Schneider Electric, which is already a member of ODVA, is to increase its level of support for the organisation significantly by becoming one of its principal members, alongside Cisco Systems, Eaton Electrical, Omron Corporation and Rockwell Automation. Schneider Electric's increased participation coincides with ODVA's plans to extend the CIP Network specifications to provide compatibility of Modbus/TCP devices with networks built on the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP). This extension will give existing Modbus/TCP users a clear path to CIP Network architectures while protecting their automation investments.
The increased support of ODVA reflects Schneider Electric's plans to deploy Ethernet/IP as a foundation of its network strategy. This action is a major indication of industry's continued push to adopt network technologies for automation that use standard, unmodified Ethernet and internet technologies. Users will benefit through significantly increased interoperability between the largest installed base of industrial Ethernet networks - Ethernet/IP and Modbus/TCP - as well as between automation products from a growing number of vendors. Together, these benefits will reduce cost, time and risk for users deploying and maintaining their network architectures.
Adrien Scolé, senior vice president of innovation for the Automation Business of Schneider Electric, comments: "Our customers want the interoperability and seamless integration of the factory floor that networks using standard, unmodified Ethernet can provide, and one network for control, information, configuration, safety, synchronisation and motion. Ethernet/IP is the answer to meeting our customers' needs by providing compatibility with existing Modbus/TCP products and systems in combination with the complete suite of services contained in CIP. For these reasons, we are eager to team with ODVA to help make Ethernet/IP the most widely used industrial network available."
Katherine Voss, executive director of ODVA, agrees: "ODVA is delighted Schneider Electric is increasing its support of the organisation and our technologies, most notably Ethernet/IP. Schneider Electric is an industry leader in driving adoption of standard, unmodified Ethernet technologies on the factory floor and throughout the enterprise. ODVA looks forward to leveraging the vast experience of Schneider Electric in automation and their expertise in Ethernet and Internet technologies to continue to expand the capabilities of ODVA technologies. ODVA especially salutes Schneider Electric for putting users first in making the decision to build its network strategy with an industrial Ethernet solution that provides interoperability of multi-vendor systems and protects the customer's investment."
Ethernet/IP was introduced in 2001 and has more than 1.125 million installed nodes. According to the most recent market study from ARC Advisory Group, Ethernet/IP and Modbus/TCP are the two most popular industrial Ethernet protocols, with over 50 per cent of the worldwide market. Harry Forbes, a senior analyst at ARC Advisory Group, states: "This is a big development in the automation industry. It is unusual to see several automation majors joining in such close collaboration, especially in a strategic area such as industrial Ethernet, and it adds to the value of ODVA and its CIP network technologies in the automation industry. Automation users of Modbus/TCP can now look forward to benefiting from CIP networks. Schneider Electric products will also benefit from the many capabilities of CIP, but end users will be the real winners here because future CIP networks will offer an even broader range of choices."
Schneider Electric plans to have its next generation of Ethernet/IP products, incorporating connectivity to existing Modbus/TCP devices, in 2008. ODVA will shortly provide an overview of the concept planned for The Ethernet/IP specification to support Modbus/TCP devices on Ethernet/IP networks.