Serial Conversion Improves Factory Operations
Data is the key to improving business performance. Getting data often and reliably means connecting equipment to a network. By using Ethernet for industrial communications, test results, measurements, commands and transactions are broadcast, received and analyzed quickly. Data mining and analysis techniques help specialists identify improvements. Improved algorithms are developed, and then distributed over the network to improve operational effectiveness.
Ethernet connectivity is taken for granted in the latest manufacturing, automation, access control and medical equipment. Older hardware, however, usually relies on serial communication, i.e., RS-232, RS422, and RS-485. It doesn't lend itself to networking.
Using devices that provide serial connectivity, it's possible to avoid replacing this legacy equipment. Serial-to-Ethernet, serial-to-fiber and serial-to-wireless devices enable networking of hardware built before Ethernet became standard.
Westward Sales offers devices for connecting older hardware to Ethernet. This includes:
- PC interface cards
- Ethernet device servers
- Fiber converters
- USB hubs and converters
PC interface cards
Intended when a PC is collocated near legacy hardware, interface cards are available for both the PCI and PCI Express buses. Cards are available with up to 16 serial ports; although, going beyond two ports requires a breakout cable to accept the DB9-style serial connector.
Interface cards are available for RS-232 only, RS-422/485 only, and RS-232/422/485. Some cards support three serial protocols. In this case, each port can be individually set to a particular serial protocol. Parallel port cards are also available.
Ethernet device servers
A device server performs bi-directional conversion between serial and Ethernet protocols. Embedded firmware gives the device an IP address, allowing packetized data to be sent and received over Ethernet. Ethernet device servers divide into three types:
- Rack mount
Standalone device servers accept one or more serial connections usually through a DB9 style connector. Firmware handles the serial-Ethernet packet conversion, manages data transmission speeds, provides an IP address and handles security. Devices are available for all serial protocols. Dual Ethernet ports available on some device servers allow for daisy chaining or support for redundant network connections.
Rack mount device servers perform the same function but are configured for industrial equipment racks. Those carried by Westward Sales are 1U high and are available with up to 16 serial ports.
Wireless device servers provide one or more serial connections. They transmit data over WiFi using one of the 802.11 standards.
These accept a serial connection and send the data out over fiber optics. This solves the problem of sending serial data across very large distances. Single and multi-mode interfaces are available.
USB hubs and converters
The USB interface is widely used to connect external devices to a laptop or PC. Westward Sales carries hubs and converters allowing multiple components to connect through a single cable and to convert between Ethernet and USB.
Prolong the life of legacy hardware
Data drives improvement efforts. Networking is essential to get that data where it's needed. Older manufacturing machines, automation, access control and medical equipment typically incorporate serial and sometimes USB interfaces. These weren’t designed for Ethernet. But, serial converters solve this problem enabling organizations to network their legacy equipment.
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