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Industrial Ethernet Switch Integrates Multiple Machines, Single Network


The integration of machines onto a plant’s network architecture can prove difficult as OEM IP-address assignments rarely match those of the end-user network IP-address requirements. This is challenging for the machine builder and end user as IP addresses are generally unknown until the machine is being installed, which can add cost and time to the commissioning of the equipment, and delay moving that equipment into production.

Rockwell Automation has addressed this challenge with the Allen-Bradley Stratix 5700 managed industrial Ethernet switch, which now includes an optional integrated Network Address Translation (NAT) feature.

The hardware-based NAT feature allows for high performance and simplified integration of IP-address mapping from a set of local, machine-level IP addresses to the end user’s broader plant-process network. This can greatly benefit manufacturers that are integrating identical machines into a production line, especially when multiple equipment builders are being integrated into a common production line.

The Stratix 5700 switch NAT feature allows OEMs to deliver their standard machines to customers without having to program unique IP addresses into them. The end user can then use the NAT feature to more simply integrate the machines into the larger network. Because the machines are identical to their standards, they are easier to maintain.

“In addition to integrating NAT into the Stratix 5700 switch, we are able to offer customers an optimized solution by eliminating the need for additional components that require extra cabinet space, extra wiring, and additional configuration and management support.

Additionally, the NAT setup is part of the overall switch configuration environment, making it easier to maintain,” said Mark Devonshire, product manager for Stratix switches, Rockwell Automation.

The Stratix 5700 switch with NAT technology also allows users to have the flexibility to segment or isolate network traffic by determining which devices are exposed to the larger network. By limiting access to certain devices, they can be isolated from broader network traffic, which can help optimize the network performance at the local level.

The Stratix 5700 line of switches is currently available with six, 10 and 20 fixed-port configurations. The product includes features, such as IEEE-1588 time synchronization, QoS (prioritization) and Resilient Ethernet Protocol (REP).

Additional features also allow for increased network availability, and help improve network performance and troubleshooting-enhanced security. Each Stratix 5700 switch includes: dual-power inputs, input and output alarms, console port, fiber-ready SFP slots, DIN rail mount, and operating temperature range of minus 40 C to 60 C. Model options include: NAT, two gig ports, SD flash card, conformal coating, and two different software configurations for a total of 20 different models to best match machine and end-user applications.

Rockwell Automation, www.rockwellautomation.com