New Marine-Certified Cables Improve Safety and Reduce Time to First Oil

In the marine industries the high profile DeepWater Horizon disaster (also known as the Macondo blowout) and increasing government regulation have led to a new “culture of safety”. Part of this new outlook is a demand for products that are people and environmentally friendly, especially when things go wrong.

In response, this week we are announcing the availability of our new MarineTuff line of HaloarrestXLink LSZH-jacketed instrumentation, control and VFD cables. These cables have been certified by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) to their highest standards for marine use.

Besides high safety characteristics, marine-certified cables provide other benefits, including faster “time to first oil”, a metric that is used for new oil production projects. Let’s consider what makes a cable safe and how such a cable can speed up large complicated oil system projects.  Read more »

Modular Industrial Patch Panels Improve Reliability and Flexibility

Editor’s Note: This article was created with expertise from Loredana Coscotin, product marketing manager for industrial cable.

If you have ever lived in a climate with cold winters and the power has gone out, you likely realized how much we take electricity and heating systems for granted. Not only is it inconvenient on a personal level, it impacts the economy by reducing productivity and disrupting manufacturing processes.

Thus, the organizations involved with power generation and distribution work very hard to maintain system uptime of 99.999 percent or better. Achieving that involves many strategies. An important one is to maintain a robust industrial Ethernet infrastructure for communication systems.

Analyses show that 70 percent of communication systems outages are due to failures in network components, cable and connectors. Consequently, a major manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) power systems, SMA Solar Technology, took care to make sure its connectivity systems include high performing patch panels.

Let’s take a look at the key challenges of such installations and the role of patch panels in ensuring high reliability.

Long Island Solar Farm

Since 2011, Long Island Power Authority has used SMA Solar Technology’s ground-mounted photovoltaic panels and central inverters to generate 44,000 MWh of power per year. Photo Courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory.

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The Smart Factory of the Future – Part 1

Editor’s Note: This article was created with expertise from Andreas Dreher, the strategic technology manager at Hirschmann Automation and Control.

When it comes to industrial networking today, many factories and process control facilities around the world are focused on upgrading to managed Ethernet networks. With the long, useful life of industrial devices, there is plenty of old equipment using legacy industrial protocols in active service. Indeed, much of our business involves helping companies upgrade to structured, reliable and easy-to-maintain industrial Ethernet infrastructure.

Even given this reality, it is instructive to step away from current challenges and look ahead to the Factory of the Future. What will industrial production look like 5-20 years from now? What do I need to understand about where factories are going to guide my decisions today? How will my factory compete with brand new factories that use next generation communication systems and concepts? Where does the industrial Internet of Things fit in?

This blog is the first in a series of blogs on the Smart Factory that aim to advise you about where factory production and automation are going. It applies not only to discrete manufacturing, but also to automation in the process, energy and transportation industries.

We are fortunate to have insight into this topic from our Hirschmann division, based in Germany where “Industry 4.0” is part of a large publicly funded project, to inform this discussion.

Let’s take a look at what the Smart Factory is and what characterizes its communication systems.

The Smart Factory of the Future

The Smart Factory of the Future will consist of systems that are more intelligent, flexible and dynamic than the ones in use today.

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New Cost Effective Industrial Ethernet Switches for Substations

Every industry today is under pressure to lower costs yet increase flexibility. A particular example is the electric power industry where on the one hand there are initiatives to increase the two-way communication of data to meet the vision of the smart grid, and on the other hand, keeping costs down is essential.

At the substation level, many are being upgraded to industrial Ethernet communication networks, and as we reported in an earlier blog, that includes incorporating legacy serial devices to keep costs down. Another way to control costs is to address the Ethernet switching needs with a value-priced yet rugged, flexible switch.

Hirschmann has just introduced a new Gigabit Ethernet switch, which is ideal for meeting this need. If you are an engineer or system integrator in need of a substation hardened entry-level switch, this device might be very useful. Plus, it has an additional benefit – it comes with field exchangeable port modules for high flexibility.

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Today’s substations are being upgraded for two-way “Smart Grid” communications at a time when utilities face high cost pressures. In this environment, the new Hirschmann GREYHOUND Gigabit Ethernet Switches are ideal.

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Substation Design – Integrating Serial Devices into the Smart Grid

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Tim Wallaert, our marketing director responsible for the Energy sector.

A huge amount has been written about the “Smart Grid” in recent years and most of it leads you to believe that every substation is communicating using high-speed Ethernet between all of its various components. But let’s face it – utilities don’t replace anything until it’s absolutely necessary.

The intelligent electronic device (IED) that was installed 15 years ago to monitor the status of the transformer is still out there. No one is even going to think about upgrading that IED until it or the transformer fails. This means the outdated serial port on the IED is going to be the main way to communicate to that device for quite a long time.

This begs the question of how to incorporate serial communication devices into a modern Ethernet infrastructure. Today, we’re going to take a look at this critical, and often times overlooked, issue.

Windfarm with Car Image

Combining old and new – today’s electrical grids must support old serial devices and
integrate new technologies, such as energy from renewable resources. 

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

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

In Part 1 of this article, I introduced the Golden Rule of Industrial Wireless Security – Deploy Securely, Monitor Regularly. Following this rule ensures that unwanted access to your wireless LAN and the rest of your network does not occur.
But, how do you deploy securely?

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While you may fear that industrial wireless is insecure, today’s reality is different.
By using current equipment and following our special Golden Rule, it is possible to design a robust and secure wireless application.

These days, most cyber security articles talk about using Defense in Depth, or a layered approach to securing industrial networks. This means using a variety of defenses at various points in the system to protect the network or contain threats. The idea of layering, and the resulting benefits, is no different in wireless applications.

By implementing measures to address these seven key questions you will be building layers of protection that contribute to the best practice of Defense in Depth. Let’s take a look at the questions in detail.

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Industrial Network Design for Physical Security Systems

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.

There are many reasons to update your network from an ad hoc design to an industrial Ethernet infrastructure. One of them is that it allows you to separate applications that generate high volumes of traffic, such as physical security systems, from other network applications such as control systems.

Good network segmentation groups devices used for a common purpose or with common cyber security requirements into segments, making network management and expansion easier.

Today, I am going to take a look at how to integrate physical security systems that include cameras, video servers, client viewing stations and other equipment into a well-designed industrial Ethernet network.

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Physical security systems often include numerous outdoor video cameras with high bandwidth transmission requirements.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Stepping Up to Lightly Managed Industrial Ethernet Switches

No matter where your organization is on the path of adopting industrial Ethernet, it is likely that unmanaged switches play a role in directing traffic on your network. Perhaps your team waited for the early adopters of Ethernet to iron the kinks out or you recently invested in your first system because of supplier or management demands.

On the other hand, you may have a robust industrial Ethernet infrastructure that has unmanaged switches on its fringes or in smaller networks.

In any of these scenarios, ease-of-use and low cost were likely the factors that led to the selection of unmanaged switches.

I am writing today to let you know about a new category of industrial Ethernet switches, lightly managed switches. These devices offer the same simplicity as unmanaged switches and are very reasonably priced – but with additional features that make sure your networks are running at peak performance.

Reasons to Consider Lightly Managed Industrial Ethernet Switches

Once you start using Ethernet in your designs and you add a few nodes to your network you may notice behavior that piques your concern or curiosity. You’d like to get more information, but you are limited because unmanaged switches do not make it available.

Similarly, you may feel constrained because:

 

  • You want to implement redundancy to reduce downtime, but can’t do it with unmanaged switches.
  • You are worried that the unused ports on some of your switches are a security risk.
  • You need to accommodate one of the myriad of industrial Ethernet protocols in your infrastructure.
  • Your network is growing in size and sophistication and you need better monitoring and diagnostics.

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