Keeping Product Development Cycles on the Fast Track

By network-enabling industrial automation equipment, important tasks such as uploading/downloading programs, communicating between controllers, and generating e-mail alerts become possible. Unfortunately, the resources needed to design a solution that can seamlessly tie together a wide diversity of network environments that are widely dispersed, plus rapildly deploy that solution, can present a costly challenge to many equipment manufacturers.

Virtually all of Rockwell Automation’s customers have widely dispersed and disparate network environments with a mix of 10Mb and 100Mb Ethernet devices. Having connectivity that would seamlessly accommodate either Ethernet standard became a necessity. Therefore, the company determined that a 10/100Mb Ethernet auto switching capability was required for the ENI interface.

Two significant challenges faced the Rockwell design team. First, the small “footprint” of the ENI packaging made the task of finding a networking solution that would fit into the product design very daunting. In addition, time-to-market was a driving factor. In a highly competitive market, Rockwell Automation needed to deliver their network enabled controller products as quickly as possible, and could not afford long development cycles to integrate networking capabilities.

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  • VENDOR
  • CUSTOMER
  • Rockwell Automation is a leading global provider of industrial automation power, control, and information solutions. One of the company’s leading brands is AllenBradley,® a manufacturer of automation controls and provider of engineering services. Allen-Bradley control solutions have set a high standard in industrial automation, helping the industry apply programmable logic controller (PLC) technology for nearly 30 years.
  • SOLUTION
  • To address the need to enhance the existing solution to 100Mb Ethernet auto-switching, Rockwell Automation ultimately selected the Lantronix XPort® embedded Device Server.™

    XPort is a complete network-enabling solution enclosed within a ruggedized RJ-45 package; it eliminates the complexity of creating a networked environment by providing a complete, integrated solution. Everything designers need to add network connectivity is incorporated into XPort’s compact design, including:

    • A 10Base-T /100Base-TX Ethernet connection
    • Reliability and proven operating system
    • An embedded web server
    • Flexible firmware
    • A full TCP/IP protocol stack
    • E-mail alerts
    • Optional 256-bit standards-based (AES) encryption.

    Selecting XPort to provide Ethernet/IP connectivity enables Rockwell Automation’s ENI interface to perform key tasks such as uploading/downloading programs, communicating between controllers, generating e-mail alerts via SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol), and more. XPort’s optional 256-bit standards-based encryption assures optimal security for communications.

    A significant advantage was its compact size and the ease with which it was integrated into the ENI interface. Using XPort, the product designers and engineers at Rockwell Automation did not need to spend upwards of 48 months of labor and hundreds of thousands of dollars in development time becoming experts on Ethernet and writing an IP stack. They simply purchased an integrated solution from Lantronix.

    Because XPort virtually “dropped” into the product design, the product engineers did not have to significantly modify the product to add network connectivity. Another significant factor was the need for higher speed 100Mb data transmission. XPort provided much faster performance than the previous network connectivity solution the company had been using.
  • DATA COLLECTED
  • OPERATIONAL IMPACT
  • Impact #1
    Reduced development costs and accelerated
    time-to-market.
    Impact #2
    Adding Lantronix’s enhanced networking performance capabilities to the ENI interface has allowed Rockwell Automation to expand new business opportunities.
  • QUANTITATIVE BENEFIT
  • INDUSTRIES
  • Equipment & Machinery
  • FUNCTIONS
  • Product Development
  • ENABLED CAPABILITIES
  • Infrastructure Access & Security
    Overall Equipment Effectiveness
  • CONNECTIVITY PROTOCOLS
  • RELATED CASE STUDIES
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