Expand your already reliable networks with ease

11 May 2020

Using four applications, Moxa takes a closer look at the challenges faced when expanding edge networks and recommends strategies that may help reduce the hassles of configuration and maintenance.

Expanding a network or increasing its complexity to meet growing connectivity demands is not always necessary. Although it is relatively easy to just add one more networking node to a network, the combined effort of configuring, maintaining, and troubleshooting a network may probably surpass the initial cost of a future-proof device. 

Before moving on to recommendations, let us first learn a bit more about each of the three applications.

Application 1: Adopting automated sortation for production efficiency – A food processing manufacturer invested in new production assets, including an automated sortation system that improved food sorting efficiency. Field staff were pleased to work with the automated sorting process, but they were concerned about unfamiliar network signals and maintenance.

To address these concerns, the system upgrade required: 
• No requirement of IT skills for rapid deployment, and a trouble-free operation and easy maintenance.
• Delivering I/O tagged data with high priority for real-time applications.
• Small network switches with high port density that fit in control cabinets that hold over 10 devices in a limited space.

Application 2: Field asset monitoring along a pipeline deployment – An oil and gas company expanded networks to keep up with their crude oil wells exploration. The field network was built to control and monitor field instruments between oil wells, EMS workstations, and the remote OCC control center. The control cabinets were built separately from network cabinets for field operations and required simple but highly reliable connections capable of sending alarm notifications.

The expanded network had the following requirements:
• Rugged network devices to operate in hazardous locations
• An instant warning function for on-site monitoring
• Enhanced noise resistance to transfer EMS and I/O data to a local network console

Application 3: Reliable data and image collection from ETC gantries – New toll gantries for electronic toll collection were deployed in an open-road toll system. The toll gantry required an Ethernet switch that could collect data from vehicle-detection and fare-deduction equipment, and then uplink to a roadside cabinet as a backhaul to the remote operations center.

The system requirements included:
• Durable industrial-grade devices that work reliably in an open-road environment.
• Connections of over 100 meters to uplink video streams and sensor data to roadside cabinets.
• Easy installation and long-lasting reliability to reduce the time spent on the maintenance of the gantries.

Application 4:  Deep well pump monitoring for automated marine application – A ship added data monitoring for deep well pump systems to create self-contained units for marine automation. The pump systems required simple and reliable Ethernet switches to send real-time status information and instant relay alarm warnings to monitor operational safety.

The system requirements included:
• Maritime-grade devices to withstand on-board vibration.
• ired communication for stability.
• Power redundancy to ensure seamless operation.

From these applications, it is evident that it is very likely to expand connecting nodes in field sites when a business grows or new initiatives are introduced to its industrial operations. Control engineers may be familiar with industrial operations; however, unfamiliar network signals or troubleshooting can become a headache for them. Therefore, it is essential that edge networking devices – mostly industrial unmanaged Ethernet switches – are easy to deploy, adaptable, and reliable.

The perfect match
Industrial unmanaged Ethernet switches have emerged as easy-to-deploy networking devices to connect sensors, I/Os, and PLCs, as well as aggregate data to network backbones. On one hand, they feature plug-and-play, making them very popular among OT engineers. On the other hand, however, they sometimes take more time for troubleshooting because of their lack of visibility. The solution is an instant relay alarm to inform OT engineers of the network status without back-and-forth troubleshooting.
Furthermore, the Quality of Service (QoS) function, well-known by IT engineers, is also recommended to OT engineers to further prioritize the traffic in field sites.

Usually, OT engineers will rely on SCADA systems to configure and check whether their control data is well delivered to their destinations. Today, you can just switch on the QoS function on an industrial unmanaged Ethernet switch. It is also recommended to select industrial unmanaged Ethernet switches that feature a compact-size, flexible port combination, wide operating temperatures, and industry certifications.

Ideal for edge network expansion
Moxa has introduced the EDS-2010-ML/ 2016-ML/2018-ML Series, a lineup of industrial unmanaged switches with an extra-small footprint. These switches are ideal for edge network expansion in a variety of industrial applications that need proven reliability, easy deployment, and flexibility. They feature options for 5 to 18 ports and Gigabit combo ports to reliably connect more nodes and at higher bandwidths. The newly launched industrial unmanaged Ethernet switches, offering Quality of Service (QoS) and Broadcast Storm Protection (BSP) by DIP switch, also allow field-site engineers to easily expand reliable networks with plug-and-play simplicity. 

Cost-effective Ethernet expansion
Tap into big opportunities with the tiny EDS-2000-EL Series Ethernet switches. With models almost as small as a credit card but jam-packed with smart features, the EDS-2000-EL Series delivers time and cost savings by facilitating efficient network deployment. Unlike traditional unmanaged switches, the robust EDS-2000-EL Series enables Quality of Service (QoS) for critical data transmissions to ensure reliable Ethernet connectivity, whether deployed in a machine or in the field. 

Optimise data transmissions 
Quality of Service (QoS) ensures that critical data is always sent with high priority. Without QoS, critical data may be lost during transmission if the network is congested. QoS is commonly supported by managed network switches and by some controlling equipment such as, PLC devices, but it is rarely seen in unmanaged switches. The EDS-2000-EL Series switches support QoS by simply flipping a DIP switch without requiring additional configuration, making them ideal for factory automation where optimised data transmission is a must. Features include:

Small footprint: The extra small EDS-2000-EL switches free up valuable space inside your machines and cabinets, allowing you to accommodate more devices for growing network demands.

Easy data control: Our EDS-2000-EL switches allow you to enhance data flow efficiency simply by flipping the DIP switches to enable QoS and BSP, which reduce the chances of data loss and operating costs for your applications.

Reliable durability:
Designed to meet rugged industrial specifications, the EDS-2000-EL switches come with high EMC resistance and a wide operating temperature range for 24/7 reliability in harsh environments.

For further details go to: https://bit.ly/2VIuV87 

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