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Meeting network diagnostics challenges of new Profinet technology

Operators responsible for plant or network monitoring and diagnostics
are facing new technical challenges due to the shift from traditional fieldbus
systems to Profinet, or TCP/IP-based Industrial Ethernet systems.

Monitoring Profinet networks during operation, keeping them up and
running, and reacting quickly and efficiently in the event of problems are just
some of the challenges facing today’s Profinet user. Use of the TCP/IP protocol
has blurred the boundaries between industrial automation and enterprise IT,
increasing the complexity of configuring networks and nodes.

Consequently, these configuration problems in the network are now the
most likely cause of errors, often requiring in-depth knowledge of
communication technology or IT to identify and correct the fault. Maintenance personnel
need suitable tools to efficiently work on Profinet networks to quickly locate
and correct a fault.

The TH Link Profinet and TH Scope designed by Softing and distributed in
Australia by Ethernet Australia provide an excellent diagnostics solution for
Profinet networks.

TH Link offers a simple, small, plug-and-play box that hooks into an
existing Profinet network, with an Ethernet interface allowing connection into
the company side network from the Profinet network. Once connected, the device
builds a topology of all broadcasting devices, forming a generalised map of the
Profinet network and information about all connected devices.

TH Link then monitors all communications and automatically analyses for
faults, missed timings and general connectivity problems. This diagnostic data
is collected in networks comprising up to 254 nodes with alerts sent to users through
the TH Scope software application.

TH Scope does not require any special knowledge of a monitored system’s
communications protocols, with the user provided with clear information to
quickly identify and correct network faults.

Together, TH Link and TH Scope from Softing offer a comprehensive and
user-friendly solution for a broad range of applications from routine checks of
open networks through to complex technical troubleshooting of persistent

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