Saving resources in data cabling

Less for more – Single Pair Ethernet as a resource-saving data infrastructure for the growing IIoT

Recent years have seen people becoming more and more aware of their own ecological footprint and there has been an increased focus on these issues. In addition to changes in the private sphere, companies in particular are also being required to optimise their processes and to use resources such as energy and raw materials sparingly and efficiently – saving costs and protecting the environment.

In this context, the development of IIoT with rapidly increasing data rates presents a genuine challenge. Increasing data volumes are being transmitted from the cloud to industrial production machines and back again. This goes hand in hand with a growing need for data infrastructure with a performance capacity that is capable of keeping pace with requirements.

To help prevent the necessary additional cabling from degenerating into an endless glutton in terms of the consumption of resources and raw materials, Single Pair Ethernet offers an interesting alternative. Up to 10 Gbit/s can be transmitted over just one pair of twisted copper wires, and optionally 10 Mbit/s over a distance of up to 1000 metres.

With current cabling, this step would not be economically feasible and standard eight-wire Ethernet cables would require significantly more plastic, aluminium and copper.

In a direct comparison of an Industrial Ethernet drag chain cable Cat 6 4x2xAWG24/7 vs. SPE 1000BASE-T1 cable in 1x2xAWG22/19, cable manufacturers estimate the following potential savings:

Potential savings in %
Savings potential in required space
~ 21 %
~ 31 %
~ 38 %
~ 33 %
AL-PET film
~ 30 %

These values may ​​vary somewhat depending on the cables being compared, but they give an approximate indication of the potential savings.

The growing number of data lines that need to be made smaller and therefore thinner and lighter also results in further advantages. Leading passenger train manufacturers have put the energy costs for every kilogram of weight in a passenger car over a service life of 40 years at € 14,000. SPE cables save around 1.5 kg per 100 metres compared to eight-wire Ethernet cables, which corresponds to savings of approx. € 21,000 over the entire service life of this model. 

Other technical advantages include smaller bending radii in drag chains or robots, smaller housing sizes for devices and a reduced fire load in the event of damage. Overall, SPE not only offers considerable savings potential, but also enables the use of Ethernet as a consistent communication protocol with real-time capability (TSN over OPC UA) and a simultaneous power supply via Power over Data Line (PoDL) analogous to PoE.

Get in touch
Marian Dümke
Global Product Manager, HARTING Electronics GmbH