Device testing & time-sensitive networking in the IIoT

There is a need for the assurance of interoperability at this larger scale.

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Test plans give organizations a roadmap that guides them to develop TSN and IoT-ready products. Based on industry-accepted requirements for TSN network interoperability, test plans for conformance from organizations like Avnu Alliance help to ensure interoperability at the network layer. Starting with Time Synchronization (or 802.1AS) as the foundation for all TSN devices, Avnu released the first set of test plans in 2017 and continues to work on extending these plans to other TSN standards. The goal is to develop baseline test plans for the industrial market which ensure that end devices, infrastructure components and silicon conform to the relevant IEEE and IEC standards.

Organizations like Avnu leverage the above mentioned IIC testbed by evaluating the developed test plans and procedures early on with testbed participants and leading IIoT manufacturers. As the wide adoption of TSN has led to the emergence of other testbeds for TSN devices—including Labs Network Industrie 4.0 (LNI) and Edge Computing Consortium (ECC, in liaison with Avnu)—Avnu aims to share its test plans with more TSN testbeds as a concerted effort toward “One TSN” network.

Some organizations are even moving toward development of conformance test tools to help device manufacturers better prepare for TSN compliance. At the recent SPS-IPC Drives show in November, the University of Stuttgart ISW lab, in partnership with Avnu, demonstrated a new proof-of-concept conformance-testing tool—an automated Linux-based test tool for compliance testing of 802.1AS—to streamline conformance testing and certification of TSN devices. The test framework could interface with a variety of test equipment (from low-cost to high-performance) and provide a consistent user interface and results report that could then be utilized by end vendors as well as testbeds, test houses and protocol groups to conduct in-house conformance testing of TSN devices. This test framework reduces total testing process time and enables easier testing for vendors – both in-house and at testbeds—to provide test-result details and allow for device debugging and problem-solving before products go to market.

Application-layer testing

All of the above aim to ensure interoperability at the foundational network layer 2 with TSN.  Many organizations, such as OPC Foundation and the various fieldbus organizations, have developed application-layer protocols, which are well suited to work on top of TSN. OPC UA over TSN, supported by the OPC Foundation, is a prominent example and Avnu Alliance intends to make its TSN test plans available to application-layer protocol organizations that wish to test their protocols on top of TSN. The goal is to offer device manufacturers a one-stop-shop for certification of the entire stack and to impose no restrictions on the choice of test houses.

Together, this work across the industry and among various standards groups, protocol organizations and industry leaders will create a faster process toward an open, interoperable ecosystem of devices that take advantage of Time Sensitive Networking’s full benefits. Organizations like Avnu Alliance build upon the work of these standardization bodies and ensure that all ecosystem players implement TSN in an interoperable manner by providing conformance test plans and test procedures.


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