|Future manufacturing networks will combine time-tested industrial automation systems running fieldbus protocols with sophisticated enterprise-level business IT systems that run on Ethernet. Of the many fieldbus and Ethernet protocols currently used in automation networks, PROFIBUS and PROFINET are notable for being maintained by the same standards authority. Consequently, PROFIBUS/PROFINET proxies are a convenient way to bridge between fieldbus and Ethernet gateways. |
Simply installing a proxy may be enough to establish communications between the two networks, but a communications link is not the same thing as true integration. To be truly integrated, this combined field level and management level must both be able to use the same advanced IT tools that are used to manage office environments. IT engineers rely on management technologies to optimize the performance of their IT networks, and the true benefit of systems integration will only be achieved when these same management functions can be used to optimize the industrial field level automation devices. The conclusion is clear: beyond simply establishing communications, the proxy must also provide the essential management tools that will truly optimize the integrated network.
The Typical Integration Solution
When using PROFIBUS and PROFINET, the first step to fieldbus/Ethernet integration is a proxy. A proxy integrates intelligent devices in the field layer with the information layer of the network, such as the SCADA and HMI system. In effect, the proxy works as a translation agent—it is a PROFIBUS master in the device network, and a PROFINET I/O slave in the PROFINET network, and transfers data between the two networks, as illustrated below.
The Industrial Network of the Future: Integration of Automation and IT
System Logs for Regular Analysis ： In any network, the top priority is system reliability. Any network issues will cause substantial losses. Just like any complex system, the best way to maintain network health is to conduct regular check-ups. A proxy that records an event log will record all system issues for later review, so any potential problem areas can be resolved. For example, the proxy might record login failures that suggest attempts at unauthorized access, or IP conflicts that represent incorrect new device configuration. With a proxy event log, the network operator has the tool to identify these potential problems on the automation network.
Must-Have Tool #1: System Logs
Must-Have Tool #2: Alarm Notifications
Must-Have Tool #3: Web Console
Moxa's gateway solutions include PROFIBUS/PROINET gateways that come with complete toolboxes to give network operators everything they need to successfully and conveniently manage their integrated networks:
System logs for regular analysis ： Moxa's gateways keep detailed event logs that record all system or communication issues.
Alarm notification for instant notification： Moxa's gateways leverage IT technology to send e-mails and trigger relay alarms in response to emergency events.
Web console access to proxy ： Moxa's gateways include powerful yet convenient web consoles that come complete with data import/export, log recording capabilities, and HTTPS/SSH security.
For further information on how industrial Ethernet gateways can optimize your industrial network integration, visit
3 Must-Have Tools for PROFIBUS/PROFINET Automation Networks [icnweb]
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