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Rugged and Reliable: Belden Unveils Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) Portfolio

4 days ago by Seth Price

Belden’s Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) devices provide users reliable and fast network connection for safe and efficient operation and are designed to survive rugged environments while using less material.

Belden has announced their Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) portfolio of Ethernet devices, geared towards automation and vehicle use. The SPE portfolio contains a selection of cordsets, receptacles, and field attachable connectors designed to withstand harsh industrial environments and the constant abuse found in vehicles. 

 

A table of available products in the SPE portfolio with more coming soon. Image used courtesy of Belden

 

The SPE portfolio of products are designed to work with Belden’s Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) hardware, but use standard protocols, such as Ethernet/IP, support Power over Data Line (PoDL) up to 50 W, and can be integrated directly with sensors and the cloud, eliminating the need for gateways.

 

Industrial Ethernet Connections

Manufacturing and industrial sensors, controls, and robots require reliable, fast connections for safe, efficient operation. Depending on the specific devices, Ethernet connections may also supply power to systems using PoDL. Besides the technical requirements, the Ethernet equipment may include exposure to dust, water spray, moisture, oils, vibration, ultraviolet light, and temperature extremes. 

Perhaps the largest failure point in industrial communication systems is the cabling. Connectors are hastily plugged in with too much force, damaging them, cables are not tied up and are pinched or bent harder and more often than is necessary, and other such problems lead to unplanned downtime due to communication issues and troubleshooting. Depending on the circumstances, cables may be replaced as preventative maintenance, particularly in safety or mission-critical circumstances, increasing operating costs.

The vehicular environment is no better. Water spray, mud, dirt, extreme temperatures, oils, and all the other potential sources of contamination are present here as well. Furthermore, sensor cabling is often bundled together with other cables in tight spaces, leading to more troubleshooting headaches.

 

SPE Portfolio as a Rugged Alternative

The SPE portfolio of cables and connectors are designed for these environments. Depending on the specific model, they can be Ingress Protection (IP) rated to IP-20 or IP-67. This keeps particulates and moisture out of the connection, preventing corrosion, shorts, and minimizing the chances of damage during impact. 

Besides IP rating, the SPE cordsets can be routed through a 30% smaller bend diameter without damage, as compared to regular Ethernet cables. This means tighter fits are less likely to cause damage, and new robots can be made with a smaller form factor, as cabling is less of a consideration. 

 

single pair ethernet (spe) porfolio

SPE cordsets are available in solid wire or multistrand clusters and are shielded from stray, electromagnetic interference (EMI). Image used courtesy of Belden

 

Less Material, Less Waste

Besides the reduced cost of ownership with the SPE cordsets and connectors, the actual components are made from less material. Belden set out to reduce the amount of material, dropping the metal and plastic usage by 55% as compared to typical components. 

 

The Future for SPE

Belden calls SPE “future proof” due to the simplicity of the Ethernet topology used. They simplify access to the cloud as well, which is becoming one of the driving characteristics of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Besides buying components that will last much longer in rugged environments, these components are not expected to be obsolete in the near future. 

In terms of markets, Belden expects these components to find their way into all transportation sectors, such as rail, aerospace, and personal vehicles, as well as manufacturing environments known for their harsh environments. Petrochemical, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and other such industries stand to benefit from the extended life and simplicity of these components.