Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) is acknowledged to represent the future of industrial Ethernet, as it sets the foundation for data-driven interconnected, smart factories, according to a statement from Moxa's Chih-Hong Lin, global technology partner manager and member of the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA).
The connected industries of the future will rely on a single, converged network, he believes, as this facilitates access to data by enabling both vertical and horizontal communications in order to share actionable insights across the entire enterprise. Ultimately, the knowledge gathered will drive productivity and competitiveness. By simplifying the architecture behind unified industrial communications, such a setup can also considerably simplify network architectures as well as maintenance activities, reducing costs.
“This vision for future-oriented data sharing, in line with Industry 4.0, is in stark contrast to legacy communications, characterized by ‘islands of automation’ where machines are mostly isolated," Chih-Hong Lin said. "This means that we currently have to rely on multiple, often semi-proprietary standards to share data within the different layers of the automation pyramid. Besides, each protocol can rarely communicate with the others, preventing the transfer of key information across the enterprise. Even more, as machines and systems expand, networks become increasingly complex to address these changes.”
Chih-Hong Lin believes that existing network technologies—even when well established—may not be able to address the needs of next-gen industries. A first, significant step to address change is the use of solutions offering large bandwidth, i.e. 1 Gbit/s. He said, “One of the reasons why systems have remained partially isolated is to avoid interference. As businesses move away from this model and enlarge their networks, they need sufficient bandwidth to guarantee that time-critical data, such as control traffic, can always be transferred in a deterministic manner. By doing so, they can support more applications and start benefitting from the gains offered by converged networks.”
The next step is to implement TSN technology, whose relevance has rapidly grown, the Moxa team stated. “When I first came across TSN, about five to six years ago, I thought it was just another technology with limited impact. But the more I learned about it, and as the standards behind TSN developed, the more I could see the game-changing role of this solution for next-level communications. It is now clear how TSN will change industrial automation and the way we currently run businesses,” Chih-Hong Lin said.
Added Thomas Burke, global strategic advisor at CLPA, “CC-Link IE TSN open-network technology is ideal to start upgrading current industrial communications. It offers a key solution to support existing automation devices will providing the key TSN functionalities necessary for future-proof applications. Businesses interested in implementing it can rely on a broad development ecosystem, which includes both hardware and software routes, as well as compatible automation components for industry leaders.”
“The North American market for TSN is booming, with an expected increase in compound annual growth rate between 43% and 54% in the coming years," said Burke. "This shows that businesses are well aware of the benefits of next-level communications and are ready to embrace TSN and the future of industrial network technology. Leveraging CC-Link IE TSN to tap into new market opportunities is a key strategic decision that can drive competitiveness now and in the years to come.”