New switches extend Ethernet to the field level

Paul Boughton
Harting claims to have developed a new switching technology that integrates Ethernet protocols into the Automation IT communications platform. The company says this is a key element in its aim of creating an Ethernet communications platform for the full range of applications in converging industrial networks.

The new technology, launched on 26 November at SPS/IPC/Drives 2008 in Nuremberg, Germany, brings standard Ethernet to the field level and enables time-critical automation protocols running on Ethernet to meet the requirements for real-time performance and determinism.

According to Harting, the switching technology does not alter the Ethernet message and it complies with IEEE 802.3. High-priority automation messages generated by industrial automation profiles using standard Ethernet overtake messages that are not relevant to the automation systems. This technology is built into the Ethernet switches and guarantees that the messages are delivered in time. It can be used with all IT and automation applications.

Multi-port switches support extended line topologies and star topologies, giving users the freedom to choose the optimum topology for their application.

By extending the concept of the Automation IT platform down to the field level, Harting expects the new technology to have a significant influence on the use of Ethernet in industrial applications.

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