ODVA announces enhancements to expand application coverage and improve ease of use

13 December 2010

At the recent SPS event in Nuremberg, ODVA announced that it will be publishing new editions of the specifications for ODVA networks, updating the EtherNet/IP, DeviceNet, CompoNet and ControlNet technologies, and the CIP Safety extension to the EtherNet/IP and DeviceNet networks.

The development of these technologies is designed to help end users to best utilize fully their networks for a growing range of industrial applications.

Of the 44 specific enhancements to these technologies, ODVA's addition of QuickConnect(and IP Address Conflict Detection to The EtherNet/IP Specification will be of significant interest to end users.

Since 2006, when USCAR, the umbrella organization for collaborative research among Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company, announced its intention to promote plant floor standardization on EtherNet/IP, it has become increasingly adopted as an automotive industry standard by both automotive manufacturers and tier one suppliers, particularly in North America.

Initially used to connect robots, HMIs and programmable controllers, EtherNet/IP is now being applied in a wider range of real-time control applications in the automotive industry, such as weld timers, drives and I/O modules.

Because of the benefits realized by the automotive industry in these control applications, the industry looked to ODVA and its members for new features to take EtherNet/IP into the robot arm and onto tool changers, where devices must power up and exchange I/O data with the controller with minimal interruption of production.

ODVA's Automotive Special Interest Group (Auto SIG) - drawn from leading controller, robot, tool changer, and on-tool device manufacturers - defined a new, easily deployable timing sequence to connect devices within 500 milliseconds using EtherNet/IP. Officially called ‘QuickConnect’ ODVA expects to see the first deployments in automotive applications within the next 6 to 9 months, and due to the flexibility of the specification, also expects to see Quick Connect becoming deployed in multiple industries.

For tool changer applications, DeviceNet with QuickConnect has been used for several years. With QuickConnect now available on EtherNet/IP, automotive users will be able use a single EtherNet/IP network when QuickConnect is needed which will simplify deployment, commissioning, maintainability."

Recognizing that users continue to enlarge the size of their EtherNet/IP systems - both in terms of number of devices and physical footprint of the installation - ODVA has also introduced a new service for EtherNet/IP networks called Address Conflict Detection (ACD). This feature will improve ease of use for EtherNet/IP users as the trend toward larger systems has made it easier to have system problems resulting from the accidental introduction of devices with duplicate Internet Protocol addresses (IP addresses).

ACD will enable EtherNet/IP devices to detect and act upon IPv4 address conflicts, including defending their IP address and providing diagnostics to identify that a conflict has occurred and which devices are involved. ADR helps to solve the historically difficult and time consuming problem of identifying and resolving communication problems caused by IP address conflicts to ensure the consistent behavior of devices in such circumstances. Further, users, who may have been further frustrated by the lack of standards for detecting IP address conflicts, will be pleased to know that ACD conforms to the IETF RFC 5227

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