Drives and Controls Magazine
Industry leaders join forces to test TSN infrastructure
Published:  26 February, 2016

Leading automation suppliers, including Bosch Rexroth, Kuka, National Instruments and Schneider Electric, have joined forces with the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) to develop the world’s first Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) testbed. The aim is to demonstrate the new Ethernet IEEE 802 standards – referred to as TSN – being used in manufacturing applications.

TSN powers a standard, open network infrastructure that supports multivendor interoperability and integration with guaranteed performance and delivery. It can support real-time control and synchronisation – for example, between motion applications and robots – over a single Ethernet network.

At the same time, it can support other traffic found in manufacturing applications, helping to bring IT and operational technologies closer together. Previously, many real-time control applications used non-standard network infrastructures or unconnected networks, making devices and data harder to access – or totally inaccessible.

TSN is intended to unlock the critical data needed to achieve the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) promise of improved operations, driven by big data analytics, and to enable new business models based on smart connected systems and machines.

The testbed will:

•  combine different critical control traffic (such as OPC UA) and traffic flows on a single, resilient network, based on the IEEE 802.1 TSN standards;

•  demonstrate TSN’s real-time capability and vendor interoperability using standard, converged Ethernet;

•  assess the security value of TSN and deliver feedback on the ability to secure initial TSN functions;

•  show how the IIoT can incorporate high-performance and latency-sensitive applications; and

•  deliver integration points for smart, real-time edge cloud control systems into IIoT infrastructures and applications.

The organisations participating the project – which also include Cisco, Intel and TTTech – hope to advance network infrastructures to support the IIoT and Industry 4.0. To achieve this will need more reliable and secure access to smart edge devices. Standard network technologies will have to evolve to meet the demanding requirements of future industrial systems and to improve the way that we operate machines, electrical grids and transportation systems.

NI will host the TSN testbed. “TSNs are a critical attribute of a standard Internet model that enables the convergence of real-time control applications and devices onto open, interconnected networks,” explains Eric Starkloff, NI’s executive vice-president of global sales and marketing. “This technology is necessary for the future of the IIoT, and the IIC is providing a community, as well as enabling real-world testbeds, where industry leaders can collaborate to make this a reality.”