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The Two Major Decisions Determining the Success of Your Industrial Network

Industrial Network Design

It’s been said that hope is not a strategy, and that’s a perfect phrase to live by when designing an industrial network. High-performing industrial networks don’t happen by accident.

Our previous article and video in the Operational Network Effectiveness (ONE) series laid out the critical differences between industrial and enterprise networks. In this second installment, Agilix Solutions Industrial Network Specialist Ted Davis covers the two most important decisions your organization can make when planning your industrial network that will set you on the path toward success and productivity.

Decision Point #1:  Form Follows Function in Industrial Network Design

How well do you know the process you’re aiming to support with your industrial network? Before you can begin to select components or lay our network architecture, it’s important to clearly define and deeply understand the process to ensure the network can accommodate the communications required between the machines and operators as the product flows through the plant. This means knowing the timing of the process, defining the various steps along the way toward becoming a whole product ready to ship, and identifying the motors, drives, and other constraints that exist along that journey. All of this comes together to help you develop the right network for the job to be done.

The easiest way to explain this decision point is the phrase “form follows function.” You must understand the function of the process so that you can create the form of the network to accommodate the communications required as the product travels through the plant.

Decision Point #2: Committing to a Consistent IP Address Scheme

Despite being one of the most important considerations, this is also one that is often overlooked, until there are problems. Once the network is functional, you want it to meet the following four characteristics:

  • Reliable
  • Scalable
  • Easy to maintain
  • Able to communicate securely

Industrial Network Design - IP Address SchemeModeling these four traits for the long-term is dependent on creating a network that is easy to troubleshoot, maintain, and observe so any changing network condition can quickly be addressed and don’t affect plant performance. The skillsets of the people charged with maintaining your network will vary along the entire network lifecycle. That’s where your IP address scheme comes into play.

A simple, well-defined, consistent IP address scheme will make your network easier to assess, secure, and maintain for the long haul. The time you invest in the beginning will pay dividends for the long haul.

Are You Prepared to Build an Effective Industrial Network?

Industrial automation is rapidly evolving. It can be tempting to take short cuts in the beginning so you can more quickly arrive at the exciting part where you’re realizing the fruits of your investment. As Ted’s detailed here, the decisions you make up front can set you up for success or failure before you even begin. It’s important to make them correctly and with well-informed insight.

Agilix Solutions Operational Network Effectiveness logoAgilix ONE (OT Network Effectiveness) is a service to help you take the right first steps toward designing and implementing the most effective network solutions and architecture for your operations. Reach out to your account manager today to set up a consultation and put the expertise of Ted and his team to work for your industrial network.