26. November 2008

World novelty: "Fast Track Switching" allows global Ethernet at the field level

The HARTING Technology Group is presenting "Fast Track Switching", the first system of its kind in the world, at this year's SPS/IPC/DRIVES in Nuremberg.

"Fast Track Switching" is the first to allow standard Ethernet to be used at the field level – without restrictions on the real-time behavior and with the required determinism. This solves central problems that crop up when Ethernet is deployed at field levels.

For users, "Fast Track Switching" means more flexibility at lower costs without having to establish a new network. With these solutions, HARTING has developed the basic concepts of AUTOMATION IT to a logical end.

As a company, HARTING is using the "Fast Track Switching" product innovation to further expand the ICPN (Industrial Communication and Power Networks) business segment and develop the emerging market for industrial Ethernet at the field level.
Philip Harting, Board Member for Connectivity & Networks at HARTING, explains: "HARTING is determined to shape tomorrow's markets with innovative products. This demands innovations and new ways of thinking. The fact is: There is a demand in the market for open and universal Ethernet networking all the way to machine levels. For our customers, "Fast Track Switching" most notably delivers reduced costs and more stability, in connection with greater flexibility. AUTOMATION IT with Ethernet is now a reality - also in the field."

Technologically, the "Fast Track Switching" solution essentially covers three points: The switch detects an automation protocol in order to pass it on with the highest priority before all IT protocols. The detected automation protocols are accelerated using the "cut-through" method. Moreover, the new technology guarantees that automation protocols overtake IT protocols.

Stefan Korf, "Fast Track Switching" project manager, provides more details: "To implement "Fast Track Switching", we added essential points to the functions of a standard switch. The technological core of our innovation is a type of passing lane for automation protocols. As a result, this is the first time it has been possible to map and form all of a company's applications with a single network. "Fast Track Switching" ensures a universal Ethernet with the required determinism at the field level."


AUTOMATION IT was created in 2006. The goal was to establish an Ethernet network for all applications - in the office environment, manufacturing buildings, systems and the machines involved. The idea started with the problem that – directly at the field level - Standard Ethernet performance was not sufficient due to its real-time behavior and lack of determinism. But "Fast Track Switching" now enables universal implementation of AUTOMATION IT for the first time. "Fast Track Switching" also ensures a considerable performance increase. Moreover, the throughput times for automation protocols are deterministically reproducible.

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