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What is taken for granted in factory automation is just starting to be used in process automation: the use of Ethernet technologies from the office to the shop floor. In order to make use of the many advantages of Ethernet technologies there as well and thus promote the digitization of the shop floor in the process industry, work is under way Pepperl + Fuchs on the development of a new physical layer.


Too high installation costs, lack of robustness and last but not least missing concepts for explosion protection have argued so far, to establish an Ethernet-based communication in process engineering plants. With the "Advanced Physical Layer" (APL), now developed by Pepperl + Fuchs, field devices are connected directly to Ethernet networks.

Power Switch and Field Switch are the core components of 2 Conductor Ethernet Field Communication. The Power Switch is located in the non-hazardous area and connects standard Ethernet networks to the physical layer. It supplies the Field Switch and connected field devices with power via up to 1000 m long, two-core cables. This eliminates the need for an additional power supply. The Field Switch takes over this function in the potentially explosive area and ensures both the signal transmission and the power supply of up to twelve intrinsically safe field devices. Here the lines between switch and field devices can be up to 200 m long. The power switch is located in the non-hazardous area while the field switch is installed in the hazardous area.

Industrial 4.0 in the process industry




The direct connection of field devices to the Ethernet realized with Field and Power Switch enables continuous transparent communication from the process control system right down to the field level. Gateways are not needed. This enables field devices to communicate directly with the process control system and thus become a part of it Industrial 4.0 components, With 10 Mbit / s, the data transfer is almost 10.000 times faster than with Hart, which allows additional functions. These are, for example, access to the web server, which provides device documentation, or the display of process, parameter and diagnostic data in real time.

Power Switch and Field Switch support all common Ethernet protocols, such as Profinet, Ethernet / IP or Ethercat, but also IT protocols such as MQTT or OPC UA. With the latter, the connection to cloud-based systems is possible.

Easy migration of classic fieldbuses

Since standard fieldbus cables can be used with the Advanced Physical Layer, the migration is classic fieldbus systems zu Ethernet technologies easy to do: The existing wiring can remain. The Field Switch supports both Ethernet 2 conductor devices and conventional fieldbus devices. The switch automatically detects which device type is connected. Existing fieldbus components can be easily supplemented by Ethernet-capable field devices. In addition, since no gateways are necessary, overall investment and operating costs are reduced and industrial 4.0 applications make economic sense.

Nominated for Industry 4.0 Innovation Award 2017

pepperl20417For the second time the VDE publishing house awards in cooperation with the ZVEI the industry 4.0 Innovation Award. Pepperl + Fuchs launched an innovation for communication in process automation with "Power Switch and Field Switch" and has completed the first round of the competition process. An independent jury selected the top 10 from all submissions. In the online voting process, everyone can vote up to 31.10.2017 for their favorite. The winner will receive the award at this year's SPS IPC Drives in Nuremberg.
Picture above: The power switch is located in the non-hazardous area while the field switch is installed in the hazardous area.

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