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The future role of TSN in industrial automation

Time-sensitive networking (TSN) is a game-changing advancement in standard Ethernet technology. It is an enabling technology for industrial communications that can aid in the convergence of operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT), with the goal of achieving significant enterprise-wide improvements. TSN and TSN-compatible devices, in effect, are critical to establishing future-proof Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) frameworks that improve productivity, flexibility, and responsiveness.
TSN is a Layer 2 (Data Link) communication technology in the open system interconnection (OSI) reference model. It provides key functions to make Ethernet deterministic by design, as defined by the IEEE 802.1 standards. This improves industrial communications technologies by assisting in the coordination of network traffic as the volume of data increases due to the convergence of IT/OT.

TSN synchronizes all devices on a network. This reduces the possibility of jittering and eliminates any subsequent delay in high-speed data transfer. TSN also supports the prioritization of urgent and routine data by allocating time slots for both. Only scheduled or time-critical traffic is transmitted during these intervals, with no interference. As a result, network overload can be avoided, reducing the likelihood of data loss.
In practice, these capabilities are critical for developing future-proof IIoT applications. By allowing different types of traffic to be merged on the same TSN-compatible network, accurate methods for prioritizing the transmission of urgent or mission-critical information, such as control data from the shop floor, can be provided. As a result, architectures are flattened and simplified, with minimal capital expenditure (CAPEX).

These architectures can also improve uptime by making it easier to detect and eliminate network errors. Furthermore, businesses can create a more adaptable infrastructure in which TSN-compatible devices can be easily added, removed, or reconfigured.

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