25 FEBRUARY 2009

Continuous improvement drives EIP standard forward

"We intend to advance EtherNet/IP by developing a troubleshooting guide, delving into EIP Web Diagnostics, and instituting EIP security recommendations for end devices," said Kevin Knake of HMS Industrial Networks. 

Knake represented one of several EtherNet/IP (EIP) special interest groups (SIG) speaking to the technical review board of the ODVA (Open Device Vendors Association) annual meeting today in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. 

There were ten reporting SIGs working on various components of ODVA's networking and communications technologies. EIP occupied more reports than any other did.

Rockwell Automation developed EtherNet/IP in the late 1990's as part of its industrial Ethernet networking solutions. Rockwell handed the science off to ODVA, which manages the protocol and assures multi-vendor system interoperability by leveraging standards and conformance.

EtherNet/IP is mostly for communication to and from Rockwell Automation's Allen-Bradley control systems. 

Systems integrator John Rinaldi of RTA which services a range of fieldbuses reported on his website, "there are numerous application layer competitors to EIP including Modbus/TCP from Groupe Schneider, ProfiNet from Siemens, HSE Fieldbus from the Fieldbus foundation and other vendors. None of these competitors can provide the vendor support, flexibility and total architecture support offered by the implementation of CIP over Ethernet (EtherNet/IP)."

CIP is the Common Industrial Protocol and it allows complete integration of control with information, multiple CIP Networks, and Internet technologies.

Other SIG reports at ODVA 2009 CIP Networks Conference:

  • Brian Batke (Rockwell) for the EIP System Architecture SIG said there had been a 79% increase from 2007 in this SIG's membership
  • Todd Snide, chair of the Modbus Integration SIG reported they had completed their integration work but "as use becomes commonplace, we'll be changing the language of the specification and working on accommodations for the next year to 18 months."
  • Steve Zuponcic, chair of Distributed Motion SIG reported the committee has updated CIP Sync to be compliant w/ IEEE 1588, which is a standard for a precision clock synchronization protocol for networked measurement and control systems. "We'll work on CIP/SERCOS III gateway functionality over the next year," Zuponcic said.
  • The DeviceNet Physical Layer SIG chair, Brad Woodman reported the group has finished its mice tutorial, which defines the industrial environment. MICE is the Mechanical, Ingress, Climatic, and Electromagnetic concept is a systematic method of describing industrial environments to determine equipment protection needs.
  • Bob Lounsberry, chair of the EIP Physical Layer SIG addressed MICE. "There's a tremendous amount of activity going on in the cabling and commercial area and we need to incorporate the terms of MICE into our world."
  • The Automotive SIG has been dormant for a couple of years but there is some stirring now. There is interest in the area of quick-connects for robots.
  • CompoNet SIG reported. CompoNet provides users with a bit-level network to control small, high-speed machines and the CIP Network services to connect to the plant and the enterprise.
  • Dave Vasko, chair of the CIP Safety SIG reported, "CIP Safety will be riding on SERCOS-III." SERCOS-III, a motion control protocol, merges the hard-real-time aspects of the SERCOS interface with the Ethernet standard.
  • Dave VanGompel, a network technologist at Rockwell and chair of the CIP System Architecture SIG reported that group has seen to the approval 17 system enhancements to the CIP definition.

-- Nick Sheble