Network Technologies for Functional Safety Communications in Industry 4.0.
Safe and efficient networking is always a challenge, but we have an expert here. Tom, could you tell us a little bit about CC-Link and IE TSN and what does that have to do with the black channel? Thank you, Bill. Yeah. I'm pleased to talk about this. It's very exciting opportunity to talk about what we're doing with CLPA, which stands for the CC-Link Partner Association, and what we're doing specifically with, you know, the different networks that we're producing and, you know, going for, you know, complete seamless interoperability. CC-Link IE TSN and a number of years ago I got involved with the TSN technology, which stands for time sensitive networking, and it was very interesting on the technology back when I was still doing OPC because I saw the value of the the high speed performance, you know, of gigabit performance. But what I also saw was the ability to do a lot of different things on the same physical wire.
So and what that translates to the importance of when I can do control motion and safety and, you know, TCP IP on the same physical wire, that's where things all tie in. So with the TSN technology, in the past we had multiple protocols and all these different applications. They all had to run on different physical wires and customers didn't like that. What they really liked was, is there a way that we could make everything run smoothly and give me high performance and high reliability and allow me to run, you know, all my types of different applications on the same wire? And that's the purpose really that I saw of balancing TSN. How safety ties into this, if you think about, you know, what is safety designed to do, and it's really designed to protect, you know, really the equipment, but also the users, right? And, you know, safety is about always detecting, you know, abnormal or even just slightly, you know, operations that are outside of the normal spectrum and protecting the equipment. So and the protecting the user so something bad doesn't happen.
So when I'm doing control and that's primarily what people think about in the OT world, well, they want to introduce the ability to also make sure their machines are safe and something's not running amiss. And it's not running at a at a speed that it shouldn't be running. That's going to affect, you know, the overall operation and safety of the machine and the people. So safety is actually a very important part of what what everybody's looking at. And the whole concept of the black channel really what that's about is it's about driving reliability and safety and it's allowed to set up essentially redundant networks. So what I really want to be able to do is I want to run, you know, multiple safeties on that same physical wire and a redundant operation to guarantee that things are maintained or reliable and that, doesn't affect things where, you know, things are getting through that shouldn't be getting through and that you're getting things through that are important to ensure the integrity and reliability of the network.
So the safety regulations that are out there, and particularly the IEC standards, right, really don't normally support the transfer of any other type of traffic. And because they don't support any other type of traffic that's typically called white channel. Black channel allows you to run multiple things.
And it's become a very popular approach to overcoming the issue of, you know, essentially having to have, you know, separate networks. So with the black channel, I'm really capable of running and overcoming the issues where I can run, you know, multiple things on the same network without it just being safety specific. So machine safety communications on that same wire allows me to take typically what's non-safe data and, you know, supporting both cyclic and acyclic communications on the same physical wire. So TSN is about the time sensitive networking. And what this provides is the high performance, high determinism and allows me to run, you know, multiple different industrial Ethernet protocols on the same wire.
So today I work for Mitsubishi and I'm talking about CLPA and I'm talking about CC-Link IE TSN, but the reality is, you know, I'm been in this world for a while. You know, we talk about Profinet, we talk about EtherIP. I like to talk about, you know, what OPC is and what OPC UA is doing with the technology. So imagine a world now that I can run all these different protocols on the same physical wire at the same time, I can do control motion and safety as well as application like, you know, hooking up my vision system, running just TCP IP. So I said a lot and I apologize, but it's it's an exciting opportunity because there's so many challenges.
And the reason that I'm talking about like security, I like to talk about, you know, I don't use the word real time too often, but I talk about determinism. And with the TSN technology, I can do things both from remote and I can also do on premise and I can run a safety protocol now on that same physical wire. And that's really a pretty exciting thing from an end user perspective.
So when we're talking about the black channel, is that something that's proprietary or open? that's a very important thing to talk about because implementing networks that support black channel, it is not proprietary. Actually, it's very open and very interoperable and it's very important. It is really a defacto standard for, you know, communication of safety.
And this whole concept really allows and because it's open and not proprietary, it's really, you know, an effective and convergent safety communication that allows, you know, specialization between PLCs, for example, allowing multiple safety operations and providing, you know, standardized and specified performance and more importantly, integrity, you know, without having a specific device in there. So it is a standard, per say, that all vendors agree on when we talk about black channel and it talks about, you know, so I can take a Siemens PLC and a Rockwell PLC and a Mitsubishi PLC, and we all agree that when we do black channel, we're doing it in this fashion. So I just talked about Rockwell and Siemens can intercommunicate, along with Mitsubishi supporting the safety standard. So TSN is a standard. How does it relate to IE TSN? And are there standards associated with that? So TSN overall is a standard that applies to more than just industrial automation. TSN and first got its start as a time sensitive network in the audiovisual industry.
And at that point in time it was all about streaming video and making sure that you didn't lose something and get blips in your video. And there was actually an organization called Avenue, which stood for the audiovisual organization, which basically was developing and certifying the TSN and technology in audiovisual. Then it started to look for opportunities or we basically the problem of how do you have a reliable high performance network inside of an automobile? So, for example, Tesla has over 3,200 sensors in their Model X vehicle and moving on from a different network than what typically was used is CAN bus, TSN begin to provide a really reliable network that really allowed, you know, a lot better performance and more importantly, you know, removed any of the latency and controlled latency about things inside the vehicle. So if you think about, you know, all this different interoperability that has to happen in the vehicle, TSN was a perfect technology for that.
And then we recognized, well, we can do it inside the automobile, why can't we do it for manufacturing the automobile and doing it inside industrial automation? So it was a perfect technology for this. And, you know, a lot of the different industrial automation or industrial, you know, Ethernet organizations, we all recognize whether it was CC-Link or Profinet or EtherCat we recognized that, you know, customers want to have, you know, better performance. We were talking about, you know, we're talking about gigabyte performance now with the TSN and technology.
So, you know, how do we get even better, you know, capability and hook up a lot of different disparate devices and disparate networks and even get more data these devices. So TSN started as an industry standard for a whole bunch of different industries, and then we started taking a look at the TSN and technology and specifically organizations like CLPA and Profinet, but, you know, we started looking at how do we adapt our own, you know, industrial Ethernet technology that's been used in IA, both from a process and, you know, factory automation inside of our protocol. So in 2018, you know, TSN and have been around about four years.
In 2018, CLPA released the first version of their technology, which was CC-Link IE TSN, and that basically was designed to provide a maximum bandwidth like one gigabyte that really allowed, you know, and improve that determinism over a standard Ethernet. Normal standard Ethernet does not provide the technology to, you know, support, you know, determinism. That's just not what it's designed to do. So you always have to build a protocol on top of that. But with TSN had provided, you know, over a standard Ethernet a deterministic approach and allowed us the capability of us then building our own technologies on top of this to even provide even better capability and more functionality than we typically were able to do before.
And it's kind of one of those ones that I'd love to draw and, you know, draw on the whiteboard, right? So we have Ethernet and then we have the the TSN capability that you put on top of Ethernet and then you have the industrial Ethernet protocols, you know, that fit on top of the TSN technology. So TSN can be done as a software stack or it can also be done as a chip that a lot of our vendors essentially are producing and they're putting that silicon on their respective products. OK, so how does safety play into this protocol stack? So what we've done with that and specifically the the whole concept of safety and the importance of safety and, you know, the different safety devices that we have in the areas of, you know, robotics and a lot of other devices where you want to have, you know, safety, communication that are built in and, you know, essentially has both a bidirectional communication between the different endpoints, whether it's client server or published subscribe and kind of like what I was what I got to go back to and talk about is why are there so many different protocols and and why that is and how all that works, but from a safety perspective, there's been a lot of, you know, introduction of different black channel approaches that have become more popular to overcome the needs and the issues associated with having separate safety networks. And that's kind of the idea what we put behind it. So the the idea of having the black channel or the safety, a lot of companies produce safety modules and then we have to produce those networks that allow those safety modules to work on that specific network. So in the case of CC-Link IE TAN and or Profinet or, you know, what EtherIP does, you know, with EtherIP, I talk a lot about CIP safety.
CIP safety actually works in conjunction with EtherIP and it runs on that same level as EtherIP and provides the safety capability for, you know, the reliability and that communication of bi-directional to ensure the safety of operators on the machine. So it's actually a protocol in itself if you think about what safety is and it's very important that we can run this, you know, and not interfere and you know, an overlay what's going on with control. So I'm doing control and I'm controlling my machine and doing all these things.
At the same time, I want to be able to run the safety protocol that's keeping an eye on the machine and keeping an eye on the people behind that thing. So, you know, it's just there's a lot of different data that's sent between safety devices and it has to be secured and, you know, transmitted over this communication channel. So if you think about this, what we're trying to do is eliminate any errors and ensuring the integrity of the data transmission operations.
And that's the important part of we think about the black channel and it really provides a very cost effective and a flexible convergent architecture to support interconnectivity between these different devices that essentially, you know, rely on making sure that safety is maintained and that we can keep an eye on this machine to make sure that the machine is operating within the specifications we know are reasonable. So, Tom, are there companies that are taking advantage of IE TSN at this point? Bill, that's a really good question. There's a lot of companies that are taking a look at, you know, they want to merge and converge all their networks together. And one company that we've recently been working with has a company called Keller, and they essentially do an industrial printing.
And with what they're doing, they build a lot of different OEMs and machines that perform screen and pad printing as well as what's known as hot stamping. And they're based in Poland. And we sent a video crew over there to talk to them and take a look at their innovative new system that leveraged our TSN technology, specifically CC-Link IE TSN. And what we found was that they were able to really increase their productivity because of the level of determinism that we were able to provide inside the machines for motion control across these devices, which are essentially a multitude of servos.
So they had a lot of interaction between the different servos and the different machines, and they really needed a significant increase in performance in order to have this level of interoperability. So what happened by using the the new technology and the high speed determinism performance, it really allowed them to result in significant improvements in terms of performance and accuracy and precision. The biggest thing that also that they dived into was they really wanted to have you know, they had they were very ambitious with what's known as their their axes of the color printing and what they were trying to do and the number of different what's known as the drives that they had from Mitsubishi, they had over 65 drives that were trying to run at the same time.
And this was like well beyond what we thought we could do with our existing networking technology. So we knew that they were going to have to use the TSN technology and provide which had gigabit performance to provide the capacity and bandwidth, you know, to deliver the application requirements for this. So one of the things that's very important when you're doing industrial printing, particularly with, you know, merging all these different axes, is that, you know, you have to make sure that there is no overlap and we had to run safety as part of this.
And safety essentially guaranteed that, you know, there weren't two axes that were going to collide at the same time. And that was very important part of the application for Keller. So you talked before about the coexistence of multiple protocols. Can you talk a bit more about that and how it works on a converged network? TSN and what we've done with TSN, and it's not just CC-Link IE TSN, it's all of its Profinet, it’s EtherIP, it's all of the different industrial, you know, Ethernet organizations recognized that, you know, particularly when you're starting to think about robotics and, you know, streamlining and you're starting to think about, you know, less physical wires and less cabling, you really want to simplify, you know, all these things. If you want to run on a single physical wire. And what we've been able to do with the TSN technology is able to provide and guarantee all of these different industrial Ethernets when they run on the same physical wire, that not only can they coexist, you know, on the same wire, they actually work and guarantee interoperability on the same physical wire.
So now the interoperability between the different, you know, Profinet and CC-Link, but I can guarantee that I can do CC-Link and I can do Profinet the way I've always done it because TSN’s providing the necessary time slicing and bandwidth on the network to allow me to do this. The big part of this is so now I'm combining control from CC-Link and control from Profinet and control from EtherIP combination with motion and the safety protocols and then being able to add vision systems on to the wires that are running TCP IP. So that bottom picture there shows that everything's running on the same wire and that also lays me to take advantage of not only do all the OT networks run on the same wire, I'm now able to take data, take it up to the edge, take have the edge, essentially convert that data into useful information, and I'm able to push that into the IT world and back and forward. So we're now talking about convergence of not only the OT networks, I'm talking about convergence of IT and OT together in a seamless fashion. So summary is I'm able to combine my I/O my motion and all my safety device traffic along with, you know, barcode readers and printers on the same network. And I'm also able to bridge the gap that we've never been able to bridge before.
And actually, have you know, interspersed communication between IT and OT. And that's a very exciting part of that. So when I start thinking about things like packaging machines, for example, and the packaging machines, they have a lot of things that they all want to have connected.
There's a lot of different disparate devices and traffic and they can all share on the same single network. So with a single wire you can start thinking about single pair Ethernet. I can start thinking about power over a data line. And I've really made this a lot simpler, a lot easier to configure, and most importantly, a lot easier for people to maintain as they move forward. So, you know, I can do control and I can do information and the whole thing is controlled over time.
And so the bandwidth utilization on the network is actually optimized. Great. Well, could you tell us a little bit about the association? Why people want to get involved and what it's actually doing? a number of years ago, two years ago, we formed an organization known as the TIACC, and the TIACC is working on developing the necessary test specifications and doing the necessary testing to ensure this interconnectivity on the test and network So, Avnue and OPC and Profinet and EtherIP. And of course, CLPA, are all working together on developing the necessary test specifications. And really it's a collaboration between all of the organization focused at making sure that everything I'm preaching here actually comes to light.
So we want to guarantee all these things run on the same wire. We want to guarantee I can do all these different things like, you know, control and motion and safety on the same wire. So all these organizations committed to work together and AVNUE is one of the organizations, again, that did audio/visual, and they were very interested in making sure that if you're going to sell this TSN technology, every one of you guys are going to implement it in the proper way so that everybody can coexist and we can just make this thing work as a plug and play, you know, situation and allow all the disparate devices and networks to be interconnected. Well, it sounds like a wonderful world for networking. Thanks for filling us in on some of the details, Tom.