Information Networks are a medium to transfer data from one device to another, namely computers, machines, vehicles, databases, software, or other IoT Devices. Networks, however, vary based on the volume of data being transferred and the use they are destined to. Many professionals in the IT Industry define the naming of IT networks according to the business level at which they are implemented. In general, Industrial Networks refer to networks that deal with data transferring on a large scale for business needs. This means they allow us to connect various devices across large spaces and enable communication between them by allowing us to transfer large chunks of data between them.
Traditional networks are limited to a reduced number of systems with low data transferring volumes and serious security breaches. Contemporary IIoT Industrial Networks are designed to cater to real-time needs and the demands of a larger number of systems and IoT connected devices, with high
standards of Cyber security in mind.
Levels of Industrial Networks
Industries are usually composed of many departments managing various different aspects of the business, sometimes spread out over various locations. For example, there could be manufacturing plants with specialised hardware as well as departments such as operations, sales, marketing etc. All these departments have specific needs but at the same time need to communicate with each other. This is achieved using various levels which allow for using optimised technologies and protocols at each level while also allowing communication across the different levels.
Industrial Networks in Enterprises
Industrial networks in enterprises help connect various computers across different departments to transfer data, reduce communication protocols, and increase data accessibility efficiently. They are also known as IT Networks, Enterprise Networks or Corporate Networks.
The key purpose of industrial networks here is to provide effective communication between various computers and prevent access by unauthorised computers. Generally, enterprise networks include local area networks (LAN) and wide-area networks (WAN). An enterprise network is able to connect all the systems regardless of their operating systems.
Enterprise networks are limited to a single building. The term Enterprise Network is frequently used to refer to networks that connect computers to Enterprise Systems of the likes of ERPs, CRMs, HR systems, and Enterprise Databases, among others. Consider a company that wants to connect all its systems present in different buildings in different locations. That's when industrial networks in business operations are used. They are also known as Business Networks. Business networks are used to connect many devices present in different locations.
Networks in the Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Utilities and Healthcare sectors connect Operational Technologies (OT) and are exposed to rough conditions such as radical changes in temperature, excess motion and vibration coming from heavy machinery and personnel coming and going, exposure to liquids and chemical agents, wide coverage areas, and a vast informational exchange, among others. These networks require specialised systems and architectures to ensure business resiliency. With the rise of IIoT, these OT Networks are being connected to IT or Enterprise Networks, which requires specialised IT/OT Convergence consulting and planning.
IT Networks in the factory floor or in plants are more frequently called Industrial Networks compared to the Enterprise ones, given that they are actually within an industrial environment. Services related to the design, planning, implementation, integration, maintenance and support of these OT Networks are usually called Industrial IT Services.
Supervisory networks are another level of industrial networks. However, they differ from other networks in the sense, that they are used to connect various computers to supervise other computers and systems. They are mainly used in manufacturing industries.
A process control network is an industrial network used to transmit data and transfer data between various control and measurement units. They are robust, determinate and compatible. They have good error resolving techniques, low sensitivity to Electromagnetic waves or induction, priority connection techniques, etc.