Wireless communication and networking have infiltrated every aspect of our lives; look in your pocket. As with most technology, the industrial sector must vet the technology to test safety, robustness, and viability, which leads to later implementation. Back when I started in the industrial automation world, Intelligent Motor Control Centers were introduced, and while being trained on them, I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t use them. This notion may have been naïve at the time, but to this day, the adoption of this technology has been slow.
VFDs, partial-IMCC, and even contactors are using networking for monitoring, but when it comes to control, the hardwired method is still king. This comes down to a few factors:
Familiarity to all generations of workers in the field
It is a strange time in industry as you can have baby boomers, Gen X, and Millennials all working together. What a management nightmare! Proposing a unique obstacle that will soon disappear on its own and has disappeared in more progressive training companies. The hardwired method has been accepted and used for years, new students to this day are taught to wire, and it isn’t going anywhere.
New technology is always more expensive but not at this point, especially when you consider the time required to wire in control wiring compared to plugging in an ethernet cable from a switch to the device. Removing wiring also has the benefit of removing human error and maintenance time. When was the last time you retorqued your screw terminals on a maintenance schedule?
It has a single point of failure. What if the network goes down, how do you troubleshoot an ethernet cable? With the simplicity of setting up a daisy-chained or redundant network, it solves most of these issues. If you use one of the many tools to check that the network is working and the equipment still isn’t functioning, replace the ethernet cable. It is cheap and the same solution for hardwired solutions.
In conclusion, the benefits of networking your motor control are extensive, and it is coming to a plant near you. Whether it is the added ability of preventative maintenance monitoring, the accuracy of control, system simplicity, cost or reliability; networking has proven itself.
For more information about networking motor control, contact us at Support@unitedcontrolsolutions.com