A farewell to HSE? P+F launches Ethernet remote I/O

03 May 2009

The process industry looks to integrate production applications with business systems, so manufacturers are increasingly turning to industrial Ethernet. It can deliver a cost effective, flexible and future-proof network architecture. Bus technology now makes use of proven equipment by just adding an Ethernet gateway.

Remote I/O with Ethernet gateway
Remote I/O with Ethernet gateway

Industrial Ethernet adds a new dimension to Remote I/O interfaces which connect all kinds of intrinsically safe inputs and outputs to process control systems in the chemical, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical industries as well as the oil and gas sector. The benefits lie not only in the plant wide use of proven Ethernet technology but also in the simplicity with which the slaves can be integrated into the DCS and PLC environments.


There was hope that HSE (High Speed Ethernet) would become the industry standard with Foundation Fieldbus protocols on Ethernet becoming the norm. Unfortunately not all Distributed Control System (DCS) vendors have as yet subscribed to this format with the specification for HSE Remote I/O still under development.

Yet Ethernet is widely used in the industry and is now finding its way into process instrumentation. Green field sites and even more so legacy plants make extensive use of Remote I/O. In the past the communication path was based on the field proven RS485 hardware using Profibus or Modbus protocols. Now industrial Ethernet is moving forward.

Therefore it makes sense to employ Remote I/O and the well established Modbus TCP protocol supported by all major DCS vendors.


Ethernet Remote I/O can be regarded as any other Ethernet device. It uses Ex e bus connections in Zone 1 or “Ex nA” in Zone 2 for explosion protection in the same way as the traditional RS-485 Profibus.
The field loops are completely isolated and segregated from the Ethernet. Therefore any work carried out on the field loops will not have any adverse effect on neighbouring devices nor the bus.


The integration of the Ethernet Remote I/O into suitable host DCS systems is accomplished by the well established FDT technology (field device tool) and certified DTMs (device type manager). It thus arrives at an easy to use configuration tool which is part of the DCS environment just as any other DTM device.

At Interkama 2009, Pepperl+Fuchs was showing their remote I/O system with a gateway for Ethernet (the module at the far left in the photo).

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