Written by James McDonald

March 1, 2010

If you are an IT person and you are employed by a Manufacturing company, it is probable that your IT umbrella covers at least some sort of control system/s.

Controls Systems or SCADA, as they are called in the industry frequently have components installed in hostile environments (think steam and heat).

Perhaps you have a remote server computer sitting comfortably in an environmentally controlled room that needs to be networked into a PLC which is housed in a stainless steel cabinet in the middle of a paddock. Putting standard network kit into a steel cabinet and expecting it stay under 40°C is not realistic when typical daytime temperatures in Australia can be 45°C. After a short while your standard network switch will start to drop packets and be totally cooked a short while later.

Enter Industrial Ethernet switches.

I recently purchased a couple of Westermo Fibre-Convertor / Ethernet switches that are rated to around 75°C. These stand up way better than an office only Linksys ‘puck’ style switch. Another brand that a supplier recently quoted me on was Moxa. I haven’t used them yet but it doesn’t hurt to have a few options.

For Industrial ethernet you need a DIN rail and a 24V DC power supply, but that is usually available in the cabinet when you are dealing with control systems.

Industrial strength isn’t cheap but in a manufacturing environment reliability pays for itself.

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