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Industrial Ethernet Routing Switch for Extreme Environments

Posted: Tuesday 1st September 2009

Tried and tested Ethernet switch with router functionality provides advanced management of complex industrial networks.

Westermo Data Communications, has released a range of high performance industrial Ethernet switches with enhanced routing functionality. The RedFox series is designed to build cost effective, secure and reliable networks that would previously have required several different units.

Initially developed for bespoke mission critical applications in the defence, rail, aerospace and sub-sea markets, this new off-the-shelf version of RedFox is based on a proven design that far exceeds normal industrial requirements. This ultra robust DIN rail mountable unit has a heavy duty aluminium enclosure for maximum strength, heat dissipation and resilience to extreme levels of electromagnetic interference (300 A/m).

Manufactured from industrial grade components and able to operate in temperatures between -40 to +70°C (with no internal fans) RedFox has a MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) of 600,000 hours. The new switch provides the highest levels of standard compliance for EMC, railway applications, vibration, humidity, shock and altitude. All these features ensure that it can be used in just about any operating environment.

The range offers a number of Ethernet interface combinations, ranging from ten to eighteen 10/100/BaseTX ports, plus the option of four SPF Gigabit and four 1000BaseTX ports. To ensure the network resilience RedFox supports STP (Spanning Tree Protocol) and RSTP (Rapid STP), and also features Westermo’s unique FRNT (Fast Recovery of Network Topology) redundant ring functionality. This is the fastest protocol on the market to reconfigure a large network in the event of any line or hardware failure. FRNT is able to reconfigure a redundant ring network consisting of up to 200 switches within 20 ms, regardless of network load. This functionality enables RedFox switches to be used in safety critical applications.

RedFox also supports IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol) snooping, which provides filtering techniques to manage the flow of data around the ring in such a way as to optimise the bandwidth. IGMP snooping has also been integrated into FRNT to ensure optimum performance even during a network failure.

Routing is becoming an essential function for the merging infrastructure and factory automation networks. The RedFox’s static routing and firewall functions can provide simple segregation to ensure dataflow is controlled between networks. Comprehensive VLAN (Virtual LAN) support allows the physical switched network to be subdivided increasing security and network bandwidth and improving manageability. VLANs can also be allocated to particular switch ports and centrally configured.

Several layers of security are available, vital to prevent both malicious and accidental network failures including an inbuilt firewall and 256 bit AES encryption on IPSEC VPN tunnels. When using NAT (Network Address Translation) the IP address of protected devices can be hidden in a local secure network. RedFox can also act as a VPN server allowing IPsec tunnels to be set up between remote users and a local secure network. Web configuration pages and SNMP can be disabled and the Command Line Interface (CLI) is secured using SSH (Secure Shell Protocol).

Redfox is extremely easy to use, needing no configuration out of the box to allow a simple network to be created. An auto-discovery IP-Configuration tool allows the IP address, subnet mask and gateway address to be set up. A web interface allows configurations such as FRNT ring, VLANs or a basic firewall to be set up. Advanced configuration and monitoring can be achieved using SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol). Fine tuning for rigorous applications using the intuitive CLI enables running changes to be made without the need for a reboot.

The units’ isolated power supply has an operating voltage range spanning from 16 VDC to 60 VDC and can be fed from two separate supplies of differing voltages.




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