Industry NewsDecember 4, 2020

Future is transparent, convergent and time-sensitive

Motion Control

John Browett, General Manager of the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) – Europe, looks at how TSN supports convergence and transparency, and what solutions businesses can adopt.

Industry 4.0 is an established trend in factory automation, aimed at increasing convergence and transparency. By implementing systems with these capabilities, businesses can gain greater insights into their processes, hence achieving better quality, productivity and reduced costs. The technology that is delivering these benefits is Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN).

John Browett, CLPA

John Browett, CLPA

The Connected Industries of the future will generate a constant stream of data from their production systems. Insights derived from this data will provide a key tool for optimising manufacturing processes and improve the ability to adapt to new or varying demands. To gain these insights, data transparency and convergence will be paramount, as they represent the foundations of data-driven manufacturing.

The ability to implement these capabilities ultimately lies in the ability of industrial networks to deliver them. In particular, the network must be able to transfer high volumes of data from multiple sources across the enterprise. Also, it should share time-critical traffic in a reliable and predictable manner to maintain operational performance and efficiency.

The most promising technology for this is TSN, an extension of industrial Ethernet that supports deterministic communications via accurate time synchronisation and traffic scheduling. These mechanisms provide the foundation of the convergence necessary to provide the required levels of transparency.

Hence, we are moving to a future where not only machine control data, such as I/O states, safety and motion control, share the same network in real-time, as it is the case with many current industrial Ethernet protocols, but now we can add almost any other kind of Ethernet traffic too. The benefits are simpler, less expensive and easier to maintain networks that provide unprecedented levels of transparency into manufacturing processes. The associated convergence can not only offer the ability to simplify networks on the shop floor, but can also more tightly bind the shop floor to the enterprise, delivering ever greater integration between the operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) worlds.

2020 sees the CLPA celebrating its 20th Anniversary. During that time, it has been at the forefront of technology innovation in open automation networks with a proven track record of leading the industry. As part of its goal to provide innovations for the next 20 years, in late 2018, the CLPA launched CC-Link IE TSN.

This is the first open industrial Ethernet that combines gigabit bandwidth with TSN functionalities and is designed to provide a gateway to the industrial communications of the future, while supporting current needs. This will help automation vendors develop TSN-driven products as quickly as possible, in turn supporting machine builders and end-users to improve their operations by implementing the technology on the factory floor.

By selecting CC-Link IE TSN open network technology for automation devices, vendors can become the first to offer TSN-based products, gaining a unique competitive edge. Machine builders will benefit from lower cost, simplified system designs and faster time to market. Similarly, manufacturing businesses using these products and systems can improve their current operations while getting ready for the future.

Want to learn more? The CLPA has just produced a white paper that explains the case for action now on TSN. End-users, machine builders and device vendors alike will find this a useful guide to why incorporating TSN into their activities will deliver concrete benefits as we move into this converged future.

Download your copy now from

John Browett, General Manager of the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) – Europe.