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WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 6/2020

WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 6/2020

How to gain full

How to gain full transparency over your network and minimize downtimes AUTOMATION In many operators’ plants, long downtimes occur in the event of an error. The failure is often due to network problems that are time-consuming to locate without suitable information. Diagnostics-capable devices such as the Managed Switches and WLAN access points from Phoenix Contact offer a solution. Author: Jan Aulenberg, M.Sc., product manager for network technology, Phoenix Contact Electronics GmbH, Bad Pyrmont, Germany 8 WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 2020

01 Diagnostics-capable network components reduce time and effort for the service technician as well as system downtimes High system availability in combination with maximum protection against unauthorized access is fundamental for the economic success of companies. To achieve this, downtimes must be minimized by troubleshooting errors quickly. That said, network diagnostics – that is, the detailed monitoring of each device, each connection, and each data communication – is primarily done to gain the information needed for a quick determination of the location and type of the problem. Deficiency in practice: inadequate diagnostic options However, numerous machine and production networks have no or inadequate diagnostic options. This is particularly due to the use of infrastructure components such as Unmanaged Switches, which are not capable of providing data about themselves and the network. These devices are often selected due to their lower initial costs, and also because they are highly user-friendly and normally don’t require any knowledge about networks. However, many operators ignore the advantages that diagnostics-capable infrastructure components such as Managed Switches or access points have in the medium or long term. Those devices act as a central source of information in the network, which makes their higher price also economically justifiable. Thus, the initially higher investment usually proves to be worthwhile when the first network failure can be prevented or fixed more quickly, with resulting system and production downtimes being reduced. In fact, experience shows that looking for network errors without having any diagnostic information can take hours or even days. Link problems, electromagnetic interferences, device errors… Operators of machine and production networks face typical realworld challenges. Link problems are the most frequent causes for data communication failures in Ethernet networks. Reasons are often simple and easy to eliminate: Usually, failures are due to loose or broken cables and connectors that either have been badly assembled, wrongly installed, or have a broken latching mechanism, for instance. Other causes include inoperative devices and high WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 2020 9

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