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Even though they’d decided to go with EtherNet/IP, Workman says Cryovac’s builders also knew they’d need tougher wire and connectors than those typically used with Ethernet. “Regular RJ45 wasn’t robust enough, wasn’t shielded enough, and didn’t have the good connections that BL135 was going to need in our customers’ facilities,” says Workman. “For instance, while we were developing BL135, we once used a 1-ft., Cat 5, Ethernet patch cable, but it wasn’t able to withstand the vibrations--its connections didn’t hold, and eventually the machine communications were affected.”
|FIGURE 3: ETHERNET CABLING|
BL135’s unit use Ethernet/IP and an Allen-Bradley FlexLogix processor, communicating via Lumberg’s EtherMate Ethernet cable.
“BL135’s main panel runs two dispensers,” says Workman. “There is one man PLC, and then remote I/O points and stepper drives that communicate via Ethernet. These drives run the dispenser, set the dip rollers, and spit out the bags. The printer’s controllers are tied to Ethernet too. We even have an Ethernet modem in our panels, so we can that dial in and examine our units remotely. In fact, I just did some remote troubleshooting work two weeks ago for one of our customers in Brazil.”
Workman says all of BL135’s components are coordinated and work well together. “It’s like the machine has its own little virtual private network (VPN),” he states. “We haven’t had any communication problems. We did have some concerns at the beginning, but EtherNet/IP has worked out very well for us.”
Here’s a brief comparison of DeviceNet and EtherNet/IP. ODVA says its two network protocols are complimentary technologies, and that they don’t compete with each other.
Typical Devices on the Network
Parts Needed to Build a Network
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