Embedded safety over Ethernet
As safety technology advances, it is increasingly popular to embed the functions in to automation equipment like variable speed drives. According to Schneider Electric, as Industrial Ethernet becomes the network of choice, then both will start to merge. Hence, the resulting integration of embedded safety over Ethernet will extend the benefits of both.
Modern industrial processes are employing ever larger, faster, and more complex machinery. While more productive, today’s machines present more challenging safety conditions and call for more sophisticated safety control. Simply shutting off the power to the machine is no longer sufficient to protect operators and machinery itself. Suddenly powering down a large, high-speed machine can present a more hazardous situation than the original safety stop condition. Responding to potentially unsafe conditions in a controlled manner has become more complex. This can result in increased cost of building and maintaining safety control systems.
Benefits of embedded safety
Networking simplifies the integration of automation and safety control into a cohesive system. The results as the operational and cost-saving advantages of a less-complex system, as well as additional benefits:
Several safety protocols are available networking discrete machine safety components. They all sit on top of industrial Ethernet variants used for networking industrial automation components. The compatibility of both the safety- and control-based protocols means that integration to a single network is quick and straightforward. As a result, analysts are expecting adoption rates to increase.
Integration allows safety and control systems to communicate, sharing data such as diagnostics, system status, alarms, events, and other information. This allows a single HMI to display safety critical events and information from various devices. This data sharing improves productivity by enabling faster restart times through minimising the time it takes to identify and troubleshoot a problem.
Embedded safety over Ethernet
Embedded safety over Ethernet simplifies safety system communications, reducing the need for multiple hardware components and their associated expense. Not only are installation and hardware costs reduced, but so is the potential for connection failures. A networked safety system provides better management and coordination of production. It does this by enabling automatic slowdown of the production line in the event of a safety issue.
Ethernet-networked embedded safety drives simplify commissioning. The network is used to send safety parameters to networked drives using standard PLC function blocks. Use of a single safety PLC streamlines the control architecture by controlling multiple parts of the production line. This streamlines the complex architecture, as a single safety PLC can be used to control multiple parts of the production line. Importantly, this makes for a simpler system and potentially improved productivity due to better synchronisation of modules.
Embedded safety over Ethernet also benefits OEMs and their end-user customers during the certification process. Safety networks can simplify validation to standards (e.g. ISO 13849). As devices are networked using a standard but robust Ethernet cable using a certified channel, the system performance is guaranteed.
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