Visiting the industrial disassembly of industrial communication in Industry 4.0, the factory that will "talk"


Industrial communication is the core of Industry 4.0 and the core of automation systems. Industrial communication can be easily divided into four levels: horizontal communication within the automation system, vertical communication with the underlying field sensing and data acquisition layer and the upper enterprise management system, communication network based on open standards and unified protocols, mobile technology and Virtualization.

a factory that "talks"

Take a factory that manufactures cars as an example to see how industrial communications can help factories “talk”.

(1) In the welding shop, the mechanical arm is the body welding top cover. When the two arms are secured to the top cover, they can "tell" the companion through the IE switch and cable: laser welding can begin. In addition, the installation of glass, saddles and doors can also be used to achieve "conversation" in this way. (2) Mobile devices in the factory, especially rotating devices, are not suitable for wired communication, and industrial wireless Wi-Fi can solve this problem. In the assembly shop, after the spreader grips the body to the designated position, the track "notifies" the spreader through the industrial wireless switch: it can now be lowered and connected to the chassis. (3) Through the label and reader, RFID enables the robotic arm to recognize different types of bodywork, and install different doors for it, making "mixed line production" possible. (4) At the Beijing factory, a robotic arm sends a signal that requires maintenance. Engineers at home in Shanghai received notifications through the services of telecom operators. The computer is connected to the controller to activate the optical bypass relay to “shield” the robot arm that needs maintenance, so that the communication of other robot arms is not affected.

It can be seen from the above cases that industrial wired communication, short-range wireless communication, radio frequency identification, and remote wireless communication are communication means that industrial applications often use at the same time, and these communication methods have many different standards, and the complexity thereof. It can be seen.

Fieldbus and Industrial Ethernet

Reliable, real-time, error-free network connectivity is required in areas such as factory automation controllers, industrial drives, grid management, healthcare facilities, and transportation systems. These applications can use either the traditional fieldbus protocol or the new Industrial Ethernet protocol.


Fieldbus is an industrial data bus that is the underlying data communication network in the field of automation. In April 2003, the third edition of the IEC61158 Ed.3 fieldbus standard officially became an international standard, specifying 10 types of fieldbus. Traditional fieldbus protocols include PROFIBUS, DeviceNet, CAN, InterBus, and FOUNDATION fieldbus.

In industrial applications, low-speed fieldbus for maintenance often uses RS-485; process processing typically uses a fast fieldbus such as CAN. The CAN bus is very simple and reliable, and can do a lot of things; the PROFIBUS rate is high, but the complexity is also high, taking up a lot of CPU resources.

Industrial Ethernet

The vertical integration of the management execution system with the plant equipment enables the fusion of the Ethernet TCP/IP protocol with the industrial fieldbus. A variety of industrial Ethernet protocols have emerged, including PROFINET, EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP/IP, EtherCAT, Powerlink and SERCOS III.

IMS and ARC research indicates that approximately three-quarters of Industrial Ethernet uses Ethernet/IP, PROFINET or Modbus/TCP; followed by Powerlink and EtherCAT, which are particularly suitable for hard real-time requirements; for SERCOSIII, despite its market The share is relatively small, but it plays a very important role in the field of high-speed motion control. Each protocol corresponds to a specific set of requirements, so the requirements for the hardware platform will be different.

Most industrial Ethernet automation systems do not require a PLC cycle time of less than a few milliseconds. For these applications, the Industrial Ethernet protocol can be implemented cost-effectively in the software of a microcontroller that integrates standard Ethernet MAC peripherals. Since the flash memory required for these applications is moderately sized, protocols such as Modbus TCP can be implemented in the microcontroller.

High motion and short delay times are critical in motion control applications. Protocols such as Profinet IRT or Ethercat meet these requirements and are suitable for systems with sub-millisecond PLC time. In this case, a specific ASSP or FPGA solution must be used.

Recommended IC:

The Texas Instruments Sitara AM437x ARM processor, for the first time ever, can be combined with quad-core programmable real-time units (PRUs) to handle two industrial protocols. (Click to watch the training video

Renesas Electronics R-IN32M3 industrial Ethernet communication chip supports multiple communication protocols, realizes high-speed operation of real-time operating system (real-TIme OS) basic functions in hardware, realizes high-speed real-time response and high-precision communication control.

The Infineon XMC4800 family of microcontrollers with integrated on-chip EtherCAT nodes eliminates the need for dedicated EtherCAT ASICs, external memory and clock crystals. The XMC4800 series with outstanding real-time capabilities will accelerate the development of networked industrial automation.

Recommended module:

   The Siemens VD module helps the plant to transfer PROFINET data over PROFIBUS standard cables for faster, intelligent communication.

Short-range wireless communication

Wireless communications are becoming more popular in industrial automation, making it easier for users to install and connect mobile devices or inaccessible devices. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee not only play against each other in Internet of Things applications such as smart homes, but also in the Industrial Internet.

Industrial control devices such as PLCs and DCS IO modules primarily use the IEEE 802.11 WLAN and Bluetooth standards.

Industrial sensors or actuators require high power consumption, large footprint, and high implementation cost, and IEEE 802.15.4 technologies such as ZigBee or Wireless-HART are best suited for these products.

Recommended IC:

TI's SimpleLink wireless microcontrollers, TI provides wireless connectivity solutions across all major standards and technologies for any application. Whether it's industrial, automotive or IoT design, TI offers a low-power solution. (Complete reference design based on Atmel 32-bit AVR microcontroller and H&D industrial Wi-Fi module Recommended products: Advantech's industrial-grade wireless solutions, including WLAN, mobile cellular networks, providing IEEE 802.11a/n & b/g/ n AP, serial to WLAN, serial to mobile cellular network device server.

Radio Frequency Identification

Industrial identification is the foundation for intelligent manufacturing, which provides accurate information in real time for production and logistics processes.

From large equipment to parts and even small screws, RFID can be identified by tags and readers. It is reported that RFID tags are installed on each engine line of the BMW UK factory.

In addition to RFID, NFC can also be a leader in the industrial market. If the machine on the production line is equipped with an NFC IC, the staff can use the tablet to read the NFC tag. In either case, the tag provides processing and status information to the machine and staff, and supports wireless reconfiguration at any stage of the process.

Recommended IC: Needless to say, RFID and NFC solutions are of course more reliable for NXP.

Recommended products: Siemens high-capacity RFID electronic tags and removable handheld readers.

Remote wireless communication

For remote wireless (such as 3G, 4G), cross-city and even cross-border communication is not difficult.

Case: General Electric (GE) and China Telecom strategic cooperation.

GE's Internet Big Data software platform interfaces with China Telecom's telecom infrastructure and value-added services to form an integrated solution for the Industrial Internet that promotes the use of Industrial Internet in aerospace, medical, energy, industrial manufacturing and other related industries.

The "gateway" of industrial communication

No matter how the industrial equipment communicates, one important aspect, the industrial gateway, cannot be ignored. Among them, industrial gateways or industrial routers are used to direct signals to the required ports. Gateways can convert between standard Ethernet and industrial Ethernet protocols, wireless and wired interfaces, or Ethernet and fieldbus communication protocols; industrial Ethernet Network switches connect multiple nodes to one Ethernet network; industrial converters (or bridges) are used to convert between two different communication technologies, such as fieldbus, industrial Ethernet or wireless protocols; fieldbus to Ethernet A gateway is a device that connects and converts between Ethernet and fieldbus communication protocols.

Recommended IC: Freescale LS1021A/QorIQ P2020/10 single core and dual core communication processor.

Recommended Products:

EVOC redundant network management industrial Ethernet switch, in fact, the world's first product based on international standard protocol to achieve redundant ring network.

Advantech Industrial Ethernet switches and optoelectronic converters, from Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet, from twisted pair to fiber and PoE products.


For the specific communication scheme of Industry 4.0, different companies have different interpretations, and interconnection is fundamental. Of course, security is an issue that cannot be ignored by industrial communications and the entire industry 4.0. It includes both functional security and information security. We will also focus on future topics. The value of industrial communications is not only reflected in technology, but also in the economy and ecosystem. IT companies such as Cisco are also entering the industry to provide cloud services. The constant pursuit of reliability, speed, safety, cost, ease of use and other characteristics will enable various protocols and related products of industrial communication to continue to evolve and help Industry 4.0.

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