For applications requiring highly integrated motion control, such as packaging, pick-and-place, converting, assembly, and robotics, the network infrastructure must be capable of managing time-synchronization services and delivering data between devices in a timely manner. It's a tall order, but a free guidebook may help.

Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, announces a 75-page addition to the Converged Plantwide Ethernet Design and Implementation Guide to help machine builders and manufacturers deploy integrated motion using EtherNet/IP networking technology. The new chapter — developed in collaboration with Cisco Systems — provides detailed design guidance, recommendations, and best practices to help control system engineers tightly synchronize motion applications within the plantwide architecture.

Traditionally, manufacturers have used a dedicated motion network, a strategy that requires specialized hardware and often results in a more isolated design in which information is inaccessible. EtherNet/IP is designed to connect from the device level to the end-user's IT infrastructure and across applications, including discrete, process, safety, motion, and drive control. By moving from dedicated networks to a single, integrated architecture for the plantwide network, users can reduce engineering time and total cost of ownership.

According to the new guide, by harnessing the IEEE-1588 Precision Time Protocol, the EtherNet/IP network delivers the deterministic control required for closed-loop position, speed, and torque regulation within a drive. Other industrial protocols use a time-slotted approach in which each device on the wire is given a specific time band for communications, requiring the end user to reschedule the entire network whenever a device is added or removed from the system. With EtherNet/IP, end-device clocks are tightly synchronized and information in the message is time-stamped with an accuracy of 100 nsec — so across any given control system, hundreds of axes can be coordinated for synchronized motion control.

To download a free copy of the guide, visit literature.rockwellautomation.com/idc/groups/literature/documents/td/enet-td001_-en-p.pdf.