How important is your plant network to your overall operations? Industrial networks are the centerpiece of your entire facility. Your people, machines, and processes are only as good as the network they’re operating on. When it’s correctly designed and configured, you’re operating at peak efficiency and profitability. When it’s not, your entire operation is at risk.
Industry 4.0 is transforming the way manufacturers run their business. Today’s industrial operations rely heavily on data being pulled out of the manufacturing process and used to critique how the product is being produced and identify opportunities for improvement. As more process data is collected, manufacturers are exhausting their existing plant network bandwidth on their core links. Any network instability is going to be exploited with a heavier network traffic load and the network design, reliability, and bandwidth weaknesses will be exposed pretty quickly. For these reasons, manufacturers need to take steps to ensure their network is as reliable and predictable as possible.
There’s a lot at stake with your plant network, but you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll explain why industrial networks require special attention and how Agilix Solutions works closely with you to ensure your network is set up to perform and deliver to your high standards.
Unique Characteristics of Industrial Networks
Every network is unique, of course. But there are some common features of industrial networks that require extra attention and oversight:
- Plant networks have their own network design guides to help network engineers construct and configure them. Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE) is the design guide co-authored by Cisco, Rockwell Automation and Panduit, and is generally regarded as an industry standard. There are a wide variety of design guide focuses that discuss the many aspects of a plant network. Each design guide also includes a whitepaper that gives practical feedback on the use each particular design guide focus.
- Industrial environments can be harsh. It’s critical that industrial-grade switches and network components are utilized in a plant network to ensure they can stand up to variable temperatures and environmental conditions.
- Network reliability in an industrial network is of the utmost importance. Downtime is more than a minor inconvenience- it’s time and money wasted. You need to know you can count on your industrial network to perform consistently.
- Finally, plant traffic is unique in that it uses protocols specific to plant communication functions, such as the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) or PROFINET.
Plant Network Services from Agilix Solutions and Rockwell Automation
Agilix Solutions, in partnership with Rockwell Automation, is your connection to industrial network expertise. We offer a variety of services detailed below to ensure your network is positioned to deliver the performance you expect and require.
Rockwell Automation Machine-Level Design
The machine-level design service from Rockwell Automation is a configuration service that focuses specifically on a single configuration of equipment defined as a machine.
Rockwell Automation Network Assessment
We partner with Rockwell Automation to offer comprehensive network assessment services designed to pull together all the information you need to improve operations, firm up your network security, and plan for future growth. Our network assessments consider the health of the entire plant network.
Rockwell Automation Security Posture Survey (SPS)
A Security Posture Survey looks at the traffic associated with your network during a specific and defined time period to analyze all data being transferred and identify any vulnerabilities. You receive a thorough report of risks to address, as determined by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Network Discovery Service
Network Discovery is a service from Agilix Solutions designed to provide a clear overview of your existing network. Our team creates a thorough picture of every element on your plant network to determine the configurations and identify any communication pain points that are impacting network performance.
Our mockup services consist of our team preconfiguring all your network switches in advance to operate when added to your plant. Configuration happens in our facility and allows for you to see it before deployment to run fail over tests and ensure it meets your standards and needs.
Non-Industrial Network Services
Through our sister company, Applied Technologies, we are also able to offer a variety of network services on non-industrial networks. Applied Technologies is a team of security, safety, and mobility experts that bring expertise in Wi-Fi, camera deployment, access control, RFID and any parts of your plant network not associated with production. Learn more about Applied Technologies services at www.appliedtech.pro.
Are you ready to partner with a company as committed to your industrial network performance as you are? Contact your Account Manager or visit our website to learn more and reach out to put the power of Agilix Solutions’ industrial network services to work for you.