New Tool for Troubleshooting Industrial Ethernet

Fluke Networks’ LinkIQ locates source of industrial ethernet network, cable, and connection failures.

The growing prevalence of Ethernet on the plant floor has been clear for years now, but the increase in remote working brought on by the pandemic has only served to underscore importance of Ethernet in industry. Other drivers behind Ethernet’s wider use on the plant floor, such as connectivity to enterprise systems and the ability to transmit greater amounts of data, as well as the general push toward Industrie 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things applications, remain key reasons why Ethernet continues to replace many fieldbus installations.

LinkIQ-IE Cable+Network Industrial Ethernet Tester from Fluke.LinkIQ-IE Cable+Network Industrial Ethernet Tester from Fluke.Like any industrial communications technology, Ethernet requires specific maintenance tools to ensure the network remains up and running with minimal or no downtime. To help address specific Ethernet issues, Fluke Networks recently introduced the LinkIQ-IE Cable+Network Industrial Ethernet Tester, which is designed to troubleshoot network cabling.

To understand the effect of Ethernet cabling issues in industry, Indu-Sol, an industrial network support organization, reports that more than half of their industrial Ethernet service calls result from cabling-related issues.

   Read more about the increasing use of Ethernet across industry based on Automation World research.

Fluke Networks says that, by combining their state-of-the-art cable measurement technology and basic tests for industrial Ethernet switches, LinkIQ-IE speeds and simplifies the discovery of network failures via a touchscreen interface that’s similar to a smartphone.

Fluke's LinkIQ-IE Cable+Network Industrial Ethernet Tester kit.Fluke's LinkIQ-IE Cable+Network Industrial Ethernet Tester kit.“Troubleshooting industrial Ethernet problems often involves the use of complex tools such as protocol analyzers that require years of training or trial-and-error approaches such as running bypass cable in the hope of solving the problem,” said Walter Hock, vice president of products at Fluke. “We designed LinkIQ-IE to provide answers to key troubleshooting questions in seconds through an easy-to-use touchscreen interface and a price that puts it in the reach of factory teams.”

James Sinn, owner of Sinn Development, an Oakville, Ontario-based provider of design, installation, and troubleshooting services, said, “With the ability to display switch port, VLAN, and PoE (power over Ethernet) information, LinkIQ-IE is a great addition to our toolkit. The first thing I did with LinkIQ-IE was to test the cabling for a face shield production line. It instantly showed me that the cause of the problem was a disconnected shield that made the cable susceptible to the EMI (electromagnetic interference) from a nearby machine tool with a large induction motor.”

According to Fluke, LinkIQ-IE is based on a single-test approach that automatically provides the appropriate measurements based on what’s at the other end of the cable. For an open cable, it shows the length and pairing. If it’s terminated with the supplied remote, the test result shows the maximum data rate the cable can support—up to 10 Gb/s. If the cable is connected to a switch port, LinkIQ-IE shows the name of the switch plus the port name, speed, and duplex. If PoE is used, it will display the power and class (up to 90 W or Class 8) and then load the switch to verify the power can be delivered.

The LinkIQ-IE has an RJ-45 type connector and includes cabling and adapters for connection to M12-D, M12-X, and M8-D connectors commonly used in industrial applications.

   Listen to this podcast explaining industrial single pair Ethernet.

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