Design scheme for vertical networking of process technology equipment

Industrial Ethernet is a high-level concept that implements all control and regulation equipment automation technologies based on Ethernet technology standards. Under normal circumstances, enterprises already have LAN Ethernet that connects office computers into a network, and this network may be connected to industrial Ethernet, and still use various control and monitoring equipment in the production process of products in the LAN network. But when constructing a network in this way, the components used must meet the requirements of the production site. Because the requirements for the use of equipment at the production site are very different from the office. Among them are the requirements for adapting to harsh environments, the requirements for self-protection in flammable and explosive hazardous occasions in Ex-Zone class 1 environments, the requirement that auxiliary energy and signals can be transmitted in one cable at the same time, and the high availability requirements. Therefore, within the framework of industrial Ethernet, network switches, hubs, and distributors suitable for the working environment of industrial enterprises have been developed. It also includes the fixing technology in the DIN standard installation card slot, including a larger operating temperature range, a higher level of safety protection, seismic resistance and high availability.

ExiWLAN wireless access points installed in plastic enclosures cover all aspects of process equipment

ExiWLAN wireless access points installed in plastic enclosures cover all aspects of process equipment

Remote desktop can be accessed between the laptop and the Ethernet server HMI

Remote desktop can be accessed between the laptop and the Ethernet server HMI

Application of Industrial Ethernet

Regarding the safety performance issues, the emphasis here is on the safety of self-protection, as well as economic issues, which make the users of the process industry lag behind other industrial fields in the application of industrial Ethernet. Despite this, it has successfully developed some maintenance-free industrial Ethernet solutions that are used in Ex-Zone for flammable and explosive hazards. A person in charge of a chemical company from the Basel region in Switzerland has no worries about using such a solution. They have adopted Ethernet technology in key production and R & D bases of key products. In order to integrate a large number of business operations and production processes into the same network, it is necessary to integrate horizontal and vertical information and automation technologies in the production process. The goal is to achieve unimpeded data and information communication in a unified physical system. To achieve this goal, the use of industrial Ethernet is the most appropriate, because it can simply combine the automation control process and the enterprise management process as a physical system. In addition, Industrial Ethernet can also use reliable fieldbus standard technology protocols.

The production equipment of this factory is spread over several different floors. The panel computer of the explorer Gecma was used to monitor the production process there. In the future, wireless data transmission devices and mobile terminals will also be used. In the entire Ex-Zone production area that is classified as flammable and explosive, it is also required to be able to realize the visualization of the process based on Ethernet technology. In short, we must ensure that the process technology production system is safe and reliable.

Safety first

MTL provides solutions that meet all requirements regarding flexibility and security. The equipment used includes a built-in WLAN antenna and a laptop computer that can be used in Ex-Zone flammable and explosive hazards. This rugged portable computer logs into the server through a remote desktop and a suitable human-machine interface. The notebook can be operated with a touch screen, mouse or touch pad. The WLAN wireless access point encapsulated in a plastic case and capable of working in flammable and explosive Exi-level applications is distributed in the process production equipment, and all working states are clearly displayed. In addition to being a client that can communicate between a remote server and a laptop, these access points can also prevent hackers.

WLAN wireless access point

Another advantage of MTL's PoEx Ethernet explosion-proof power supply solution is that only one network cable is needed to connect the network access point, because it can also provide auxiliary power. Ex i Ethernet switches distributed throughout the process equipment connect WLAN wireless access points into a network and are protected by Ex i Ethernet barriers. These Ethernet safety barriers also have the ability to provide auxiliary power for instruments distributed throughout the process equipment.

The Exi barrier connects the Ethernet parts of the process equipment inside and outside the flammable and explosive danger area. It has a self-protected power-limiting function and a galvanic isolation function for the Ethernet signal sent by the server to flammable and explosive hazardous areas.

Using Tofino Security Appliance constitutes a firewall, and also uses network protocol filters to ensure that only authorized login and access are effective. According to this network management method, only those explosion-proof notebook computers used in flammable and explosive hazardous situations can communicate with the application server (HMI human-machine interface) through Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).

Since 2008, the system has been working smoothly after installation. Although it was not possible to imagine the use of Ethernet and wireless signal transmission technology in the flammable and explosive hazardous areas of process industry enterprises a year ago, today it has been conquered by the reliability of the Ethernet safety protection system. This is entirely due to the PoEx Ethernet explosion-proof power supply solution with self-protection function, which can not only realize wireless communication in the flammable and explosive wireless occasions of Ex-Zone1, but also in the process of continuous non-stop process technology production Complete maintenance work. For the user, what is decisive is that the entire wireless data and information transmission system can be built into a PoEx automation system with self-powered protection function, so as to realize a smooth and unimpeded network system in the field of process technology today.

Dialogue with enterprises: user-friendly

For a long time, the process industry has been unable to utilize Ethernet technology in flammable and explosive situations. After the introduction of new safety protection technology, this situation has fundamentally changed. In this regard, the author interviewed Mr. Ulrich Künzli, head of MTL's Industrial Ethernet Product Sales Department, and he explained the significance of this technology introduction.

PROCESS: What are the advantages of self-protecting Ethernet in process automation?

Künzli: Self-protected explosion-proof Ethernet technology, referred to as PoEx technology, only provides users with the possibility of using wireless transmission equipment (hardware) applications in process equipment. Today, in the field of office applications and as the backbone network, the management of the enterprise mainly uses Ethernet. If the Ethernet technology standard can be implemented to the production equipment site, it can bring great convenience to users. This allows them to have unified hardware equipment, and makes network system maintenance easier, while reducing the inventory of network hardware accessories.

PROCESS: What hardware is available in Ethernet technology?

Künzli: Traditional Ethernet equipment, such as conventional signals (analog equipment or binary digital equipment with a current of 4 to 20 mA), can already use Remote I / O remote input and output protocol to work, and can already be used to process equipment through Ethernet control. In addition, WLAN wireless communication of mobile operation and monitoring equipment can also be applied in this Ethernet system with security protection function. This means that Ethernet technology can be used immediately in process automation. The user does not need to wait for the Ethernet technology hardware with field instrument equipment interface, and the production enterprise of field bus instrument hardware does not need to make any changes to its products.

PROCESS: What do you think of the future of this self-protecting Ethernet technology?

Künzli: Today, many experts and suppliers regard industrial Ethernet as the second generation of fieldbus instruments. The prediction of the application of Industrial Ethernet in the office field and machinery production enterprises has been easily realized. According to a survey conducted by ARC in 2005, the growth of industrial Ethernet can exceed 50% in the next five years. This attractive prediction can be supported by a large number of existing Ethernet technology protocols, such as Ethernet / IP, Profinet, Modbus TCP or FF HSF. Products suitable for these technical agreements and capable of automating processes can be seen on almost every booth at the 2009 Achema exhibition.

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