Kevin Canham at Harting explores breaking technologies in connectivity for the smart network infrastructure and how they are shaping the future

Connectivity in industry is based on three ‘lifelines’ – data, power and signals – and linking these lifelines optimally with reliable connections, ease of installation in the field, and intelligent network capability in heavy-duty environments – is key to providing the smart network infrastructure that today’s enterprises demand.

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.

Universal interconnections

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.

The new technology is a key element in the company’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.

The technology supports a standardised cabling solution in which the Class EA link is created before the mating face is chosen. It 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, which feature protection ratings ranging from IP 20 to IP 67.

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 this technology ensures both the electrical and the HF performance of the connection, the pre-terminated cable can be combined with any mating face, providing maximum flexibility and ease of use. The connector simply snaps on to the 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 new 8-pole M12 connector that is suitable for 10Gbit/s applications can also be connected to conventional industrial cables for Fast Ethernet.

The company’s interconnection technology forms the heart of a secure cabling system that can be deployed in IT centres as well as industrial machinery and plant automation systems. The 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 product range is undergoing constant development and extension, and forthcoming 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.


Extra-small and highly reliable connector

An extra-small bore crimp contact has been added by Harwin to its Datamate ­family of high reliability 2mm pitch connectors, designed for use in challenging applications. The range features an extra-small bore, female crimp contact, suitable for use with 28, 30 and 32 AWG wire. This new contact enables the use of wire, which is less bulky and lighter in weight, allowing designers to achieve a closer packing density of components or to reduce equipment size. For aerospace and portable applications the reduction in weight is very significant. The new contact is gold plated to ensure good conductivity and has a current rating of 3.3A in isolation and 3A on all contacts simultaneously. ­Contact resistance 25mO (max), durability is 500 operations and operating temperature range is -55 to 125 0C.