Connector solutions for high speed data transfer

15 December 2015

Sebastian Richter and Alexander Hornauer explain the importance of specification of the right Industrial Ethernet connection solutions to ensure they can cope with harsh industrial environments.

Traditionally, factory automation, automation communication systems used fieldbus technologies, while office communication used Ethernet. Both systems provide advantages in their applications but were not compatible which, for many years, prevented the incorporation of a standard communication structure from office to field level. Transferring Ethernet standards from the office level into the world of automation, via Industrial Ethernet, was therefore a significant step.

High data transfer rates of 100 Mbit/sec (CAT 5 ISO/IEC 11801 Class D) and a transfer method with no collisions make Fast Ethernet real-time capable. Management, control and field level are communicating without any perceivable delay, which allows many diverse interesting applications. Remote maintenance of complete installations and systems via company networks or the web are now possible. 

The harsh industrial environment at device level, however, requires Industrial Ethernet system components to be robust. While IP20 protection (standard RJ45 connectors) is sufficient for components at the office level, the industrial level requires IP65/IP67 protection. Especially important is the high quality of the plug connections: these have to operate reliably against shock, vibration, humidity, EMC problems, temperature fluctuations and at times aggressive media.

D-coded M12 connectors, according to DIN EN 61076-2-101, meet these requirements. With 100 mating cycles, IP65/ IP67 and a shock resistance of 50g it became a standard in Industrial Ethernet. Murrelektronik's prewired and moulded M12 connectors, for example, are able to prevent wiring errors and are tamper-proof. The d-coded pin design prevents mistakes caused by wrong connections. A 15° locking mechanism gives protection against shock and vibration and the 360° shielding of the M12 connectors ensure reliable data transfer, even under extreme conditions.

If the data quantity is higher, for example with High Speed Vision systems, X-coded M12 connectors according E DIN EN 61076-2-109 offer a good solution. Four separately shielded data pairs, separated by an X-shaped metal cross, ensure proper data transfer up to 10Gbit (ISO/IEC 11801 Cat. 6A). Murrelektronik offers the X-coded M12 connectors with a flexible PUR cable which makes it suitable for use in moving applications. Combining RJ45 connections in the office and x-coded M12 connections in the field makes it possible to establish a consistent gigabyte communication company wide. 

With the Y-coded M12 round plug connector, Murrelektronik can provide another interesting solution for Industrial Ethernet applications. This hybrid solution makes it possible to transfer power and signal together in a single connector. The metal Y-coding separates the four power contacts from the four signal contacts in the pin design. This makes it possible to transfer 100Mbit/sec while at the same time providing 2 x 6A power connections. To meet all requirements of the field level, Murrelektronik relies on a PUR cable that is suitable for C-track applications.

Selecting a suitable cable material is as important as choosing the right connector. For each application, a specially designed cable is available. For static applications, we recommend type A cables with a PVC jacket. For flexible applications, type B cables with a PUR jacket. For dynamic applications, where cables are exposed to constant torsion or continuously moving drag chains, a flexible type C PUR cable is required. Additionally, it has to be taken into account that an Ethernet cable that is suitable for C-track applications is not a torsion cable and a torsion Ethernet cable is not suitable for drag chains.

To ensure a maximum lifetime, decisive criteria regarding the application has been defined such as minimum bend radius, degree of torsion, bend cycles and other parameters, and have been confirmed in many tests.  Murrelektronik's Industrial Ethernet cables are resistant to external interference which is ensured by the visual shielding of at least 85% together with the connector’s 360° shielding concept, ensuring stable data transfer.

Murrelektronik offers a comprehensive product range for Industrial Ethernet as a standard programme that is complemented by user-specific and customised versions. The right cable is available for all application specific protocols that were developed on the same physical basis as are appropriate interface modules, such as flange connectors or cable entry systems and the corresponding bus cables. All these cables are suitable for Fast Connect and can easily be pre-wired with the Fast Connect tool.

Sebastian Richter is product manager Connectors at Murrelektronik GmbH; Alexander Hornauer is corporate marketing at Murrelektronik GmbH 

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