What are the Key Challenges to Industrial Ethernet Systems?

California, U.S.A., April 2019 – Ethernet Direct Corporation, a professional and primary provider of industrial networking and communication solutions shares how to choose the right industrial Ethernet switch for your application.

The world economic situation is causing many companies to reduce costs. This puts pressure on everyone to cut down wherever possible. Industrial switches have always had a much higher price than their commercial counterparts. If you however need the characteristics of an Industrial switch but want to reduce the cost, then the following guidelines will be important.

The saying “You get what you pay” has some subtleties that should be considered when comparing Industrial Switches as initial savings may turn into major costs. Many companies confuse or hide important issues or over emphasize others with lower value. This causes confusion or misunderstandings for many first time buyers that may not know the effects of these differences on performance and reliability.

Proper CPU performance and Memory size

Costs can also be reduced by using less memory or a less powerful CPU in the switch. CPU and memory limitations are why some switches cannot be fully managed as they are not capable of processing the SNMP data. Some low end switches used in high traffic or real time applications in the process may be overloaded and problems may occur at these times. Processors may also reset in order to prevent a full lock-up and thus, switches may have intermittent drop-outs. Memory size affects the number of MAC addresses that a switch can remember. Not having enough memory can cause issues with the MAC and aging tables, and then cause issues. Some vendors, in an attempt to overcome small memory sizes, use “hashing algorithms”, assuming the MAC address would be spread out and can truncate or compress these numbers. This however has caused problems in industrial networks.

Environmentally Tough

The need for Industrial Switches is mostly defined by the environment they will be subjected to. The harsh environment with vibration, heat, humidity, dirt, vibration and electrical noise degrading the life of components is a major cause of these early failures. Temperature range is one of the important areas but not the only one. Industrial switches should be industrial and for this reason plastic cases that can break off of the DIN rail when cables are attached should be questionable. In some cases, the temperature specifications exceed the connected device by a great deal. Many vendors offer versions of the product with wider temperature ranges, so be sure if you need them that you select them. Redundant power inputs with wide voltage tolerance are also an important feature to consider. Power is one of the areas that most frequently will have an outage or fluctuation.

Truly open systems

Many newer switches, including the emergence of Gigabit switches, will use SFPs to obtain flexibility. Small Form-Factor Pluggable transceivers (SFP) provide the ability of a switch to accept a variety of Fiber optic options. In some applications the uses of SFPs have eliminated the need for modular switches that have a very high cost. A good example is the Ethernet Direct HMG-1648GP that is an all gigabit switch with 4 SFPs and 16 10/100/1000 TX ports. However, be sure to understand if the switch supports an open SFP policy. The switch will accept any vendors’ SFP. Several major companies lock you in to using only their SFP. This has the effect of a non-competitive cost area that can be greater than the cost of the switch itself. This also limits the flexibility to only the options available from the vendor and this is a hidden cost that should be recognized and factored in for the total cost of the switch.

Security Features

Every organization can increase the security posture of their network infrastructure by implementing a secured Layer 2 part of the network management which is sometimes overlooked or not fully executed. Ethernet Direct offers ADVANCED SECURITY FEATURES not found in other switches such as User Privilege Levels Security, Switch Port Security, is IP Source Guard, Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) Inspection, Port & MAC Based Authentication (IEEE 802.1X), RADIUS/TACACS+, Access Control Lists (ACL), HTTPS / SSL / SSH V2 etc.

Support by the vendor

Support is a final area that may not be directly associated with the price of the switch but, clearly if you are searching for help, can cost you time, and, time is money. Be sure that if you have a question you can get a quick response from someone knowledgeable. There is no worse situation than to be passed around an organization and then finally being told the person who can help is out of the office, and can only return your call tomorrow. The time to respond to a problem if the individual is not resident on the plant floor will mean additional down time. During this time, the process or machinery may also be down awaiting resolution or replacement.

If you follow the guidelines above and become more knowledgeable about the subtle differences, you will become a more informed consumer.

Ethernet Direct believes that you do not have to pay a lot for quality Industrial switches.

To get a FREE Whitepaper about the Key Challenges to Industrial Ethernet Systems, please e-mail sales@ethernetdirect-tw.com