New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Industrial process control networks (ICNs) make up the critical infrastructure that supports the secure and reliable communications between devices in manufacturing environments. In the past ICNs have used mostly proprietary networks and protocols such as, Profinet and Devicenet, along with vendor-specific technologies. Today however these proprietary networks are being replaced with Ethernet IP-based networks allowing consolidation of many different types of networks into a single common network, simplifying network operation, administration, and reducing operational expense. This convergence of Industrial Automation Technology (IAT) with Information Technology (IT) is driving a growing trend in remote management of industrial control systems over Internet Protocol (IP) based networks and a need for engineers well skilled in core competencies of IT networks and operational technology (OT) networks. In this paper we present in detail our experiences in the development of a versatile Industrial Automation Technology remote lab solution for facilitating 24/7 access to student anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. The lab will be used in the fall of 2016 to provide students the foundational hands-on skills needed to configure, maintain, and troubleshoot industrial control systems securely through a remote Internet connection. The centerpiece of the virtual lab is to provide distance education students with the hands-on lab experience of operating industrial control and networking equipment as though they had physical access to the laboratory equipment. A common discussion topic within academic institutions is to determine the extent that differing, but related, disciplines can be integrated to take advantage of synergies and enhance the knowledge base and skill sets of the related disciplines. In this context, central to the development of the remote lab environment was the collaboration between faculty from Information and Computer Technology (ICT) and Industrial engineering technology (IET) programs. The lab environment includes a Web based user interface for scheduling lab time provided by an NDG Netlab+ system installed and administered at XX University. Through this system IET faculty can control class offerings, instructor accounts, student accounts, and configuration of both virtual machines running process control software and physical devices such as programmable logic controllers, variable frequency drives and other industrial control components to perform production, manufacturing, data collection, and other important manufacturing plant tasks. The remote lab environment will allow for merging the skill sets of Technology courses such as Electricity/ Electronics Fundamentals, Electromechanical Systems, Robotics, and Electromechanical Systems Integration with the skill sets of Computer Networking Technology courses such as is discussed in this paper. Finally, the benefits gained from collaborative endeavors between the ICT and IET programs towards the development of industrial networking specialist curriculum is also discussed.
Pickard, J., & Linn, J. B. (2016, June), Developing an IP-Based Industrial Process Control Laboratory for Use in a Distance Education Environment Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26748
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