Industrial Ethernet and SPE Interconnect
How Winchester Interconnect is Helping to Lead in the Market
Ethernet - enjoying it's 50th birthday this year - has become ubiquitous, integrating the information ecosystem in buildings and campuses globally. It has also moved into various other applications, notably automotive and Industrial Operational Technology (OT), as the protocol of choice for at least a significant part of their infrastructure.
Power Over Ethernet (POE) is now deployed in many environments. With the advent of Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) and it's Power over Data Line (PoDL) capabilities, this trend will continue and facilitate the Industry 4.0 paradigm.
For the Industrial Automation environment, the standards defined by IEEE 802.3, TIA TR42, and ISO/EC recommend practices that impact the design of cabling and interconnect topologies down to Edge.
Emerging industrial-specific standards that describe requirements unique to industrial environments are now in draft form and will soon be published. These standards go well beyond the specifications that drive the design and manufacturing practices that most manufacturers of the well-known Category 5E, 6A, and 7 cabling designs employ. Large AWG variants, up to 18 AWG for the 10 BASE-TIL protocol, are typically more challenging for the typical Premise Cabling manufacturer, given their inherent machine capabilities and design expertise.
Differences between typical Ethernet and the Industrial Environment
The common Category Cable defined in standards such as TIA 568 have become commodity products available from many sources, including distribution and retail outlets. The custom variants, e.g., high-flex designs or ruggedized versions, are less available but not extremely rare. Industrial versions have typically been Category 7 (a type of cable not commonly recognized by North American standards) and can be confusing to users who enjoy the robust standards of the typical Ethernet cable. MICE specifications (an acronym for Mechanical, Ingress, Climatic, and Electromagnetic) define three levels of performance that facilitate the transition of Ethernet into the Industrial environment.
Designing for Special Cases
Industrial Automation applications typically have some of the most challenging design requirements. Now that Ethernet is poised to displace some of the legacy protocols to enable the Industry 4.0/Factory of the Future vision, many of the current Category Cable manufacturers are forced to retool their manufacturing machinery, design practices, and test equipment to react to the special cases.
Custom variations exist for many challenging implementations and deviations from the typical criteria specified in the existing standards can emerge. The early adopters of Industrial Ethernet/SPE often rely on engineer-to-engineer collaboration to solve challenges. A manufacturer must have the experience in both industrial automation interconnects and the standards committees themselves to enable specific requirements to be met.
These applications may have sensor vibration, torsional flex, -Track, hoist requirements or other hard-use challenges that may necessitate deviations from the existing standards, so expertise in the published specifications and developing a special-case custom interconnect requires careful consideration and negotiation so that a custom variant - such as a coil cord, extra small or large AWG version, high-flex alloy or highly-stranded conductor's impact can be fully understood and adequately specified for the customer's particular application. Connector design, assembly techniques and interconnect packaging must be carefully considered, and performance attributes must be calculated accurately, tested, and documented to allow the challenging requirements of the industrial automation application to be successfully fulfilled.
Article by: Marc Dupuis, Director of Business Development, Cable Manufacturing
About Winchester Interconnect
Winchester Interconnect is a bulk wire & cable, assembly and coil cord manufacturer with a significant I presence in the Industrial Automation, Military, and Medical Markets. High Flex/Harsh Environments and "Can't Fail" applications are what our Application Engineers face daily.
We specialize in custom designs that present solutions that can't be found through the typical Ethernet providers and can make a wide range of Electronic and Optical interconnect solutions that solve problems for our customers.
Winchester Interconnect is an active participant in the IEEE 802.3 and TIA TR42 standard committees, and the Single Pair Ethernet Consortium (SPEC)
Marc Dupuis (author) can be reached at 860.786.2444 or [email protected]