With the Industrial Internet of Things fast becoming the norm in industries, converging IT and OT technologies securely—a cornerstone of the IIoT—is still the Achilles heel for many companies. Thus, choosing the right industrial network solutions for your operation, and this cannot be repeated often enough, is essential. At the same time, this is easier said than done. Too often, this arduous task befalls an IT engineer with little experience of OT protocols and automation systems, or, on the flip side, an OT engineer with no knowledge of enterprise IT networking. In this article, we take a closer look at how new technologies are shaping the role of industrial connectivity and networking solutions in your IIoT applications.
Industrial Connectivity Needs—Now and in the Future
Connecting your previously unconnected industrial devices and assets is the first step to enabling IIoT applications. Accomplishing this task requires a thorough assessment of the types of OT assets you need to connect as well as the specific connectivity requirements, such as connecting OT assets to a local network or a cloud server. Since OT assets in industrial applications mainly use serial or I/O communication interfaces, choosing the right serial and I/O connectivity solutions is essential to enable industrial connectivity. Moreover, you need to keep in mind additional considerations, such as cybersecurity and large-scale device management, when connecting OT assets to remote or cloud servers.
Besides enabling connectivity for previously unconnected OT assets, connecting all of these field devices also requires building a network that can support information flows among multiple interconnected devices, systems, and even remote sites.
With more than thirty years of experience in helping customers overcome industrial connectivity and networking challenges, we have identified several key criteria for selecting the most suitable solutions for industrial automation applications. Download our E-book where you can find considerations for each specific connectivity and networking solution you are looking for.
Before we come to the comparison between inline couplers and keystone jacks, let’s have a brief overview of these two jacks. A small device for connecting two ethernet cables to make a longer cable, usually called an inline coupler or RJ45 coupler. Inline couplers do not provide any amplification or signal boost, and can cause attenuation and signal degradation unless they are of high quality. There are cat5e and cat6 RJ45 inline couplers available on the market.
People who have electrical cable installation experience know clearly what is a keystone jack. A keystone jack is a female connector for mounting a variety of low-voltage electrical jacks or optical connectors into a keystone wall plate, faceplate, surface-mount box or patch panel. A keystone plug is a matching male connector, usually attached to the end of a cable or cord. Traditional keystone jack needs a punch-down tool to help finish cable installation, but this toolless STP keystone jack is different. With the snap-fit cap design, conductors can be terminated simultaneously when the cap is pressed into place, allowing for a simple installation without the need for a punch-down tool.
The eight-position modular plug uses insulation displacement contacts that terminate the conductors and provide the contact interface surface for the mating jack contacts. These plugs are crimp-terminated onto cordage or cable. With these new technologies, we are witnessing the conversion of many commercial building devices and systems from analog, to digital, and now IP-addressable. The resulting migration of these devices and systems to four-twisted-pair cabling represents an additional class of equipment looking to be served by versions of communication cabling.