Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) is a key future technology for industry. At the SPS trade fair in Nuremberg (Hall 2, Stand 310) LAPP was the first company ever presenting single-source SPE connection solutions – from cables to connectors.
In the factory of the future, everything will be connected – including the Internet and the cloud. Until now, this was just a vision, as generally, in industrial reality two systems are used: whereas Ethernet has long been established as a communication standard at the control and control levels of the automation pyramid, various fieldbus systems dominate lower down at field level. A new infrastructure was needed to enable continuous networking. It was to be compatible with the Ethernet networks higher up. At the same time, it should be cost-effective and space-saving since space is scarce in many machines and systems.
Seamless Ethernet networking with SPE
The solution is Single Pair Ethernet Technology. SPE enables consistent and uniform Ethernet networking right down to the field level, also known as the sensor/actuator level, and the transmission of energy and large amounts of data in real time with just one data pair connection of four data pairs – otherwise the standard in Ethernet cables. Production facilities can be optimised using artificial intelligence and big data. SPE is also the ideal solution for applications with limited space, while at the same time saving weight and space. This means SPE is almost as fast as multi-pair Ethernet, but it allows much larger distances, is more compact and requires less installation effort.
LAPP as a pioneer
Since 2019, LAPP has joined forces with numerous electrical connection companies, such as cable and connector manufacturers, in the SPE Industrial Partner Network in order to advance the technology. In the meantime, SPE became internationally standardised, which laid the foundations for its global expansion. Several suggestions have been introduced into the IEC 63171 standard for industrial connectors. LAPP favours the connector face in accordance with IEC 63171-6 and plays an active role in disseminating this standard by collaborating with the SPE Industrial Partner Network. Corresponding guidelines for SPE networks have been developed by user organisations such as PI for PROFINET or ODVA for ETHERNET/IP.
First all-round portfolio
“In our view, the Single Pair Ethernet technology is a real game changer in industrial automation. This is why it was our aim to offer our customers SPE connection solutions from a single source as quickly as possible. This saves time and professional advice is also available from our top-notch experts,” explains Steffen Schneider, Product Manager at LAPP. The world market leader for integrated solutions in the field of cable and connection technology started developing cables at an early stage. With the ETHERLINE® T1 product family, a portfolio of Single Pair Ethernet cables is available for use in industrial machines and systems. The portfolio is now being rounded off even further for the SPS trade fair.
SPE cable suitable for drag chains
Another new product is flexible, shielded SPE data cable ETHERLINE® T1 FLEX with PVC outer sheath, space-saving, single-pair cable design with UL approval. It is also available in dimension (26 AWG). In addition, there is the highly flexible SPE data cable ETHERLINE® T1 with PUR outer sheath and UL approval. It connects terminal devices at sensor/actuator level to the Industrial Ethernet – even in tight spaces. Its double shielding and PUR outer sheath, means the cable – which is suitable for use in cable chains – is well protected against external interference. The cable has been successfully tested on more than three million bending cycles. Both variants enable full interoperability of field devices and systems from different manufacturers by seamlessly connecting to the Industrial Ethernet network and are suitable for transmitting analogue and digital signals in the frequency range of up to 600 MHz and a distance of up to 40 m. In addition, the Power-over-Data-Line (PoDL)-capable cables in accordance with IEEE 802.3bu allow simultaneous power and data supply of SPE terminal devices with low energy requirements (up to 50 W). A double shielding made of aluminium-laminated foil and copper braiding with a high degree of coverage (SF/UTP) guarantees protection against electromagnetic interference.
New: Ethernet Advanced Physical Layer for the process industry
SPE has potential in many industries. In process automation, SPE helps bridge long distances in large-sized plants, for instance in the chemical industry. Analogue cables or fieldbuses with data transmission rates of just 31.25 kbit are still used here. For distances of up to 1000 metres, additional properties for the process industry have been defined for SPE under the term Ethernet APL (Advanced Physical Layer) based on 10BASE-T1L according to IEEE 802.3cg. LAPP Advanced Physical Layer (Ethernet-APL) is specifically designed for these demanding applications in the process industry, some of which are based on SPE. Ethernet APL enables safe data transmission up to field level in potentially explosive environments. This is ensured by the “intrinsically safe” ignition protection type. It is based on the 2-WISE concept (2-Wire Intrinsically Safe Ethernet) concept according to IEC TS 60079-47. This achieves an explosion-protection technology with a high level of protection. Ethernet APL also bridges long distances of up to 1000 m. The shielded Ethernet APL data cable ETHERLINE® TL and the flexible shielded Ethernet APL data cable ETHERLNE® TL FLEX for occasional movement enable data transmission via Ethernet up to the field level in potentially explosive environments in the process industry and are UL/CSA-certified for the North American region. The “Fast Connect” structure with inner sheath also enables easy stripping and assembly of the cable. Both variants are also among the first to be commercially available.
Compatible SPE connectors
A further addition to the SPE portfolio is the compatible SPE connector EPIC® DATA SPE-6 FA M CS1 with crimp termination for AWG26 cables. This connection creates a vibration-proof connection, provides maximum contact protection between the contact and cable and is suitable for automated assembly. The SPE plug is suitable for creating a detachable SPE connection and is faster, easier and more cost-effective to install than a conventional Ethernet connector. The connector face complies with the DIN EN IEC 63171-6 standard. Its compact design enables use in tight spaces. Power over Data Line (PoDL)-capable connector can also be used for simultaneous power and data supply of SPE terminal devices with low energy requirements (up to 50 W).
Suitable for this, there is the compact SPE circuit board socket EPIC® DATA SPE-6 PCB F for connecting SPE connectors to a printed circuit board inside active devices and a connector face in accordance with DIN EN IEC 63171-6. In addition to the data supply, the socket also enables a power supply of up to 50 watts for terminal devices thanks to the Power over Data Line.
Last but not least, LAPP will also be presenting the shielded single-pair Ethernet patch cable, shielded on both sides, for detachable SPE connections. Overmoulded connectors ensure it is held securely.