Very simply, blended infrastructure is an approach that allows both Sercos III and EtherNet/IP messages to be transmitted over a single Ethernet cable. Because the network infrastructure required for EtherNet/IP and Sercos III includes the physics and data link layers of Ethernet, Sercos telegrams, CIP messages and TCP/IP messages can coexist within a network without requiring additional cables.
To keep the cyclical and clocked communication of Sercos III intact, the CIP messages and TCP/IP telegrams are transmitted in the Unified Communication Channel (UCC) which is an integral part of the Sercos transmission method.
The blended infrastructure approach was announced in April 2012 by ODVA and SI as one of the first practical results of the machinery initiative, in which SI, ODVA and OPC Foundation collaborate. The first demonstration systems that utilize the blended infrastructure approach of Sercos III and EtherNet/IP were shown at the 2012 SPS show in Nuremberg/Germany. The demo included Sercos III and EtherNet/IP devices connected to controller prototypes from Bosch Rexroth and Schneider Electric using a common Ethernet infrastructure each on a single cable.
This approach shows that communications protocols do not necessarily have to be transmitted via a different network infrastructure. This concept dramatically reduces the number of communications interfaces and thus the hardware expenditure. Universal networking increases cost effectiveness in engineering and system operation.
Today's great variety of automation technology requires a new conceptual approach to simplify integration of machinery in manufacturing. Using a common network infrastructure can allow machine builders and users to reduce the cost and complexity of machine integration while retaining the ability to deploy their preferred product suppliers and devices.
The blended infrastructure approach does not require any modifications to the existing Sercos III and EtherNet/IP specifications, as the respective communication mechanisms have already been integrated in the Sercos III transmission process. Only an implementation guide describing the planning and set-up of such multi-protocol networks is required.
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View a YouTube video of the Blended Infrastructure demo at the SPS Show »
View a YouTube video illustrating the concept of Sercos, EtherNet/IP and TCP/IP messages all traveling in a single Ethernet cable »