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Global effort aims to deliver new safety networks

01 November, 2002

Global effort aims to deliver new safety networks

Rockwell Automation, Omron and Sick are collaborating to develop an open protocol for safety communications. The protocol will extend the existing Control and Information Protocol (CIP) used for DeviceNet, ControlNet and Ethernet/IP, allowing both standard and safety devices to operate on the same network.

The CIP Safety protocol will also allow safety devices to communicate with each other over standard DeviceNet, ControlNet or Ethernet/IP networks without any extra programming. The three partners, all members of the Open DeviceNet Vendor Association (ODVA), claim that this ability, achieved without the need for expensive safety-specific gateways or bridges, will be unique.

The first implementation of the new protocol will be based on DeviceNet and will provide failsafe communications between nodes such as light curtains, interlock switches, safety I/O blocks and safety PLCs. The first compliant products are due to be launched during 2004.

These products will be suitable for applications up to Safety Integrity Level 3, as defined by IEC 61508. The new protocol has received concept approval by the German standards body TÜV Rheinland. When the specification has been completed and certified by TÜV, it will be owned and managed by the ODVA.

"CIP Safety is another example of how the ODVA brings together competitive vendors from across the globe, working together to address the needs industry," says Katherine Voss, the ODVA`s executive director.

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