What are Industrial Switches?
Industrial Networking Switches are computer networking devices aimed at establishing inter-connectivity between industrial environments and enterprise business applications, joining multiple computers together within one local area network (LAN). These types of switches are built for mission‑critical applications, designed to withstand extreme temperatures and harsh conditions in a multitude of environments from factory floors to traffic controls.
Importantly, some network switches allow configuration of its settings to VLAN mode in order to group devices per working departments (for example marketing/finance), thus isolating traffic between these groups so that critical information can flow without delay to the rightfully allocated place.
Managed Industrial Switches
Managed Switches are oriented towards redundancy, offering real-time targeted communications through built-in protocols that enhance determinism and provide stable and consistent flow of data. These switches provide QoS (Quality of Service) which can prioritise bandwidth for data subsets, allowing more bandwidth to be allocated through the network to ensure IP data comes in smoothly, obtaining the sensor data without an interruption using minimal bandwidth. Managed switches also provide additional protocols like RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol) allowing alternate cabling paths to prevent loop situations, which usually are the reason for network malfunction.
Benefits of Managed Switches
These switches excel for a vast array of features such as PoE capabilities, extended temperature range, DC power, and additional flexible SFP-slots with Din rail mounting options. In short, they add value in:
- Network redundancy (network back-up plan): These switches offer the ability to run redundant power supplies, so that when a surge takes out one of the power supplies, the switch keeps on running as if nothing happened on the second power supply, suppressing any down time. By offering resilient ring protocols, it allows for alternate data paths in the event a link or node goes down.
- Remote management: Mission critical networks demand remote configuration, monitoring/traps, reboot, re-imaging of OS. If there is a network issue, operators want to remotely diagnose and fix to maximise uptime. The SNMP protocol allows you to visualise and maintain an entire network remotely, providing real-time data at every node. With SNMP, it’s possible to collect and organise and also modify information from each switch in order to change the device’s behaviour without having to go through a web console and also do mass upgrades to maintain the latest firmware.
- Security and Resilience: In terms of limiting access to the network to trusted devices and prevents users from setting up unauthorised sub-networks. The switches enable complete control of data, bandwidth and traffic control over the Ethernet network, allowing you to set IP/port restrictions on actual physical ports. This means you can setup additional firewall rules directly into the switch. In all, managed switches support protocols which allow operators to restrict/control port access, like the 802.1x port based network access control. In addition, managed switches support protocols to limit management plane access via user authentication such as RADIUS, LDAP and more.
- RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol): Managed switches incorporate Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol which provides path redundancy in the network and prevents loops, allowing one active path at a time between two network devices so that there is lesser downtime.
- SFP (Small Form-factor Pluggable): The benefit of having multi-rate SFP slots is the network flexible expansion possibility, which allows the user to be able to use 100Mbps and 1Gbps SFP Modules for either multi or single-mode fibre optic (or copper) and mix and match as needed. If requirements change, the SFP module can be replaced and easily protect your switch investment.
- Support multiple VLAN as per requirement: Managed switches allow for the creation of multiple VLANs where an 8-port switch functionally can turn into two 4-port switches (where ports 1-4 are VLAN 1 and ports 4-8 are VLAN 2). It’s possible to allow VLANs to talk to the router/NAT, but deny the ability to talk to each other. You could even lock down the wireless VLAN to only allow port 80/443 or similar so they can browse the web but nothing else.
- Prioritise bandwidth for data subsets: The switches are able to prioritise one type of traffic over another allowing more bandwidth to be allocated through the network (voice and video streaming, for example).
- Resilient ring protocols: Allows alternate data paths in the event a link or node goes down.
In applications such as an IP security camera backhaul, it is not practical/economical to deploy hub and spoke topology since each node has a direct connection to the core/aggregation node. With a ring network topology it’s possible to allow a loop to be constructed and avoid additional fibre trenching costs.
When and Where to use Industrial Managed Switches?
Managed switches are suitable for networks that have applications with fast response times requirements and are aimed at companies that need to manage and troubleshoot their network remotely and securely, allowing engineers to reach optimal reliable network performance and maintenance.
These switches are robust and appropriate for Industrial Network settings, made to stand up to harsh applications like extreme temperatures (-40 up to +75°), vibrations and shocks; and contributing to a cost-effective, reliable, and secure network. Managed switches should be used on any network backbone switch so that segments of network traffic can be monitored and controlled such as:
- Defense/government applications
- Water/waste water
Black Box Industrial Network INDRy Series
The Black Box INDRy (Industrial DIN Rail Switches) series are designed for the far edges of an industrial network, delivering an easy and cost-effective way of integrating legacy networks, eliminating the need for additional configurations and modifications, and reducing deployment time. These switches allow redundancy in mission critical systems by rerouting the traffic over a backup link within milliseconds overcoming situations like the cut-off of communication of the traffic control system of some infrastructures.
Additionally they are characterised by a DIN rail feature which is an effective mounting option that offers a metal rail of a standard type widely used for mounting circuit breakers and industrial control equipment within equipment racks.
Our customers are very satisfied with the INDRy solutions. Uses include strengthening substations’ network connections, effectively increasing electric energy distribution, and monitoring and controlling security camera functions in the field.
These switches are extremely easy to install, however should you need help, our specialised technical support staff can assist you by offering you the best advice in terms of individually optimised applications, completely free of charge. Learn more about our Tech Support Centre by visiting our Black Box Tech Support Centre page.
To find out more about our industrial switch solutions, please visit our INDRy Industrial Switches online store page.