Editor’s Note: This article was created with expertise from Richard Weatherburn, a senior marketing manager responsible for the transportation industries.

Industrial networks need reliable and secure data communication. Operating in extreme or harsh environments – which is the reality network managers face each day – isn’t an acceptable excuse for disruptions or downtime.

In order to enhance the reliability and availability of data communication in these hazardous conditions, many are shifting to Ethernet-based network designs.

You may think that Ethernet devices are suitable for control room use only, limiting network availability and overall flexibility. But what if you could put your Ethernet devices in your operations area, too? You would no longer be limited to fixed, configured products; instead, you could save both time and space while also increasing network availability, keeping costs down and simplifying the installation process – sound good to you?

Well, new technology enables network managers to do just that – install Ethernet products directly into operations areas, even those under continuous vibration strain or excessive heat, such as engine rooms on maritime ships.

Many industries can benefit from this shift, but transportation customers – particularly those operating seaports and railways – can now enjoy a level of modularity and flexibility they’ve never had in their networking products before.

Maritime Ship

Many ships are evolving to Ethernet-based network design. Ideally, such networks include connecting the control room directly to the engine room using switches that can handle the harsh conditions and provide reliable real-time data.

Download the white paper "The Case for Specifying Industrial Ethernet Cable for Harsh Environments"4 Key Features for Industrial Devices in Harsh Environments

Here are four key features that I think you should consider when selecting networking products for your operations areas:

  1. Installation needs: For applications with space constraints or those in need of flexible installation options, look for switches that enable direct wall-mounting. Look to avoid those switches that require the installation of cabinets too, which can increase installation cost and complexity.

  2. Industry approvals: A switch that meets the global GL standards for Environmental Category D is certified for use in transportation, machine building, power transmission and distribution, oil and gas, and other hazardous environments. This ensures operational reliability and network uptime despite strain from vibration and excessive heat.

  3. Environmental conditions: Many industrial networks face temperature extremes, as well as vibration strain, dust and humidity. A switch that can withstand these threatening conditions can help industrial networks avoid failure and stay up and running.

  4. Data timing needs: Switches withtime synchronization and Precision Time Protocol (PTP) help ensure accurate timing for system control and data acquisition, which are critical for reliable, real-time data transmission.

With these four considerations in mind, Belden recently designed new network switches for one of Europe's largest producers of maritime ship engines. 

Hirschmann’s new MSP30-X industrial Ethernet switch

A major maritime ship producer with real-time data needs drove the design of the new Hirschmann MSP30-X industrial Ethernet switch. It will allow them to place the highly reliable switches directly in the engine room, where vibration and heat are high.

Based on their system requirements and other needs, the newest generation of Gigabit modular switch from Hirschmann (MSP30-X) was developed. To find out more about saving money, space and time by deploying these new, modular switches, download the Application Note below.

How are you ensuring the reliability of your devices in harsh industrial conditions? We’d love to hear. 

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