Manufacturers are hitting the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) by automating traditional manufacturing and industrial practices. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Machine-to-Machine (M2M) learning and smart devices are used for system controls, asset tracking, predictive maintenance, autonomous robots, data collection, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics. While these massive changes boost efficiency, productivity, and safety, they are also presenting significant challenges to network connectivity, IT staff and company security.
Passive Optical LAN solution is a point-to-multipoint fiber-based infrastructure for inside corporate offices, within the manufacturing plant operations and across extended properties. Optical LAN helps lower costs while balancing machine and human connectivity demands in a modern manufacturing environment. Compared to traditional active point-to-point switched design, an Optical LAN provides:
- Simplified Network Design
- Flexible Options for All Cabling
- Easy IT and OT Operations
- Technology Independent and Scalable
Simplified Network Design
Optical LAN boasts a passive fiber connectivity range of 12 miles, allowing manufacturers to eliminate network closets and cabinets. Elimination of closets directly results in faster Moves, Adds and Changes (MACs) and far less planning, business disruption and costs associated with those events. Optical LAN is founded on the premise of centralized intelligence and management, enabling lower operational and maintenance costs while reducing the opportunity for human error. Think of the technology as one common switch, with virtual “Ethernet extended” connectivity over a passive network. End-to-end network management is now one single management console that orchestrates all endpoints, including the powered devices. This is all possible because of Optical LAN’s inherent Software Defined Networking (SDN) roots that promote the use of global profiles for consistent error-free provisioning.
Flexible Options for All Cabling
Fiber cabling is significantly less expensive to purchase and install compared to copper cabling. Optical LAN provides the flexible layout of either a closet-based ONT design where the last 300’ of copper cabling is leveraged, or a deep fiber design where fiber is pushed as close to the connected device as possible. That means when designing the ideal network, both copper cabling and singlemode fiber infrastructure can be used in an economical manner. Additionally, armored fiber can be utilized to reduce or even eliminate the need for conduit. This is another flexible design consideration of Optical LAN that can greatly reduce the overall solution cost. Furthermore, Industry 4.0 components can generate electromagnetic (EMI) or radio frequency (RFI), a stumbling block in traditional networks that requires shielded Cat-6A cabling. However, Optical LAN is not susceptible to EMI
or RFI, so the fiber cabling can be run in a more direct route with no concern for interference.
Easy IT and OT Operations
Operations for manufacturers is constantly growing and changing. Their underlying networks need to be flexible and scalable to support economical MACs. This can be exacerbated by a sprawling footprint, high ceilings and harsh conditions. With a traditional network architecture, adding connectivity ports may require moving or adding a cabinet, adding a new Ethernet and/or running copper cabling all the way back to the main closet or to a cabinet 35-40 feet off the ground. This is considerably time-consuming, complex and expensive. The elimination of network closets and cabinets is an even bigger benefit for manufacturers, since in a traditional network design, it is common practice to mount the cabinets to the ceiling 35-40 feet above the floor. Those ceiling cabinets are only accessible via scissor lifts which introduces time-consuming maintenance, troubleshooting and safety issues. Eliminating these cabinets not only reduces capital and operational costs; it is safer for employees and can improve OSHA reporting for manufacturers.
Technology Independent and Scalable
With no known bandwidth limitation for fiber, manufacturers can freely migrate to new technologies gracefully and economically. The Optical LAN is based on wave-division multiplexing technology enabling today’s infrastructure supports 2.5G G-PON and 10G XGS-PON with no wavelength conflicts. In the future, manufacturers can upgrade their network on a per port basis to 10G, 40G and 100G PON speeds, then economically place 10G, 40G and 100G PON ONTs only where that increased capacity is truly required. For manufacturers trying to connect thousands of IoT and IIoT devices, Optical LAN offers greater connectivity density and bandwidth capacity. It provides 4x more gigabit Ethernet port density in 90% less space. This gives manufacturers the ability to repurpose that real estate footprint gained back to revenue-generating business purposes.
For manufacturers, Passive Optical LAN offers network simplicity, efficiencies, reliability and unparalleled scalability. Optical LAN is a better way to build and operate Industry 4.0 networks for manufacturers.