Time-sensitive networking targets industrial automation

Article By : Graham Prophet

TSN offers a range of benefits to industrial networks, including specific end-to-end latency for mission-critical and time-sensitive applications.

Industrial automation supplier Belden has demonstrated that a time-sensitive networking (TSN) configuration, when combined with its Hirschmann Industrial HiVision, is possible with minimum effort, with benefits including seamless integration into existing infrastructure and monitoring of TSN networks.

At the SPS/IPC/Drives 2016 exhibition in Nuremberg, Belden showcased TSN using Hirschmann’s RSP series of Ethernet switches and TSN configuration using the Hirschmann Industrial HiVision network management system.

"TSN offers a range of benefits to industrial networks. These include guaranteed, specific end-to-end latency for mission-critical and time-sensitive applications as well as low jitter; interoperability across vendors to create a seamless ecosystem that can evolve; and greater flexibility for manufacturers to quickly adapt and leverage standard Ethernet technology innovations, such as higher link speeds or new physical media," said Dr. Oliver Kleineberg, advance development manager for Belden’s Hirschmann brand.

TSN requires more configuration effort than standard Ethernet, but Kleineberg said, "TSN networks can be managed by accessing, configuring and supervising each switch and end device individually, just as it has been done with managed switches for quite some time in automation networks. TSN adds additional complexity to this configuration process, which is a direct result of the necessity to configure the IEEE 802.1Qbv Time-Aware Scheduler parameters on each switch and end device. While it is still possible to do this manually, the proper tooling can save a lot of time and effort in setting up TSN real-time networks and makes this technology feasible for actual use. And in case of malfunctions in the network, for example due to configuration errors in the scheduling parameters on a device, it is very hard to spot these kinds of errors without adequate tooling and visualisation.”

Hirschmann offers its MultiConfig feature to visualise a network topology and to deploy TSN schedules to all participating devices with only very few operational steps. Once set up, Industrial HiVision can supervise the TSN network time schedule and can help to track down configuration weaknesses or errors through a graphical representation of the schedules on the network devices, according to the company.

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