The application was to connect over 40 separate buildings with a redundant ethernet backbone using Hirschmann Industrial Ethernet switches. This project comprised multiple network management configuration challenges.The topology comprised a main Gigabit HiPER-Ring formed from MACH4000 switches and routers. Connecting two of these switches were three concentric rings, all on different IP subnets, as well as miscellaneous switches and Network Management Software. This structure necessitated the rather daunting combination of the following network management elements:

  • Gigabit and Fast-Ethernet HiPER-Rings
  • Ring Coupling
  • IP Routing
  • VLANs
  • Routed VLAN interfaces
  • Router Redundancy through VRRP
  • SNMP Traps for Network Management Software

Bench Test Setup

ATS are equipped with all the tools to perform large scale bench tests such as this, and the financial benefits of a full scale bench test for any system are well known. Our test equipment includes:

  • Cu, MM & SM Fibre Patch Leads
  • Power Supplies & Pre-Made Cords
  • Dummy IP Loads
  • IP Packet Generators (UC, BC & MC)

Exhaustive Acceptance Testing

Following configuration of these elements, the system was subject to thorough bench testing to ensure that the system would meet the customer’s requirement that it work ‘out of the box’. A detailed test matrix was developed to prove every functional requirement:

  • IP routing from each switch through the router to every other subnet
  • Demonstrate every redundancy mechanism
  • Network Stress Test – load the network to over 90% capacity and still demonstrate network function and switch administration agent access.
  • Power Recovery Test – repeat nominal tests to demonstrate that configuration is retained
  • Network Management Software – ensure that each fault (lost redundancy, lost power supply redundancy, high segment load) triggers an event alarm or relay contact as appropriate.

Benefits to Customer

Following configuration of these elements, the system was subject to thorough bench testing to ensure that the system would meet the customer’s requirement that it work ‘out of the box’. A detailed test matrix was developed to prove every functional requirement:

  • Each piece of equipment and its box was clearly labelled to simplify the installation – this avoided identical looking (but uniquely configured) equipment being installed in the wrong position.
  • Having performed the full test in our customary Pre-FAT (Pre – Factory Acceptance Test), the customer-witnessed Acceptance Test proceeded as a formality which impressed them with the attention to detail and confidence that the installation and commissioning would proceed smoothly (which they did!). No site visits were required, and the customer was rewarded with a network they trusted from Day 1.
  • Loading network paths to capacity and demonstrating the continued performance of the network to specified requirements provide confidence that a robust product and implementation was in place.
  • Demonstrating network visibility on Hirschmann’s Industrial HiVision Network Management Software gave an understanding of what the network looked like under various conditions. This provided the customer with confidence to provide high level identification of potential problems.

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ATS is recognised as having some of the best industrial ethernet engineers – get them involved in your project early to take advantage of their experience in network design, implementation and testing.