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PoE could contribute to increased industrial Ethernet use

By Donna Donnawitz
February 7, 2013

Ethernet has become an inescapable network protocol. The technology has risen to such prominence that many areas that have long requires specialized network protocols are now turning to Ethernet to support ubiquitous functionality that is interoperable across data networks and other types of connectivity systems. Industrial settings represent a prime area for Ethernet's development.

Considering industrial Ethernet
Ethernet has seen a mixed reception in industrial settings. On one hand, automation and control networks typically require serial connections because the serial protocol enables reliability and performance that Ethernet cannot consistently match. The problem is that serial networks are expensive to deploy on large scale and are not interoperable with Ethernet systems used for many data functions. As Ethernet use has increased for data networks in industrial settings, many organizations have begun to use Ethernet in more ways. This has led to a growing need for serial to Ethernet technologies that enable interoperability within the network. The rise of power over Ethernet solutions could lead to more Ethernet use in control and automation networks.

Looking at PoE in automation and control networks
According to a recent Automation World report, recent advances in PoE capabilities are making the technology more usable in industrial settings. In the past, PoE infrastructure could only carry up to 12 watts of power. With recent standards enabling up to 25 watts of electricity to travel through data cabling, the technology can be used in more settings. Industry expert Mike Hannah told the news source that PoE used to only be usable to connect wireless routers to the network, attach to security cameras or handle other basic functions. With higher power capabilities available in PoE, there are more automation and control network applications for the technology.

Industry expert Ken Austin told Automation World that the accessibility of PoE has proven key to its use in industrial settings.

"PoE is trickling down into industrial applications, it really is plug and play," Austin told the news source. "We've seen companies go from using it first for wireless access points. Now entire phone systems are based on PoE and many RFID readers use PoE."

Taking advantage of terminal servers
Making the most of PoE depends on attaching Ethernet to specialized industrial solutions that generally use serial connections. As a result, terminal servers play a major role in enabling manufacturers to get the most out of the network options that have become available to them.

Perle's serial to Ethernet converters connect serial based equipment across an Ethernet network. The Perle IOLAN range of Console Servers, Device Servers and Terminal Servers feature built-in support for IPv6 along with a broad range of authentication methods and encryption technologies.


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