Plant Floor Network Design


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Geoff Taylor

I am considering a new plant network that is primarily supervisory. It covers 5 production lines. Should I be bothered with redundancy? I have considered putting all global areas (equipment that is common to all 5 lines) together on one switch with redundancy whilst leaving all other equioment like line 1 on one switch and line 2 on another switch thus minimizing affect if one goes down. Does it really matter any more? All peripheral equipment I was going to place on another switch. Is there an art to this or is it just common sense.

Any advice will be greatly welcomed.


If it were me I would look at the implications of how a network failure would impact the operation. If you can survive a shutdown while failed equipment is being replaced then redundancy isn't necessarily needed, but if it is imperative that your process keep going then redundancy is advisable. Basically how much money do you want to spend vs. the cost of downtime?


Bob Peterson

What you are thinking of doing sounds pretty reasonable to me, although quite frankly, it is much cheaper to make everything redundant up front rather than having to do it later on. YMMV.
The decision on redundancy ends up being a cost vs. risk decision. That's a decision only your company can analyze. Look at the worst case situation and determine what the impact to your business might be and then make the appropriate decision.

We do have a product that may help you with your network. The SNMP OPC Server allows you to bring the status information from any SNMP managable device (switches, UPS systems, servers, etc.) into your OPC-based HMI. Therefore your operator will be able to see your network devices just like any other device you are using in your automation network. You didn't mention the HMI that you were using but most are either native OPC or have an OPC interface available. This makes your infrastructure an integrated part of your automation system. See or contact me (801) 621 1970 for more information and a free evaluation copy of the software.