A reliable network connection is indispensable in industrial applications. Ethernet with transmission rates in the Gbit range is entering in to more and more applications at the field level. In order to test the performance of field-terminated connections, Softing IT Networks provides the appropriate measurement technology. To ensure they always have the right connection for standard industrial interfaces, Softing relies on HARTING solutions such as the preLink® system, the ix Industrial® and the standardized SPE interface T1 Industrial. Here’s the story of our successful cooperation.
The data rates in current factory automation networks are constantly on the rise and with them the requirements for shielding of cables and interfaces. In this context, standardization already provides good guidelines, which are followed by current manufacturers, while the installation of new infrastructure in the field also holds certain potential for error. Depending on the application, pollutants such as dust or liquids can impact on plug connections and electromagnetic interference may also be responsible for performance losses. When cables are bent too much, pulled over a sharp edge or fail to make proper contact in the connector, performance suffers. Softing IT Networks offers the appropriate test equipment to effectively check data lines after their installation. The certification test is the most common test method, providing qualitative information about transmission quality at LF-Low frequency and RF - Radio frequency. The WireXpert 500 and 4500 are the suitable test devices from Softing's product range.
Measurements with a certifier (also known as a CAT tester or cable tester) after cabling installation, but also after moves, additions and changes to the cabling are a proven way to ensure that the cabling actually meets the performance requirements for a particular application. Test reports from these measurements serve as evidence of the quality of the installed cabling for the installer or systems engineer, as well as the inspectors, users and owners of this cabling. In addition, measurements with a certifier help to drastically reduce downtime due to damage to the wiring, as this damage can usually be found much faster with a certifier than by any other method. This holds true for both office environments and industrial applications. This is especially crucial for current Ethernet networks, which are much more sensitive than old analogue systems due to the higher frequencies involved.
Flexible connection technology is at least as important as the test device itself. In the industrial sector, there are various defined and set standards for Ethernet interfaces such as M12 circular connectors in D or X coding, RJ45 solutions, but also new standards such as ix Industrial® or the SPE interface T1 Industrial for single-pair cabling according to IEC 63171-6. In order to be able to connect the WireXpert flexibly on site, Softing relies on reliable connectivity provided by HARTING. In this context, the preLink® cabling system has proved particularly successful. The system is characterized by a termination block that is connected and contacted at the end of the cable. This can now be reversibly connected to the preLink® suitable variants of RJ45, M12 etc and can always be adapted to the conditions on site. At the other end the familiar Tera connector handles connection to the test instrument. Consequently, the adapter cable can thereby remain in the device during use and only needs to be adapted to the corresponding connectivity of the test section at the end via the preLink® termination block.
HARTING, however, is not only equipping Softing with familiar standards, but also with newer solutions for miniaturized devices and future networks under the keyword IIoT - sensor to cloud. This applies to the ix Industrial® connector according to IEC 61076-3-124 which is the miniaturized alternative to the RJ45 as a 70% more compact solution in the device. And naturally, the SPE interface T1 Industrial according to IEC 63171-6. This interface will play an increasingly vital role in the next few years if, as expected, Single Pair Ethernet becomes the predominant standard in the field level in terms of Ethernet transmission.
For several years now, this successful cooperation has ensured the right connectivity on Softing test equipment, as well as meeting Softing's own high standards and aspirations with regard to quality and reliability. HARTING also maintains close cooperation with Fluke Networks in order to provide customers worldwide with suitable test fixtures for these measuring devices. A test adapter has already been developed for the ix Industrial® , which can be obtained from HARTING and is supported by Fluke. We are also already working on the necessary test adapters for SPE.