Endress+Hauser Field Test Ethernet-APL, Readies Portfolio Launch

April 17, 2023 by Shawn Dietrich

Endress+Hauser test a new technology that brings high-speed Ethernet, industrial protocols, and power to field devices to support ever-advancing Industry 4.0 demand.

As the demand for Ethernet-APL rises, large manufacturers of sensors and process automation devices take notice, but they want to ensure the new technology will function as reported.

Endress+Hauser, the widely-known supplier of process automation devices such as flow meters, temperature sensors, and pressure sensors, set up two realistic field tests to ensure the Ethernet-APL technology could handle a large load of sensors, all being powered and reporting on only two wires.


Endress+Hauser load test Ethernet-APL setup

Endress+Hauser's first test consisted of 238 of its field measuring devices. Image used courtesy of Endress+Hauser


What Is Ethernet-APL?

Ethernet is an accepted standard for transmitting digital messages between electronic devices. A standard Ethernet cable has four twisted pairs of solid copper conductors. This technology has evolved to single-pair Ethernet (SPE). Moving that technology even further is Ethernet Advanced Physical Layer (APL). Ethernet-APL offers high-speed data transfer and device power on the same two conductors and is rated for hazardous environments—it does all of this and is 300 times faster than standard Fieldbus protocols like HART.

Not only can this infrastructure support OPC UA and HART-IP, but industrial protocols are also being supported, such as ProfiNet and Ethernet/IP. This technology has been developed with process automation in mind. In process automation, sensor values need to be sent to SCADA systems that could be in remote locations. With longer distances between the sensor and the control system, latencies in the sensor values will start to become visible and could cause the display of incorrect data.


Endress+Hauser Field Test

Endress+Hauser's tests were designed with customer requirements from a large chemical company, BASF. The first test consisted of 238 field measuring devices provided by Endress+Hauser. The devices were connected using Pepperl+Fuchs field switches, ending at a Honeywell controller using ProfiNet. The second load test consisted of the same devices, except the control system was replaced with an ABB controller. The results from both tests were conclusive: the network was stable under full load, and all the fault tolerances were verified.


Endress+Hauser has shown that Ethernet-APL is ready for market and can handle requirements set out by industry-leading companies. Image used courtesy of Endress+Hauser


Market Readiness

When any new technology begins being tested or even starts to show up on the market, it can take a while for that technology to be accepted by industrial automation. Ethernet was standardized and commercially available by 1983, but it wasn’t until the late 1990s that it was commercially used in industrial settings. By doing a load test of this size, Endress+Hauser is trying to prove the market readiness of the technology by maxing out the network and looking for failures. Endress+Hauser has shown that the technology is ready for the market and can handle the requirements set out by industry-leading companies.


Ethernet-APL Technology

Ethernet-APL essentially brings high-speed Ethernet and fieldbus protocols directly to the sensor. Bringing this technology to the field sensor in an industry-proven and safe infrastructure allows designers, engineers, IT, OT, and managers access to variable data quickly and securely. Industry 4.0 is all about collecting data and presenting it to the user remotely. Ethernet-APL supports this design, and Endress+Hauser has shown the capability.

After the test's success, Endress+Hauser announced it will soon unveil a portfolio of Ethernet-APL measuring devices