In some environments, networking products are placed in clean air conditioned offices, where installers often give less thought to hardening characteristics of switches, routers, and the cables used to connect them. But, other environments are less “pristine”. Here, industrial communications and control networks are expected to operate consistently and reliably under extreme conditions, such as electromagnetic interference (EMI), high operating temperatures, ambient outdoor temperatures, power/voltage fluctuations, machine vibration, mechanical hazards and more.
Industrial facilities present a very different reality. Here, many if not most cables, connectors, switches, and active network components are integral to machine automation, instrumentation and control systems, which places them in harsh and potentially hazardous situations. Even the best Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Ethernet systems are not made to handle such conditions over time. Rugged conditions call for ruggedized cables and only industrial grade Ethernet system components are built tough enough to withstand the hazards and risks they are exposed to day after day.
Ethernet equipment and cabling often must withstand the following environmental conditions:
Even well-made, properly installed COTS Ethernet components are not constructed to survive these kinds of hazards. Only hardened, industrial-grade components are robust enough to withstand the environmental challenges present every day in industrial settings. For mission critical industrial networking and control applications, downtime is not an option.
What are your thoughts on hardened networking equipment?
Come visit part two of “When Do You Need an Industrial Ethernet Solution” with access to a detailed Belden paper on the subject.