This ISA author Q&A was edited by Joel Don, ISA’s community manager. The third edition of Automation Network Selection: A Reference Manual can help you make better decisions about the selection of equipment and communications networks. The book is authored by recognized automation expert and ISA Life Fellow Dick Caro. Free Bonus! Click this link to download a free 37-page excerpt from Automation Network Selection: A Reference Manual,Third Edition.
Q. What makes this third edition different than the previous edition? What areas have been expanded or improved?
A. Many of the networks previously described are now covered in greater detail. This is especially true of Foundation Fieldbus H1 and HSE networks. Many new networks based on use of Ethernet at the lowest layers have been introduced and are described in the new edition.
Q. How does this new information enhance the value of the book…and make it more useful for as a reference manual for automation network selection?
A. Good long-term decisions, such as equipment selection for use in manufacturing plants, should be made based upon facts. Notably, equipment suppliers often do not describe the networks embedded in or supported by their products. When there is a choice of equipment, finding a common interoperable network supported by the equipment suppliers should be one of the important factors in equipment selection.
Blog Author Q&A Free Bonus! Click this link to download a free 37-page excerpt from Automation Network Selection: A Reference Manual,Third Edition.
Q. Overall, what makes this book different and more practical than other reference manuals on the subject?
A. There are books that describe one or two industrial communications networks, but this is the only book of its type to attempt to focus on all the commercial networks supported by international standards.
Q. What specific sections/aspects of the book do you feel are the most compelling to highlight? Could you list them with a brief description?
A. About half of this book focuses on case studies—applications of industrial networks. The other half focuses on network characteristics and to some degree the important parts of their protocols that may set them apart from other networks. Process control networks, such as Foundation Fieldbus H1 and HSE, are not well understood by vendors or end users, and are not applied to their maximum potential. Hopefully, these advantages are made clear. There are also many factory automation networks based on Ethernet: EtherNet/IP, PowerLink, EtherCAT, and SERCOS III. I cover all of them, and they are all included in the international Fieldbus standard. While there are differences, those differences are not apparent to the users or to me. They do not interoperate.
Q. Do you have any other comments or perspectives you would like to add?
A. Thanks to the suppliers of industrial automation equipment who continue to invent new networks and submit them for standardization, I will need to keep revising this book. These suppliers are not doing users a favor by introducing a diversity of networks. Users would prefer that suppliers find ONE network that works for them, but competition among suppliers of automation equipment will continue to protect their product lines—as long as users allow it. However, eventually large users will revolt and change this situation to restore competition to the industrial market. ExxonMobil has already begun this revolt for the process control world.
About the Author
Dick Caro is the founder and principal of CMC Associates, a consulting and professional services company. He was previously a Vice President at ARC Advisory Group where he led the market research and consulting efforts in data communications and system architecture for automation systems. Caro has been an industry leader in the rapid movement from proprietary networks to Ethernet and Internet protocols, and now into wireless communications. He possesses extensive process automation experience in the chemical, steel, aluminum, petroleum refining, petrochemical, cement, and pulp & paper industries, as well as experience in the automation of warehousing, material handling systems, shipping and receiving systems, discrete parts manufacturing, electronics manufacturing, and freight handling. Current areas of his work involve the industrialization of Ethernet and the future adoption of wireless in automation applications. Caro is a founding member of the ISA 100 standards committee establishing wireless standards for industrial automation. He has been very vocal in the advancement of highly distributed automation systems to the field. Caro has been deeply involved in the evolution of data communication technology. He was a member of the Arthur D. Little team preparing the DOCSIS specification for cable modem service. He is one of the patent holders in the detection of commercials on broadcast television and the development of Commercial Free technology for video tape recorders for which he led the development of a prototype. Current interests are focused on solving the “last mile” problem for economic delivery of broadband data services to business and residential users. Caro is currently the Chairman of the Fieldbus Standards Committee ISA SP50 and was formerly the Chairman of IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) SC65C/WG6 Fieldbus committee. He has led these committees to completion of the Fieldbus standards that are now American National Standards and IEC standards Caro is a widely published author, educator, and speaker in the industrial automation field. He holds a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering, a master of science degree in chemical and system engineering, and a master of business administration degree. Caro is a Life Fellow of ISA, and is an ISA Certified Automation Professional (CAP). He is recognized as one of the 50 most influential industry innovators by ISA. In addition, Caro is a member of the Process Automation Hall of Fame, and is listed in Who’s Who in America.