TSN provides distributed time synchronization and deterministic communication using standard Ethernet networks. As such, any application requiring distributed measurements or control can benefit from TSN. Customers are using TSN for simple distributed synchronized measurements, embedded coordinated distributed data logging, advancements in next-generation computer numeric control machining, novel semiconductor processing machines, and future electrical grid research. A few more industries and applications include:
Test Cells and Distributed Monitoring
Many measurement applications require sensor readings from multiple locations. To support analysis routines the data from each of the sensors needs to be correlated in time. Applications such as structural test need to correlate the data from every strain gauge to get an accurate representation of the structure. Similarly, in a distributed monitoring application such as monitoring flows or torsional vibration it may be necessary to have synchronization of the measurements, so machine health analytics can properly consume the data. In these use cases the customers may only be using the time synchronization and not the deterministic communication capabilities. This is fully supported in all NI TSN products (all TSN products from NI support time synchronization).
These systems require coordinated measurements and actions using a control network. Control networks need to accept inputs from sensors, perform control loop processing, and initiate actions in response. Such actions (for example controlling a networked industrial machine or a conveyor belt) are highly time-sensitive. They require deterministic network delays with low-jitter input and output sampling, to create a control system that behaves predictably. Historically they have used proprietary fieldbuses, but this had technical and business limitations, especially related to scalability, bandwidth, vendor neutrality, and flexibility. Time synchronization for IO and event correlation is fully supported in all our offering on TSN (all TSN products from NI support time synchronization), deterministic control is supported on our CompactRIO and Industrial Controller products today.
Hardware in the Loop (HIL)
Hardware in the Loop can be viewed as a mix of a control application and a test cell. They frequently require distributed closed loop control as well as tightly synchronized measurements.
Auto makers are migrating in-vehicle busses to Ethernet to provide higher bandwidth and faster response. This started with Ethernet for infotainment (using AVB – first generation TSN). This largely was targeted to replace MOST. Now automakers are moving to use Ethernet (with TSN) for connection of the vehicle ECUs. The bandwidth is needed to support ADAS operations. This enables functions that were not possible with previous technologies, however it will replace FlexRay and co-exist with CAN/LIN. The convergence of multiple types of data (control, infotainment, etc.) is important in an environment such as a vehicle, where auto makers would like to be able to use a single network infrastructure for all communications – such as climate control, infotainment, body electronics or driver assistance. NI is monitoring this development to influence our product roadmap to support automotive test and RCP applications.
While not a target application for NI products, this is a market application adopting TSN. Networks that convey audio and video information need to stick to strict timing rules. If an audio or video packet arrives late to its destination, the receiving device (for instance a video screen or speaker) has no data to present. In practice this might mean a dropped frame of video, an unwanted audio artifact such as a pop or silence. Moreover, such networks require predictable latencies, enabling audio data to be presented from different speakers with a known phase relationship, and synchronization between video and related audio streams (i.e. lip-sync).