Modern industrial control and information systems employ a proliferation of technologies, including various hardware standards and protocols. For many of the personnel working with these systems the technologies are 'plug and play' and are just there to be used. The problems arise when decisions have to be made regarding the most suitable technologies for a given application, or when things go wrong and troubleshooting has to be performed. Without a thorough grasp of the working of the technologies involved, and without the availability of (and the ability to use) suitable diagnostic tools, this becomes a formidable challenge.

The world of industrial communications abounds with three-letter acronyms, protocols, layered communication systems, fieldbuses and device networks. There are numerous networking and industrial bus standards, synchronous and asynchronous protocols, baseband and broadband systems, bus and star topologies, connection-oriented and connectionless protocols. In addition, there is a pronounced migration towards the use of Ethernet and TCP/IP. No wonder some of us are feeling a little confused.

To complicate matters, many technicians and electricians who were initially trained in process instrumentation or electrical maintenance are now expected to perform network maintenance - truly a major challenge. This program demystifies the jargon and places the most popular systems, technologies, hardware standards and protocols in an OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) perspective. It explains how these technologies operate and equips participants with the tools and skills to do basic hardware and protocol-related troubleshooting on both serial (RS-485) and Ethernet type networks.


By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Identify, prevent and troubleshoot industrial communications problems
  • Fix over 60 of the most common problems that occur in industrial communications systems
  • Successfully troubleshoot industrial communications systems
  • Analyse, diagnose and fix problems  The 2015 intake has already begun - contact us now to secure your place on the next intake!

Course Outline

MODULE 1: Data Communications Basics

  • Overview of industrial data communications
  • Basic data communications principles
  • Error detection
  • Dealing with noise

MODULE 2: Serial Communications

  • RS-232 overview
  • RS-232 troubleshooting
  • RS-485 overview
  • RS-485 troubleshooting

MODULE 3: Introduction to Protocols

  • Protocol concepts
  • Bi-Sync
  • HDLC
  • File transfer protocols

MODULE 4: Networking Basics and System Components

  • OSI model
  • Topologies
  • Medium access control
  • Repeaters, hubs, bridges, switches, routers

MODULE 5: Industrial Ethernet

  • CSMA/CD (half-duplex) Ethernet
  • Fast Ethernet
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Industrial Ethernet components and Techniques

MODULE 6: TCP/IP Internet Layer Protocols

  • The TCP/IP protocol suite
  • IP addressing techniques and routing concepts
  • IPv4/IPv6
  • ICMP
  • ARP

MODULE 7: TCP/IP Host-to-Host and Application Layer Protocols

  • Host-to-Host layer protocols: TCP and UDP
  • FTP, DHCP, HTTP and other application layer protocols
  • PING, ARP, TRACERT and other TCP/IP utilities

MODULE 8: Fieldbuses

  • Fieldbus concepts
  • HART
  • DeviceNet
  • ProfiBus
  • Foundation Fieldbus

MODULE 9: Modbus

  • The Modbus messaging protocol
  • Modbus Serial RTU
  • Modbus Serial ASCII
  • Modbus TCP/IP

MODULE 10: Wireless Communications and Networking

  • Microwave basics
  • Antennas
  • Wireless networking components
  • IEEE802.11 WLANs


  • OPC concept
  • Overview of OPC specifications
  • DCOM
  • OPC DA3.0 data access
  • Tunneling

MODULE 12: Network Security

  • Access control
  • Authentication and encryption
  • Firewalls
  • VPNs
  • WLAN vulnerabilities and solutions

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