Ethernet connections have been in use for several decades, but they still form the foundation of modern networking. This is just as true in an industrial setting as it is in a home. Unfortunately, industrial ethernet need to deal with conditions that domestic systems do not, and most people are unfamiliar with the industrial systems. That means that myths and misconceptions plague industrial ethernet, which can lead to unrealistic expectations for those systems in the workplace.
Upgrades are Easy
Too many people think that upgrading a system is as easy as downloading a patch. In reality, upgrading an industrial ethernet network can mean replacing a huge amount of wiring, patching dozens of computers, and explaining security protocols to hundreds of workers. That takes a huge amount of time and money, which is why many industrial systems go for far longer between upgrades than domestic systems do.
Wireless is Useless
Wireless systems have always had a place in industry, most often in areas where wires would get in the way, such as on moving platforms. However, people have been reluctant to deploy it for other uses. They usually believe that it simply cannot support enough connections at a reasonable speed to be useful. That used to be the case, but modern wireless technology is more than strong enough for most industrial uses, and it’s also cheaper than paying for wires.
Industrial Cabling is a Bonus
Systems that do rely on cables need to get the industrial models. Many managers treat industrial-grade cabling as a luxury item, but it’s really a necessity. An industrial environment is very different from a commercial or domestic one, and it exposes the cables to stress that isn’t present in other places. Industrial cables are designed to deal with those problems, so investing in them will prevent a lot of headaches for the IT department.
Manufacturing and Sales Should be Separate
Some people believe that industrial IT systems should stay separate from those used by other branches of the company for security reasons. The usual goal is to prevent viruses from traveling from one branch of the company to the other. Unfortunately, separating them isn’t enough to offer any real protection, and it forces the IT people to waste time maintaining two separate systems. Separation simply can’t take the place of an investment in a full security system.
More Bandwidth is Always Better
This myth actually has a grain of truth in it. A system with more bandwidth can support more devices, which is a benefit. However, it also costs much more to maintain. Many industrial networks have far more bandwidth than they actually need, which wastes money. It’s always best to design a system with a little bit of extra room for growth, but there’s no reason to pay a premium for power that is never going to get used.