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Modular Industrial Patch Panels Improve Reliability and Flexibility

Posted by: on February 11, 2015

Editor’s Note: This article was created with expertise from Loredana Coscotin, product marketing manager for industrial cable.

If you have ever lived in a climate with cold winters and the power has gone out, you likely realized how much we take electricity and heating systems for granted. Not only is it inconvenient on a personal level, it impacts the economy by reducing productivity and disrupting manufacturing processes.

Thus, the organizations involved with power generation and distribution work very hard to maintain system uptime of 99.999 percent or better. Achieving that involves many strategies. An important one is to maintain a robust industrial Ethernet infrastructure for communication systems.

Analyses show that 70 percent of communication systems outages are due to failures in network components, cable and connectors. Consequently, a major manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) power systems, SMA Solar Technology, took care to make sure its connectivity systems include high performing patch panels.

Let’s take a look at the key challenges of such installations and the role of patch panels in ensuring high reliability.

 Long Island Solar Farm

Since 2011, Long Island Power Authority has used SMA Solar Technology’s ground-mounted photovoltaic panels and central inverters to generate 44,000 MWh of power per year.
Photo Courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Photovoltaic Power Plant Signal Transmission Requirements

The overall objective of PV power plants is to generate electricity as efficiently as possible and to do so with maximum economy. The industrial Ethernet network is tasked with providing a reliable communication system for accurate control and monitoring of power generation. This includes:

  • Precise monitoring of the power outcome
  • Protection of solar modules through extensive status information and fast correction of failures
  • Continuous network services for power plant operators
  • Minimal downtime during operation and servicing

In regards to the cable and connectivity components of the Ethernet infrastructure, an additional requirement was easy, faultless and safe installation.

SMA turned to Belden for a complete communication infrastructure for its power plants. After extensive joint planning, a solution was developed involving:

The Industrial Patch Panel Solution

Belden Modular Industrial Patch Panels (MIPPs) were selected to connect Hirschmann switches and power plant controllers with individual field devices. These patch panels provide a single, easy solution for structured management of cable (either fiber or copper) that connects the individual mirrors in a string of solar panels.

The MIPPs used by SMA include three types: one type has six optical duplex ports; one type has four RJ45 port (for shielded Cat5e cable); and one mixes optical and copper cable ports.

 Three types of MIPPs

SMA uses two single MIPPs and one mixed fiber/copper MIPP in its PV panel power plants.  In addition, splice trays, the second item from the left above, and special guiding elements ensure safe, high-quality installations.

The advantages of Belden MIPPs are:

  • Their robust industrial housing contributes to high reliability.
  • Their modular design is versatile, future proof and enables fast maintenance.
  • They are easy to install on a DIN rail or wall, and it is easy to attach connections to them. This saves time during installation and commissioning.
  • Their high port density and multiple cable entry points save space and reduce cost.

Of high importance is the flexibility to swap out copper and fiber connectivity modules to meet changing needs. Modules can be individually removed without dismantling the MIPP from the initial installed unit. This makes maintenance easy and contributes to high reliability in a performance critical application.

For more information on this application, download the case study below.

What role do modular patch panels play in ensuring high reliability and easy maintenance in your facility? I look forward to hearing from you.

Related Content

Industrial Patch Panels

Belden Products Suitable for PV Power Plant Applications

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Industrial Wireless White Paper

If you are interested in the reliability of wireless industrial Ethernet solutions, the white paper below explains new technologies for high performance in this area.



Tags:Industrial Ethernet connectors, Industrial Cables, Industrial Ethernet Cable, Industrial Patch Panel, Modular Industrial Patch Panel, SMA Solar Technolgy

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