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GM opts for FL-net in Ethernet-linked factory

01 July, 2003

General Motors has commissioned its first large-scale industrial Ethernet installation in a new engine plant that opened in Tonawanda, New York, in July. But instead of opting for a well-known implementation, such as Profinet or Ethernet IP, GM has chosen to use a deterministic version of Ethernet known as FL-net.

The reason for this unusual choice is that many of the machine tools being used in the plant have come from Asia where FL-net was developed and is being adopted widely. At Tonawanda, GM is using FL-net to link several hundred CNC systems, many of which already have support for the protocol built in.

FL-net, which was developed to meet the requirements of Japanese automotive manufacturers, is being promoted by the Japan Electrical Manufacturers Association (Jema) and is backed by a consortium of more than 25 Japanese equipment suppliers.

GM stresses that its use of FL-net is likely to be limited and it is also using other versions of industrial Ethernet, especially Ethernet IP.

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