Legacy Networks Never Die
The 1990s saw the demise of proprietary industrial networks and the emergence of open communication systems. Users embraced this new age of open networks, but now it’s time to integrate those old networks into newer communication platforms, most of which are Ethernet–based. Sometimes, integration can be done by just upgrading the PLC to a newer version. On the other hand, as one company reports, they spent more time making their new control panel communicate with a 1980s–era legacy network than they did writing the control code for the entire system. The pressure to integrate the plant floor with IT is one of the major reasons why manufacturers are searching for ways to connect to their legacy networks and extract data. But it isn’t always easy. Read more »
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Hardware Rules, Software Drools
Industrial networking hardware is just like clerks and technical coordinators. At first, it looks like it’s not doing anything important, except for a few blocking indicators. But the basic platform and infrastructure it provides makes all of the world’s essential control and automation applications possible. Without networking hardware, all of software’s invisible ones and zeros would be lying around on chips – truly doing nothing. Hardware is still the pathway that brings them into a useful existence. Likewise, point–to–point, 4–20 mA cable and connectors have evolved and sometimes been replaced by twisted–pair fieldbuses and wireless components.
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Connectors in Unexpected Settings
Just when you think there’s probably not much happening with basic networking hardware, somebody starts a veritable Renaissance in connectors and cordsets to serve new and growing groups of data–hungry applications. "The biggest change for us in connectors is that they’re showing up in so many applications outside of factory automation," says Loreen Katz, product marketing manager for Phoenix Contact’s PlusCon industrial plug connectors.
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