Check the wood as well as the trees

by The CC-Link Team on 2 August 2012

When technology is exciting, it is possible to overlook major issues because we are distracted by other details.

When buying a car it is possible to be more focussed on the ‘extras’ than the basic function of travelling safely along the road; mobile phones’ advanced functionality can be more seductive than their main use of voice and text transmission.

CC-Link open networks have many attractive functions – such as freeing users to select best in class field devices, fast data transmission, and high fault tolerance. But one of its greatest – and least appreciated – benefit is cost savings during installation and maintenance.

It is difficult to quantify the savings as every application is unique. However, a CC-Link fieldbus based system requires significantly less wiring than conventional systems, where each field device is individually wired back to the controllers. Instead, the devices are daisy chained one to the next to form a closed loop with the controller.

Even in a modest system, the reduction in wiring soon adds up and commissioning time and cost can be considerably reduced compared to older architectures.

The savings also progress into the cost of ownership and total cost of ownership. All industrial plants need regular maintenance, to reduce breakdowns, and emergency maintenance, to repair breakdowns when they happen. In the control system, wiring has to be maintained just as much as the actual field devices themselves. Obviously then, reduced wiring leads to reduced maintenance.
But there are more – perhaps greater – savings to be had when systems are reconfigured, which is inevitable in all industrial plants. The simpler wiring makes reengineering far simpler and more attractive. CC-Link also allows production engineers to plan for the future by allowing network stations to be configured for future use, even if they are not physically installed yet. Hence future needs can be anticipated and added with a minimum of fuss when the time comes.

It’s easy to see that a reduction in wiring will cut installation and commissioning time, reduce breakdown potential and allow future developments to be executed more easily. Practically minded plant engineers can see how their particular installations can benefit from taking this approach, before they get to the other benefits on offer.

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