There are many factors that contribute to production uptime, but one that may not be top of mind during network design or upgrades is the importance of cabling. Research shows that the majority of industrial network failures are due to signal transmission issues, which makes selecting the right type of cable for the job critical.
If you need high-speed, high-bandwidth data solutions in demanding environments, then fiber optic cable is an excellent choice. It is ideal in situations where long distances are involved, where safety from spark hazard is a concern and when immunity to electrical noise is required. They also have the advantage of being lightweight.
For example, facilities with multiple buildings or outdoor production equipment, such as oil refineries and wastewater treatment plants, can be assured of high-network reliability when industrial fiber optic cable is used. Ruggedized jackets around such cable protect it from temperature extremes, UV / sunlight, solvents and crushing.
Fiber optic cable is also great whenever you need a lightweight cable that is immune to electrical noise and is not a spark hazard. Let’s take a look at the advantages of fiber optic cable in more detail.
Fiber optic Ethernet cable is ideal when your need to connect multiple buildings or outdoor production equipment. Ruggedized jackets protect the cable and the use of light for signal transmission is effective over long distances.
There are many benefits to using fiber optic cable. First, they are smaller and lighter than copper cables. Fiber optic cable is extremely durable and intrinsically safe, with no risk of spark hazards because data is transferred via light and not electricity.
Another benefit is its high bandwidth, low attenuation and complete electrical noise immunity. This allows more information to be carried across the network, without interruption.
While the benefits of using fiber optic cables are significant, it’s important to note there are different types of fiber optic cables, based on design criteria and installation environment:
Single-mode fiber strands are designed to interface with laser optic light sources for distances beyond 300 meters. Multi-mode strands are designed to interface with LED and vertical-cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) light sources for short-distance cabling runs.
Whenever you install fiber optic cable, you need to consider the environment. For example, perhaps the fiber optic cable is running alongside 600V power, control or instrumentation cabling in a cable tray. In this situation you should use a double-jacketed, heavy duty, all dielectric cable.
If extra physical protection is required, or if the cable is slated for direct burial, you can use steel corrugated or aluminum interlock armor to protect the cable from elements, such as jagged rock or rodent chew-through.
In summary, select industrial fiber optic cable when you need:
Jacket selection is important, make sure you understand the environment the cable will operate in and then select the appropriate jacket. Finally, for outdoor or indoor to outdoor environments select loose tube cables, for indoor environments select tight buffered cables.
How do you use fiber optic cable in industrial environments? I look forward to hearing from you.
Editor’s Note: This article was developed with expertise from Kyle Mrkva, a product line manager in Belden's cable group.