At the 2014 Automation Fair event, Rockwell Automation and Cisco announced the release of a white paper and design and implementation guide titled, “Deploying 802.11 Wireless LAN Technology within a Converged Plantwide Ethernet Architecture.” The detailed design guidance will help control system engineers, IT network engineers, and system integrators implement standard, IP-based wireless networks in a more robust, secure and scalable way.
The guide provides in-depth information on 802.11 wireless LAN (WLAN) solutions within a Converged Plantwide Ethernet (CPwE) architecture, including design considerations for fixed position, nomadic and mobile equipment use cases. It also includes explanations for how to configure, maintain and troubleshoot WLAN for each use case, and detailed documentation on how the architectures were tested and validated by Cisco and Rockwell Automation. With this new resource, network designers can create a small network within a plant using a single autonomous access point, and scale up to create a larger, unified WLAN architecture.
“Wireless has an increasingly important role in the industrial network infrastructure,” said Ashok Patel, network architect at Owens Corning, the world’s largest manufacturer of fiberglass technology. “Managing both data collection and automation control over 802.11 is viable today if you understand and deploy the architecture and design best practices outlined in the new resources from Rockwell Automation and Cisco.”
“Wi-Fi networks (or IEEE 802.11) are incredibly useful in factory and plant applications – so useful that manufacturers must thoughtfully plan their Wi-Fi networks as an infrastructure serving all types of applications,” said Harry Forbes, senior analyst, ARC. “This new and timely resource from Rockwell Automation and Cisco incorporates lessons that many manufacturers learned through experience.”
The recommendations provided in these documents are demonstrated in the Industrial IP Advantage booth at this year’s Automation Fair event in Anaheim, California. The entire booth is a small-scale representation of the CPwE architecture, featuring a plant operations control room equipped with a WLAN controller and Cisco Lightweight Access Point. The network extends to process and packaging areas in the booth via the Allen Bradley Stratix 5100 wireless access point/work group bridge, which was jointly developed by Rockwell Automation and Cisco.
Rockwell Automation and Cisco are committed to being one of the most valuable resources in the industry for helping manufacturers improve business performance by bridging the technical and cultural gaps between plant-floor automation and higher-level information systems. Through successful collaboration on products, services, validated architectures and educational resources, the two companies help manufacturers converge their network infrastructure, and bring together IT and operations using a secure, IP-based network to help drive the vision of The Connected Enterprise.