Laying the Network Foundation for a Smart Factory
Digital transformation is the baseline for changes in almost any market. Information sharing between all the company systems become precious elements for decision-making processes. A unified data network is mandatory to interconnect all the systems, becoming at the same time the most important and the most critical asset for any smart factory.
This post goes through the main challenges and solutions in building a network for a smart factory.
Reduction of TCO through Automation
Network data is a 24/7 requirement. However the ability to manage this constantly is not always possible and in many cases can be quite costly.
Allied Telesis Autonomous Management Framework™ (AMF) delivers real and immediate value to businesses by solving one of IT’s most pressing needs. It provides a converged infrastructure that can be managed as a single entity, reducing complexity and TCO, and allowing more to be done with less.
Managing network infrastructure is time intensive, costly and has traditionally required expensive, third-party applications to effectively manage larger networks. Cloud computing and converged infrastructures deliver a great deal of business value to the enterprise, but they also add complexity. In turn, networks must be more fluid and evolve at increasingly greater speeds in order to keep pace with the modern applications and service delivery models that are driving that complexity.
For everything from virtualization to mobility and BYOD, networks must be able to keep pace with business. AMF helps IT do just that by greatly reducing the time and cost of managing network infrastructure.
The first step towards improved efficiency and productivity is to enable consistent operation management—by connecting scattered networks like connected head offices, bases, logistics, factories, lines and systems, to grasp the situation in real time and share information and data. Adding network automation means adding both network visibility tools and automated management tools.
Point 1 – Visualize the situation and connected devices from visible (visualized) information and data, and realize problem visualization by operating and managing with GUI. Vista Manager EX is the Allied Telesis single pane-of-glass monitoring and management platform able to seamlessly integrate network automation and provide visibility of the entire network.
Point 2 – Network devices and connected devices that perform integrated operation management require maintenance, security measures, and centralized management to improve safety and reduce operation management costs. AMF provides a converged infrastructure that can be managed as a single entity.
Production lines have used computer-controlled equipment for many years. The introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) has created the ability for manufacturing equipment to capture large amounts of real-time data. However, taking advantage of this opportunity requires a robust operational technology (OT) network to transport that data from the factory floor to the data center’s IT network. In turn, this requires integration with the existing control equipment such as programmable logic controllers or PLCs. So, the OT network must tolerate the harsh environment of the factory floor, it must understand the native language of the PLCs, and it must deliver time-sensitive data accurately.
Our Industrial Ethernet (IE) switches are fanless and designed to operate in extreme heat and vibration. They support manufacturing protocols, making them easy to deploy on the factory floor and integrate with existing OT networks. Having no fan allows these devices to operate in dusty and humid conditions, and it improves reliability too. They are certified for use in electrically noisy environments with high EMI levels, like electrical substations. Optical models are also available.
Our IE switches need to be installed within electrical enclosures mounted over DIN rails like any other industrial control equipment. Our IE switches are available in industrial form factor with a DIN rail installation clip.
In recent years, the manufacturing industry is accelerating the shift to smart factories that utilize the IoT, and there is a need to develop communication networks that connect various devices and sensors in factories. There is an increasing need for wireless LAN for real-time data transmission with forklifts and automatic guided vehicles that move in the factory, but many machine tools that hinder the propagation of radio waves have been installed. Therefore, it is indispensable to build a wireless LAN environment that solves various problems such as radio wave interference.
The IoT and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movements have created an exponential increase in the number of connected devices, all of which demand reliable and high-speed wireless network access. This unprecedented rise in the number of connections and the associated traffic puts a major strain on networks, many of which struggle to deliver the coverage, performance, and reliable roaming access that today’s users demand.
Allied Telesis Autonomous Wave Control (AWC) helps to address this complex and rapidly evolving environment, by reducing the need for costly human involvement in the deployment and ongoing tuning of a wireless network.
Autonomous guided vehicles and other devices used in production require an always-on uninterrupted wireless connection, which is why Allied Telesis developed Channel Blanket technology (AWC-CB), a wireless single-channel for production and warehouse environments.
Production and warehouses are often not temperature controlled, so commercial Access Points cannot be used. As a solution to this challenging environment, Allied Telesis developed a specific outdoor rated AP as part of the Access Point series.
Protect from Cybersecurity Threats
With the spread of IoT, the load of asset management and the risk of cyberattacks are increasing. Sensors and any other IOT devices not able to host a protection agent become a source of threat from inside of the network.
The Allied Telesis Self-Defending Network solution provides easy and immediate edge security, realizing the potential of the already installed security devices. This solution detects the behavior of terminals that are communicating, and blocks/isolates compromised terminals.
Smart Factory Approach = Smart Decision
The migration to the smart factory requires a multi-disciplinary approach that takes into consideration every aspect of production—the connection, the security, the environment and any other requirements specific to any sector. Allied Telesis, in addition to identifying the best path towards a smart factory, provides modular networking solutions according to needs, allowing a secure and reliable digital factory.
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