The front office and the shop floor are becoming more compatible with each passing day now that many of the barriers that have separated their respective networks are coming down.
The latest development is the S/IP specification released by SERCOS International, which allows communication between standard Ethernet IP and the SERCOS III (SErial Realtime COmmunications System) environment, used mainly for communication between controls, intelligent drives and sensors, I/O devices and other decentralized peripherals.
The specification will allow a SERCOS III port to accept any Ethernet device, simplifying the ability to upload and download information for tasks like system setup and remote diagnostics and maintenance over intranets or the Internet.
SERCOS has also devised a means in which the two formats can communicate during cyclic real-time operation and non-real-time operation, even if a SERCOS master is not operational. Third-party manufacturers and system integrators can also add their own preset protocol services.