Allen-Bradley has been obsoleting a large number of products over the last few years. I’ve sometimes been critical of their products and strategy but I can’t be on this. I understand how difficult it is to build products today:
- Technology is changing faster than ever. Fifteen years ago, the lifecycle of a microprocessor was on the order of 10–15 years. Now it’s sometimes 2 years. The semiconductor vendors roll new products out constantly and they want to use their fabrication equipment to build the new stuff with large sales potential, not old, legacy processors.
- It’s more and more difficult to keep a parts inventory. Not only microprocessors but also mundane parts like capacitors, power regulators, and optical isolators are all going obsolete.
- The gray market makes replacing these obsolete parts really hard. If a part has changed hands three or four times, can you be sure it’s the part it says it is on the package?
- There are also technologies, like serial protocols, no body wants to support any more.
It’s a nightmare managing an older product line. On the one hand you have customers demanding the latest and greatest. They want more. They want faster. They want cheaper. But other customers—sometimes the same ones—are demanding that you keep the legacy products alive because they don’t have the time, resources, and funds to replace them in those applications.
The 1761-NETENI is one of these products that has become increasingly harder to build and is in line for obsolescence and termination. Sometime in 2017 it will be discontinued.
The 1761-NETENI is one of Allen-Bradley’s very popular and successful products. It provides EtherNet/IP connectivity for PLC5, SLC, CompactLogix™, and MicroLogix™ controllers, as well as other DF1 devices. DF1 is the serial link layer protocol used by AB legacy protocols.
Applications for the ENI include connecting to these legacy serial Programmable Controllers over Ethernet, uploading or downloading programs to them, communicating between serial controllers, and generating Email messages using SMTP (simple mail transport protocol). The ENI also provides some web server functionality for these legacy controllers though I’ve never been sure how important that is to the automation market. The real success of the ENI has been its ability to connect to those serial controllers remotely over Ethernet or the internet.
And soon it will be gone. But luckily, RTA has an answer for you. The 515RTAENI is a functional replacement for the 1761-NETENI. Our unit, while not physically identical, provides a functional replacement for the NETENI. With almost no configuration, you can remotely access AB legacy PLCs like the PLC 5s, SLCs, and MicroLogix controllers from tools like RsLogix.
There are a couple of difference between the RTAENI and the NETENI that you should know about
- The 515-RTAENI doesn’t support an isolated RS232 link.
- The 515-RTAENI uses either a DB9 or T-strip serial connectors instead of RS232 Mini Din.
- The 515-RTAENI has 12 Ethernet connections (6 in, 6 out) vs. 6 in the 1761-NET-ENI/W (2 in, 2 out, 2 configurable).
- The 515-RTAENI allows controllers lacking String data types to send a stream of ASCII characters using Integers.
- The 515-RTAENI uses LEDs in a manner consistent with RTA products and not the ENI/ENIW.
- The 515-RTAENI uses the RTA Diagnostic page instead of ENI Diagnostic page.
- Home Page links in the 1761-NET-ENI cannot be removed. In the 305515-RTAENI web page links can be removed.