What follows is a complete introduction to the CC-Link family of high-speed deterministic fieldbus networks suitable for use in industrial automation and other process control applications.
CC-Link (Control and Communication Link) is a family of industrial open source networks that process both control functions and information at high speed to provide efficient, integrated factory-wide and process automation. It provides high-speed, deterministic communication to link a wide range of multi-vendor automation devices over a single cable. CC-Link is suitable for machine, cell or process control in industries ranging from semiconductors to food and beverage, automotive to pharmaceuticals, and material handling to building automation. It has also been widely adopted for plant control, building automation and manufacturing sites.
Where did it come from?
CC-Link was originally developed by Mitsubishi Electric in Japan, one of the largest automation equipment manufacturers and probably the world's largest volume producer of PLCs. In the year 2000 CC-Link was released as an 'open' network so that independent automation equipment manufacturers could incorporate CC-Link compatibility into their products. This enabled end-users and OEMs to select the products they needed for their automation systems and be assured that these products could communicate with each other over a single CC-Link cable.
Why choose CC-Link?
According to CLPA (the CC-Link Partner Association), CC-Link is the leading open network technology in Asia and is growing strongly in North America and Europe. As of 2007 there were more than 4.5million installed CC-Link nodes and over 850 CC-Link compatible products on the market. These products include industrial PCs, PLCs, robots, servos, drives, valve manifolds, digital and analogue I/O modules, temperature controllers, mass flow controllers, bar code and RFID readers, and many others.
CC-Link is a family of fast, powerful automation networks designed specifically for robustness and flexibility. CC-Link is best known for its ease of use, simplicity of system design, fast installation and commissioning, and reliability in operation.
Key benefits for the users:
- Stand-by-master function: if a fault occurs on the master station, the stand-by will maintain network communications
- Detaching slave function: this automatically removes the faulty slave station and allows communication to continue with all other stations
- Automatic Return function: Allows network devices to be replaced while the network is operating, and automatically returns a disconnected station to the data link when the fault is corrected without the need to close or reset the network
- High performance: up to 1Gbps and distances up to 13.2km
- Excellent EMI performance: reduces problems due to noise
- Testing and monitoring over the network: improves commissioning and reduces downtime
Various global standards organisations recognise CC-Link technology:
- CC-Link has been accepted for inclusion in IEC 61158 Standard for Fieldbus Networks
- CC-Link has been approved by ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) as 15745-5 International Automation Systems and Integration Standard
- CC-Link is a recognised international standard for sensor/actuator networks (SEMI E54.12) by the Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturers Institute
- CC-Link is approved as a China National Standard number GB/Z 19760-2005 Control and Information Communication Field Network CC-Link Standard and GB/T 20099.4-2006 Chinese Building Automation Standard
CC-Link networks are based on core technology developed by the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation in Japan. According to research from ARC Advisory Group, Mitsubishi Electric is the World's third largest supplier of PLCs, and the dominant supplier in Asia.
CC-Link is strongly represented in Europe, where CC-Link compatible products are available or under development from over twenty European device manufacturers.
Availability of products
The success of an open network is determined by the availability of automation products that support the standard technology. As of April 2007, there were over 850 certified CC-Link compatible products available from hundreds of automation equipment manufacturers worldwide.
Gateway devices are also available to connect between, for example, CC-Link and AS-interface, and CC-Link and Profibus.
A list of available CC-Link products can be viewed at www.clpa-europe.com/products/products.php.
Conformance testing through the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA) ensures that devices meet the performance specifications in order to become CC-Link certified.
Interoperability is the ability of a network technology to assure that all of the devices/components of a system operate together. CC-Link technology is based on the use of an ASIC that handles the complete data link layer and transport layer for reliable communications and assures interoperability between devices. This means that no device databases are required when configuring the network and, when devices are exchanged, no reprogramming is required.
CC-Link is used in a multitude of applications and environments worldwide and warmly regarded by users for its ease of use, reliability and simplicity. Applications include: automotive manufacturing; building automation; paper, pulp and printing industries; machine control, utilities; and manufacturing and process control.
Particularly useful for end users, the automatic return function automatically returns a station to the network when a fault is corrected and without the need to close the network. This and other features are essential for continuous production required in the food and beverage industries, water utilities, materials handling and process markets.
Applications stories and case studies can be viewed at the CLPA website.
CC-Link is a family of integrated networks, comprising four core products, that together provide high-speed, deterministic communication and integration from controller level down to the sensor level - including a safety network:
To meet the changing demands for optimised control, openness, and reliable handling of large volumes of data on communication networks, CC-Link has developed a high-speed, deterministic 1Gbps open Industrial Ethernet called CC-Link IE, which uses a duplex optical network concept.
CC-Link is field device network that processes both control and data information at high speed (up to 10Mbps) to provide efficient integrated factory and process automation.
CC-Link Safety is a network with high reliability in data transmission suitable for use in safety applications that require compliance with IEC 61508 SIL3, EN 954-1 Category 4 and EN ISO 13849-1 Performance Level e. It is compatible with standard CC-Link, which allows the use of existing investments in network cable, other compatible products, and existing engineering effort. Safety devices and non-safety devices can reside on the same network.
CC-Link Safety will detect communication failures such as unexpected delay of communication or erroneous data that may cause malfunction of the emergency stop operation. This fail-safe function will bring machinery into a safe condition quickly if a communication failure is detected. The safety master station maintains error and failure histories of the safety remote stations.
CC-Link/LT is a bit-oriented network designed for implementation in sensors and actuators, as well as for widespread I/O applications involving numerous locations of smaller increments of I/O points. CC-Link/LT utilises the same open technology as CC-Link and can seamlessly integrate and communicate with CC-Link through a network bridge. CC-Link/LT can operate as a standalone network or it can be connected to a CC-Link network.
Specifications for the CC-Link family of networks are available at www.clpa-europe.com/cclink/specification.php.
Brochures, catalogues and detailed guides can be downloaded from the CLPA website.
The CLPA-Europe website, which provides a gateway to everything relating to CC-Link, is at www.clpa-europe.com.