11 January 2017
industrial automation

About Managed Industrial Ethernet Switches

Managed industrial Ethernet switches are increasing their presence in the industrial communication market due to their network prioritization capabilities and due to the increase in the highly critical process applications. The functionality of an Ethernet switch is defined by IEEE 802.1D, which describes the architecture and the set of functions distributed throughout this architecture. In addition to the handling of user data communication, these switches also provide a set of network management-related functionality.

“One trend in market is introduction of cyber-secure managed industrial Ethernet switches. At present, industrial networks require the highest level of security to thwart cyber-terrorists, malicious employees, and Internet hackers from accessing and destroying sensitive and sometimes, critical network operations. Managed industrial Ethernet switches now offer many security features, including port-based and VLAN-based access control lists (ACL) where a network administrator defines which MAC or IP addresses can access the ports of the switch. Additionally, a MAC address filtering function prevents the forwarding of any packets if the MAC address matches one listed in the filter. In some cases, overlapping VLANs can be used when certain resources must be shared.”

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According to the report, one driver in market is increasing preference for managed switches in IIoT solutions. Industries are focusing on developing a connected environment for easy monitoring and control and thereby, have started to implement open automation solutions in their process flow. In attaining seamless connectivity between field devices and control solutions, end-users that focus on advanced communication protocols have increased over the past years in both process and discrete industries. IIoT is the next big leap in industrial automation, where both field devices and control systems are connected to a single network for faster and accurate data transfer. IIoT facilitates complete integration between the devices and enables remote monitoring and control of process parameters.

Further, the report states that one challenge in market is issues involved in power saving mode in managed switches. Managed switches provide the advantage of low power consumption in an industrial set-up. Managed switches incorporate a power-saving mode in multiple ports to utilize power only when needed; this is the primary mechanism for reducing power consumption in a managed switch. However, in some cases, the power for non-critical ports will shut down for a longer time than required, which leads to a delay in the communication of process data to the control unit.

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