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Newsletter Issue # 35

Real Time Automation's - Best Darn Newsletter 

Reflections on Love and Randomness
The 5 (and 1/2) Thigns You Probably Don't Know about EtherNet/IP
Fun Facts and Trivia

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March 7, 2017
Modbus as an IoT Protocol???
February 28, 2017
OPC UA Transports
February 13, 2017
Why Modbus has Flourished
February 9, 2017
DF1, Another Acronym
January 31, 2017
Allen-Bradley Obsoletes the 1761-NETENI
January 24, 2017



Practical tips and information for young engineers. This issue, featuring:

- The Robots are Coming!



Reflections on Love and Randomness

A Column of personal opinion by John Rinaldi, Founder and Owner of Real Time Automation.

I write this in February – the month of love. The nice thing about February, if you’re a jeweler, is that with Valentine’s Day you get to have Christmas all over again. In the spirit of that day, I’m going to tell a love story; a story of an unexpected love with a larger point that you may find as fascinating as I do.

The story begins as many of my stories do, on an airplane. I’m sitting next to an attractive young woman who wants to chat. In fact, chatty mischaracterizes a person who spews words like a machine gun. I learned everything about her family, her career and how she met her husband indirectly through

“Indirectly?” I was able to sneak in. “Indirectly!” She said. She made a date with a guy on and on arriving learned that he would be late. While waiting she struck up a conversation with a man sitting at the bar. That didn’t surprise me but I was amused to learn that the man at the bar is now her husband so it was a marriage indirectly made through

That story, cute as it is, illustrates a number of important points that have occurred to me over the last few months. One - life is much more random and unpredictable as much as we imagine it’s not. Two - it’s the extreme events, like meeting your husband on a date with a different man, that can shape your life and completely alter its trajectory. And three - these extreme events make life more risky than we imagine and the “experts” are as unable to predict the future as any of us.

Who among us predicted the 1987 market crash, the fall of Russian communism, the real estate crash or even the presidency of Donald Trump? In our industry, who predicted the dominance of Ethernet or the evolution of a technologies like EtherCAT, 802.11 and IO-Link? If they did, I’m not on their mailing list. On a personal level, how many of us accurately predicted where and when we would meet our spouse, what career path we would follow and where we would live?

We live our lives much as the turkey. Every morning for months on end the farmer feeds the turkey. Sometimes as early as 7. Sometimes as late as 9. All the data points on the Bell Curve the turkey keeps on the barn wall and the cloud-based analytics tools at the turkey’s disposal indicate that the process is stable. And it is. Until one Thanksgiving morning…

There are no experts to rely on. Extreme events are unpredictable. They can affect your financial health. I’d bet your 401K mutual fund managers claim low risk just like the ones at Long Term Capital Management (LTCM). These guys had the brightest minds, the top resumes, the most experience and an army of statistics trumpeting how they were protecting you, “the turkey”, and your downside risk. Until an extreme event (Russian financial crisis) took them down.

This shouldn’t be disheartening. Randomness adds to the spice of life – meeting a spouse unexpectedly, changing careers after an airplane ride or having your faith affirmed in an elevator. We never know what’s around the corner. Life is truly fascinating and random. And that’s my wish for you: “May you live an unpredictable life.”



- John





·  True or False: St. Patrick was Irish.

·  St. Patrick’s Day was a dry holiday in Ireland until what year?

·  What are your odds of finding a four-leaf clover?

·  What was St. Patrick’s name at birth?

·  True or False: In traditional Irish folk tales, there are no female leprechauns.


Answers located on bottom of page.


The 5 (and 1/2) Things You Probably Don't Know about the Future of EtherNet/IP

What do Frisbees, duct tape, and crowbars have in common? Give up? None of them have changed an iota since the day they were created. And fifty years from now, they’ll likely be the same as they are today. You can’t say that about EtherNet/IP and its core technology CIP (Common Industrial Protocol). There is a lot going on in the EtherNet/IP world.

If you’re an integrator, distributor, control engineer, or other automation professional, EtherNet/IP and CIP are like old shoes to you. Been there – done that. You’re an expert.


Now there is so much activity going on that it would be fair to say that EtherNet/IP will change more in the next five years than it has since its inception. A good question to ask is “Why is there all this activity in a protocol that’s sort of old right now?” There are actually a whole host of reasons, but three are driving most of the work.

THE IT/OT CONVERGENCE – The first is a rather startling shift in thinking about how to architect control systems. For many years now, we’ve used a much more hierarchical model for automation systems. In the new thinking, that the model is being compressed. A LOT! In fact, it looks like the new model is for everything to be connected to everything in a single very fast, high bandwidth Ethernet ring network. A network architecture where anything can talk to anything: sensors, cell phones, motor drives, servers, HMIs, printers, your desktop, the chiller, the fire alarm, and entry systems.

SECURITY ISSUES – I can tell you that that if you think you haven’t been hacked, you’re wrong. If you think you won’t be hacked again, you’re wrong. If you think you can prevent the next hack, you’re wrong again. All we can really do is to stop the more unsophisticated attacks and the “people not knowing any better” type breaches.

NEED FOR MORE INFORMATION – The world is about information – more and more information. There is a loud demand for more and more data from our factory systems. One of the big issues for these legacy systems is wiring. We have to learn how to reuse the wiring we have in place, and that’s driving some of the work on EtherNet/IP.

These things are driving a lot of the work going on in EtherNet/IP. Here’s a summary of the five most important enhancements to EtherNet/IP that are going to affect you and your company in the next few years.

#1 – EtherNet/IP is Getting More Secure

What’s Going On: Soon you’ll be able to encrypt the messages between your controller (EtherNet/IP Scanner) and your end-devices (EtherNet/IP Adapter) devices.

Why: One of the threats to automation networks is employees and contractors (often not maliciously) plugging infected computers into switches carrying automation traffic and spreading that infection to controllers.

My Take: I am not enthusiastic about this effort. I believe that many, if not the majority, of manufacturers will continue to prefer cheaper and less secure devices in their manufacturing systems.

#2 – EtherNet/IP is Getting Faster, More Reliable, and More Deterministic

What’s Going On: EtherNet/IP is actively supporting TSN – the link layer backbone of the new world of IT/OT convergence. TSN (Time Sensitive Networking) is a collection of IEEE Ethernet standards that allow scheduled (I/O) and unscheduled (IT) traffic to use the same physical layer and same Ethernet segments.

Why: Manufacturers want more simplicity then they have today. They want a single network to support all their traffic – data and information. They want something that is robust, high performance, and capable of supporting all sorts of applications that aren’t even developed yet. They want more open computing platforms, hardware and software, that are future proof.

My Take: TSN is very interesting and an exciting set of standards. I expect that TSN technology will be in place in most industrial facilities in as little as five years.

#3 – EtherNet/IP is Adding All Sorts of New Features

What’s Going On: EtherNet/IP as you know it is getting more sophisticated. Here are a few of the new features either already available or in development:

LED Services - In applications where you have a number of EtherNet/IP devices – especially where the IP addresses are assigned using DHCP – it’s often hard to know which device is which. EtherNet/IP is adding new services that allow a Scanner to flash the LEDs of an Adapter device.

Cabling and Connectors - The EtherNet/IP physical layer SIGs are addressing the cabling issues associated with 1 GB Ethernet.

New Earthing and Bonding Document - The ODVA has released a very comprehensive Earthing and Bonding document with practical recommendations for deployment of Ethernet systems in the factory.

PoE and PoDL - Work is moving forward on making distributed EtherNet/IP without running power lines (Power over Ethernet / Power over Data Lines) possible.

Multiple EtherNet/IP Ports - Devices are now being developed with multiple Ethernet ports and multiple EtherNet/IP identities. The System SIG is working to determine how to address these kinds of devices.

Expanded Device Configuration Block - There has been frustration with the 400 byte limit for device configuration. That is being addressed.

Why: Ethernet technology is improving – speeds are increasing, new capabilities are being added (embedded switch technology), and EtherNet/IP is responding with mechanisms to address these enhancements.

My Take: I am looking forward to these improvements in the basic EtherNet/IP functionality.

#4 – EtherNet/IP is Integrating Low Level I/O Protocols

What’s Going On: EtherNet/IP isn’t the only game in town when it comes to moving I/O data. People use DeviceNet, Profibus DP, and IO-Link. The plan is for CIP message originators to be able to access I/O in a legacy network using Explicit and Implicit messaging as if that data was in a CIP device.

Why: There are really good reasons to do this. With vast experience and training, proven reliability, and confidence in these networks, manufacturers have stayed with these solutions. Deployment of these non-Ethernet networks continue to grow.

My Take: This work is important and necessary given the growth in these non-Ethernet networks. Manufacturers want the flexibility both to use the best solution for an application and to seamlessly integrate devices from multiple networks.

#5 – EtherNet/IP is Moving to Constrained Resource Devices

What’s Going On: Constrained devices are devices with minimal flash, RAM, and/or processing power, some of them implemented on very old cabling in places like refineries over the last 50 years. Work is going on in various EtherNet/IP SIGs to figure out how to EtherNet/IP-enable these kinds of devices.

Why: Some manufacturers are saying that they abhor having to support different networks, protocols, and media in the same facility.

My Take: The real issue here is being able to use the current wiring infrastructure and not rewire 30,000 odd devices in a refinery. I believe that a new, simpler Ethernet physical layer will be developed that can use that wiring.

#5 ½ – EtherNet/IP is Moving to the Cloud (and into the IoT world)

What’s Going On: EtherNet/IP is no exception to the current fascination with IoT and the cloud. Cloud objects are being developed by more than one of the EtherNet/IP SIGs.

Why: Everyone is talking about the cloud. Every device manufacturer is busy figuring out how to move data to the cloud.

My Take: I find all this work puzzling. Controllers will support cloud communications. I don’t see the point in having cloud communications from every single device on the network.


If you thought that EtherNet/IP was on its way to being Modbus, you’d be very wrong. Unlike Modbus, which hasn’t changed an iota in 40 years, EtherNet/IP is being reinvented.

EtherNet/IP is being reinvented for a highly distributed, high performance network architecture that can carry any kind of traffic and still provide the determinism that is needed in most applications. EtherNet/IP is being reinvented for the world of the Cloud. And EtherNet/IP is being reinvented for IoT.

That’s one of the reasons our company exists – to provide you with the information, technology, products and services that can help you navigate this time of upheaval in the industrial automation industry.

Note: This article is an abstraction from a paper that appears this month on









Fun Facts

·During the spring, birds are more vocal as they sing to attract mates and warn away rivals.

·Spring fever is real. When temperatures rise after winter, there is a dilation of the blood vessels so blood can be carried to the body’s surface where heat can be lost quickly. People experience an energetic feeling when this happens.

·Based on old English, before it was called Spring, the season was called Lent.

·The spring and autumn equinoxes are the only days when the Sun rises directly due east and sets due west in the northern hemisphere.




  Trivia Answers: False; 1970; About 1 in 10,000; Maewyn Succat; True

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