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User-Friendly Technology Throughout Your Industrial Switch's Lifecycles

The balance of user-friendly management versus operational comprehensiveness is what Moxa's switch portfolio achieves by implementing some of the easiest to use User Interfaces and tools for complete system management. Many switches on the market today do not offer this sort of effortless advanced management technology. This is one of the key differentiators for Moxa products. For example, most industrial switches only support a subset of CLI commands, somewhere between 10 to 20 commands, whereas Moxa switches with the latest firmware support a complete list of 200 commands, covering nearly all major functions. Another example is Moxa's MXview industrial management software, which provides a very easy-to-comprehend clear graphical view that displays switches and their connections as real cabling from device to device. Compare this with a system that only shows logical connection identifiers which need to be both learned and interpreted.

Once a product is procured to be used as part of the industrial network, its life in the network can be generally divided into 3 periods: Installation, Operation and Maintenance, and Troubleshooting. Moxa provides a suite of adept tools that can be used throughout these different lifecycle stages. Some of the tools are used in more than one or all of the lifecycle stages, and there are certain specific tools or subsets of tools that are particularly suitable for each stage.

The service life of a network device such as a switch can be categorized into 3 lifecycles


Generally, during the installation stage, a large variety of tools are necessary to accommodate the various installation requirements and the variety of craftspeople that may be involved with the installation. For simple and straightforward configuration, there are three tools available from Moxa that can configure the switch parameters appropriate for the network design: web console, menu console over Telnet/RS-232, and CLI console over Telnet/RS-232. Web console configuration is usually the most pain free solution to setting parameter with the design requirements. Moxa has designed its switch web console so that an automation engineer only needs to set the most basic parameters possible for each feature, automating and hiding the complexity from the craftsperson.


A craftsperson can easily navigate to any area of interest from the welcome page of the Moxa web console

Instead of using the web console, a craftsperson can also either use Telnet or the console RS-232 port to either use Moxa's proprietary low-bandwidth ASCII menu system or the new CLI. For inexperienced users, Moxa's ASCII menu system is similar to the web console but presented in a low-bandwidth user-friendly format. A craftsperson needs only to fill in the necessary fields. Advanced users, such as well-certified IT administrators, may prefer to use a Command Line Interface's powerful and scriptable commands. Moxa therefore caters to advanced users as well, providing them with a full complement of CLI commands so that experienced automation engineers and/or IT administrators can utilize the power of advanced CLI commands. Having these three standard user interfaces supported by all Moxa switch products gives flexibility in how products are installed and maintained, and in the type of personnel involved.


Menu command console above and the new comprehensive CLI console below

There are many industrial installations where the design limitations require a different approach than just straightforward parameter configuration from one of the various consoles. For example, an installation for a pipeline control, monitoring, and communications network may require switches strung out along hundreds of kilometers or more. In that case, how does an automation engineer configure the multitude of switches that will be necessary? Should the switches be pre-configured at a local network or should the automation engineer spend the time to go to each and every one of the distant remote installation sites? For this type of case, Moxa offers a very specific device, the ABC-01 or Automatic Backup Configurator. This is an extremely easy-to-use configuration tool which can be used by hardware installers with limited operation knowledge to configure a switch. The operator merely has to plug the ABC-01 into the RS-232 console port of the switch to automatically update the switch's configuration file. The ABC-01 can also be used to back up a switch's configuration, making it useful in a number of scenarios.


The Moxa ABC-01 configuration tool can be easily used by anyone to quickly save or load a switch configuration

Some installations require multiple switches being installed concurrently with only the factory default settings. Since all the switches have the same default management IP address how can they be configured from a single management console in the network? The EDS Configurator utility is a simple-to-use tool for just this type of job. From a network console, an engineer can use the tool to easily scan and discover all the new network devices. Even though the new switches all have the same factory default IP address, they can be discerned by the EDS Configurator tool by using their MAC address. The tool can then be easily used from a single point to change the basic management connectivity parameters of all newly installed switches.

Once switches are installed and operating in a commissioned network, the automation engineer needs to perform operations and maintenance of the nodes. Since an industrial network carries extremely mission-critical information, monitoring of the network becomes just as important. To simplify the monitoring of the network, Moxa has designed not only a Network Monitoring System (NMS), but an industrial NMS (iNMS) called MXview. Moxa developed the MXview iNMS so that monitoring personnel would no longer require a deep understanding of the IT-based logical addresses that are used as identifiers for the various parts of the network. The intelligence in MXview interprets these logical addresses and presents them as actual devices with physical cables connecting them. This is a greatly simplified view that makes maintenance of the network a much easier task for automation engineers.


MXview provides very easy to use network monitoring that can help any operator rapidly pinpoint network issues

Finally, even a switch that is well-installed and maintained sometimes needs troubleshooting when either human error or other issues occur. There are specific tools from Moxa that can make this as pain-free as possible. A typical network UI may issue alarms or other fault notifications using logical addresses that represent the trouble area of the network. A craftsperson at the console needs to interpret that logical address before the fault can be dealt with. However, since MXview's easy-to-understand diagrammatic network view depicts the actual network hardware and cabling, pinpointing the issue with MXview is a much easier task. The problem can be identified and addressed as soon as possible without requiring very specific in-depth product knowledge.


MXview can show you where the problem lies in real-time and a craftsperson can step
through the network event history to help pinpoint the root cause


Another tool Moxa has recently released is the SFP-Digital Diagnostic Monitor (SFP-DDM). This new advanced tool, accessed directly within the web console, allows the automation engineer to monitor the fiber connection parameters of an SFP module from the Moxa web console. In many cases, switches using fiber connectivity can be separated by many kilometers, so pinpointing fiber issues can be very time-consuming. With Moxa's SFP-DDM tool, if the parameter tolerances of the SFP module's TX/RX power, temperature and voltage are beyond normal performance levels, the craftsperson can deduce the problem (laser/module fault vs. fiber cabling fault) and particularly its location. This avoids deployment of personnel to either a switch location or somewhere in the fiber cable plant where the problem may not necessarily lie.


Using the parameter readings from the web console SFP-DDM tool,
a craftsperson can deduce where the problem area may lie


With easy-to-use technology that facilitate the installation, general operations/maintenance and troubleshooting cycles of networking devices, not only will an automation engineer's duties be as effortless as possible but also the network uptime will be improved. Moxa's straightforward technology is less prone to human error and the engineers managing the device's various lifecycles are more likely to correctly implement, manage, and repair the network since the underlying complexities are taken care of by Moxa's easy-to-use and comprehensive technology.

 

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