Process and control today | Integrating Time Sensitive Networking into your architecture is what you need

Small and medium-sized businesses looking to embark on digital transformation projects may fear that large-scale investments will be required to implement all key technologies. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Successful digitalization requires companies to proceed in stages, selecting enabling network technology where it makes sense and prioritizing areas that can benefit most from optimization.

Mariana Alvarado, Marketing Specialist at CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA – Mexico), examines how easy it is to create future-proof connected factories and the benefits they bring.

When it comes to discussions of the connected industries of the future, a number of buzzwords are usually included, making it seem like an endless number of high-tech devices are needed to make factories smart. However, at the heart of most digital transformation journeys is an open, high-speed industrial network architecture. Indeed, future-ready operations need the right flow of data to connect different parties and actors within a business to generate actionable data-driven insights and offer advanced control.

Getting every asset to communicate with the business is the ultimate goal, at least in theory. However, in practice, this may seem impractical, due to the time and cost involved as well as company-specific cybersecurity protocols. In most cases, it is advisable to “start small”, focusing on improving the connectivity of a machine or process that can deliver a rapid return on investment (ROI).

An example could be to provide remote access to a machine in the workshop, allowing operators to monitor or control different elements. For example, cameras and other internal sensors, not just the controller, can be installed and connected to receive notifications of anomalies and interact with assets to maximize uptime, productivity and efficiency. Once this project has been successfully completed, it is then possible to move on to the next area, identifying where more value could be added to a process.

Join the dots

This approach is therefore ideal for small and medium-sized businesses, as it offers a sustainable path to foster continuous improvement and competitiveness in a rapidly changing market. When implementing a phased strategy, it is fundamental to select suitable solutions that support it by offering the required level of flexibility and scalability. Specifically, it is critical to specify a network technology for future machines that can support small- and large-scale interoperability and interconnectivity.

One popular technology is Time Sensitive Networking (TSN). This choice is highly recommended when embarking on a digital transformation journey and modernizing your machine architecture. By doing so, businesses can ensure that they will be able to support information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) communications on the same network while delivering reliable and unparalleled performance in about data sharing. This means that they will be able to smoothly integrate any asset they want at any stage of their digitization.

As the first commercially available Open Industrial Ethernet to combine gigabit bandwidth with TSN and offering a wide and expanding range of compatible products, CC-Link IE TSN is ideal. This solution is a future-proof platform for industrial communications that can help companies create connected factories. As an open technology, it offers maximum compatibility and interoperability, so that devices, machines or lines can be connected to each other, regardless of their provider. This capability further optimizes flexibility and cost for small and medium businesses.

By specifying CC-Link IE TSN for future-proof operations, enterprises can ensure that they are using the most appropriate backbone to support any application related to connected industries, such as remote control, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and digital twins. Indeed, they can benefit from a huge leap forward in achieving intelligent operations where data-driven insights are used to improve productivity, efficiency, flexibility and responsiveness. More so, companies can do this in a phased approach by making targeted investments in terms of cost, time and resources while significantly improving their competitiveness.

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