Network Analyzer for Industrial Protocol Monitoring

Industrial network monitor

Develop software for a diagnostic tool used by field engineers when solving communications issues on a Profibus or Fieldbus network in an industrial manufacturing environment.

The Client

A Chicago area industrial automation company has one objective - to provide the best quality solutions for manufacturing automation. This company has grown to become one of the leading suppliers of AC servos, AC inverters, CNC controller systems, robotics and systems by creating reliable solutions that improve productivity through automated control of products and processes.

The Need

Field Engineers for this client often had problems debugging the complex network of controllers and motors in an industrial automation configuration. They had to figure out if the problem came from the customer's master software on the network, which commands the servo controllers, or if they had a faulty servo controller. Most often the problem was not their servo controller, but the master software giving the wrong commands. Debugging code that was written by the customer was time consuming and costly.

The RightHand Solution

RightHand Technologies software engineers took on the task of building a custom software application for monitoring and analyzing the network traffic to help determine the location of the problem. The resulting analyzer product could decode both Devicenet protocols and Profibus protocols to be used as a full-featured Fieldbus Network Analyzer. Engineers started from the ground up analyzing the requirements and issues to be resolved and came up with a solution designed around a dedicated Windows-based application, which would capture the traffic and diagnose issues on the industrial network. The Fieldbus Network Analyzer can set triggers, show messages before and after triggers, and show all product specific settings in a graphical format. Formerly, debugging industrial networks was like debugging C/C++ code; now, with the Fieldbus Network Analyzer, the field engineer can check the command to the servo and see the response in a user-friendly graphical interface. Field Engineers can now see if the commands from the master software are wrong, or if the servo is not responding correctly within minutes of arriving at the customer's site -- thus saving time and cutting costs.

The Results

RightHand showed the Fieldbus Network Analyzer to the field engineers for training and evaluation feedback and the response was incredible. "Awesome," said one of the field engineers. "COOL!" said another. They were clearly impressed, and confirmed that the goals of the project had been met. With this tool in hand, they felt confident they could tackle field problems in a fraction of the time.