Monday, May 13, 2013
Industrial Ethernet solutions are gaining prominence as the Ethernet protocol takes a stronger hold in specialized network configurations. However, not too many factories or other industrial setups are built for typical Ethernet setups. Where Ethernet often functions best in relatively small, protected settings like offices and data centers, many industrial Ethernet systems have to deal with extreme weather conditions, pressure on cables and a need to extend over long distances. This creates an environment in which traditional copper cabling solutions are not always up to the task of supporting industrial Ethernet needs. Instead, fiber is often a necessary component. In turn, fiber to Ethernet media converters play a vital role in maximizing the value of industrial Ethernet systems.
Looking at an industrial Ethernet use model
To understand the need for fiber and copper working hand-in-hand in industrial networks, consider operations at a quarry, for example. Operations in such a setting have to be tightly integrated to keep the internal machines that turn raw stone into workable material supplied with the right amount of raw resource at any time. This makes communication throughout the entire supply chain integral as effective data transit processes can allow managers to integrate work efforts to optimize productivity.
However, the physical layout of quarries and similar industrial facilities combine indoor and outdoor elements that are often spread over a large distance. Copper Ethernet architectures are often ill-suited to extending the network to meet such needs in a cost-efficient way. Furthermore, highly-specialized copper Ethernet systems are often necessary to handle outdoor operations in industrial areas, as the network components have to be able to withstand a wide range of conditions without experiencing signal disruption.
Fiber-optic cabling systems are more resilient because they are less likely to be impacted by temperature and other conditions that can be problematic for copper wiring. While specialized fiber is often needed in industrial and outdoor settings, it is often available in a cost-effective package. At the same time, fiber easily extends over long distances, making it much easier to interconnect disparate parts of a facility to support connectivity needs.
Taking advantage of media conversion
Media converters are an ideal option when it comes to enabling interoperability in settings where both copper and fiber solutions are necessary. Media conversion enables organizations to use both fiber and copper more strategically, optimizing the cost-to-performance ratio of complex networks, like industrial Ethernet setups.
Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.