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Single Pair Ethernet - the standard for IIoT

The first series parts based on IEC 63171-6 that feature a comprehensive and flexible mating face hit the market at the Hannover Messe 2019 trade show.
Matthias Fritsche
Matthias Fritsche
Senior Specialist Ethernet, HARTING Electronics
HARTING T1 Industrial

"International standardisation committees have chosen the SPE connector face of the Harting Technology Group." Thus reads a message that has far-reaching effects. Why? Because now, the final step has been effected toward an IP-based network connection, and the de facto implementation of a long-envisaged idea – “from the Cloud down to the sensor” – is now possible.

Single-Pair Ethernet (SPE) will revolutionise industry since it makes it easy to connect even small sensors to the internet. SPE is the technology that brings Ethernet down to the smallest of things in the industrial environment. This is how the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) develops. The prerequisite for the successful and widespread use of SPE is the end-to-end compatibility of devices, cables and connectors. The key to universal cabling establishing itself is a standardised and consistent interface.

The working group of the IEEE 802.3 (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), which defines Single Pair Ethernet, has now decided to use the HARTING proposal for all industrial requirements. The proposal is standardised in IEC 63171-6. HARTING will present the first series parts at the Hannover Messe 2019 that are based on IEC 63171- 6 (formerly IEC 61076-3-125) and that feature a comprehensive and flexible mating face. As a result, integration of the interface into devices can now take place. Another benefit for users is the investment protection that results from this.

T1 Industrial interfaces in series

HARTING recognised the trend towards single-pair cabling at an early stage and, in close cooperation with users, defined standards that are now implemented in the HARTING T1 Industrial interface in series production. The mating face was designed during development work such that it will soon be available in higher IP protection classes. Thanks to its small dimensions, it will be comparatively easy to install the mating face in well-known M12, M8, PushPull and SnapIn housings  (provide HARTING link). For measurement and test purposes, users can e.g. attach the T1 IP20 cords to T1 M8 or M12 sockets.

HARTING T1 Industrial cabling components are the starting portfolio and enable the device integration of SPE/T1 interfaces and the power connection of these devices. Future higher bandwidths and transfer rates were also given consideration during development. Thus, the HARTING T1 Industrial portfolio is being successively expanded and, thanks to the forward-looking concept, can also be built out for applications in the direction of 10Gbit/s and 25Gbit/s. In addition, a standard for only 10Mbit/s (IEEE 802.3cg) is being developed. This has high relevance for many areas within the industrial sector since it allows transmission distances of up to 1,000 m. Remote Powering (Power over Data Line) also ensures the simultaneous transmission of data and power via one wire pair, as the diagram shows.

Representation of transmission length
Representation of transmission length and transmission speed for the various SPE standards.

Standard for IP-based communication within industry

SPE technology is of interest to generations of network engineers and industrial users from a number of perspectives, given that SPE is not a short-term phenomenon but rather an investment-safe standard. For example, the compact dimensions and low weight of connectors and cables enable rail manufacturers to achieve huge weight savings. For industrial automation, device and sensor manufacturers can use the smallest available Ethernet interface to deliver end-to-end IP-based communication from the Cloud down to virtually every sensor - without gateways, without different protocols or required adjustments. SPE thus enables the implementation of the vision of “from the Cloud down to the sensor” and has become the standard of the IIoT.


Remote Powering (Power over Data Line)

The advantage of remote powering is that it is very easy to remotely control devices via "Power over Ethernet", which can be thought of as a service on the line. This also has immense advantages with respect to troubleshooting and security aspects. The T1 method for the transmission of Ethernet over a wire pair (100Base T1, 1000Base T1) can also work with remote powering. In this case, it is called  PoDL, which stands for Power over Data Line.


Twisted Pair cable (UTP / FTP / STP)

"Twisted Pair" means a copper cable with crossed, twisted or stranded wire pairs. Copper cables with stranded wire pairs have long been used for signal and data transmission, typically in telephone and network technology. This cable is similar to the telephone cable frequently used in Germany (installation cable J-Y(ST)Y). The pairwise stranding and an electrically conductive screen reduce interfering influences of external alternating magnetic fields. Similarly, crosstalk between adjacent pairs of wires within the cable is decimated. An aluminum foil or a wire mesh form the electrically conductive screen, which is wound around the wire pairs and serves as a shield against low-frequency fields. The mesh’s degree of coverage should be over 30 percent.

UTP stands for Unshielded Twisted-Pair Cable, FTP for Foiled Twisted-Pair Cable and STP for Screened Twisted-Pair Cable.

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