The companies Phoenix Contact, Weidmüller, Reichle & Massari (R&M), Belden, and Fluke Networks announced a technology partnership for Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) at the Hannover Messe. These companies are developing and supporting the pin connector patterns collectively added to the IEC 63171-2 (office environment) and IEC 63171-5 (industrial environment) standards. These standards define IP20 and IP65/67 pin connector patterns for single and four-pair data transmission in Single Pair Ethernet applications.
The companies in this partnership are pooling their technological expertise in order to ensure a standardised infrastructure for devices, connectors, cables, and measurement technology.
“Single Pair Ethernet is one of the megatrends of industrial data transmission,” explained Torsten Janwlecke, President of the Business Area Device Connectors at Phoenix Contact.
The purpose of SPE is not to define new higher transmission speeds or distances, rather, it is to form the framework for standardising reduced amounts of cabling for applications. “This reduced cabling brings completely new areas of application into focus.”
Data cabling with just one pair of wires enables transmission distances of up to 1,000m at transmission rates ranging from 10Mbps to 1Gbps. This means that SPE is particularly well suited for infrastructure applications in machine building and systems manufacturing, process engineering, and also in building infrastructure.
The main advantage is that SPE is environment-independent. Field devices, sensors, and actuators can be easily incorporated into the existing company-level Ethernet environment. There is no need for additional gateways or interfaces. “As opposed to fieldbus protocols, Ethernet is penetrating into every level of automation. It is more consistent, more efficient, and more cost-effective than fieldbus systems” said Janwlecke.
Development of the Single Pair Ethernet began in the automotive industry, where the trend towards developing smaller and better performing devices is clear to see. Future-oriented technologies such as autonomous vehicles require a connection technology that enables the high speed transmission of data with a very small structural footprint. Other industries can also benefit from this approach.
“Single Pair Ethernet means a reduction in the amount of work for systems manufacturers. Compared to four-pair Ethernet, installation is easier and enables a noticeable reduction in space and weight,” explained Jörg Scheer, Director of the Device & Field Connectivity Division at Weidmüller.
Simon Seereiner, Director of Product Management IE and SAI at Weidmüller, added: “In new installations, users save on procurement costs and can design the necessary cable runs to be much more compact. The standardised pin connector patterns also enable the efficient cabling of many communication devices that share a common line and interface. This means that users can continue to use the existing cabling and connect up to four devices, instead of just one.”
Matthias Gerber, Market Manager for LAN Cabling at R&M, added: “We consider SPE to be the ideal approach to enhancing existing Ethernet-based network structures in order to increase the density of the existing connection points. This makes it absolutely necessary to define the interplay between SPE and existing RJ45 cabling systems in the standardisation committees that are responsible for this.”
Thanks to the standardised interfaces, single and four-pair cabling concepts can be combined with each other just as IP20 and IP6x solutions can. The two-wire technology also enables the application-specific supply of end devices with outputs of up to 60W via the same pair of wires (Power over Data Line - PoDL).
“Our collaboration in this standardisation will create security,” said Janwlecke. “Throughout the world, users will be able to construct efficient network and cabling structures, from the sensors, through the control and company level, right through to to the Cloud, all based on standardised interfaces.”
Scheer added: “Thanks to digitalisation, intelligent networking is increasing in every aspect of life. Consistent data transmission is also becoming ever more relevant in the industrial environment. Therefore, Ethernet cabling is already replacing many traditional fieldbus systems today.”
Berry Medendorp, Director of Global Industrial Marketing at Belden, explained: “To be able to replace existing fieldbus systems, we will need components that are more cost effective, more miniaturised, and more standardised. Here, Single Pair Ethernet cables are playing a key role in the transmission technology. The easy setup, smaller sizes, significant reduction in weight, and simple connection technology make this technology an interesting option in automation engineering, building cabling, railway engineering, and also in many other applications.”
“The subsequent certification and verification of Single Pair Ethernet patch cords is important in the industrial environment. Therefore, Fluke Networks took up the issue of channel definitions for Single Pair Ethernet at an early stage. The objective is to provide uniform measurement equipment for the different data transmission protocols, thus giving customers a high degree of investment security for their measuring devices,” concluded Mark Mullins of Fluke Networks.