Plant Floor Network Design Tips

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Hello, All.

My plant is starting an expansion. With the expansion comes new equipment and new technology.

We started having preliminary talks on integration and line control.

The caveat: In our current architecture, the line PLC’s do not connect to an external network.

We’re now conceptualizing a Plant Floor Network. Preliminary discussion with our business side network admin shows that there isn’t room on that infrastructure. They’d need to procure new hardware, etc.  With that being the case, our engineering manager would like to keep this network completely separate. We’d build our own, yet consult with our IT group…

Our plant is all A-B controls of different generations. As stated before, each line is independent. No standard IP range was followed, so there are many different address ranges, etc.

The short term goal is to get the line PLC’s networked together for interlocking (explicit, peer-to-peer) messaging, remote support, and diagnostics.

Mid-term goal is to have a Supervisory PLC monitor and control equipment in the expansion. This most likely will entail some form of producer and consumer tag communications, Drive control for conveyance, Remote IO, and HMIs…

Long term: integrate data collection and historian abilities.  

I’m interested in your opinions:

I believe that it’d be more efficient to install 1756-ENBT cards in a control logix racks, where applicable, and leave the line IP addressing alone on the current machine LAN. Some of our lines have a few PVP1000’s and PF 70’s on the machine side LAN. One line has 72 nodes incorporating IO, Drives, and HMI’s. Having to change all machine controls IP addressing would be a daunting task and have to fit in the very small downtime windows that we have here.

Is installing a separate bridge module or gateway on the majority of the lines an approved practice?

Does it make sense to segregate production areas by use of layer 3 switching, or a router?  We have 6 separate production areas which house anywhere from 1-4 lines each. The facility is ~300,000 sq. ft.

Interlocking messaging (peer-to-peer) and the supervisory PLC would need to communicate across the entire network.

We're specifying Red Lion, N-Tron, hardware for this network.

Thanks in advance!



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