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Connectivity for the smart network infrastructure

Connectivity for the smart network infrastructure

Connectivity in industry is based on three 'lifelines' - data, power and signals. Linking these lifelines optimally with reliable connections, ease of installation and intelligent network capability in heavy-duty environments is the key to providing the smart network infrastructure that today's enterprises demand, as Kevin Canham of Harting explains.

A major shift is currently under way in industrial connectivity - moving away from individual devices towards an overall view, in which infrastructure is becoming more and more important. In this context, a radical re-thinking of infrastructure concepts is taking place, which in turn means finding ideal solutions for compatibility issues.

New solutions always need strategies that the markets will accept. To this end, it is often necessary to overcome technological obstacles that are as significant as the new infrastructure solution itself. There are already a number of important examples of such challenges being overcome: for example, telephony over structured cabling only established itself after the introduction of PoE (Power over Ethernet) made it possible to connect telephones as easily as in the analogue world.

One important step forward in connectivity solutions for smart network infrastructure is the development of industrial connectors that allow a degree of universality in the ability to interface different devices in the network area. Harting's Ha-VIS preLink, for example, is a new installation concept for data network cabling based on the ISO/IEC 11801 standard. This new technology simplifies cabling, saves installation time and enables extensions and conversions without incurring significant interruptions in ongoing operations. The Ha-VIS preLink system is designed for use with a wide range of mating faces such as RJ45 to IP 20, RJ45 PushPull according to IP 65/67 or M12, thereby opening up a wealth of opportunities and potential for users.

Seamless communications platform

The new technology is a key element in Harting's Automation IT concept, designed to provide a seamless Ethernet-based communications platform for integrating office IT systems with industrial automation to optimise workflow efficiency in the manufacturing environment. Ha-VIS preLink technology supports a standardised cabling solution in which the Class EA link is created before the mating face is chosen. The technology supports connectors that are specified for structured industrial building cabling, as well as connectors for automation profiles. Users benefit from the flexibility of mixing and matching the mating faces and housings.

The new system combines pre-fabricated preLink cabling links with preLink connectors. The data cable, with cable terminals crimped on at both ends, forms the preLink cable link that is the functional backbone of the cabling system. The cable terminals, which dress the ends of the cable and act like end ferrules, offer advanced functionality in a small package with minimal increase in cable diameter. Because Ha-VIS preLink ensures both the electrical and the HF performance of the preLink connection, the pre-terminated cable can be combined with any mating face, providing maximum flexibility and ease of use. The preLink connector simply snaps on to the preLink cable terminal, and the complete unit forms an ISO/IEC 11801 (EN 50173) compliant permanent link or an end-to-end link which complies with PROFINET automation profiles.

The Harting preLink cabling system ensures extremely fast and completely safe installation of the cabling to achieve an operationally dependable and high-performance network infrastructure. The design is inherently future-proof for compatibility with Cat.6A/transmission class EA for 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

The Ha-VIS preLink product range is undergoing constant development and extension. For example, a preLink Extender permits the easy extension of transmission paths in 10 Gbit/s network cabling systems, as well as allowing unused cables to be reactivated and extended until the next required connection. This new addition to the range not only enables the simple extension of transmission paths in data network cabling, but also allows fire zones to be bridged and subscriber ports to be directly connected to the terminal block connector without the need for intermediate patching.

Reactivate and extend

Even unused cables can be reactivated and extended to the next required connection. The installer simply assembles the preLink termination module onto both ends of the cable to be extended. The terminated cable ends are then inserted into the extender. A flexible shield clamp transmits the cable shield potential. The extender itself can be directly mounted on walls, in cable ducts or in a switch cabinet via two 3.2mm diameter fixing holes. The compact design permits installation even in cramped spaces.

The Ha-VIS preLink Extender meets the transmission performance specifications for Category 6A in accordance with the ISO/IEC 11801 Ed. 2.2 (2011-06) standard. As a result, the structured cabling run can be used for applications up to 10 Gbit/s up to the maximum link length. Future developments include terminal boxes for industrial and outdoor use, a Ha-VIS preLink industrial outlet, and new intelligent patch-panel connectivity solutions.

These 'bridging' technologies are key developments in the transition to new infrastructure cabling that will support the networks of the future. It is these technologies that will help to make infrastructure 'smart', and thereby create tomorrow's smart network infrastructure.
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