Automation for different network standards

Innovation project: Adaptive coupler for industrial automation networks

Automation components in machinery and equipment communicate over networks, similarly to computers. As a result of rapid changes in automation technology, there are now a great many established network standards designed to meet different information exchange requirements. Components with identical functions are currently developed separately for each different network standard. This leads to competitive disadvantages due to increases in development work and delays in market launches, as well as to a high number of product versions. Consequently, both equipment and component manufacturers face high workloads and additional costs throughout the equipment life cycle – from development, production and commissioning to maintenance.

The aim of the research project is to develop intelligent automation components that can be used with different network standards and autonomously change their behavior as needed through hardware and software reconfiguration.

To that end, successful approaches from the mobile telephony sector are enhanced and transferred to industrial communications systems. The elements and properties of various network standards and components are investigated before defining and designing reconfiguration interfaces and processes. These are used as the basis for developing a functional model, which is converted into a field programmable gate array (FPGA) and then evaluated. The project draws on various deliverables from cross-sectional projects such as self-optimization and intelligent networking. The results are compiled into a set of tools that allow platform concepts to be developed for equipment and component manufacturers.

Thanks to the project results, the effort and cost of automation can be optimized throughout the machinery or equipment life cycle. The number of product versions and development times for new components are reduced, with equipment and component manufacturers receiving a set of tools that allows them to develop components flexibly and efficiently, regardless of network standards and without modifying existing hardware.

Project duration
01 October 2012 - 30 September 2015