Electronic Design

Industrial Networking Texts: Two Selections

Just recently I wrote an article for Electronic Design about wireless industrial networks. As part of my research, I reviewed a few books covering this field. Industrial networking has become a big factor in industrial automation, manufacturing, process control, and other businesses. It is a fragmented and complex field but it is growing significantly.

The books I reviewed are published by the ISA (The Instrumentation, Systems and Automation society). The first is Industrial Ethernet, 2nd edition, by P. S. Marshall and J. S. Rinaldi. Ethernet has become the backbone of choice in the industrial field so if you plan any work in that area, you need to be significantly familiar with Ethernet. This is the IT department's field of expertise, and it has never been widely used in industry simply because there were and still are many proprietary networks being used. Yet, Ethernet has emerged as an alternative simply because it is so cheap, available, and effective. Ethernet is now a major carrier for other networking protocols.

This little book's subtitle is “How to plan, install, and maintain TCP/IP Ethernet networks: The basic reference guide for automation and process control engineers.” That pretty much tells the story of the content. It is a good introduction to how Ethernet carries the TCP/IP protocol suite. You will get a good overview of Ethernet basics and the essentials of TCP/IP. Later you see how industrial protocols are encapsulated in TCP/IP. There are good chapters on the hardware of Ethernet, installation and troubleshooting and security. There is a good chapter on power over Ethernet which is being widely deployed in industry. Wireless Ethernet is only given a brief introductory chapter. This is an excellent book if you are learning Ethernet for the first time or need a good refresher.

The second book I reviewed is Industrial Data Communications. 4th edition by L. M. Thompson. This is a larger and more comprehensive text covering all aspects of serial data communications from concepts to practice. The fundamentals are introduced in chapter 1 and the OSI layer model is covered in chapter 2. Chapter 3 summarizes all the various serial data standards such as RS-232 and RS-485, plus the newer ones like USB, IEEE 1394, SCSI and serial ATA. In chapter 4 LANs are covered in detail. Chapter 5 is on network software. Chapter 6 is a good summary of all the various industrial special networking technologies like HART, DeviceNet, Modbus, Profibus and others. Chapter 7 is an introduction to wide-area networks (WAN) and how they work. Internetworking at layers 2 and 3 is covered in chapter 8. Chapter 9 covers security. There is a good appendix on media (wiring). This is a good general and up-to-date reference on networks with an industrial flavor. It does not cover the burgeoning wireless area.

Speaking of wireless, ISA does have a new wireless networking book, but I couldn’t get my hands on it. I have not looked at it so cannot comment, but it is brand new. It is Wireless Networks for Industrial Automation, 3rd edition by Dick Caro. A third edition implies currency so I suspect it is.

The ISA is a great organization as it really addresses the needs of the industry and its members with books, magazines, seminars, conferences, and all the other things that make a technical association useful. I've been a member for years. If you are a practicing engineer in the field and are not a member, you should look into it. www.isa.org.

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