Fast control of gas mass flow and pressure over EtherNet/IP

Gas mass flow and pressure control using EtherNet/IP is a popular method of setting up an automated system. A drawback is that digital communications are notoriously slower than analog — and since we have the fastest mass flow controllers in the world, where’s the fun in getting slowed down?

Using a gas flow or pressure device with on-board EtherNet/IP means faster throughput than going through a translator device. So the whole process is faster. And still highly accurate. EtherNet/IP is also easy to implement, because the hardware uses standard EtherNet wiring and routers.

Consider Alicat also for: EtherNet/IP equipped devices for liquid flow control, gas metering and pressure gauges.

Customer experience

Most customers don’t call us for our razor-sharp wit, or our slightly eccentric social skills. Instead, we know with certainty that whenever a customer comes to us, they have a problem that needs to be solved. While Ethernet/IP™ is not required for every process, some customers insisted on it. We recently added Ethernet/IP to the list of available communication protocols that can be configured on any mass flow, liquid, or pressure device. We wondered what the most significant benefit was for choosing it. So we reached out to a few companies who have already implemented it into their process to find out why they chose this option.

For perspective, consider that most Alicat devices are configured with an analog input/output connection. The connection requires individual signal wiring for each unit, which can get messy if there are a lot, and it only provides information on one or two parameters in the process. Our instruments are also normally configured with RS-232 (or RS-485) connections–those require reliable drivers, written for the specific, proprietary formats with which you’re communicating. It was important to one of our customers to acquire near real-time process information for control and diagnosis, to include setpoint, mass flow, volumetric flow, absolute pressure, temperature, and valve position. Using Ethernet/IP, which supports 10 and 100 Mbps bandwidths, gave them the capability to talk to multiple Alicat units over a redundant network that was easy to implement into their process.

Not only did the Ethernet/IP option fulfill their requirements, the versatile configuration options clinched their decision to go with Alicat. Most standard features–such as the multivariate front panel display, or selection from 98+ gases with full accuracy–come with Ethernet/IP equipped devices too. However, the devices don’t have an analog output, or support Power over Ethernet (PoE). The units are equipped with two RJ45 connectors to provide the redundancy that is expected within an automated control system. Alicat’s Ethernet/IP has been certified in conformance by ODVA®, the standards body for Ethernet/IP.

Ethernet/IP is rapidly growing in popularity. If you’re thinking of using it in your system, give Alicat a call to discuss how it can help solve a problem you have.