Taking a global view of fieldbus standards

by The CC-Link Team on 5 May 2010

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It might seem odd in the 21st century, but there are still some technologies in which regional development holds sway over the seemingly inevitable trend for globalisation. And while the popularity of the world’s dominant device-level fieldbus networks can easily be traced to their respective continents of origin, there is no logical justification for this almost protectionist attitude to continue.

The successful transfer of the Controller Area Network CAN) to the industrial arena during the 1980s demonstrated the potential for industrial fieldbus communication and led to all manner of development effort, with each company (and in many cases each division of each company) taking its own approach. Clearly, this disparate approach was going to be counter-productive in the long run, and so some degree of collaboration was essential to unlock the full potential of fieldbus communications.

It was inevitable that fieldbus standardisation would occur on a regional basis. The very act of standardisation was brought about by bringing together competing suppliers to thrash out their differences and agree on a common way forward. That similar meetings were going on virtually concurrently between different groups in Europe, the Americas and Asia is a matter of history. And it was this that led to overwhelming territorial dominance of AS-interface and Profibus in Europe, DeviceNet in the Americas and CC-Link in Asia.
Given this geographical breakdown, it is all too easy for manufacturers of industrial automation equipment to fall into the trap of trying to maintain the status quo. A European manufacturer might reason that to fully exploit the local market it should focus exclusively on Profibus and/or ASi. However, this is hardly scratching the surface of the bigger picture.

Nobody can doubt that the lion’s share of global manufacturing investment (both currently and in the future) will be destined for the Asian market. And to be in any kind of position to service this expansion in manufacturing, industrial automation suppliers need to address the demands of that market. And that means offering CC-Link as an option on all machinery, sub-systems and complete systems.

Fortunately, help is at hand from the CC-Link Partner Association in Europe, helping unlock the doors to industrial automation markets throughout Asia.

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