Ethernet is the undisputed dominant communication standard and as we increasingly rely on staying connected wherever we are, it is permeating ever more areas of our lives. As the demand for smaller, compact electronic and industrial devices grows, so connecting interfaces such as system cables must follow suit. However, whilst these components are reducing in size, they are simultaneously becoming more powerful to meet the demands of consumers.

 

In order to future-proof device technology and embrace the ongoing challenges of Industry 4.0, HARTING have developed the ix Industrial®, a robust and compact interface that delivers Cat. 6A performance for 1/10Gbit/s Ethernet.

 

The classic RJ45 is the world’s most widely used connector and is synonymous with Ethernet connections in the IP20 environment. However, as devices such as tablets, sensors and cameras get smaller, the size of the RJ45 is becoming problematic because it takes up more and more of the already restricted space available on components. With the ix Industrial®, HARTING have slashed the PCB jack size by a substantial 70%, enabling manufacturers to use it in much smaller devices, which can then more easily meet the needs of miniaturisation.

 

In addition, it combines both data transmission and power supply into a single interface, further reducing the area required for connectors within devices. Despite its compact dimensions, the ix Industrial® still produces Cat. 6A performance for 1/10Gbit/s Ethernet at a control level, whilst its high current-carrying capacity supports both existing and future Power over Ethernet (PoE) applications.

 

As well as significant space savings, the ix Industrial® has been specifically designed and built to withstand the rigours of industrial environments. This resolves the issues associated with the RJ45, whose plastic locking tabs are easily broken in busy manufacturing environments, which can lead to contact problems as the connection works loose.

ix Industrial (Left) and RJ45 (Right)

                              • ix Industrial® (Left) and RJ45 (Right)

 

To ensure a strong connection, the socket and connector are securely locked together by two metal snap-in hooks, ensuring a robust and vibration-proof connection from the cable to the circuit board for up to 5000 mating cycles. The cable and plug also benefit from a sturdy crimp connection, which improves strain relief.

 

When it comes to standardisation, the interface complies with IEC 61076-3-124 and conforms to the shock and vibration resistance levels set out in EN 50155 railway specifications, making it the perfect solution for a range of markets and sectors.

 

The socket is firmly fastened to the circuit board with five through hole reflow (THR) shield contacts, preventing the conductor tracks from being damaged. There are also no unprotected wires from the cable to the connection point, which can affect a fault-free, high frequency signal. As a result, the ix Industrial® takes care to safeguard data transmissions; thanks to its continuous 360° shield design, it guarantees a high immunity to interference, even in EMC-critical applications.

 

With respect to device wiring, users can avail themselves of flexible, thin system cables with a tight bending radius, which again help save valuable installation space. These can be assembled with the ix mating face on both ends or mixed, for example, with the ix and the RJ45 connector on opposite ends. This enables a gradual adaptation of individual elements in the control level and existing cabling systems without the need to directly use totally new components. Currently, the ix Industrial® is available in straight form. However, angled cable connector variants will follow in the future, allowing more installations within flat and space-critical applications.

 

When it comes to practical applications, its durable, strong design and compact size means the ix Industrial® is ideal for use in automation switch cabinets, machinery, robotics, data networks and the energy markets. It is also ideally suited to trains and buses as displays and passenger information systems can receive both power and data via the ix interface.

 

“Industry 4.0 as an expression of the Internet of things needs one thing above all: an Ethernet connection to any Industry 4.0 component. The international standardisation of new high-performance components and infrastructures is an essential prerequisite for market success, and provides security in terms of planning.”

 

All this means the ix has the potential to become the future IP20 standard connector for end-to-end Ethernet, from the Cloud down to supporting the next generation of miniaturised products including flat screen displays, mobile devices and small field equipment with perfect high data transmission rates.