Machine building Manufacturing – Industrial Communication
The data driven revolution in the era of Industry 4.0
Data is fuelling the fourth industrial revolution, which revolves primarily around business-to-business (B2B) applications of the Internet of Things (IoT) for manufacturing. With Industry 4.0, machines, sensors and IT systems with advanced deep learning and Artificial Intelligence are in constant communication with each other to form a smart factory. In these environments, complex tasks can be controlled remotely and are fully automated. Without a doubt, with the rising importance of communication between devices and machines, data acquisition and analysis have become a critical part of this new industrial infrastructure.
Standards and technologies are still evolving in Industry 4.0, but some trends have already started shaping the machine-building segment for the future. What are other important forces that are slowly but surely making their way into the industry?
Single Pair Ethernet
With Industry 4.0, the cables linking computers to machines and sensors need to be able to transfer both power and the required data to carry out jobs. An example of this cable is the Single Pair Ethernet (SPE), a high-performance cable that transmits both data and power via a single double wire. The automotive industry was the first to take steps in proving that the SPE theory works. Ethernet technology had been strategically positioned to become the network backbone of the automobiles within the next decade. By replacing 4 pair cables with one pair, SPE cables ensure a significant advantage to connect security systems, diagnostics, vehicle sensors and autonomous vehicle technology. Reduction in internal cabling weight not only reduced the overall costs of raw material, but it also increased fuel efficiency because that same engine now powered a lighter automobile.
This automotive industry trend has gotten more businesses to rethink about existing fieldbus technology, and how it can be replaced by the SPE. Furthermore, with the establishment of Ethernet standard IEEE P802.3cg, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is pushing for a 10 Megabits per second Ethernet cable that can connect devices over a distance of 1,000 meters easily via one pair of copper wires.
Benefits of Single Pair Ethernet vs. Traditional 4 Pair Ethernet
- Potentially able to transmit data up to distances of 1,000 meters at 1Gbps
- Reduction in weight for a more compact and smaller cable design
- Easier to install
- A more cost-effective solution
- Suitable for applications that do not require more than one pair
Wired communication is not the only option for smart factories today. Major advancements in wireless technology, from improved network coverage, bandwidth capacity and quality of transmission, have made wireless networks an increasingly attractive option for industrial communication.
The question is why wireless? Installing and routing new cables over an existing infrastructure are often perceived as a challenge. Existing cable trays may be inaccessible at certain areas, and some facilities may not have the space planned for cable connection expansion. Wireless communication through WiFi or Bluetooth can overcome these shortcomings with ease, as the end-users do not have to consider existing cabling to install the new devices. In addition, an automated facility or factory environment will look remarkably neater with fewer cable connections.
However, in harsh factory environments, wireless technology has its limitations. Primarily, from the stability of the connection through to latency periods, it is difficult to create real-time applications. Other aspects such as range, robust data connection and energy efficiency are where wireless technology still cannot compete with wire-bound technology. Susceptibility to cyber-attacks and malicious disruptions are also essential concerns to consider.
Wireless technology does not necessarily mean the end of cables; to put it simply, it is an effective solution for specific applications in a rapidly growing market. Wired and wireless technology will continue to co-eist in our world.
We will see networked value creation architectures, relationships between companies, customers and users will no longer be defined by their location or their association with a company but by the digital ecosystems that connect them. Whatever the future brings - LAPP will supply the infrastructure for it.
Whether it's a wired or wireless network, the need to communicate reliably between system controllers and machines is crucial in today's smart manufacturing industry. Industrial automation and optimisation, through Industrial IoT, are highly advantageous as factories enjoy significant costs reduction in operations while increasing productivity gains. Nevertheless, a highly connected factory also presents specific challenges such as Cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is a clear and present danger. Even within a closed and secure network, data breaches are not uncommon. Accidental exposure to malicious attacks or security breaches can sometimes be pinned to staff who introduce viruses or bugs into the system through physical means such as infected thumb drives or opening malicious emails. Hackers today are also a lot more sophisticated, and with advanced tools such as ransomware, they may be able to break through your defences and bring your factory to a standstill.
Businesses must take the necessary precautions to safeguard their industrial networks. Aside from routine processes like training employees in proper cybersecurity practices and limiting their access to data or sensitive information, companies can also explore more comprehensive industrial communication solutions through data encryption.
Encrypting data means all information transmitted between devices are encoded and can only be decoded by an authenticated user with the correct encryption key. Intruders to your network cannot read or see any of the data because it's all scrambled.
To offer a secure industrial communication solution, LAPP in Asia has strategically partnered with TOSIBOX®. TOSIBOX® is an information automation device that offers secure remote access between internet connections. Designed as an industrial communication solution for businesses, it is based on two-factor authentication with a direct VPN tunnel between machines. A modular device, the TOSIBOX® Lock acts as a firewall that protects your network and the TOSIBOX® Key ensures that you can gain access to your connected device from anywhere in the world.
Simple to use
Design, deploy and manage a secure network in minutes
Designed with legacy and future systems in mind
Globally audited and rigorously tested security features
Unlimited scalability and flexibility to work with multiple systems
Globally patented for point-to-point data streams between two devices without a cloud
In summary, LAPP offers a complete portfolio of industrial communication solutions that enable businesses to move towards Industry 4.0. From connecting machines on the factory floor to syncing sensitive information to your private cloud, LAPP can design a complete solution tailored to your requirements. Together with TOSIBOX®, you can be assured that LAPP's complete industrial communication solutions will keep your network protected from a host of potential cyber threats.
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