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From the sensor to the Cloud – a plea for SPE

18 sept 2020

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Ethernet transmission via single-pair cables – Single-Pair Ethernet (SPE) – is attracting a great deal of interest in the car industry, industrial and building automation. Wendelin Achermann, Product Marketing Manager Europe, Datwyler Cabling Solutions, is persuaded of its advantages: “We see single-pair Ethernet as a groundbreaking communication technology for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), as it allows the barrier-free transmission of data from the sensor (bus systems) to the Cloud (TCP/IP networks)“. Only with the aid of this communicative bridge building can self-driving vehicles, the continuous manufacturing process in accordance with Industry 4.0 and intelligent buildings become reality in a transparent and cost-efficient way.

Plea for SPE
SPE provides modern automation solutions with a series of benefits. Volumes of data up to 1 Gbit/s flow swiftly and safely over only one pair of conductors per cable at ranges of up to 1000 metres. In addition, by comparison with four-pair solutions single-pair cables and connectors take up less valuable space, are lighter, and allow smaller bending radii. This in turn is the prerequisite for ever more compact devices in industrial automation, process technology, building automation and in telecommunications and infrastructure applications. Another plus point is that the thin cables can be installed more cost-effectively. As well as data the protocol also transmits electrical power at up to 60 watts by means of Power over Data Line (PoDL). So decentralised and maintenance-intensive power supplies will soon be a thing of the past.

The way to market readiness
Before real added value is created for the customer, the appropriate SPE-capable components must also be developed in addition to the connectors. To drive this process forward, leading technology companies from various industries and fields of application have formed the SPE System Alliance. Here they pool their know-how on Single-Pair Ethernet and exchange information on a regular basis. All the partners are pursuing the common goal of promoting SPE technology for the IIoT and every other field of application as well. In addition to Datwyler the ever-expanding partner network includes Fluke Networks, Kyland, Microchip, Phoenix Contact, Prysmian Group, R&M, Rosenberger, Sick, Telegärtner and Weidmüller.

The basic standard for SPE connectors has been defined since April 2020, now all that is missing is the complete series of standards. “This means that the coachwork is ready, but the engine design remains to be resolved,” is how Simon Seereiner, Portfolio Manager at Weidmüller, summarises the state of standardisation. The next step will follow in summer 2021, when the complete series of standards is to be published by the ISO/IEC committee responsible.

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