Advantages of Using Powerlinks in Process-Industry Real-Time Networks

There are several advantages to using Powerlinks. The open-network architecture means that any chip from any supplier can be used. Devices with different data rates can mix and match, meaning that 10 Mbit Ethernet devices can be expanded to use 100 Mbit products. Other field-bus networks use the slowest device available and cannot predict how long it will take to gain network access. In addition, Powerlink devices can handle both large and small data amounts.

POWERLINK is a purely software-based industrial Ethernet solution

POWERLINK is a nonproprietary, software-based Industrial Ethernet solution that complies with standard Ethernet specifications. Its open source version allows users to create their own network topology and is free of charge. The solution is most suitable for “hard” real-time applications where signal propagation delays must be well-defined and within a specified time period. The standard’s design makes POWERLINK an ideal choice for process-industry real-time visualization.

POWERLINK uses an object dictionary that consolidates all communication and user objects. This object dictionary is based on the CANopen fieldbus standard. Each object in the object dictionary is assigned an index of 16 bits, with 256 sub-indices. This ensures manufacturer independence. POWERLINK supports CANopen device profiles. POWERLINK has been designed to work with various hardware platforms, including Siemens PLCs, Ethernet-based controllers, and a wide variety of other platforms.

It is 100% compliant with the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard

POWERLINKs have 100% compliance with the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard. The POWERLINK protocol is vendor-independent and can be deployed on any Ethernet infrastructure. Additionally, powerlinks are compliant with the openSAFETY bus-independent safety protocol. These features help ensure the integrity of your network and keep you connected to the most relevant information on the most efficient basis. This article will outline some of the key features of POWERLINK.

The POWERLINK communication system is a centralized real-time system that enables high-speed data transmission between machines. This is in contrast to asynchronous communication systems that require external clock signals. Its real-time characteristics enable data to be sent within a short period of time. Powerlinks have the advantages of both real-time and asynchronous communication, ensuring excellent reaction times in today’s automation applications.

It is suitable for implementing applications with hard real-time requirements

The Ethernet POWERLINK communication profile leverages CANopen design principles and reuses them in Powerlinks. This allows a single device to implement a number of POWERLINK nodes in a standardized way. Using a standard Ethernet controller also reduces hardware costs, making POWERLINKs an attractive choice for smaller field devices. The Ethernet POWERLINK protocol is suitable for all types of machine applications and process industries. The application interface is based on CANopen communication profile DS301, which opens up a broad range of device profiles.

The POWERLINK architecture uses a single master, or ‘Managing Node,’ that polls the controlled nodes cyclically. The asynchronous phase is not time-critical, and it does not support TCP/IP communication. POWERLINK uses a Start of Cyclic (SoC) frame to start the isochronous phase. This synchronizes all nodes and prevents collisions that can occur in standard Ethernet. In addition to this, POWERLINK’s data link layer ensures the determinism of hard real-time communication.

It uses a roundtable discussion to schedule data communication

POWERLINK communication takes place as a roundtable discussion, with a moderator inviting participants to speak at specific times. This eliminates the need for arbitrators and prevents conflicting opinions from disrupting the flow of information. Each POWERLINK device is equipped with a managing node that serves as a “moderator of the discussion,” while all other devices act as controlled nodes.

To conduct a successful roundtable, engage all relevant teams in its planning. Before the roundtable, determine what topics will be discussed and who will be invited. The topics should be relevant to the company’s current activities and of interest to potential guests. Decide how many participants you would like to invite, typically six to ten people. When setting a date and time for the roundtable discussion, ensure that the number of participants is reasonable.