Rockwell Automation, in association with Cisco, has entered into a new market with the supply of a line of managed switches integrated with Cisco technology. This enables Rockwell Automation to provide complete networking products from I/O to enterprise.
According to Clive Barwise, Integrated Architecture Field Business Leader, Rockwell Automation, there is a definite disparity in the manufacturing environment between the production/control and IT departments regarding the use Ethernet/IP.
“Essentially Rockwell Automation is the expert in the control space and Cisco is the expert in the IT and Ethernet space. By collaborating in this arena, both companies can use their industry know-how to help both factories’ control and IT staff successfully merge these two areas and get advice on the use of Ethernet.”
The modular managed co-branded switch line is the first of its kind. It uses the current Cisco Catalyst switch architecture and feature set, along with powerful configuration tools. This helps to provide secure integration with the enterprise network. The line also features easy setup and comprehensive diagnostics from within the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture.
According to Barwise, the collaboration also enables IT and manufacturing to bring their best practices together to improve efficiencies and efficiencies, agility and competitive advantage for manufacturers. “It assists manufacturers in realising the benefits of a completely integrated network architecture that unites production intelligence with the rest of the enterprise, reliability and quality across the organisation, as well as the deployment and maintenance of security.
“Working in close collaboration with Cisco, Rockwell Automation has created reference architecture – a formal document that details design and implementation guidance and best practices for converged-network architecture. It brings together relevant applications, technologies, and principles, enabling manufacturing and IT organisation departments to successfully collaborate and implement a truly integrated system. The architecture is supported by both companies and provides one consistent, documented view,” says Barwise.
The partnership also sees the two companies working towards improving the Ethernet/IP standard. Ethernet/IP is Rockwell Automation’s adoption of Ethernet in the control environment. It is a global open standard that is owned by the Open DeviceNet Vendors Association (ODVA).
“We are actively seeking ways in which to improve Ethernet/IP protocol and will be presenting these changes to an ODVA committee in order to get them approved and adopted.”
The collaboration has been formalised on an international level. Locally, Rockwell Automation and Cisco sales teams are working together to determine the way forward.
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