November 2020 marks a significant milestone for the CC-Link Partner Association (CLPA), as the organisation will celebrate its 20th anniversary. Over these two decades, the CLPA has been supporting automation vendors and end users worldwide by providing state-of-the-art open network solutions that leverage the latest, most promising technologies, such as Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN).
Since its foundation, the CLPA has actively contributed to advancing manufacturing, such as supporting the current focus on Industry 4.0. This has resulted in the development and application of innovative open networking technologies that help manufacturers leverage the power of data. Ultimately, this capability empowers companies to enhance flexibility in their processes, helping them to be competitive in a dynamic, global market.
In particular, the CLPA has supported the creation of well-integrated platforms that link together all the different domains of manufacturing. These are an essential element of smart, connected factories that are ready for Industry 4.0. This is why the last decades have seen key advances in network technologies, which evolved from fieldbuses to industrial Ethernet and is now seeing the adoption of TSN.
Evolving technologies to address current and future needs
At the forefront of these innovations and developments, the CLPA has provided ever evolving, ground-breaking solutions to address the changes in the industry. The organisation’s very first technology, CC-Link open fieldbus, quickly became a de facto networking standard in Japan and then in the entire Asian market as well as globally.
Perceptive to the most promising new technologies, the organisation subsequently launched a world’s first – CC-Link IE, the only open industrial Ethernet with 1 Gbit/s bandwidth for industrial automation applications. Back when the solution was released in 2007, only 10 to 100 Mbit systems were common. CC-Link IE was therefore offering a futureproof network technology that would be able to address the continually increasing need for bandwidth in manufacturing.
In effect, this solution still leads the global market today, 13 years after its initial release. The popularity of the industrial Ethernet and fieldbus systems are also confirmed by the continuous growth in the number of nodes, CLPA partners and compatible automation products. According to the latest reports, there are nearly 30 million installed nodes, 3,800 partner companies and more than 2,100 certified products available from over 340 manufacturers. These figures are no longer a representation solely of the Asian market, but refer to the global acceptance of the organisation and its technologies.
Ready for the next 20 years
While CC-Link IE is still widely used and offers state-of-the-art performance, the CLPA continues to look forward and provide solutions that will address current and future needs. Having recognised the benefits of innovative TSN technology and its potential in supporting the factories of the future, the organisation recently released CC-Link IE TSN. This is another world’s first, as the solution is the only one currently available to bring open gigabit Ethernet to the next level by leveraging key TSN capabilities. Furthermore, the technology was designed to support manufacturing businesses in the forthcoming years, as TSN evolves.
John Browett, general manager at CLPA Europe, comments: “We are delighted to celebrate our 20th anniversary and reach this milestone. The success and continuous growth we have experienced over the years clearly demonstrates the acceptance of our family of open networks in a broad range of industries. As an established industry player, we offer a strong, proven and future-oriented open networking technologies. We look forward to innovating further within the sector to continue delivering solutions that will lead the industry for the next 20 years and beyond.”