Though physically cables may look the same, there are a number of significant differences between industrial grade and commercial grade Ethernet cables and connectors. These differences set industrial Ethernet apart from its commercial counterparts.
A report in AutomationWorld by media and events director David Greenfield presents some major differences to draw a line between them.
Hence, to begin with the the author first highlights some of the more common aspects of industrial Ethernet cabling. It includes 4x22 AWG, TC braid and foil shield, PVC and TPU jacketing, and stranded and solid conductors. The report indicates that the wiring inside the cable can be in two twisted pairs or as two star-quad pairs.
Besides the physical layer of the cables, Greenfield’s report says that connectors are perhaps the biggest differentiator between the two at the connector level. “Though the common RJ45 connector used in commercial applications can also be found in industrial Ethernet, the connector is typically reinforced in some way,” wrote Greenfield. “Both 8-pin and 4-pin types are used in both male and female configurations available in molded or filed wireable versions,” added Greenfield. “They are also commonly offered in IP20- and IP67-rated versions,” continued Greenfield.
According to AutomationWorld report, a bayonet-style mating interface on IP67-rated RJ45 offers industrial strength protection for the connector. Plus, the report shows that the quarter turn required to connect the cable to the node mates the RJ45 plug to the outlet with guarantee that it is correctly locked and sealed.
In addition to RJ45 connectors, M12 and M8 are some other style of connectors recommended for the industrial Ethernet application, wrote Greenfield. As per the report, M12 connector is available as a 4- or 8-pole connector type with IP67/IP69K protection. Plus, like RJ45, M8 and M12 connectors are also available as molded or field wireable connections, noted Greenfield.
Furthermore, the report highlights an emerging connector for the industrial Ethernet. Called the X-Code connector, its 8 wires in the Ethernet cable are segmented into 4 shielded pairs. It is designed to keep pace with the increasing use of Gigabit Ethernet on the plant floor.
Edited by Juliana Kenny