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Home > Posts > The Changing Landscape of Industrial Ethernet Switches
May 02

The Changing Landscape of Industrial Ethernet Switches

Keywords: Industrial Ethernet, Industrial Ethernet Switch, Ruggedized Ethernet Switch, Industrial Network Architecture, Internet of Things, IoT, Industrial Internet, Industry 4.0.

Originally focused on discrete automation applications, industrial Ethernet (IE) switches are increasingly employed in applications outside this traditional base. Infrastructure applications ranging from smart grid (particularly electrical substation automation), to intelligent rail, highway, and other transportation projects increasingly rely on industrial Ethernet. Industrial Ethernet has also made significant inroads in process automation, where it is already the control backbone network of choice and is now making its way into the device level.

This expanded application base and its associated functional and standards requirements, plus continued evolution in both COTS and application-specific standards and technology, result in an ever-expanding variety of switch configurations beyond the traditional five- to eight-port DIN rail industrial Fast Ethernet device. Because of this, it is vitally important to select the right switch for the job as the variety of form factors, port counts, port speeds, alternative media supported, and other device characteristics continues to expand.

The Expanding Application Base for IE Switches
A number of features distinguish industrial Ethernet switches from their commercial brethren. Ruggedized enclosures and high IP (Ingress Protection) ratings are some of the first things most customers think of when comparing industrial switches to commercial switches, but other distinguishing characteristics may include mounting type, connector type, ability to withstand extended temperature ranges, passive cooling, redundant components, and conformance to industrial infrastructure standards.

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