As businesses move towards the Factory of the Future, Phoenix Contact is committed to helping its customers with reliable, futureproof components, systems and solutions to create interconnected businesses. In this regard, two key aspects of its strategy are ensuring CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) conformance for its CC-Link IE compatible network devices and understanding the potential of innovations such as time-sensitive networking (TSN) technology.
According to John Browett, General Manager CLPA-Europe, addressing the communications and connectivity needs of Industry 4.0, such as openness and interconnectivity, is a key consideration for Phoenix Contact, a global market leader and innovator in the field of electrical engineering and automation. This is why the company chooses to rely on the widely adopted open Industrial Ethernet technology CC-Link IE.
Phoenix Contact is developing and delivering CC-Link IE compatible network devices, systems and solutions to support the smart factory of the future.
Jan Aulenberg, Product Manager – Industrial Network Technology at Phoenix Contact, comments further: “The biggest advantage of CC-Link IE is that it is based on the Industrial Ethernet technology standard that is accepted worldwide, so this solution can be used universally. In addition, the CLPA offers detailed information about CC-Link IE networks and certified products on its website.”
Leveraging this opportunity, Phoenix Contact is developing CC-Link IE compatible devices and submitting its CC-link IE products for CLPA conformance testing. “Since CC-Link IE products can be tested and certified, we can ensure that these will fulfil the requirements of any CC-Link IE system,” says Aulenberg.
Network switches are particularly important to ensure connectivity for automation components, so it is advantageous for Phoenix Contact to ensure CLPA conformance for its CC-Link IE network switches. The recently certified FL SWITCH 2000 family of managed switches is a range of intelligent systems designed to maximise flexibility, robustness and stability in industrial automation networks. Aulenberg says, “First, we certified three FL SWITCH 2000 switches with up to eight ports according to CLPA specifications. Now we are planning for our switches with up to 16 ports and fibre ports to undergo CLPA conformance testing.”
Looking to future developments and innovative technologies for its products, Phoenix Contact believes TSN will be one of them. Aulenberg notes, “TSN is so important because – together with other big digital communications innovations, like 5G or 2-wire Ethernet – it will have a big impact on the automation systems of the future. With them, it will be possible to set up a system that will outperform today’s systems.
“TSN is intended to bring real-time capabilities into standard Ethernet. The main advantages are time synchronisation opportunities and the prioritisation of time-critical data traffic.”
These two elements are the foundation of CLPA’s latest open Industrial Ethernet technology, CC-Link IE TSN. This implements the IEEE 802.1 TSN standards on precision clock synchronisation and scheduled traffic to deliver a key tool for smart manufacturing.
For Phoenix Contact, as a technology leader with more than 30 years’ experience in the field of industrial communications technology, TSN will also be an important future technology. “We are involved in all the relevant working groups and standardisation committees to develop TSN solutions to continue benefitting our customers,” Aulenberg adds.