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What’s the Difference between Ethernet and Industrial Ethernet?

[fa icon="calendar"] December 27, 2017 / by C Enterprises

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Ethernet and Industrial Ethernet are not the same thing. While both terms are used to describe a connecting cable, they are distinct types with their own uses and capabilities. The commercial Ethernet does not meet the needs of industrial applications because its purpose is office automation and integration. Industrial applications require a much more rigorous standard for both performance and durability.

Ethernet’s Development

Manufacturers developed Ethernet in the 1970s as a group of local area network (LAN) products under Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) specifications 802.3. It makes it possible for computers and other devices to communicate with each other over one network.

At first, Ethernet was a single cable that connected devices within a network. Now individuals and corporations can use it to connect as many devices as needed. Ethernet separates streams of data into frames, each of which contains targeted portions of information that tells the network where to send and how to accept each portion.

Ethernet is not the same thing as Wi-Fi. Wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi) allows devices to connect without any kind of physical connection. Ethernet provides faster speed and less interference.

Industrial Ethernet

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Industrial Ethernet is more suited to harsh environments than the Ethernet cables used in offices and homes. It has more rugged connectors, more durable cables and improved determinism. It follows protocols developed for intensive use like PROFINET, EtherCat and POWERLINK. Switches come with hardened enclosures and offer protection against both shock and vibration.

Industrial Ethernet is used for routing cable through areas that are densely packed with industrial machinery. They are shielded, so electromagnetic frequencies cannot penetrate them. Cables are often enclosed in thin metal sheeting grounded at each end, without which electrostatic noise might interfere with data transfer along network cables.

Systems that function in industrial environments are often exposed to a range of contaminants. Industrial Ethernet connections are ruggedized to withstand fluids, vibration from impact and airborne debris accumulation. Businesses also use Industrial Ethernet to sense problems and immediately halt processes to prevent material loss and a reduction in productivity.

Other Differences

Organizations choose between office and Industrial Ethernet based on the following information:

  • Office Ethernet works for basic connectivity. Industrial Ethernet can be adapted for multiple functions.
  • Office Ethernet typically uses snap-in lock mechanisms while Industrial Ethernet has specialized, often sealed connectors and heavier lock mechanisms.
  • Industrial Ethernet cabling has a higher standard jacketing than regular Ethernet cabling.
  • Standard Ethernet is not deterministic. Industrial Ethernet uses time scheduling to partition traffic from other parts of the network to prevent disturbance.
  • Industrial Ethernet enables fast network redundancy, so if one cable gets unplugged or a switch fails, the network reroutes data.
  • Most Industrial Ethernet systems function in temperatures between -40 and 70 degrees Celsius, so they work well for outdoor applications and environments with temperature extremes.
  • Well-defined standards govern Industrial Ethernet manufacturing including its amount of electromagnetic noise immunity and level of wireless network integration.

Whether you’re trying to select the right cable for your 10G network or searching for custom cable assemblies, C Enterprises has extensive experience in cabling and cabling connections. We have sales offices throughout the United States with technical experts who can help find the best solutions to your cabling needs. Contact us to request a quote today.

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