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CABLES & CONNECTORS INDUSTRIAL COMMUNICATION – Enabling Technology for Smart Factories

Sep 20, 2021

In the manufacturing industry, as technology turns all the more integrated, so does the importance of cables. Demands are already shifting in terms of cabling & connection technology and data rates are going up. In this backdrop, Publish Industry India, along with Lapp GmbH, organised a webinar on ‘Industrial communication – Enabling technology for smart factories’. The webinar discussed how industrial Ethernet is replacing fieldbuses more & more, and being the standard in factories today and how physical network components like cables & connectors are coming more in focus with the introduction of industrial Ethernet.

At the core of smart factory is the merging of physical and digital worlds, alongside the emergence of a vast and rapidly expanding network of smart machines – in which every digital device has the potential to serve as a point for interconnection and informational exchange. All of these are made possible largely by hard-wired cable connections that are capable of transmitting zillions of bytes of data.

This offers enormous opportunities – but also huge challenges – for the industrial and manufacturing sectors. When it comes to cabling and connection technology, demands are already changing, data rates are climbing, and network cables aren’t just connecting machinery but are laid with intelligent sensors: millions and millions of them. In this context, Publish Industry India, along with Lapp GmbH, recently organised a webinar on ‘Industrial Communication – Enabling technology for smart factories’ that discussed the need of availability of data for smart factories & Industry 4.0, how Industrial Communication (IC) technologies have changed during the past decades and how, today, IC needs to integrate IT and OT networks.

Communication is key

The webinar started with a technology presentation on ‘Industrial communication – Enabling technology for smart factories’, by Ralf Moebus, Head - Product Management, Industrial Communication, Lapp GmbH. Moebus gave an insight into trends in industrial communication and what it means for LAPP and the users of such technologies. He threw light on LAPP’s eight brands – control cables, Ethernet systems, fieldbus systems, fibre optics, connectors, cable glands, cable marking and cable protection.

Diving deeper into the global trends of Internet of Things, he said, “IoT has many names – smart factory, Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, etc. But these all have something in common and that’s communication. Without communication, a factory will not be smart, we won’t get the data out of the factory that we need to analyse and process. So, communication is key for everything.”

OPC/UA enabling technology for seamless communication

Throwing light on the Indian market, Moebus informed that the share of industrial IoT is $4.95 bn in India and manufacturing has a share of 18% from that total market of IoT. He also spoke about the four major trends in industrial communication, which include seamless communication, zero downtime, security & IIoT. He further explained the benefits of Industrial Ethernet, from increased network size to benefit from IT innovations. Going on, he asserted how OPC/UA is an enabling technology for seamless communication. Moebus cited that OPC/UA has rapidly grown in the past years and also threw light on its new developments, like PubSub. Plus, he divulged its advantages, like high level of security and it being supported by many industrial device manufacturers.

He further spoke about the launching of a new technology – Time Sensitive Network (TSN) – which is a really standardised, real-time protocol. “TSN offers functions for quality of service, for instance bandwidth reservation,” he put across and went on, “It also offers synchronisation between different network devices, very low latency times & seamless redundancy.”

Security – Important for productivity

Moving on to security, Moebus further added how security is an important factor to ensure productivity & how seamless communication needs secure structures. Speaking about solutions for the factory, he said, “Industrial NAT Firewall is one great solution to integrate easier security concept on the plant level or machine level. Plus, it is very easy to set up. We also recommend using Managed Industrial Ethernet Switches because they allow for structuring the network.”

He went on to speak about a new upcoming technology – Single Pair Ethernet. “This is what we call downsizing, which means it is now possible with a new physical layer to install industrial Ethernet with only two cores for up to one gigabit data rate,” Moebus mentioned. Another upcoming solution he talked about was Single Pair Ethernet. The typical applications for Single Pair Ethernet consist of being used for connecting two sensors, for a PLC communication in the cabinet, etc. Moebus also highlighted the first products LAPP is offering for Single Pair Ethernet and its solution for predictive maintenance – ETHERLINE® GUARD. He eventually threw light on solutions for industrial communication from LAPP.

Digital maturity

Up next, Nitin Kalothia, Advisor, Kaizen Hansei LLP & Partner, Patona Advisory, gave a presentation on ‘Enabling technology for smart factory’ where he talked about some of the digital themes – what are the evolving digital themes, how it is really impacting manufacturing & how manufacturing companies are leveraging that and more. He explained that the digital maturity moves from disconnected factory to integration to automating processes to how to become more intelligent as an organisation to autonomous factory. “In each of these stages, the accuracy of data is very important,” Kalothia mentioned.

He also highlighted different digital themes, from digital safety to digital worker. He further informed why automation & integration become very relevant. The webinar informed the audience plainly about how the reliability of data is very important, how seamless communication needs secure structures and threw light on the IoT market in India.

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