Time-Sensitive Networking: A key technology in automation networks?

28 November 2016

Belden used the recent SPS/IPC/Drives event to highlight the importance of Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) in future of automation networks. 

The company showcased TSN using Hirschmann’s RSP series of Ethernet switches and TSN configuration using the Hirschmann Industrial HiVision network management system

This helps bring standardised real-time communication to industrial applications through TSN. Firstly by making significant contributions to the IEEE 802.1 TSN standardisation process, and subsequently by integrating the emerging standards into the company’s industrial networking equipment, making it possible to take advantage of this technology today. 

Dr. Oliver Kleineberg, advance development manager for Belden’s Hirschmann brand, said: “It can be deployed as a key technology in automation networks because TSN standards allow simultaneous transmission of time-critical messages and background traffic. TSN offers a range of benefits to industrial networks, including guaranteed, specific end-to-end latency for mission-critical and time-sensitive applications as well as low jitter; interoperability across vendors to create a seamless ecosystem that can evolve; and greater flexibility for manufacturers to quickly adapt and leverage standard Ethernet technology innovations, such as higher link speeds or new physical media.”

Dr. Kleineberg continued: “TSN networks can be managed by accessing, configuring and supervising each switch and end device individually, just as it has been done with managed switches for quite some time in automation networks. TSN adds additional complexity to this configuration process, which is a direct result of the necessity to configure the IEEE 802.1Qbv Time-Aware Scheduler parameters on each switch and end device. While it is still possible to do this manually, the proper tooling can save a lot of time and effort in setting up TSN in the event of malfunctions in the network, for example due to configuration errors in the scheduling parameters on a device, it is very hard to spot these kinds of errors without adequate tooling and visualization.”

Hirschmann Industrial HiVision with its MultiConfig feature can be used to visualise a network topology and to deploy TSN schedules to participating devices with only very few operational steps. Once set up, Industrial HiVision can supervise the TSN network time schedule and can help to track down configuration weaknesses or errors through a graphical representation of the schedules on the network devices. With the combination of Hirschmann TSN technology in network devices and Industrial HiVision network management software, the real-time automation networks of the future become feasible for deployment and use.

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