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Industrial protocols:
Definition and application

Industrial protocols are used to transfer data and information between electronic devices, controls, sensors and input or output units or to ERP systems. In particular, in production lines and in process automation, they are of crucial importance for the networking of individual systems. The main tasks of the communication protocols include enabling remote maintenance, establishing data exchange from machines to control systems, connecting measuring devices and communication within machines and systems.

In particular, the Profibus, Profinet, CANopen, Modbus and EtherCAT protocols are used industrially. A worldwide standardization of the existing protocols was carried out by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
In many applications of industrial communication protocols, a combination of several protocols is necessary. Gateways are generally used for this coupling, which, for example, enable the exchange of measured values, states and control characters between different protocols.

In the context of Industry 4.0, new challenges and opportunities arise in the area of ​​communication between devices. Systems, machines and products should always correspond with each other and exchange data regardless of the location of the respective systems. The communication relationships must allow information to be exchanged between all parties involved and service actions such as measurements of environmental parameters to be triggered. Open communication protocols are necessary for this. One example of this is OPC UA. For more information see OPC UA.