Contributed by Jonas Diekmann, Technical Editor for HARTING
Industrial devices are steadily getting smaller, requiring smaller, yet stronger interfaces. For Cat6A Industrial Ethernet applications, HARTING offers users ix Industrial connectors in A-encoding. To be able to supply even more applications, in the future the small interface will also be available in 10-pole signal design – ix Industrial Signal in B-encoding.
Industrial devices are getting smaller and more refined. At the same time interfaces for data and power, which have been on the market for decades, are often used. Quality guarantees are given freely. In many applications, however, RJ45 and M12 connectors are now by far the largest components within a device and therefore require an unnecessarily large amount of space. At the same time, stability remains a constant problem, especially with RJ45. Broken ratchet levers are not uncommon. With the ix Industrial, HARTING offers a significantly smaller and stronger interface for industrial Ethernet.
Thanks to norms and standardization, HARTING expanded the development of this miniaturized interface. Therefore, at the 2018 Hanover Fair, the ix Industrial connector was presented in a new housing design with improved haptic qualities that make handling significantly safer and easier. And unlike the Gigabit version, with its new Type B version with 10 contacts for signals and serial BUS systems, all 10 contacts are used for signal transmission and not used as shielding elements of separate contact pairs. Externally, the new B-encoding can hardly be distinguished from the Gigabit version. Only the plug profile hints at a different use case. The different encodings also ensure that an Ethernet interface is not inadvertently connected to a signal interface, which would lead to malfunctions.
The other benefits remain unchanged. Minimum size and shape are identical and 70 % smaller on the socket-side than with conventional RJ45. This allows device manufacturers to produce a smaller device or to fit it with more interfaces for the same size. This option meets ever increasing data rates and wider use of Ethernet. To equip the interface for future industrial applications, it was not only necessary to reduce the installation space, but also to increase stability at the same time. The ix interface is intended to usher in a future standard, which can replace the often sensitive RJ45 solutions with plastic locking levers. This stability is ensured by the 5 THR pins of the socket in the printed circuit board and metal hooks in the plug. A cable clamp firmly attached to the connector housing ensures the corresponding strain relief of the connection.
The new type B-encoding is also standardized in accordance with IEC 61076-3-124 and offers users investment security as well as all the properties associated robustness and reliability. This means that shock and vibration cannot affect the signal version. The robust locking system featuring metal hooks ensures a reliable connection and a shield housing with a simplified structure reduces the number of individual parts. This aspect plays a special role in the assembly process. An audible click signals secure locking, increasing user-friendliness and giving fast and simple feedback.
To simplify the assembly of the connectors, in the future both ix Industrial versions will also be available as IDC (IDC = Insulation Displacement Contact). This simplifies and speeds up the connection in contrast to the permanently soldered version and spares the user from having to perform the soldering process. In addition, both versions are available as ready-made cable assemblies and, depending on the encoding and intended use, are also available in conjunction with known interfaces. The A-encoding can be selected fully assembled with a RJ45 counterpart, whilst the B-encoding comes with a proven D-sub mating face. On request, other combinations can be supplied. This means that users are not forced to change all applications directly while having to adapt to new interfaces.
Both encodings allow users to significantly save space for their connections in applications for automation, mechanical engineering, robotics, transport and data networks, regardless of whether we’re talking about HMIs, routers, switches or camera systems. With ix Industrial and ix Industrial Signal, users have a small, strong and standardized interface at their disposal.
Here, we have a Q&A with HARTING engineers to learn more about ix industrial connectors:
Why did HARTING decide to make the ix Industrial additionally available as a Type B?
Our initial focus lay on developing and launching a smaller and stronger Ethernet interface. During development, emphasis was on high-frequency design and strength. After demonstrating the product, the desire to use this interface for other non-Ethernet applications soon arose. From the customer’s point of view and also with respect to the standards, another encoding was necessary to prevent anyone from accidentally connecting the data interface with another type of interface by mistake. Therefore, we standardized the Type A strictly for Ethernet and the Type B for other applications. In addition, we attach great importance in customer service to the fact that customers use these connectors as intended.
Customers expect that specific connectors should be used exclusively for certain applications. This has led to the success of interfaces such as USB, HDMI and RJ45. As soon as the user sees the connector, he knows immediately what it’s used for.
What are the typical application areas of the ix Industrial Signal?
Today, our customers often use the Type B interface as encoder interface between servodrive or frequency converter and the rotary encoder. Otherwise, the application is also suitable for conventional BUS systems or all types of signals. The ix Industrial Type B has 10 contacts and can therefore also be used as a really small replacement for the widely used D-SUB 9-pin making many other applications possible in addition.
Can the Type B handle higher power ratings than PoE in the Type A version?
Both versions are rated at 1.5 A with an ambient temperature of 55 °C. In the case of Ethernet interfaces, the parallel power supply is Power over Ethernet (PoE for short). Also, the new “high power” PoE standard does not require the specified 1.5 A per contact. This means the user can certainly use the Type B versions for larger power requirements and load all 10 contacts with full power.
Are the IDC versions aimed at certain application areas or markets?
In addition to the plug connectors in solder connections, customers also require solderless connectors with insulation displacement contact (IDC). In particular, for customers who want to produce the cable assemblies themselves, this is a must. This requirement is independent of the application area or market segment.
Are there any additional plans for expansion of the ix Industrial range?
The initial products, which have thus far been introduced, pretty much form the core range. The ix Industrial series will be gradually and continuously expanded and added to. Additional bushing designs are planned as a next step. In the medium to long-term, it is intended that the series should encompass all elements that currently makeup RJ45. This means that there will also be sockets with integrated Ethernet transformers, cable sockets and other elements. Of course we will continue to listen very carefully to the wishes of our customers and realize them in our products.