Switched on to analogue, fieldbus and Ethernet

27 September 2011

The launch of MTL’s 9200 series of Industrial Ethernet switches continues to build on the company’s broad networking offering including the Tofino Network Security solution, the 9400 series of Intrinsically Safe Ethernet and a range of wireless solutions.

Commenting on the release, Roger Highton, Industrial Network’s technical manager told CEE: “When I joined MTL, 4-20mA analogue signalling was at the core of the process plant. However, over the last 10 years fieldbus has emerged as the standard technology for process control and we are now seeing Ethernet emerging from the control room and moving into the harsh and hazardous environment of the process plant.”
On a recent project, the company supplied Ethernet switches for an oil and gas well Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) network in the Middle East. The extended temperature range, together with the very low power dissipation, is said to make the 9200 series ideal for these harsh environment applications, while the redundant ring architecture delivers high availability with rapid recovery for the key control data. With increasing use of Voice over IP and video surveillance, Gigabit support for two redundant ring ports and the uplink port provides sufficient bandwidth for current and anticipated future requirements. Additionally, the product range supports multiple fibre ports providing high immunity to electrical noise and supporting distances of up to 120km.

Considering hazardous areas
In many process industry applications, networking components need to be installed in areas where hazardous gas may be present. All the 9200 series DIN rail/panel mount versions are ATEX certified for mounting in Zone 2 hazardous areas and UL approved for mounting in Class I Division 2 hazardous locations. Additionally, the 9400 series provides intrinsically safe Ethernet connectivity for installation in Zone 1 and Division 1 hazardous areas, where there is a high risk of an explosive gas being present.

When installing Ethernet components in harsh and hazardous areas a suitable weatherproof enclosure and cable glands need to be selected. As part of Cooper Industries, MTL is able to deliver a complete solution using Cooper Crouse-Hinds enclosures and Cooper Capri glands with the necessary certifying authority and end user approvals.

The 9200 series Ethernet Managed switches all support Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) allowing integration into network management software. In addition, MTL managed Ethernet switches also provide switch, port, power feed and redundant ring status as a Modbus TCP device. This approach can often be more easily and cost-effectively integrated by control engineers into automation and SCADA applications to provide network status in operator and maintenance screens.

Multicast communication is widely used in automation protocols such as in Ethernet/IP and video surveillance applications. This requires Ethernet managed switches to select active Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) snooping to prevent communication bandwidth issues. The MTL product range provides active IGMP filtering by default, simplifying configuration as these switches can be used to ‘plug and play’ multicast applications.
MTL has been providing high quality technical support to the process industries for over 40 years and supporting Ethernet connectivity for over 10. Its aim is to reduce the risk to the end user of installing and operating Ethernet networks in process applications. Having assisted end users, engineering contractors and automation suppliers with the migration from analogue to fieldbus the company is now looking forward to supporting the migration to wired and wireless Ethernet across the process plant.

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