Belden used this year's Hannover Messe to show that switches supporting Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) are becoming a reality. Prototype TSN-enabled Hirschmann RSPE35 switches that support this open, real-time Ethernet technology were shown in demonstrators at various booths throughout the show. These included the booths of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the OPC Foundation, as well as those of Sercos International and SmartFactoryKL.
The common denominator of these demonstrators was TSN-protected industrial communication at Fast- and Gigabit-Ethernet speeds. At the IIC and OPC booths, visitors were able to see how multiple independent TSN data streams were transmitted between Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) over the same network infrastructure, without being impacted by other traffic types including data from an IP camera. The demonstrators at Sercos International and SmartFactoryKL highlighted a migration path for existing real-time Ethernet solutions based on the example of Sercos III. The integration with a TSN-enabled infrastructure enables these real-time solutions to leverage the scalable bandwidth and flexible topology of an Ethernet-based network.
The Hirschmann RSPE35 devices are existing modular Managed Switches for the top hat rail, which were developed especially for operation at the control level in factory and process automation networks as well as networks of the energy and transport sectors. “These switches provide accurate time synchronisation based on IEEE 1588v2. This time synchronisation is the foundation of our TSN implementation shown at Hanover Messe,” said Dr. René Hummen, senior architect technology and innovation at Belden. Furthermore, with support for VLAN tagging, these devices offer all basic requirements for the implementation of TSN. “However, the key feature that makes our prototypes TSN-capable is the implementation of the scheduled and precisely-timed data transmission in accordance with IEEE 802.1Qbv, which is often also referred to as Time Aware Shaper,” stated Dr. Hummen.
The successful use of the RSPE35 prototypes at the fair is the result of a long development process. Belden’s Senior Architect Technology and Innovation Stephan Kehrer said: “We are involved in the development of TSN since the beginning of the IEEE standardisation process in 2009. In addition, we participate in a number of activities in the context of this new technology, for example the IIC TSN testbed and its plugfests.” The IIC testbed, which already has more than 15 participants, offers a suitable platform to determine that TSN devices from different vendors interoperate in a single TSN network. In the future, Belden will continue to leverage these testbeds and plugfests for testing and validation of new TSN standards. “Soon, however, the interoperability of the different vendor implementations must be ensured by certification as, for example, defined by the Avnu Alliance and similar organisations,” stated Kehrer.