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Future-proof connectivity

26 April 2023

A connecting element for both IT and OT, Ethernet is being deployed across more and more areas of industry. Mark Rushden reports

HARTING IS constantly developing and refining its Industrial Ethernet connectivity range so customers can implement robust and reliable networks for industrial use.

To simplify the installation of Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet, there are new variants of the RJ Industrial Multifeature interface. This solution supports fast assembly of network infrastructure, thanks to an integrated cutting tool which shortens assembly times by 25% and ensures a uniform finish.

Similarly, the preLink RJ45 is another time-saving tool. This unique system splits the cable and connector into two separate units; the first unit consists of connectors, sockets, couplings, or PCB terminals whilst the preLink termination block is the second unit. It can accommodate up to eight stranded or solid wires, which can be simultaneously shortened and connected in one step. The cable, which can be assembled on-site, now fits in every preLink component and can be inserted, removed, or replaced at any time.

The miniaturised ix Industrial connector offers users a compact and industry-compatible interface for demanding applications in the PROFINET environment. It delivers Cat. 6A performance for 1/10Gbit/s Ethernet at the control level, whilst its high current-carrying capacity supports both existing and future Power over Ethernet (PoE) applications.

Data and power

The ix Industrial PCB jack is 70% smaller, enabling manufacturers to use it in more compact devices. In addition, it combines both data transmission and power supply into a single interface, further reducing the area required for connectors. As well as significant space savings, the ix Industrial has been specifically designed and built to withstand the rigours of industrial environments.

In the past, there were many different data protocols used on industrial communication networks. Ethernet was and is still the leading protocol for computer networks. At the machine, however, serial bus protocols were more common. This created a barrier that made machine data difficult to access, except physically at the machine.

Technological advances are making Ethernet the standard protocol from the cloud to every sensor on a machine. The most important advancement in this field is the standardisation of Single Pair Ethernet, which can send up to 1 Gbit/s Ethernet over just two wires.

To make Single Pair Ethernet technology accessible to further application areas, Harting has developed a PCB terminal. Terminals simplify the connection of SPE, helping to bring Ethernet to the field level. This is particularly interesting within the context of SPE and IIoT, with low data rates from 10 Mbit/s and transmission lengths of up to 1km in industry, building and process automation.

There are also new variants of the T1 Industrial interface for Single Pair Ethernet, including M12 and M8 housings, standardised according to IEC 63171-6, and new hybrid concepts for SPE plus Power, standardised to IEC 63171-7. These have been developed to meet power requirements beyond the possible 50W of Power over Data Line.

Aside from the IIoT, there is immense potential for SPE across a range of industries. Sensors, actuators, and network nodes can now be networked and supplied with power via the T1, allowing applications in automation technology, robotics, machinery, and plant manufacturing.

Within transportation, an Ethernet cable weighs approximately 4.6kg per 100m, whereas an SPE cable only 3kg. Over an average train carriage lifetime of 40 years, each kilogram of saved weight delivers savings of around £12,000 per carriage. When you consider how many miles of cable are found in trains for entertainment, safety and control technologies, it soon becomes apparent that significant cost and weight savings are possible.

In industries such as robotics where the cables are subjected to strong torsional forces, the reduced number of wires means thinner and more flexible cables, which prolongs their service life.

Mark Rushden is UK marketing manager at Harting