Making Your Manufacturing Operations More Effective with Networking
The Importance of Acronyms in Networking Part 1:
Network Address Translation (NAT)
It is no secret that in the world of networking, there is an abundance of TLAs and FLAs (Three- and Four- Letter Acronyms). Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs), Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Resilient Ethernet Protocol, Quality of Service (QoS); just to name a few!
But what do they all mean? How will these three letter acronyms help your Manufacturing Plant become more effective? How can they help an OEM integrate their machines in a timely manner?
Today we will be focusing on Network Address Translation (NAT), and the value it can bring to both OEMs and Manufacturers of all kinds. Simply put, NAT is a feature that takes one IP address (typically a Public 10.10.10.X) and converts it to a private IP address (192.168.1.X). The configuration is as easy as filling out a small table (Figure 1). By using this feature, the IP Address convention can be THE SAME for all of your machines on the private/machine level, while maintaining a completely separate IP Address on the public plant network. See Figure 1 for more information.
What is the Real World Importance of NAT?
So how does this help OEMs and Manufacturers? From an OEM standpoint, you can set the IP addresses of the PLC, Drives, Distributed IO, etc. however you want; simply fill out the Public side of the NAT table with the IP addresses that your customer has provided you. This also means that if your customer needs to change the IP addresses of the devices on your machine, no longer will you need to go to each device and manually change them; edit the public side of the NAT table and call it day!
From a Manufacturer’s point of view, NAT is a great way to “hide” certain parts of a machine from the plant network. In other words, by using one entry in the NAT table, only the PLC will be visible on the plant network and not the other devices on the machine. This is a great way to easily collect data from a PLC without having to reconfigure multiple IP addresses.
The Network Address Translation feature can be found in certain models of the Stratix 5700 as well as the 1783-NATR device. Those links will open PDF files allowing you to see exact hardware specifications like number of ports, CIP compatibility and of course NAT compatibility.
These devices are technical in nature. The applications can be tricky, sometimes. If you are new to IT or OT, or if you are new to integrating with and into a manufacturing environment, our Specialists are here to help. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
[Update 7/10/17] *For anyone interested in learning more, we will be documenting each post as this series grows:
—The Importance of Acronyms in Networking Part 1: Network Address Translation (NAT)
—The Importance of Acronyms in Networking Part 2: Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
(we will update with new links and new content as we add new posts)