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How to Select a Machine Automation Fieldbus

Fieldbus is a common industrial term with very different meanings depending on what industry you work in. In process or formula-based manufacturing, fieldbus commonly refers to Foundation Fieldbus or HART connecting to a distributed control system (DCS). In discrete or individual unit manufacturing, fieldbus typically indicates usage of PROFINET, PROFIBUS DP, EtherNet/IP, EtherCAT or DeviceNet industrial networks connecting to programmable logic controllers (PLC). Today we’re going to focus on industrial network architecture within the discrete manufacturing or machine automation space.

In a white paper titled “Five Critical Factors for Selecting Fieldbus Valve Manifolds” Enrico De Carolis discusses how machine automation fieldbus enables the integration of communication interfaces to pneumatic valve manifolds with input/output (I/O) capabilities. This allows PLCs to more efficiently control valves and to channel I/O data from sensors, lights, relays, or other I/O devices via various industrial networks. The resulting integrated control packages can also be optimized to allow diagnostic and prognostic benefits not previously available.

Fieldbus valve manifolds find wide utility in packaging, automotive/tire, and material handling applications, as well as in the pharmaceutical, chemical, water, and wastewater industries. They are specified for purchase by controls engineers at original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who design and develop industrial automation solutions — as well as by end users in relevant industries.

It’s beneficial for engineers, specifiers, and buyers to consider the following five crucial factors before selecting pneumatic fieldbus valve manifolds for machine automation applications:

  1. Commissioning – Time, difficulty and costs add up quickly when commissioning the valve manifold: mounting it on its specified automated machine; connecting network and I/O cables, power, and compressed-air supplies; configuring its parameters; and testing it.
  2. Distribution – Fieldbus nodes that are capable of handling both valves and I/O as well as the mutual distribution of I/O and valve manifold functionality around a given machine lowers network hardware investment, saves time, and decrease the number of nodes on the network.
  3. Modularity – Conventional nonmodular designs force the user to dismantle the entire assembly to get access, dismount the malfunctioning module, replace it, and then reassemble the whole fieldbus manifold or system.
  4. Diagnostics – Easy access to diagnostic indicators is critical in locating a problem and identifying the cause to get the machine up and running quickly.
  5. Recovery – The ability for a manifold to automatically recognize a replacement communication and I/O module and reload all settings, configuration parameters, and other pertinent information can reduce downtime considerably.

ASCO G3 Fieldbus was designed with the five previously outlined crucial factors at its core and as a result can save installation, maintenance, and repair time as well as reduce cost. Commissioning time is reduced by embedded graphic displays that enable quick setup. Valve manifolds can support up to 16 I/O Modules and 128 valve solenoid coils, which can then be distributed for up to 17 total manifolds per communication node. A novel “clip” design allows easy module removal/replacement without dismantling the manifold. Diagnostics are available in plain text on the embedded graphic display and via the integrated web server. Finally, the Auto Recovery Module (ARM) protects configuration information to enable faster recovery during a critical failure.

You can connect directly with a ASCO application specialist to learn more about G3 Fieldbus or join other pneumatic valve experts in the Solenoids and Pneumatics group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.