Online Community Demonstrates Power of Industrial IP

Rockwell Automation, Cisco and Panduit Partner to Educate Industry on IP Networking Technology

By Joe Feeley

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As technology experts discussed emerging technology trends such as the Internet of Things, convergence, Big Data and analytics this week in Houston at the Automation Fair, presented by Rockwell Automation, attendees also learned of a new source of network technology information: the Industrial IP Advantage community. Housed online at industrial-ip.org, the Industrial IP Advantage offers guides, case studies, technical white papers and online discussions on how Internet Protocol (IP) networking technologies can be used throughout the Connected Enterprise to boost productivity, efficiency and flexibility.

Industrial IP Advantage promotes the idea that manufacturing and industrial companies can build more successful businesses by deploying a secure, holistic, digital-communications fabric based on standard, unmodified use of the Internet Protocol (IP). Using Industrial IP, companies have an opportunity to turn this vision into reality through connectivity that drives better business intelligence, increased profitability and reduced costs.

Industrial IP Advantage was established by Cisco, Panduit and Rockwell Automation—three like-minded organizations that joined together to educate the market on the benefits of Ethernet, Internet Protocol and EtherNet/IP. Industrial IP Advantage was formed in cooperation with ODVA, the organization that manages and commercializes the EtherNet/IP specification and standard.

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$3.88 Trillion over 10 Years

"There's been a lot of talk around and about this subject and, as a whole, pretty much all of the manufacturing community is coming to see that the Internet of Things, the Internet of Everything, provides huge opportunities as a result of connecting its devices and the value it obtains from the information gathered from those devices," said Cisco marketing manager Kevin Davenport. "Just within manufacturing, we've identified the opportunity value in cost savings and efficiencies from this at $3.88 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. We believe that the best path to access that value across the entire manufacturing design chain from R&D to production, supply chain, and all the way to customer acquisition is by leveraging a standard protocol, namely Internet Protocol, and so we're promoting the value of Industrial IP as the world's defining network technology."

Many of these "things" already operate in the production facility. Today, IP-enabled microprocessors—the brains inside digital devices—connect conventional automation equipment such as I/O modules and variable-frequency drives. But the explosive growth of other IP-enabled digital devices—many adopted from other disciplines—is transforming the industrial landscape. Video cameras, RFID readers, digital tablets, security swipe cards: These open-standard, IP-enabled devices help manufacturing and process operations reach new heights of production quality, efficiency, security and safety. To take full advantage of this intelligence, all devices within a plant need to talk with one another, as well as those at the enterprise level, using a unified networking infrastructure that is IP-centric.

"So this Industrial IP initiative takes our companies' collective core skill sets and market leadership to build a community to give information, training and thought leadership in how to obtain some of the value that we're promoting," Davenport added.

So why is Internet Protocol important here? "The key enabler for this Internet of Things movement is Internet Protocol," said Paul Brooks, business development manager, Rockwell Automation. "It's the technology that allows the Internet to be scalable, to be routable."

"And today, EtherNet/IP is the only industrial automation protocol that can claim to be part of that Internet of Things because it uses IP for all of its primary functions, from motion through information gathering and historization," Brooks added. "That commitment to IP means that EtherNet/IP is highly scalable, and it's able to take part in a converged network architecture, which is critical for cost-effective deployment. It's also highly segmentable, meaning it's easy to add new things to networks that use EtherNet/IP."

Brooks continued, "Keep in mind that many of the individual innovations that are going to happen within the Internet of Things aren't going to be able to justify investment in new infrastructure. Many new innovations will be an incremental application added to an existing infrastructure. An IP-centric infrastructure is therefore essential."

Leverage Standard IT Security Technology

"The number of connected devices across a plant floor, connected people via mobile devices, together with devices and systems outside the plant floor create the potential for value creation, but also present a big concern when it comes to hackers, security of intellectual property and downtime," said Dan McGrath, industrial automation solutions manager, Panduit. The great potential value is threatened if you don't have a comprehensive ‘defense-in-depth' layered approach to security, McGrath said. "This is where IP shines. It's a technology platform where every year there's a big investment in improving security."

The Industrial IP Advantage booth at Automation Fair included an infographic that demonstrated how $1.72 billion was spent in 2012 on delivering IP-based industrial security solutions. "So IP and standard, unmodified industrial Ethernet has the widest availability of the tools to provide that defense in depth," McGrath added.

This defense-in-depth layering includes physical security measures such as blocked ports and key cards; the network layer of firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, switches and routers; computer hardening via antivirus software, application whitelisting and removal of unused applications; application security with comprehensive authentication and authorization; and device hardening with change management and restrictive access.

"The real message with IP Advantage is that this is the standard approach across all of industry, and users and potential users can trust that they have a future path to the levels of security they need," McGrath explained.

This approach also has great potential to bridge the technology and philosophy gaps that traditionally existed between the IT groups and the control system engineers. "The ability for IT to use commons tools and proven strategies from the IT side and bring them to bear on the automation side can't be underestimated," McGrath explained.

To learn more, visit www.industrial-ip.org.

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