Testbed Pushes Forward on Time-Sensitive Networking: Page 2 of 2

Driven by an overarching goal of interoperability for machine and automation control components, one of the biggest trends in automation and control for 2017 is the emergence of Time-Sensitive Networking technology.

together and “interoperate” using standard Ethernet networks.

Testbed lead, Paul Didier of Cisco, states that standard Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)-based equipment can plug into an Ethernet system using TSN.

“Absolutely. It’s a key requirement to be backward compatible. That’s the whole point, it’s the next version of Internet technologies – Ethernet in particular. You can plug in any device and conventional communication will still work and it will co-exist with this critical automation and control traffic that we’ll have going on. That is the key: we are converging this critical control traffic onto a network that is used by a video camera, Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone, or any other TCP/UDP (User Datagram Protocol) device that you may find in the manufacturing facility. It is by no means required to be a TSN device to connect, but clearly the devices that are TSN capable will benefit from more deterministic service.”

The testbed team decided from the beginning this would not be a short-term project and simple provide a proof of concept. A fixed location for the testbed has established at National Instruments in Austin, Texas, named the NI Industrial IoT Lab, to provide a permanent home for the collaboration.

Specifically, the testbed is looking to influence two Ethernet standards: IEEE 802.1 and IEEE 802.3. All TSN testbed work is filtered to Avnu, a standards organization developing the interoperability and certification based on IEEE’s TSN. And through Avnu, it is channeled back into IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

The initial goal of the testbed team is getting the base technology working and interoperable, but the next step will be development of application protocols. The group reports that one surprise is that the testbed could scale rather quickly because of the size and breadth of the growing IIC ecosystem.

Within the next year, there is anticipation that the first standard control products using TSN will be in the marketplace, although the actual timeline is unknown at this point. The potential of the technology, especially as it serves along with OPC UA as growing standards influencing IIoT and Industrie 4.0 solutions, is continuing to generate a very broad range of industry support even though first products are still not yet released.

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