More and more companies are adopting some form of automation whether it is within their offices or manufacturing facilities. Companies see automation as a way to reduce costs, increase access to information when needed, and improve productivity. Companies have already realised increased productivity just by networking their computers and printers within their offices. In the realm of manufacturing, connecting previously isolated equipment to a network gives managers real-time access to information from their manufacturing facility for improved management and decision-making.
In their quest to improve productivity and quality, manufacturers need to remotely monitor and control their manufacturing equipment such as programmable logic controllers, robots, process control equipment, motor drive controllers, power monitoring equipment, flow meters, gas detection devices, temperature monitoring systems, barcode scanners, scales and mixing stations. Currently, factory managers must be onsite to monitor and maintain control; however, managers can access this information from their internal network or via the Internet using industrial device networking. Managers can be automatically notified of equipment readings that are out of the normal operating range and then they can initiate troubleshooting of production equipment, even if the managers are located outside the factory.
Industrial manufacturers require networking products that are rugged, easy-to-customise to their individual circumstances, and cost-effective yet are capable of connecting, communicating information and controlling virtually any type of equipment in an industrial environment. To enable remote monitoring and managing, manufacturers can place their equipment on an existing local area network (LAN) or on the Internet using industrial device networking.
For products to operate in harsh industrial environments, they must withstand and operate reliably under extreme temperatures and vibration, and resist the effects of exposure to electrical interference. There is also considerable potential for noise interference which can cause communications latency and transmission retries. While operating in these somewhat hostile environments, networking products must offer security and encryption to prevent another type of “interference” such as unauthorized access, compromised data integrity or attacks that may result in halting the system.