For the past 40 years, Ethernet, first standardized in 1983 as IEEE 802.3, has evolved into the dominant de facto data communications protocol for connecting computers, phone systems, wireless access points, shared peripherals, and industrial machines. As a result, it has pushed computer networking and Ethernet, better known as Information Technology (IT), away from the data centers, offices, and commercial buildings where Ethernet has thrived and into new industrial environments referred to as Operational Technology (OT).
The diversity of the applications and practices found in OT environments differs significantly from that of the IT environment. As a result, OT environments present many challenges that traditional Ethernet needs help addressing, including longer cable distances, added electrical noise, added weight, and higher installation costs.
Furthermore, in traditional IT environments, Ethernet is focused on the hardware, software, and supporting infrastructure for managing and delivering information such as data, voice, and video. While in OT applications, the primary Ethernet focus is the hardware and software needed to monitor and control industrial equipment and processes directly.
It is here that Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) comes into play.
SPE is a new technology rapidly gaining popularity in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Internet of Things (IoT), and Automotive Ethernet. The IEEE 802.3cg specification defines the SPE standard as an alternative to traditional Ethernet designed to provide a cost-effective, reliable, high-speed communication solution for industrial automation and automotive applications.
SPE uses only one pair of twisted copper wires to transmit data, power, and control signals instead of the four pairs used in standard Ethernet. SPE is the perfect solution for connecting sensors, actuators, and other devices over long distances.
SPE is also a cost-effective solution capable of providing Power over Data Line (PoDL), eliminating the need for separate power cables. The connectors and cabling are smaller and lighter than traditional Ethernet hardware, which significantly reduces weight and cost. The reduced size and weight of SPE hardware make the technology ideal for applications with limited space, like automotive and manufacturing equipment. Additionally, SPE is designed for harsh industrial environments and can withstand temperature extremes, electromagnetic interference (EMI), and vibration. All these advantages, including compatibility with existing Ethernet networks, help future-proof SPE to become the standard of industrial Ethernet.
This week’s New Tech Tuesday features products from HARTING and TE Connectivity—both founding members of the SPE Industrial Partner Network—that are helping to make SPE the industrial Ethernet of the future.
HARTING T1 Industrial Single-Pair Ethernet (SPE) Products enable Ethernet data transmissions and Power over Data Line (PoDL) using only two wires (TW1STER). The T1 Industrial plug V3 connectors feature HARTING's innovative T1 Industrial SPE mating face design, which was selected by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as the IEC 63171-6 standardized connector mating face. These highly optimized, high-frequency connectors boast a robust industrial design with locking lever protection, high mating cycles, and 360-degree contact shielding. Each crimp contact is rated for 4A, 60VDC, and 4GHz transmission and supports data rates from 10Mbit/s to 10Gbit/s, making these connectors the ideal choice for simpler, more efficient, and more cost-effective end-to-end IP-based communications, capable of delivering signal, data, and power efficiencies to host of equipment, sensor/actuator or industrial applications.
TE Connectivity's (TE) Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) M8 IP67 Hybrid Cordsets solution provides power transmission over a separate wire pair. Data transmission is possible up to 1Gb/s, and power supply up to 400W. At 10Mb/s, transmission distances up to 1,000 meters are possible. The key benefits to these M8 Hybrid Cordsets include the reduced number of connectors needed, especially for small IoT designs with higher power levels compared to PoDL, allowing for more flexibility for powering devices. TE’s SPE M8 IP67 Hybrid Cordsets are suitable for various OT applications, including robotics, machinery, industrial automation, sensor networks, and security and surveillance cameras.
Single Pair Ethernet is a relatively new promising technology that offers industrial design engineers considerable flexibility and advantages over traditional Ethernet, including simplified installations over longer distances and reduced cost and weight. SPE is designed for OT applications where standard Ethernet is no longer practical or cost-effective. SPE adoption is expected to increase in the coming years as the demand for low-cost, low-weight, and low-complexity IIoT, IoT, and automotive applications continues to increase.
Rudy is a member of the Technical Content Marketing team at Mouser Electronics, bringing 35+ years of expertise in advanced electromechanical systems, robotics, pneumatics, vacuum systems, high voltage, semiconductor manufacturing, military hardware, and project management. As a technology subject matter expert, Rudy supports global marketing efforts through his extensive product knowledge and by creating and editing technical content for Mouser's website. Rudy has authored technical articles appearing in engineering websites and holds a BS in Technical Management and an MBA with a concentration in Project Management. Prior to Mouser, Rudy worked for National Semiconductor and Texas Instruments.
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