Here's one of those cases in which less is more. Single-pair Ethernet (SPE) is precisely what it implies—an Ethernet connection with one pair of streamlined wires rather than two or four pairs. This means power and data can digitally carpool aboard one twisted double-wire connection from sensors to the cloud.
This emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) networking technology opens the digital data firehose, so to speak.
To enable fast data transfer from operator to edge node, SPE eliminates protocol conversions and other interventions. This data-transfer freedom allows the flow of vast amounts of data needed for predictive maintenance and system health, safety, and throughput. This connectivity enables Ethernet networking from an app on any internet-connected device to the most remote node—such as a field transmitter or building controller—without sacrificing distance or data rate. Multiple 802.3 standards are devoted to SPE. Some SPE connectors have power over data line (PoDL) associated with them, while some don’t.
This week’s New Tech Tuesdays highlights two manufacturers’ SPE product lines available for solution-based development.
Phoenix Contact Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) Connectors offer the flexibility of up to 1000m range and transmission rates of up to 1Gbps. The applications for this series include building and industrial automation, robotics, railway industry, and lighting. Phoenix Contact SPE’s standardized compact device and cable connectors are in accordance with IEC 63171-2 (IP20) and 63171-5 (IP67), meaning they’re ideal for office and industrial environments.
HARTING T1 Industrial Single-Pair Ethernet (SPE) Products are suited for various applications, including agricultural, automation, robotics, machinery, transportation, and Human-Machine Interface (HMI). T1 products offer end-to-end compatibility of devices, cables, and connectors at Ethernet speeds between 10Mbit/s and 1Gbit/s. The products also provide a 60VDC voltage rating.
Two industry groups have emerged to promote SPE technologies. The SPE System Alliance includes Phoenix Contact, while the SPE Industrial Partner Network counts HARTING in its ranks. The groups are supporting different SPE connectors defined in different IEC standards. The Alliance group is interested in SPE applications across various settings, including smart buildings and automotive. The network is focusing on industrial applications.
SPE technology is regarded as a game-changer for industrial networks because any cabling now saves physical space, reduces material costs, and eliminates the need to install separate lines for power and data. The network can be seamlessly interconnected as a single technology, from cabling and connectors to switch, router, firewall, and wireless equipment—ideal for industrial environments. Even in the vast network of cables, less is still more with SPE technology.
Tommy Cummings is a freelance writer/editor based in Texas. He's had a journalism career that has spanned more than 40 years. He contributes to Texas Monthly and Oklahoma Today magazines. He's also worked at The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Tommy covered the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley and has been a digital content and audience engagement editor at news outlets. Tommy worked at Mouser Electronics from 2018 to 2021 as a technical content and product content specialist.
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