Maintenance workers now can quickly troubleshoot industrial network problems, prevent their recurrence, improve uptime and enhance plant productivity.

Fluke Networks in conjunction with Fluke Corp., both in Everett, Wash., offers Ethernet and electrical test solutions specifically for the industrial market. According to Fluke, industrial Ethernet use is projected to grow 50 percent each year for the next five years, replacing an assortment of analog devices and vendor-proprietary communication links that perform critical plant automation and process management tasks.

This change offers lower costs and simpler operation through standardized components and a mature proven technology. But it also creates a challenge: Ethernet, developed in relatively clean office settings, now must perform in the often harsh environment of the factory. This puts increased importance on the quality of the installation as well as ongoing monitoring to prevent degradation from heat, corrosion and vibration. Ethernet also adds a new technology segment to the plant maintenance professional's growing list of responsibilities.

Responding to comments from current industrial Ethernet users, such as “downtime is $3,500 per hour” and “I need to check the cabling before making the expensive call to the integrator,” Fluke and Fluke Networks have assembled a set of industrial Ethernet test and measurement tools that address the responsibilities placed on plant maintenance professionals. Maintenance staff now can troubleshoot problems ranging from electrical wiring and discrete devices to cable degradation, signal interference and network traffic issues. Fluke supports its industrial Ethernet solutions with an online support center that offers links to troubleshooting guides, white papers and training information. For more information, go to