Today, commercial Ethernet is the most widely installed local area network (LAN) standard. It was developed for use in an office environment and has served there successfully, and safely, for over 30 years. Only in the past five years or so have engineers moved Ethernet into the industrial world, mainly for control and data acquisition.
But the two environments couldn’t differ more — especially when you consider the level of stress they place on an Ethernet cabling systems or how environmental conditions can adversely affect active devices. An officegrade environment offers switches, hubs and cabling systems a relatively safe harbor, but the industrial world presents a far more harsh and hazardous environment. Bringing commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) cabling products and switches into the industrial landscape carries high risks for industrial and mission-critical applications.