Now that the benefits of connecting the plant network to the enterprise are becoming known, the rush is on to retrofit existing industrial Ethernet switches with the tools to make it happen.
Siemens Energy & Automation, for example, recently launched a new set of its Scalance X switches suited to high-bandwidth gigabit performance. The goal is to connect the LANs on automation cells to enterprise networks using optical or copper backbones.
One of the upgrades is a set of three gigabit ports capable of VLAN and IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol) snooping and query, which prevent multicast message systems used in some industrial settings from flooding the enterprise with data.
Other enhancement include spanning tree (STP) and rapid spanning tree (RSTP) mesh architecture support and redundant ring switching that keeps switch times under 300 milliseconds.