The world’s most popular fieldbus?
The world’s most popular fieldbus?
Which fieldbus is the most popular in the world? An engineer in Europe would probably say Profibus. In America the answer would be DeviceNet, but ask the same question in Asia and they will say CC-Link! Developed in Asia, CC-Link is the backbone of the region's industrial automation and according to industrial market researcher IMS’s latest report “The World Market for Industrial Networking - 2009 Edition” they show CC–Link as the network with the largest installed base in Asia. So why should CC-Link be of interest to companies in Europe?
Introduced as an open network in 2000, CC-Link is one of the newer generations of open fieldbuses. More than six million nodes have now been installed and this has been growing at over one million nodes a year. Compatible products are available from 200 vendors worldwide, who together offer almost 1000 compatible products. This makes CC-Link one of the world’s more popular fieldbus networks.
Historically, proprietary networks have dominated the Asian markets whereas they have been in regular use in Europe and the USA for over fifteen years. More recently however the acceptance of open fieldbuses in Asia has grown. As the automation markets themselves grow, it makes CC-Link an interesting proposition for European exporters.
Integrated multi-level approach
The main strength of CC-Link’s installed base is currently in Asia.
Nevertheless, CC-Link is attracting more and more attention from fieldbus users outside its traditional home territories, and for very good reasons, including its:-
• high noise immunity compared to other networks
• simple installation, configuration and commissioning
• high network availability with floating standby master capability,
• hot swap of stations
• fast large data transfer speeds
. . and its transparent integrated multi level approach including
CC-Link Safety, Industrial Ethernet and sensor level LT versions.
In Europe it is often used by Asian end users setting up production facilities here, but also by an increasing number of European manufacturing companies and machine builders.
CC-Link is particularly important to companies that export automation devices and systems to Asia, as they are likely to find that it is specified by many if not most of their customers in the region. This need for CC-Link connection by manufacturers of automation products and machine builders is why CLPA’s
European arm created its “Gateway to Asia” strategy, to aid European manufacturers to sell their products in Asia.
The Gateway to Asia programme is multi-faceted. Its main aim is to inform European manufacturers of the market possibilities in Asia. No-one would bother making an interface unless there was a commercial benefit to this undertaking, and CLPA Europe is keen to provide information to help in the decision making process.
Another part of the programme is to provide tools to make development easier, such as test and demonstration rigs. These can be loaned to prospective partners, and to assist companies who decide to make a connection right the way through the connectivity process.
Unlike most other networks, conformance testing of a CC-Link compatible device includes strict EMI testing alongside the normal tests which are connectivity (electrical and data communications), ageing and soak tests. For this reason CLPA specifies certain devices and it is important that developers use only these components.
Naturally, as an open standard, users can use other components but that does increase the CC-Link compliance testing as the characteristics of non-specified components may alter the performance of the network.
To aid in the development of CC-Link compatible devices and connectivity, CLPA Europe make available free chipsets to its regular members wishing to design compatible interfaces. Each chipset not only includes the special CC-Link communication chip, but comes complete with specified parts that are needed to interface to it, plus basic manuals. CLPA can also help manufacturers acquire specified components if that is a problem locally.
The CC-Link ASICs are available in two types: MFP2N, for simple remote devices such as I/O or pneumatic manifolds; MFP3N for intelligent remote devices such as PLCs, HMIs and variable speed drives. CLPA Europe can also provide help with technical support and guidance on matters such as conformance testing.
A further part of the Gateway to Asia activity was to establish local testing facilities in Europe. To meet this need a European test centre in Düsseldorf, Germany was opened in April 2009. Currently it offers pre-testing and will offer full conformance testing from April 2010 to make testing more convenient for European vendors.
The final part of the Gateway to Asia programme is to actively promote European manufactured CC-Link certified products through other branches of CLPA in Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan. These activities are all made using local language versions of CC-Link product catalogues, websites, application guides and local language newsletters. Other marketing activities include exhibitions, which when combined with the manufacturers own local actions, ensure that end users are aware of what products can be used to connect onto CC-Link, not just from Asia suppliers but also European manufacturers.
Similar supporting actions are also made in the USA and Europe.
About the CLPA
The CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) is an international organisation with over 1,500 member companies worldwide. The partners’ common objective is promotion and technical development of the family of CC-Link open network technologies. Over 1,100 certified products are now available from over 240 manufacturers. CC-Link is the leading industrial fieldbus in Asia and is becoming increasingly popular in Europe and the Americas. The European headquarters is in Germany, with offices throughout the continent.
DMA Europa Ltd: Bob Dobson
Tel: +44 (0)1798 861677 Fax: +44 (0)1299 403092
CLPA Europe: John Browett
Tel: +44-(0)776 833 8708 Fax: +49 (0)2102 532 9740