Many of our customers have asked us the same question in different ways for many years, "why use industrial Ethernet?", "what are the benefits of industrial Ethernet?" and "what makes industrial Ethernet different?". So we would like to share our ideas and views about this topic in this article.
Unlike the comfortable office environment with well regulated climate-control, industrial equipment is usually located in dusty, humid and extreme hot or cold places. So when it comes to bringing an Ethernet network to such tough environments, it is important to select networking equipment with "Industrial Ethernet" grades such as:
- DIN-Rail mounting for convenient installation in industrial spaces
- Redundant DC power inputs to ensure the maximum running time
- Rugged housing for best protection
- Wide operating temperature support of -40°C to 75°C
Sometime the networking equipment is even required to operate in noisy and hazardous environments such as gas vapors, electrical surges, EMI (electromagnetic interference), and other environmental threats. In such situations, it is important to select additional industrial certifications for your industrial Ethernet equipment to properly design a reliable industrial network for your applications:
Class I Division 2 for Hazardous Environment – Nothing is more important than safety. In a place where oil and gas vapors may accidentally exist, all the equipment must meet Class I Division 2 certification.
- Class I is a type of hazard environment which is created by the flammable gases or vapors in the air, such as nature gas or gasoline vapor. When these vapors are found in the air, it creates a potential for an explosion which may be ignited by the electrical devices.
- Division 2 (Zone 2) means hazardous vapors do not exist under normal operations such as oil & gas filling operations, but may accidentally exist.
IEC-61850 for Utilities Substation – A reliable network is the most important key factor for modern substations that transmit and distribute electric power over large areas. Since substation environments tend to be extremely varied, making Ethernet networks reliable and rugged is essential to achieve higher reliability, availability and up-time of substation communication.
Here are the requirements of industrial Ethernet using in substation environment.
- Meet IEC-61850 standard for excellent EMI shielding. The equipment which meets this standard is capable of protecting against electrical surges and EMI.
- Tolerant of temperature extremes. To perform flawlessly in climate-uncontrolled utility substation, this equipment are designed form complete fan-less operation in a wide temperature range of -40°C to 75°C.
- Maintaining high network availability. To ensure high network availability, network redundancy must be implemented and respond in milliseconds. In addition, redundant power for equipment is necessary for the backup source.
EN50155 for Railway Communication – All the communication networks are now turning to IP-based Ethernet networks, so is the train communication. Devices in the railway application must be able to suffer severe pollution, vibration, sock and EMC. The EN50155 standard is "Railways Applications Electronic Equipment Used on Rolling Stock", which is the common standard used in many countries. The key factors are such as:
- Wide temperature. Similar as IEC-61850, the Railway applications are usually running in the climate-uncontrolled environment. The fan-less design of the industrial Ethernet devices must be running flawlessly. Most of the devices can be operated in the range of -40°C to 75°C.
- Shock and vibration. The equipment used in railway must withstand vibration and shocks, and provide the reliable use during the product life. The anti-vibration is a critical element of the product designed.
- Electrical service conditions. EN50155 also defines several standard for electrical condition such as the voltage range, voltage ripple and impure surges. All the equipment must meet these requirements in order to provide the stable services in railway applications.
Every industrial Ethernet networking application is always mission-critical. And in most cases, downtime and equipment failure can create enormous revenue loss and production quality concerns. So all Industrial Ethernet grade networking equipment are designed with much higher quality and reliability specifications compared against a similar commercial grade product:
- Longer MTBF (Mean Time between Failures). MTBF is the predicted time between failures. In another word, the higher the MTBF, the less likely the unit will fail. The industrial Ethernet switches have a much higher MTBF (40 years or more) than the commercial switches. Making it durable and reliable for the demanding industrial applications.
- Best ROI (Return on Investment) / Lower RMA, Any downtime is costly. Not only does the entire production process has to stop, but also the raw material or man-power can be wasted during the waiting time. A good industrial solution should reduce this costly downtime.
- 5-Year Warranty. Not only should the industrial Ethernet equipment be durable and reliable, they should also last longer than similar commercial products. The industrial Ethernet manufactures most often offer 5-year warranty compare with 1 or 2-year warranty for most commercial products.
Here are the products who have the features explained on this page.