Smart Factories FEATURE NEWS

Is It Time for Real Time IoT?

By Cynthia S. Artin May 01, 2018

The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) shared last week the results of their Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) Testbed for Flexible Manufacturing. The testbed hosted its 10th plugfest in an 18-month timeframe at the Bosch Rexroth facility in Erbach near Frankfurt, Germany and brought together existing and first-time participants to test devices with a range of TSN capabilities utilizing the recently released OPC UC Pub/Sub protocol. 

Twenty companies participated including chipmakers, network infrastructure and end-device vendors, and testing tool vendors, many whom are competitors. The IIC has been extremely successful at roping in hundreds of tech companies across the industrial IoT (IIoT) spectrum, and the popularity of this particular test bed is another leading indicator that real time, or near-real time capabilities in the world of connected things is the wave of the future.

TSN is a deterministic enhancement to Ethernet and a foundational piece of IIoT that enables Ethernet to be used for real-time manufacturing automation and control applications.

“The plugfests bring many vendors together with the goal ensuring that their equipment functions in real time and supports the new TSN capabilities,” said Paul Didier. “The participation is testimony to the value TSN brings to bring real-time control and automation in manufacturing environments.”

After two intense years, the IIC says the “Testbed has advanced its goal of achieving real-time control and synchronization of high-performance machines over a single, standard Ethernet network through vetting technical standards and testing interoperability among vendors. “

The synchronicity of the IIoT means more control, automation and therefore value creation opportunities, leveraging three capabilities (across vendors) in particular: time synchronization (IEEE 802.1AS), scheduled traffic flows (IEEE 802.1Qbv) and frame pre-emption (IEEE 802.1Qbu).

Progress includes:

  • Demonstrators with equipment from more than 15 companies performing real-time control automation functions over standard Ethernet network infrastructure supporting the new TSN capabilities;
  • A permanent TSN interoperability rack in Austin with end-devices, network infrastructure and testing equipment for on-going and in-between testing of TSN capabilities by members; and
  • An interoperable diagnostic data application based on the recently finalized OPC UA specification for Publish-Subscribe (Pub/Sub) so devices can communicate key TSN-related status information.

The IIC also announced the publication of its TSN for Flexible Manufacturing Testbed Characteristics of Converged Traffic Types whitepaper

These latest results will be demonstrated at Hannover Messe (HMI) 2018 in the IIC booth (Hall 8, Booth C24) and in the booths of testbed participants this week.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Contributing Writer

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