We’ve all heard the arguments… it’s not deterministic, you can’t prevent someone from plugging in their personal computers, or my favorite, the ill-advised use of office grade equipment for your plant control systems.
All that aside there really is no stopping the proliferation of Ethernet based networks and equipment and it is being embraced across all market segments regardless of the industrial networks that offer more security and robustness (actual or perceived). The industrial market has changed and the cliental that design, implement and maintain industrial equipment are looking for solutions they are familiar with and can easily adopt without knowing the ins and outs of other types of networks and protocols. Ultimately Ethernet provides maximum freedom for designing your network infrastructure.
That being said there is a key consideration. The single point of failure, as more equipment is placed onto an Ethernet network the more critical the switching device handling your precious data. There are many products out there and depending on the mission critical nature of the information being transferred we need to consider the security and quality of the devices implemented.
Both Phoenix Contact and Hirschmann are manufacturers we utilize to solve the simple switch tasks for PLC / HMI application to the middle of the road switch to control what network traffic goes out over a wireless radio system to complex managed switches required in larger facilities for large amounts of data, video and fiber networks. We are partners with both of these manufacturers and can assist in selecting the right product for your application. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the broad offering of these manufacturers have to offer. I think you will be impressed.