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Automation abstract

Bringing Industry 4.0 Communications to Automation Devices

Feb. 7, 2023
The issue is no longer getting access to a proprietary protocol, it’s now finding ways to cost-effectively add the multitude of protocols available in the market.

Digitalization, Industry 4.0, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) are all trends moving the automation market. Academics and technology advocates will debate the nuances of these themes, but device manufacturers know they mean one thing: more complexity and technology needs to be added to their devices.

The end of the Field Bus Wars ushered in an era of open protocols but the proliferation of available protocols over time has created its own set of burdens for device manufacturers. The issue is no longer getting access to a proprietary protocol, it’s now finding ways to cost-effectively add the multitude of protocols available in the market.

It's completely reasonable to see a half dozen unique protocols on a requirement for new product development. A simple drive could reasonably require EtherNet/IP, Profinet, and Modbus TCP to meet a majority of communication requirements in a market segment. EtherCAT and PowerLink may be requirements for niches you’re looking to exploit in Industrial Automation and BACnet/IP would be required for building automation penetration. The complexity and cost of deploying these protocols are significant and these protocols are only solving the control communication requirements.

Then there's a need to report data from the factory floor to either IT or a cloud-based system, which adds OPC UA and MQTT to the suite of required protocols. To complement all of the above-listed technologies, security is a growing consideration pushing requirements of all Ethernet-based communication.

This proliferation of technology is making the cost and complexity of bringing a product to market unobtainable for many vendors. This is specifically distressing because for most vendors these technologies are not core competencies. The ongoing need to invest resources and fund the deployments of communication standards inhibits improvements in the base product.

In this paper, we will work to dissect the requirement of Industry 4.0 and help you create a road map for more intelligent technology deployments. The complexity of bringing a device to market is immense but comprehending the practical requirements doesn’t have to be.

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