When you have a question about process automation that needs a short answer, let us know with #WishIknew and @Visaya! We’ll reply with a #WishIknew post. It’ll give a quick explanation, then some related articles, videos, or reviews if you want to know more.

Wish I knew what Ethernet/IP communication is!

The short answer? “Another digital protocol, this one based on Ethernet stuff.” But you need more than that, don’t you? Let’s get you some more context to understand this protocol, its advantages, and the options you’ll find on the market.


If you roll back to the standard automation pyramid, then you can see that field protocols differ from control protocols. Why? Because the quantity and speed of data needed at the field level differ vastly from the control level. You have to have converters in the middle, like FOUNDATION Fieldbus (FF) HSE to FF H1 or PROFIBUS DP to  PROFIBUS PA.

As automation has evolved, we’ve come to realize that we should somehow simplify by keeping the same network structure in the field and control levels.

And now

Today, we have companies slinging Ethernet protocols left and right –  Ethernet/IP, PROFINET, EtherCAT, etc. But we also have companies investing in wireless products, like WirelessHART and ISA 100. Of course, we can create synergy among them.

But let’s dive into Ethernet/IP stuff a little more. The Ethernet/IP digital protocol (or industrial network protocol) adapts the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) to our known and standard Ethernet.

image of Ethernet/IP communication
Courtesy of Icpdas

Now, you’ll hear people call Ethernet/IP the American protocol and PROFINET the European one. Do you agree with that? I’m on the fence. Anyway, the Ethernet/IP protocol simplifies the network structure, so you’ll find Ethernet cable on both field and control levels.

Many field devices have Ethernet/IP communication built-in, such as flow meters, gateways, and analyzers. One of the nice features of Ethernet products is the typical web server integrated to set them up. It saves a lot of time.

We’ll definitely have an article later diving into more technical details, but for now, have a video:



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