Benefits of optical fibre in industrial networking

by The CC-Link Team on 17 November 2010

One of the great advantages of using a fieldbus based on Industrial Ethernet technology is the ability to use cost-effective standard Ethernet components in building a network. The cost savings associated with using Ethernet cables and connectors compared with dedicated hardware are considerable. And with the move to higher network speeds, this also enables the use of optical fibre cables without the expense of specialised hardware.

Because it is based on Industrial Ethernet, the CC-Link IE controller network uses standard GI Ethernet cables (IEEE802.3z multimode optical fibre) and connectors (IEC6175420 LC duplex connector).

Using optical fibre as the communications medium has several advantages in industrial networking. Not only is fibre faster than copper cables, it is inherently immune to the electromagnetic interference that can easily become coupled into unprotected copper cables in a noisy industrial environment. In addition, fibre networks support longer distances between network elements (up to 550m, with an overall network length of 66km in a full 120-station CC-Link IE network).

A further advantage of the use of standard Ethernet fibre-optic cables is that network maintenance can be performed using low-cost off-the-shelf fibre-optic instruments such as optical time-domain reflectometers (OTDRs) to locate faults in the fibre network. Not only does this reduce maintenance costs, it also reduces mean-time to repair, increasing network availability and ensuring that industrial processes can continue with minimal disruption.

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