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Consistency Before Availability: Network Reference Point based Failure Detection for Controller Redundancy


Publication Type:

Conference/Workshop Paper


28th International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation




Distributed control systems constitute the automation solution backbone in domains where downtime is costly. Redundancy reduces the risk of faults leading to unplanned downtime. The Industry 4.0 appetite to utilize the device-to-cloud continuum increases the interest in network-based hardware- agnostic controller software. Functionality, such as controller redundancy, must adhere to the new ground rules of pure network dependency. In a standby controller redundancy, only one controller is the active primary. When the primary fails, the backup takes over. A typical network-based failure detection uses a cyclic message with a known interval, a.k.a. a heartbeat. Such a failure detection interprets heartbeat absences as a failure of the supervisee; consequently, a network partitioning could be indistinguishable from a node failure. Hence, in a network partitioning situation, a conventional heartbeat-based failure detection causes more than one active controller in the redundancy set, resulting in inconsistent outputs. We present a failure detection algorithm that uses network reference points to prevent network partitioning from leading to dual primary controllers. In other words, a failure detection that prioritizes consistency before availability


author = {Bjarne Johansson and Mats R{\aa}gberger and Alessandro Papadopoulos and Thomas Nolte},
title = {Consistency Before Availability: Network Reference Point based Failure Detection for Controller Redundancy},
pages = {1--8},
month = {September},
year = {2023},
booktitle = {28th International Conference on Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation},
url = {}