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Future automation devices will assign their own addresses

27 February, 2015

A technology that allows automation devices to assign unique addresses to themselves automatically, without needing a central address server, will make its debut at the Hannover Fair in April. The technology, called Effortless Communication, is being developed by Siemens, which says that it will simplify the setting up, testing, and upgrading of machine and plant networks. It will also make it easier to replace devices and integrate series-production machines, as well as simplifying the deployment of remote maintenance services and enhancing their security.

Compared to office applications, automation networks are typically characterised by large numbers of servers. Thus, for example, each networked I/O module represents its own server, which both supplies and receives process data, as well as providing diagnostic information on a continuous basis.

This is the starting point for Siemens’ project. Instead of having to remember network addresses and routes, users will be able to refer to device names for network elements such as controllers and I/Os.

The automation devices themselves will handle the allocation of addresses automatically, on a decentralised basis. The ability to perform automatic self-configuration of network settings, will allow users to add or replace devices at any time on a “plug-and-produce” basis, without needing local engineering and networking expertise. Industrial networks will adapt themselves automatically across all phases of a plant’s lifecycle.

It will even be possible to embed entire plant components flexibly into manufacturing landscapes. Island operation will thus be feasible without any additional network infrastructure during the commissioning and certification of new plant components. The runtime system will enable automatic network renumbering of the island network to fit into the factory network addressing.

Siemens' Effortless Communication technology will be unveiled at the 2015 Hannover Fair

Siemens says that the technology will bring benefits both for plant operators and for systems integrators. The automatic address allocation will allow them to integrate series-production machines into networks as often as required, without needing to configure the network settings individually for each machine. The automatic facility will ensure secure parallel operation of the series-production machines, avoiding the possibility of duplicate addresses.

The automatic and error-free assigning of network addresses will also simplify the use of remote maintenance services and enhance their security. The address allocation system will support the automated setting-up of security facilities such as remote service access points or firewalls. It will thus be possible to design firewall rules to be straightforward and systematic, and as restrictive as necessary.

At Hannover, Siemens will be presenting Effortless Communication as an “early-phase innovation project”. The results of the project could be incorporated into the creation and operation of future production networks.




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