have established a new trading relationship, UK-based vehicle manufacturers have some clarity over what they need to do to serve three key markets: Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), the EU and Northern Ireland
2 days ago
Farnell publishes Industry 4.0 ebook
New ‘Industry 4.0 Interviews’ ebook is available for free download from Farnell and showcases the opinions of leading global experts on the future of IIoT and Industry 4.0
2 days ago
Can DC motors be used at high temperatures?
There is no need for a heated discussion about it as maxon’s motor expert Andrew Gibson offers a view on the subject
3 days ago
Switching up a gear
Phoenix Contact is expanding its line of unmanaged switches
3 days ago
New Intertronics metering, mixing and dispensing system
Adhesives supplier Intertronics has introduced a new 2-K-DOS metering, mixing and dispensing system, said to be a compact, benchtop unit suitable for materials including silicones, polyurethanes and epoxies