Multi-network Module Simplifies Networking, Supports CC-Link IE TSN and EtherNet/IP

March 24, 2023 by Shawn Dietrich

Mitsubishi Electric releases a new module that combines IoT asynchronous messaging with deterministic cyclic messaging typically found in field I/O.

Almost all factories and machines, big and small, utilize some kind of industrial network. Ethernet/IP is a standard network protocol for Rockwell Automation, Omron PLCs, and field I/O. Siemens uses ProfiNet as their industrial network protocol, and Mitsubishi Electric uses CC-Link IE. 

To tackle the costs and complexity of multiple networks in an application, however, Mitsubishi Electric recently released a module for their control systems capable of configuring two different networks: CC-Link IE and EtherNet/IP.


Mitsubishi Electric iQ-R Series CC-Link IE TSN Plus module

Mitsubishi Electric's iQ-R Series CC-Link IE TSN Plus module. Image adapted and used courtesy of Mitsubishi Electric


Automation Networks

Most protocols make use of the Ethernet infrastructure. Messages are sent in a cyclic, deterministic fashion from the PLC to the field devices all over the Ethernet network. When operating safety devices or servo motors over an industrial network, users need to ensure the network will have enough bandwidth and that the network supports Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN).

TSN can synchronize messages sent from a PLC to a servo drive and from a servo drive back to a PLC. This is important when the position of a servo drive is being reported over the network or if the safety system needs to ensure that the motor has come to a complete stop. 


The CC-Link IE TSN protocol can send synchronized messages over the network and combine IT-related messages such as email or data collection. Image used courtesy of CC-Link


iQ-R Series Module

CC-Link IE TSN and Ethernet/IP are two industrial protocols used extensively in automation equipment. The CC-Link IE TSN protocol can send synchronized messages over the network at a high rate of speed and bandwidth and combine IT-related messages such as email or data collection. Ethernet/IP is used for field I/O, along with some VFDs or servo drives.

Previously if you were required to run CC-Link IE TSN and Ethernet/IP, you would be required to have two modules taking up space in the PLC rack. With Mitsubishi Electric’s new iQ-R Series CC-Link IE TSN Plus module, only one space is needed, thus freeing up slots for I/O or specialty modules. The iQ-R module is easily configured within the programming interface used to program the PLC. Separating the networks reduces bandwidth on the control network and less traffic on the TSN network. 


The CC-Link IE TSN protocol layers according to the OSI reference model. Image used courtesy of CC-Link


CC-Link IE TSN Protocol

Designing an industrial network today requires more thought and layout than many years ago. Today it is not uncommon to see multiple networks within an assembly line. Some machine builders like to keep servo drives and safety devices on one network and field I/O, robots, and anything else on a separate network. This reduces the amount of traffic on a TSN.

Some systems splitting the network requires multiple network cards, which take up slots in the PLC rack or it takes up space in the electrical cabinet. With IoT becoming more popular, IT is now getting involved in the network layout of equipment. Having a separate network just for IoT-related processes and devices quickly becomes a requirement when building equipment. 

The CC-Link IE TSN protocol has a unique feature where high-speed gigabit cyclic communication is combined with asynchronous on-demand messaging typically found with IT communications such as email or MQTT. This makes CC-Link IE TSN great for connecting to robots, servo drives, safety devices, and IT or IoT applications.