Industry 4.0 Internet of Things Technology

Getting Started With TSN – An Overview

The Need For A New Standard

The successful shift towards Industry 4.0 depends on a huge variety of prerequisites. Among the most critical technological challenges, which we will need to tackle in order to unlock the full potential of the industrial IoT in the future, are the communication and interoperability of machines. More specifically intelligent and interconnected production will need networks which can deliver real-time communication, scalability, security, accessibility as well as seamless connection of different layers of the automation pyramid model.

In order to achieve the above and create a smooth transition a new standard should also be able to work with current established Ethernet technologies. Regarding real-time messaging via Ethernet there exist several IEEE 802.1 standardised solutions from the Audio Video Bridging (AVB) Group. However those standards have only been optimised for audio and video applications and can not live up to the requirements of modern industrial and automotive networks.

To address this issue the task force has been renamed to TSN (Time-Sensitive Networking) Task Group and is now working on a new set of IEEE 802.1 standards helping to reduce delays and latency, increase robustness and reliability as well as to improve scalability.

Automation Pyramid: A real-time enabled communication standard which can be implemented across several layers is highly desirable

EBV is actively involved in projects of institutions like the Fraunhofer IOSB INA that are conducting research based on TSN and OPC UA technologies in order to provide customers with state of the art and leading solutions in this area. This blog will seek to provide a basic overview of the new TSN standards as well as how they can be used and combined. We will follow up with additional articles to give you a good understanding of the different sub-standards, use cases, technological challenges and opportunities as well as how to benefit from TSN.

TSN What Is It

Ethernet is a widespread and successful method of communication in the IT world offering a broad range of bandwidth and physical layer options, and has significant support in a diverse range of application areas. On the other hand there has been no real-time support in IEEE standardised Ethernet which lead to the development of proprietary modifications like Profinet, EtherCAT and Ethernet/IP.

As those solutions lag performance regarding the combination with standard Ethernet networks and are not very flexible the new TSN sub-standards aim to solve those issues and guarantee real time delivery of traffic.

The enabling idea in order to achieve real-time communication is the use of global time and a traffic schedule which is created for message paths across multiple network components. This allows to ensure a maximum latency for scheduled traffic in switched networks. In addition TSN offers a way to send time-critical traffic over a standard Ethernet infrastructure.

In order to implement TSN companies do not have to use all TSN sub-standards but can combine different ones to achieve the most effective and appropriate solution.

TSN Sub-Standards Overview

In sum the new TSN sub-standards can be combined in order to unlock benefits like guaranteed message latency, successful convergence of critical and non-critical traffic, network infrastructure sharing of real-time traffic with higher layer protocols, addition of components without the need for network or equipment alterations as well as faster diagnostics and repair of network faults. As the new Ethernet based real-time networking technologies are supported by leading automotive and industrial market drivers and members of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) like Bosch Rexroth, Cisco, Intel, KUKA, Schneider Electric and TTTech there is also the advantage of strong market support.

Who Will Profit From TSN?

TSN will add value and simplify the development of applications and systems within in many different market segments. Time aware shaping and thus guaranteed maximum latency for example enables modern wind turbines to adjust the angle of the blades synchronically.

In factory automation TSN eliminates bottlenecks like proprietary real-time communication standards and gateways and critical and non-critical traffic can be converged. On the factory floor controls communication is guaranteed and robots are synchronised to the same global time via TSN. Thus control and data networks can be integrated into the same network and control functions can be centralised away from the robot cell.

In automotive applications like ADAS and autonomous driving features the guaranteed delivery of critical messages is key to realise the appropriate level of safety. As we implement more and more sensors and applications which have been hydro-mechanical and that are now electro-mechanical the amount of data in the car increase quickly. Adding to the complexity the number of automative systems which need to communicate with each other is rising significantly. TSN over Ethernet reduces the wiring complexity and provides a reliable network that enables the data stream to be consolidated in a single environment without sacrificing guaranteed delivery, redundancy and minimised latency for high-priority messages.

In order to understand how TSN is enabling businesses to alter their production lines, processes and set-ups it is important to understand all sub-standards in detail. We will explain all TSN standards along with combination examples in the second part of this blog. Read more about “Everything You Need To Know About TSN Sub-Standards & How To Combine Them“.