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SPE – Chance or challenge for automators?

Dr. Oliver Kleineberg, Hirschmann, in an interview
Dr. O. Kleineberg
Dr. O. Kleineberg
Global CTO Core Networking at Hirschmann Automation and Control GmbH
SPE – Chance or challenge for automators? Mr. Kleineberg, do you view SPE in industrial automation more as an opportunity or as a challenge? And, in your opinion, what barriers are currently still in place at automation companies in terms of SPE device integration?

Dr. O. Kleineberg:

SPE represents a huge opportunity for industrial automation technology. The challenge is to actually make good on these opportunities and advantages. For SPE to gain a broad foothold, the benefits have to be tangible and measurable. This can only happen if an end-to-end ecosystem is available for SPE to which users can rationally migrate and which can be fully integrated into existing automation systems. Adopting it in patchwork-quilt fashion, i.e., SPE in only a few places, would quickly see the benefits become so negligible that a switch to SPE would ultimately no longer be worth it. So the key is a complete ecosystem of connectors, cables, IO systems and active network components. Availability of the required silicon components such as PHY modules is an additional challenge, especially for active devices. What possibilities does SPE offer automation that weren’t possible with previous infrastructure? What role do higher data rates and the simultaneous transmission of power via PoDL play?

Dr. O. Kleineberg:

SPE is an essential building block for the complete implementation of modern automation systems. The high bandwidth that SPE provides all the way down to end devices at the field level is a basic precondition for further new steps in value creation, e.g., predictive maintenance or process optimisation. SPE is the only way that collected raw data can sensibly be transmitted from the field level to higher-level computing systems and to the Cloud for the additional processing that’s required. The increased bandwidth and new functionality of Power over Data Line (PoDL) not only make it possible to increase the number of sensors at the field level but sensors with significantly expanded functionality will also become a reality, allowing information fusion from different sources, such as a LIDAR and optical detection systems.

"SPE is an essential building block for the complete implementation of modern automation systems."

Dr. Oliver Kleineberg, Global CTO Core Networking at Hirschmann Automation and Control GmbH In your opinion, is SPE the long-awaited building block for the implementation of IIoT via digitisation of the field level, which serves concepts such as machine learning and predictive maintenance?

Dr. O. Kleineberg:

The data volumes that arise can only be moved sensibly and practically to the points in the automation system where they’re needed via Ethernet and SPE and other supporting technologies such as Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN).

SPE Will Hirschmann be showing the first application solutions featuring SPE components in 2021?

Dr. O. Kleineberg:

Hirschmann and Belden will be unveiling both active and passive devices and components with SPE in 2021. What motivated you to join the SPE Industrial Partner Network at such an early stage and ramp up your activities?

Dr. O. Kleineberg:

We’ve been following and supporting Single Pair Ethernet technology for many years, as evidenced by the fact that we were there during the initial steps of IEEE 802.3 standardisation, for example. We joined and support the SPE Partner Network because we’d like to help ensure that a complete ecosystem of different SPE products interoperable between all manufacturers will become available to the industrial sector and to our customers, of course, so that they can avail themselves of the advantages of SPE as quickly and expediently as possible.

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