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The Code Questions Raised by Industrial Ethernet

To truly apply the Internet of Things, you need an industrial Ethernet network in place. Therefore, it is critically important to understand the codes that regulate the environment in which your industrial Ethernet cables are installed.

Mike Bayda, Nexans
Mike Bayda, Nexans

Manufacturers are accelerating the implementation of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 tools and processes to maximize profitability. This transformation, sometimes referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, is encouraging manufacturers to migrate from legacy fieldbus systems to the modern industrial Ethernet, which is becoming the network of choice in harsh industrial environments for its simplicity, scalability, diagnostic capabilities and high performance.

Industrial Ethernet is still a relatively new technology in the manufacturing world. As such, it generates a lot of questions, particularly regarding codes and standards, installation practices, and harsh and outdoor applications.

The most commonly asked question we have received regards what codes and standards manufacturers need to be concerned about when installing cables in an industrial factory environment. A critical consideration to make when selecting cables is what code regulates the environment where the cable is installed.

Three areas of a typical factory that each have different associated codes and standards are:

  • NFPA 70: Known as the National Electric Code (NEC), this applies to field wiring in-transit to the machine or control panel and terminated at the manufacturing site. This is the “building” wiring installed in the tray and communication raceway environments.
  • NFPA 79: Known as the Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery, this applies to the wiring of electrical/electronic equipment, apparatus or systems of industrial machines operating from a nominal voltage of 600 V or less. This is the wiring that is used in/on machines. 
  • UL 508A:This provides the requirements for industrial control panels operating at nominal voltages of 1,000 V or less and in ambient temperatures that do not exceed 40 °C (104 °F).

To learn more about these standards and find the answers to other frequently asked questions, visit to download your copy of our new white paper.

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