Implementing Industrial Ethernet Solutions

Starting in the early days of Industrial Ethernet more than 10 years ago, the Softing engineering team today can refer to a wide range of Industrial Ethernet implementations. These projects include software as well as hardware development and address all common Industrial Ethernet protocols, EtherCAT, Ethernet POWERLINK, EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP and PROFINET. The Softing approach allows implementing both, controllers as well as devices.

Besides implementing off-the-shelf Softing products, the various protocol stacks as well as the hardware know-how have also been the key for successful customer-specific developments. One of the advantages provided by the Softing Industrial Ethernet approach is the support of an efficient universal application interface allowing to integrate more than one protocol into one device, eliminating the need to modify the application when switching from one protocol to another. In addition, the Softing solution also is capable to support standard IT services (e.g. web server, data download or e-mail services) in the implemented device in parallel to the Industrial Ethernet services, using the same cable and the same Ethernet interface.

Many leading automation providers trust and rely on Softing's Industrial Ethernet expertise. The Softing reference design thus is already in use in numerous customer implementations and in Softing's own products. It proves its capabilities, functionality and performance every day in a vast range of applications in many vertical markets and all around the world. The Softing Industrial Ethernet expertise is also proven by Softing’s active contribution in the different standardization bodies and their working groups as well as by participating in the various technical meetings.

FPGA-Based Industrial Ethernet Implementations

For implementing Industrial Ethernet controllers and devices Softing is offering IP Cores for Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). This offer is based on a pre-engineered reference design that reduces the time-to-market to a minimum. The Softing reference design includes the required hardware and software for field device implementation and is the result of decades of experience in industrial communication.

The IP Cores combine a future-proof design with a flexible implementation that can be optimally adapted to meet individual customer requirements. They can be incorporated into an FPGA together with customer-specific applications, resulting in an efficient usage of the available resources. The Softing offering includes:

  • Development and production of FPGA-based communication interfaces according to individual customer requirements
  • Integration of Industrial Ethernet IP Cores in an FPGA at a customer hardware platform
  • Integration workshop supporting the customer to include the Industrial Ethernet IP Cores in an FPGA at a customer hardware platform by himself
  • Application integration and implementation of parts of the application (e.g. profiles, web server)

Individual Industrial Ethernet Implementations

For providing a maximum amount of communication flexibility, the various Softing Industrial Ethernet protocol stacks can be ported to the individual customer-specific hardware platform. This process is supported by a specific porting layer, combining all relevant parts of the protocol stack, which refer to specific processor, operating system and memory settings. The rest of the protocol stack do not require any target-specific adaption and just need to be compiled using the appropriate engineering environment.

Softing is offering performing the porting of the individual Industrial Ethernet protocol stacks to the customer-specific hardware platform. As an alternative, a porting workshop is available, enabling the customer to perform the desired porting by himself. In addition, Softing also offers additional communication tools for implementation at specific customer platforms. This way, for instance, can be used for implementing individual configuration capabilities.

Certification Support for Industrial Ethernet Devices

For all types of certification issues Softing customers can benefit from the available Industrial Ethernet know-how. For instance, Softing can perform individual pre-certification tests for customer-specific Industrial Ethernet implementations based on the actual test systems of the various Industrial Ethernet standards.

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