ETHERNET is fast becoming the network of choice in industry due to its advantages in topologies and mediums.
Companies such as Siemens are solving previous bottlenecks, such as determinism, to provide extremely fast and robust industrial Ethernet networks with the benefits of star and tree topologies whilst being easily transferable over copper, fibre optic, and wirelessly.
Since 1999 safety related data has been used on Profibus using Profisafe, a specially designed for safety telegram structure.
In 2005 the European test body TUV approved Profisafe for use on Profinet, the Siemens industrial Ethernet to the Standards IEC 61508 SIL3 and EN954-1 Category 4 which is the direct equivalent of Australian Safety Standard AS4024-2006 Category4.
With this introduction of Profisafe on Profinet Siemens now offers a single industrial Ethernet network for automation control and safety.
Recent independent White Papers by the international body, ARC Advisory Group, discuss the trend of the major automation manufacturers towards single networks for control and safety due to the clear cost savings and simplified diagnostics, whilst maintaining the highest safety levels.
With 1.5 - 12MBaud Profibus or 100MBaud - 1GBaud Ethernet, the issues of time when combining safety and standard control on one network have been solved.
*Justin Farrell is safety systems product manager at Siemens.