In Defense of Tinned Copper

Oxidized-Copper-Statue-of-LibertyI spend a lot of time in the fancy cable section of Belden. These are cables for high-frequency applications, such as digital video coax, or 10-gigabit data cables. These cables all use bare copper conductors. On the other hand, if you look at the Belden catalog from the 50,000 foot view, you will see a whole lot of cables we make use tinned copper. If you’re an ancient engineer or installer (like me) you came from a time when tinned copper conductors were pretty much everything. Products like 8451 and 9451 and almost any analog audio cables are all tinned copper. Go back to the coax cables from long ago, and many of them are tinned copper. So what happened? And why is Lampen bringing up this issue now? Very simple. Read more »

MaineGeneral Medical Center: Holistic Design at Work

MaineGeneralFor those of you that have read my past blogs or white papers, you know that holistic data center design is one of my passions.

In my holistic design white paper, I discuss the benefits of deploying a modular approach that allows for a standard and predictable space, ultimately providing better scalability, cost efficiency and ease of operation. Having standardized configurations for cabinets and spaces also eases installation by eliminating surprises.

While the idea of using a modular approach with standardized configurations is something to strive for during the design process, the greatest satisfaction comes when I actually see our customers putting it into practice. This is exactly what happened at the new MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, Maine. Read more »

7 Key Questions for Industrial Wireless Security, Part 1 of 2

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Julia Santogatta, Belden’s director responsible for the wireless initiatives, with expertise from Daniel Wade, Chief Architect-Wireless Products and Jeffrey Caldwell, Chief Architect-Security.

What is the No. 1 concern when it comes to wireless solutions in the industrial world? While the answer might be debatable, if you’ve read some of my other blogs you know I feel passionately that it often comes down to one of two things – is it reliable enough and can I secure it?

MobileWorkerImage

While you may fear that industrial wireless is insecure, today’s reality is different. By turning on the security features available in current equipment offerings and following our Wireless Golden Rule, it is possible to secure wireless applications.

At our recent Industrial Ethernet Infrastructure Design Seminar, Jeff Caldwell, chief architect for security at Belden, posed this question to the audience – is wireless more secure or less secure than a wired network? Crazy question, right?
But when you start thinking about it and boiling it down to the basics, maybe he has something here. Consider this:

  • Passwords generally aren’t needed to plug a wired PC into a router and access a network, but they are required to connect to a wireless network. You can lay down a hub, use Wireshark or the like and see all of your data streams.
  • Not the case with wireless, even if you’ve only set up the most basic and common place security, which 95% of the population does.

Thus while saying wireless is more secure than wired networking may be hard to grasp, comparing the reality of the two options can be helpful.
I know. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “I still worry. I hear about so many attacks these days.”

Well, today I’d like to introduce you to the 7 key questions to ask yourself when planning your WLAN. Shared medium or not, wireless can be secure. So let’s combine these questions with the “Golden Rule of Industrial Wireless Security” and calm your fears a bit.

Read more »

Meet the PM: Blog Series Launch with Loredana Coscotin

We are starting a series to feature Belden product managers. I thought it would be a great way to feature Belden products from the folks that know the most about them, the product manager!

We’re kicking off the series with Loredana Coscotin, product marketing manager in The Netherlands.

LoredanaName: Loredana Coscotin
Title: Product Marketing Manager
How long have you been with Belden?: 3 years
Platform: Industrial Connectivity
Products Managed: Industrial cable, DataTuff, RailTuff, MIPP

What’s one thing about DataTuff that few know?
35% of network failures are due to problems in the physical layer, so it’s really not surprising why Belden is spending so much time in R&D and marketing on the industrial Ethernet side. The notion that any cable will do is wishful thinking,and downtime in an industrial environment is costly – e.g.: costing a power plant approximately $45,000/hour. Belden understands the industrial requirements, the tough environments, and designed the DataTuff range to meet just the needs observed in the market: from high-flex – up to 10mil cycles, to high/low temp, underground, oil resistance and even for special industries like mining or off-shore.

How does DataTuff help solve customer pain points?
Belden’s industrial Ethernet solution is the most comprehensive in the industry, answering to challenges as chemicals, whether the cables can be crushed, cut or abraded, electrical noise, vibrations, temperature extrements, etc. At the core of the range, as at the core of Belden, lies quality. The Belden and DataTuff quality comes from design and manufacturing together.

Read more »

The Fast Way to Commission Industrial Ethernet Switches

Editor’s Note: This article was created with expertise from Juergen Schmid, a senior product manager in our Hirschmann group.

The drive for productivity and high-availability manufacturing means you likely don’t have the time you would like to learn new things -even if doing so would ultimately save you time. In addition, you may be relatively new to industrial Ethernet networking and the equipment that comes with it.

If this is the case, you might be surprised to learn of the capabilities in managed switches, such as the Hirschmann RSP family, that make getting a switch up and running fast and easy.

Today, I am going to walk you through how to use features built into switches to speed up their commissioning and deployment. With only the time it takes to read this article, you will be able to make switches operational much faster next time.

Thinkstock-165485260-stopwatch-resized_2

Read more »

Here Comes 25 Gig Ethernet!

You may have heard plenty of buzz over the past few months regarding 25 gigabit Ethernet. It’s no surprise considering that several big data center and cloud computing providers like Google, Microsoft, Broadcom, Arista and Mellanox formed the 25 Gigabit Ethernet Consortium earlier this year.

25Gig

Shorter thereafter, IEEE formed a 25G Ethernet study group. And just a couple of weeks ago, Broadcom announced the availability of a new high-density 25G Ethernet switch for cloud-scale data centers.

Why 25G? It simply makes sense from a technology, cost, scalability and flexibility perspective. Let’s take a closer look. Read more »

No Hands for 4K

Last week I was in Hollywood at the SMPTE yearly shindig. I gave my ultimate paper (so far) on 4K Video over Coax. With 500 people in the room, it occurred to me as I began that I had the perfect group to find out some things. So I began by asking my audience a question. “If I could make a single coax that would run 4K video as far as you want, how many people would put that in?” I waited for a couple of seconds. Nothing happened. No hands went up. None! An article in the TV Technology website by Deborah McAdams the next day said there were hands that were ‘tentatively’ going up, but I couldn’t see them.

Tentative-Hand-Raising

I pointed out to my audience that I could save Belden a lot of money right here, and not bring out any 4K single-link coax, and save us a bundle in connectors as well. I suppose I broke a cardinal rule about public speaking, “Never ask the audience a question to which you do not already know the answer.” Well, clearly there was something I didn’t know. It was left up to me to interpret my audience’s answer. What did it mean? Read more »

IT and Controls – Working Together for Better Industrial Networking

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Mark Wylie, a Belden manager with many years of experience working in both the controls and IT domains. He is responsible for our Industrial Ethernet Infrastructure and Certified Industrial Network programs.

If you are a controls or process engineer you will have noticed the direct involvement of IT while designing and deploying industrial Ethernet. While the networks and technologies come together easily, the language, culture and standard practices used by IT are very different. Indeed, they often pose a significant problem in a production environment.

If you are an IT professional working in a production environment you’ve probably run into a ton of resistance and anxiety from others based on perceived differences. Take heart, your skills are still valuable and may just require a few new twists and tweaks.

In today’s article, I hope to bring some understanding to both sides so that you can work together to better meet your company’s common goals.

SCADA_DownloadCallToAction_3

Read more »

Redundancy, Availability, Reliability: Related but Not the Same

Understanding and determining data center redundancy, availability and reliability is a critical part of the holistic design process, and one that can significantly impact cost. However, there is often confusion surrounding these three factors.

Data_Center_Belden

Some believe that redundancy, availability and reliability are one in the same, but that is not the case at all. Let’s take a closer look. Read more »

ICS Security for Oil and Gas Applications, Part 2 of 2

My previous article covered part of Scott Howard’s presentation on ICS Security for Oil and Gas applications from this year’s Design Seminar. In that article, we reviewed some of the cyber security fundamentals discussed by Scott.

For example, we examined the fact that most cyber threats are unintentional and originate from within the control network. We also looked at the fact that a perimeter defense is not sufficient and that IT solutions are not appropriate on the plant floor.

Instead, what’s needed is Defense in Depth, that is, multiple layers of defense that work together to prevent network incidents or contain them if they do occur. A key best practice for Defense in Depth is to implement the zone and conduits model as defined in the ISA IEC 62443 standard. While not a regulation, this standard provides practical guidance that leads to more robust cyber security.

Today, we will take a closer look at zones and conduits and then review how they were be implemented in three oil and gas applications.

SecurityExpertsImage3

Read more »

On Twitter