Powerlink is a real-time Ethernet that can transfer real-time data in the microsecond range. This occurs especially with the transfer of process data or in automation engineering. With this Ethernet, it is absolutely necessary to know the exact characteristics of such a technology to be able to give information concerning the return on investment. In this sense, it can be said that Powerlink has established itself in recent years and that their application has proven itself. In the following, certain characteristics of Powerlink will be described in detail, and the advantages of the system will be demonstrated. The most important characteristics include hot plugging, simple diagnosis, free wiring, cross traffic, and integration of the CANopen mechanisms.
One of the major advantages of Powerlink is the return on investment offered by the technology. The main reason for this is that Powerlinkhas maintained its position for years and has proven itself. The openness typical to the system is a major point in favour of Powerlink. The freedom offered to the users due to the openness is one of the main technical characteristics of Powerlink. Nevertheless, Powerlink is equipped with a high safety standards and offers a perfect infrastructure for the safety-oriented protocol Powerlink Safety.
What are the technological characteristics of Powerlink?
Powerlink is characterized especially by features like hot plugging and very simple diagnostics. Furthermore, it offers free wiring, cross traffic, and integration of the CANopen mechanisms. All of these technical characteristics of Powerlink make the system highly attractive to the user.
The History of Powerlink
Industrial Ethernet systems have existed for many years. Powerlink has been in place since 2001. It is one of the first systems of Industrial Ethernet that functions with hard real-time. From 2001 to the present day, Powerlink has continued to develop and today is still the leading standard and installed with several hundred machine builders all over the world. There are very different real-time Ethernet systems, but only Powerlink systems could also convince a broad cross section of machine builders due to their technical characteristics and the resulting advantages for the user. No other system of this kind has been used worldwide as widely as Powerlink.
From where does a System belong to hard real-time?
Hard real-time in Ethernet systems means that the clock times should be as short as possible, so that it should actually be called quasi real-time. A system can be called a real-time system only when communication takes place with very short delay times. Each system that wants to be part of the Industrial Ethernets in hard real-time must be examined in regard to its technical characteristics. A system can be called a real-time system only when the processes and communication steps take place in the desired time, namely as short and accurate as possible.
The way that safety systems integrate into an Ethernet system is also important. When a system cannot integrate safety technology or is not able to guarantee redundant system designs, it will not be very suitable for the processing industry. Only a safe system should be used in industry, as otherwise high costs or many failures may be caused in production.
To the absolute freedom of Powerlink
One of the largest advantages of the technical characteristics of Powerlink is the fact that free wiring is possible. No matter whether a tree, ring, or line structure, it is possible with Powerlink. The system even supports star-shaped structures. There are only a few systems on the market that can offer this ability. The advantage of this versatility is the fact that a system can be expanded very easily and is not bound to a rigid topology. Powerlink networks can be expanded easily without influencing real-time in any way.
Communication with only a few resources
The technical characteristics of Powerlink amongst others include the resource-saving procedure of communication in the system. With the cross traffic capacity offered to the user by Powerlink, many receivers can be reached with little effort. Every individual participant in the network can receive the messages or data sent by another participant. Normally, all messages go through the master.
This takes much time and does not save resources. The decentralized communication form of Powerlink is the decisive advantage over systems going through the master. The load of the master is relieved by the cross traffic, so that communication takes place faster. As fewer control tasks now occur, less expensive variants of control systems can be used in many systems, which again reduces the costs.
The Hot-plugging function of Powerlink
There are two advantages offered by Powerlink through the hot-plugging function. On one hand, it is not necessary to re-configure the system when a module is replaced or an additional module is to be integrated into the system. On the other hand, the machine does not have to be switched off for installation of a new module or for replacement of an existing one, so that all production is not shut down.
The Powerlink system continues to operate in real-time even during expansion or modification without noticing any impairment. If this function had not been integrated, this would result in long downtimes, which could mean considerable loss of revenue.
Powerlink and CANopen
Users working with CANopen networks can supplement these best with Powerlink. The advantage of Powerlink is the fact that it fully integrates the mechanisms of the CANopen system and thus uses the same device profiles. Thus it is not necessary to reconfigure the existing system extensively, but can expand it conveniently.