Time-Sensitive Networking Integrates Information and Operational Technology

By Saumitra Jagdale

Freelance Technology Writer

October 29, 2021


Time-Sensitive Networking Integrates Information and Operational Technology

Overcoming the shortcomings of the current ethernet-based industrial networks, the CC-Link IE TSN, “Opens the Future of Connected Industries” by adding the advantages of Time-Sensitive Networking along with flexible implementation for various types of equipment.

It offers the best method for integrating Operational Technology (OT) and IT. The time synchronization protocol regulated by TSN significantly reduces the man-hours required for start-up, maintenance, and operation. 

Credits: CC-Link

The Japan-based CC-Link Partner Association recently launched the next-generation network based on the current CC-Link IE - the “CC-Link IE TSN” (Time-Sensing Networking). CC-Link IE Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) is the first to integrate gigabit Ethernet bandwidth with Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN). It has boosted transparency while also improving efficiency and functionality. 

The TSN consisting of multiple international standards enables faster communication between the OT and IT with the Ethernet standard. It allows for deterministic messaging over conventional Ethernet. Unlike the traditional CC-Link IE that uses a token passing method for communication, the new CC-Link IE TSN uses a common time synchronized across the network. This enables the transmission of the input and output communication frames simultaneously in both directions in a fixed time.

Moreover, it allows the usage of multiple communication cycles within the same network, which further improves communication time and efficiency. This provides flexibility to maintain the performance of devices that require a high-performance communication cycle, such as servo amplifiers, while simultaneously connecting devices that do not require high-speed communication cycles, such as remote I/O. The inclusion of these standards to Ethernet technology allows for the mixing of real-time control and non-real-time information transfer, which is not achievable with traditional Ethernet communications.

Credits: CC-Link

It achieves system design freedom and considerably reduces wire costs by providing control communication that provides real-time performance while combining other open networks and IT system information on the same network. 

CC-Link IE TSN is compatible with both hardware and software platforms. It is feasible to use ASIC and FPGA-based hardware technologies. Furthermore, both master and slave devices can be developed using software protocol stacks on a general-purpose Ethernet chip. Plus, it supports both 100Mbps and 1Gbps of physical layers. This versatility enables device manufacturers to design products in the most efficient manner possible. Hence, it minimizes time-to-market. As a result, end-users will have access to a vast range of products. 

Credits: CC-Link

Efficient, Real-Time Communication for Better Connectivity Between OT & IT

The CC-Link IE TSN is best suited for real-time communication in industrial systems that use TCP/IP-compatible Ethernet networks. It also supports the integration of third-party networks and conventional Ethernet devices like vision sensors and wireless routers and different topology options for highly scalable and adaptable system designs. In combination with the Ethernet standards, Time-Sensitive Networking offers a complete and reliable solution for integrating Operational Technology(OT) and Information technology (IT).

The technology improves efficiency and reduces the time to construct small factories using the Industrial IoT (IIoT). The CC-Link further plans to enhance the compatibility of OT-IT integration and security. Moreover, the system can be made wire-free by utilizing wireless networks and 5G technology in the future. Hence, the CC-Link IE TSN is one of the best TSN systems for integrating OT & IT through real-time Ethernet-based communication.

Saumitra Jagdale is a Backend Developer, Freelance Technical Author, Global AI Ambassador (SwissCognitive), Open-source Contributor in Python projects, Leader of Tensorflow Community India, and Passionate AI/ML Enthusiast.

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