Connecting in Industrial Automation

Ethernet network cabling in the enterprise is almost exclusively based on structured cabling. Greatly simplifying , structured cabling is based on connecting equipment, e.g. network switch to a personal computer, using solid conductor horizontal cable terminated at both ends with a jack mounted in a patch panel, wall faceplate or similar, and then making the connections from the jacks to active equipment using flexible, stranded patch cords. One benefit of doing this is that the horizontal cable with jacks forms the basis of a testable permanent link.

Although Panduit recommends this approach for network cabling installation, there are times when an alternative approach can be considered and deployed. On the shop floor, when Ethernet connectivity is deployed into an industrial automation application, it is frequently required to install a network cable through metal conduit connecting two control panels together or between a zone enclosure used for consolidation of network cabling along defined pathways and a control panel. In this case, it is beneficial to have the cable not fitted with any connectors and then pulled through the conduit ready for termination. After cutting the cable in the control panel and enclosure to a neat length with a minimal amount of slack, terminate the cable with high performance field terminable plugs. The plugs will connect directly into the active equipment at both ends.

The Panduit field terminable RJ45 plug is ideal for use in these situations. The plug is made of all metal construction so is suitable for terminating both shielded and unshielded network cabling. The plug has all 8 pin contacts making it suitable for both 10/100 Megabits per second data transmission rates as well as both one Gigabit per second and 10 Gigabits per second data rates. The field terminable plug is suitable for use with stranded or solid conductors ranging in size between 22 and 24 AWG and is used with cable outer diameters ranging between 5.0 and 9.0 mm. We also have an option for smaller outer diameter cables with smaller stranded gauges.

The installation of the cable to the plug is extremely reliable and repeatable, and Panduit engineers have found it can be terminated in about 1 ½ to 2 minutes from start to finish with shielded cable taking slightly longer than unshielded cable. We have seen many instances where the completed cable assembly is not tested, though we would always recommend this. It is important to follow the installation instructions accurately, and high performance can be expected if the twists of each of the pairs is retained right until the wires are lead into the wire manager (the white plastic conductor guide mounted on the internal contact circuit board). Another ‘tip of the trade’ is to actually cut the conductors after the jacket has been removed at slightly different lengths – maybe a spread of + / – 3 mm. This helps the insertion of the 8 conductors into the wire manager.

Although the installation instructions are very comprehensive, and after one or two terminations we’ve found the installers ‘feel like the expert’, it’s always useful to see a video of that process. So take a minute or so out of your busy schedule, and enjoy the video (and the music).

One thought on “Connecting in Industrial Automation

  1. Great article Bob I wanted to know which are ideal situations for RJ45 plug.


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