Whether you are an engineer, in senior management, or on the procurement team, it is critical to reduce inefficiencies in your system. That is the main driver behind the smart factory trend. In this article, you will learn how SPE supports smart manufacturing and could benefit your company if you integrate it into your infrastructure now.
What is SPE?
Think of SPE as “the infrastructure” for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). SPE brings Ethernet to the edge of the network, replacing existing technology like fieldbus and serial links with Ethernet at a wide range of data transmission rates. SPE also facilitates miniaturization and less wiring complexity, allowing more freedom of movement in applications such as robotics and machinery for faster movement and better accuracy.
With IIoT, the industry is placing ever tougher demands on network technology. The need for a more cost-efficient and simple infrastructure at the field level has grown significantly. In the future, every device should be connected to the company network in a transparent manner.
If we look back more than a decade, Ethernet was making its way into industrial automation, and it took more than 10 years for Ethernet to be adopted as a standard within the industrial automation environment. There were several reasons for that, but much of it boiled down to concerns about the reliability and applicability of using Ethernet within the industrial automation environment. SPE is aiming to replace the non-Ethernet portion of the industrial network. When will companies be ready to make this fundamental change?
I am pleased to state that SPE is already here and that many manufacturers are embracing the SPE ecosystem to build an all-Ethernet infrastructure. TE Connectivity (TE) is proud to be a founding partner of the SPE Industrial Partner Network and together with all members, we are driving this technology as “the” standard in the industry.
Three major benefits of SPE
Think about your current infrastructure. What if you could change a multilayer network into a fully transparent IP network? Making the switch to SPE in your infrastructure provides three significant benefits.
Benefit 1: Transparent all-Ethernet network from field-level sensors to the cloud
Using SPE in the network edge, together with existing Ethernet and industrial Ethernet solutions, can help create a fully transparent IP-based industrial network infrastructure. This would virtually eliminate the need for expensive gateways that add delay and reduce full transparency in communication.
Benefit 2: Less complexity
Many of today’s trends open new possibilities for our customers: miniaturization of devices, higher efficiency of devices, and remote power over a single cable. SPE provides a single, open, scalable Ethernet-based network within an automation system.
In the past, multiple wires were required for fast 100 Mbps Ethernet and even more for Gbps Ethernet. With SPE, only two wires are now required for the transmission of data and power (PoDL, power over data line). This significantly reduces complexity, and helps achieve higher mobility, and better accuracy.
Benefit 3: Sustainability
Again, by reducing the number of wires used — four or eight wires versus the two wires used with SPE — you are using less copper and plastic, which means spending less money. Adopting SPE means less complexity, fewer materials, less equipment, and less waste.
Why switch to SPE?
While standard Ethernet has been the mainstay for business enterprises and industrial Ethernet has brought high-speed communication capabilities to workstations and control devices within the manufacturing setting, there has been a gap at the field device level. Today’s sensors are becoming smart and need to communicate with the rest of the network. The analog and fieldbus technologies that do not speak the same “language” as high-speed Ethernet prevent smart sensors from connecting to the rest of the network. With SPE, industrial communication will become more transparent, enabling virtually barrier-free connection from the cloud to the field devices connected at the edge.
With the switch to an all-IP/Ethernet network, there is less complexity, but more transparency, miniaturization, and efficiency. This open standard virtually removes the dependency on proprietary protocols and reduces dependency on using one supplier.
Making the case for SPE
The transition to IIoT places ever tougher demands on network technology. We know that collecting data on factory operations in real-time is key to realizing the benefits of IIoT, but often legacy infrastructure lacks the transparency and barrier-free communication needed to make this possible. SPE enables the replacement of legacy infrastructure by providing a more transparent, flexible, and scalable solution.
TE Connectivity is the SPE expert
SPE provides a single open, scalable Ethernet-based network within an automation system, improving efficiency and reducing complexity.
As a founding partner of the SPE Industrial Partner Network TE is collaborating with other industry leaders to foster an ecosystem that enables interoperability. One key step forward in those efforts is the recent adoption of the IEC 63171-7 or the -7 as it is commonly called. The development of this standard was led by TE and adopted by different partner networks to drive greater acceptance across the industrial market.
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