23 Jul 2024


Networking arrivals help to deliver secure infrastructures

Rockwell Automation has announced a clutch of wireless and security networking products which, it says, will help manufacturers to build more cost-effective, unified and secure network infrastructures from the enterprise down to shopfloor end-devices. The additions to the Allen-Bradley Stratix family of industrial switches and routers use Cisco’s IOS network infrastructure.

“Manufacturers are migrating to standard EtherNet/IP networks – one reason for this is to better leverage technologies and capabilities, such as big data, cloud computing and virtualisation,” says Rockwell’s business manager for networks and security, Rachael Conrad. “The trend to EtherNet/IP has also increased the recognition of the importance of a secure environment from the enterprise down to the end-devices.”

The new products include:

•  The Stratix 5700 switch with Network Address Translation (NAT) This simplifies integration of IP-address mapping from a set of local, machine-level IP addresses to a user’s broader plant network. By using NAT, OEMs can deliver standard machines and users can install and connect these machines together more easily without needing to specify unique IP addresses to the machine-builders.

•  The Stratix 5900 services router This provides routing and security services for Layer 2 or Layer 3 networks. Features include virtual private network (VPN), firewall and NAT functions, allowing the router to provide secure tunnels from a trusted network to a remote site over an untrusted network using a site-to-site VPN connection. It can offer an added layer of security between the machines and plant network with the use of firewalls, and can help OEMs to integrate and protect a machine’s performance when it is connected to the larger plant network.

•  The ArmorStratix 5700 switch This IP67-protected switch can be mounted outside of a control cabinet, reducing the size and cost of the cabinet and shrinking the machine footprint. Available with eight to 24 ports, the switch also provides options for Gig and Power over Ethernet (PoE) in 10 and 18 ports.

•  The Stratix 5100 wireless access point This device uses the 802.11n wireless standard that provides multiple-input, multiple-output (Mimo), dual-band 2.4 and 5GHz radios, and packet aggregation for increased speed, reliability, flexibility and segmentation in real-time applications. It is suitable for autonomous or point-to-point installations, where running network cables can be difficult, expensive and hard to maintain.

Rockwell has also expanded its Power over Ethernet (PoE) and fibre optic capabilities. PoE and PoE+ provide Ethernet connections and power over the same cable to an end-device. This helps to cut wiring costs and adds flexibility to plant operations by allowing machines and devices to be moved and re-configured without needing to run new power or networking cables. PoE is ideal for connecting to devices such as wireless access points, IP cameras, phones and barcode scanners.

The Stratix 5700 switch now offers an all-fibre six-port switch, and the Stratix 8000 and 8300 switches now come with four- and eight-port small form-factor pluggable (SFP) expansion modules, providing up to 14 fibre ports. These products use SFP transceiver technology for its fibre connectivity, which can support any combination of single and multimode fibres, maximising the flexibility of deploying switches on the plant floor.