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.
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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.