Suppliers to the automotive industry are constantly under pressure to produce world-class products better, faster and cheaper. Improving manufacturing output is a key metric of performance, central to which is the need to keep the production line and its infrastructure fully and optimally functional with minimal interruptions due to equipment malfunctions.
Keeping the communications networks operational on these highly automated lines without interruption is an essential component of this strategy. This particular global automotive parts manufacturer (GAPM) was planning a long term strategy for its production lines and their networks.
The GAPM selected EtherNet/IP as the preferred protocol as it was found to best fit the company’s criteria of high speeds, reliable performance, industry standard (non-proprietary) accessibility, and future expansion flexibility. As an added benefit, EtherNet/IP was compatible with the firm’s existing IT infrastructure and networking standards.
To ensure continuous operation and performance, industrial-grade networking components would be required for plant floor controls networks where there is no room for interruptions or failures.
Key requirements of the GAPM included:
- Hardened products designed to tolerate and thrive in the environments of modern manufacturing plants
- Broad portfolio to allow optimal component selection in changing applications
- Full featured management suite including VLANs, IGMP Snooping at Layer 2, Rapid Spanning Tree, integrated DHCP server capabilities, SNMP management and multiple security options
- Ability to remotely reach, program and monitor the network to support overseas installations
- Easy, fast and fool-proof method of installing a replacement part to working order within minutes in the event of component failure
- Strong, global support from an established industry leader
Available in standard configurations ranging from 4 to 26 ports, with both copper and fibre ports, Gigabit and 10/100 speeds and in managed and unmanaged configurations, the RS20 managed switches offer an ideal mix of flexibility, horsepower and value for the GAPM’s requirements.
Hirschmann’s use of a common firmware in the RS20s and other product lines was also advantageous. As the networks evolved, the need for a hardened 19" rack mount switch soon emerged. Since the operating system and programming firmware in the Hirschmann Mach 100 products are the same as that in the RS20s, the addition of this rack mount switch into network SCADA panels was a smooth process with no need for additional documentation, standard procedures, or operator training when SCADA panels and the associated switches were added in select locations.
The GAPM has successfully installed dozens of Hirschmann networks in manufacturing plants throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia. By combining the Hirschmann switches with the Hirschmann patchcord products (available only with Belden’s patented Bonded Pairs technology for improved cable performance), the GAPM was able to implement standard architecture and procedures, achieving the network performance and reliability forecast and budgeted for, originally.
Hirschmann managed switches are available from Belden Australia .