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Old April 13th, 2018, 08:18 AM   #1
Jim G.
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Fiber optic for industrial ethernet

I am starting a project to upgrade our building utility system. The actual swap out will be done by outside contractor. The new system is IP based communication so I will need to supply Ethernet communication between some panels. Some of the distances will be over the standard 330 ft limit of
cat6 cable. Would fiber optic and optic work here? Never done one before in an industrial setting. Feedback? Thanks.
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Old April 13th, 2018, 08:39 AM   #2
CommissioningMan
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How long a run are we talking? Depending on your needs, you can use Ethernet extenders for runs up to 1.8 miles (although with abysmal downstream/upstream speeds. And no GigaBit)

Fiber can get pretty expensive.
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Old April 13th, 2018, 08:39 AM   #3
mk42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim G. View Post
I am starting a project to upgrade our building utility system. The actual swap out will be done by outside contractor. The new system is IP based communication so I will need to supply Ethernet communication between some panels. Some of the distances will be over the standard 330 ft limit of
cat6 cable. Would fiber optic and optic work here? Never done one before in an industrial setting. Feedback? Thanks.
Fiber is a little more complicated to install, so you need to make sure your contractor can handle it. You also need to make sure your switches support it, and that you get cable that matches what your switches are expecting. In older days, you had to terminate the fiber directly into the switch, which means you needed to buy a switch that supported the fiber you have installed. Most switches these days use SFP ports that the fiber is terminated in, and then plug into the switch. You get SFP ports that match the kind of fiber you have, and then the switch doesn't care what KIND of SFP transciever it is, only that it is one.

That said, fiber is a great solution for Ethernet infrastructure. It has two main downsides: 1) not good for applications that require cable that will be moving or flexed over and over 2) more complicated (expensive) to install than standard copper cable. On the plus side, it has much increased immunity to noise, basically removes the possibility of ground loops or voltage issues), and can get you much increased speed/distance.
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Old April 13th, 2018, 08:39 AM   #4
Dravik
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I am in the process of doing this right now.

Yes, fiber will work, however..

You'll need something to convert from fiber to copper on each end, Do not use media converters unless you have no choice. Better off putting small managed switches in that can handle fiber(either through SFPs or built in ports).

We're a mostly cisco plant, so in deference to my coworkers i'm using the IE series.

Either use innerduct or armored fiber, saves having to replace broken fiber later
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Old April 13th, 2018, 08:43 AM   #5
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saves having to replace broken fiber later
Also, it usually makes sense to run more fiber than you need. The addon cost to run 8 strands instead of 4 from A to B is not much, but the cost to go back and add it later is huge.
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Old April 13th, 2018, 09:00 AM   #6
Christoff84
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You might look at just adding a switch in the middle of your long runs. Might be cheaper then fiber in the long run, and would give you flexibility to add cabling at a later date that would be a shorter run. Would also allow you to keep gigabit speeds if needed.
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Old April 13th, 2018, 09:07 AM   #7
Dravik
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You might look at just adding a switch in the middle of your long runs. Might be cheaper then fiber in the long run, and would give you flexibility to add cabling at a later date that would be a shorter run. Would also allow you to keep gigabit speeds if needed.
Eh, possibly cheaper, but you can do Gig (and way more) over fiber easily. And you can run fiber alongside nearly anything and not worry about noise.
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Old April 13th, 2018, 10:20 AM   #8
James Mcquade
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We use multi mode duplex fiber.
Run lots of spares, our older fibers are going bad.
we also Ethernet to fiber converters and fiber to Ethernet converters with no issues. Buy them in matched pairs.

james
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Old April 13th, 2018, 12:27 PM   #9
T Gibbs
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We have industrial Ethernet over fiber in our plant. The only problem we ever seem to have is the cheap plug in power supplies for the converters go bad. We have been replacing the converters with ones that run on 24VDC and use siemens power supplies.
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Old April 13th, 2018, 05:59 PM   #10
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Fiber is exactly what you want for long-distance backbone runs. Typically it will be multimode OM3 or OM4 fiber. You will want to run in spare pairs as the jump from a 2-pair cable to a 6-pair is negligible compared to the installation costs.

Avoid using media converters (copper to fiber converters) and try and get switches with built in fiber ports or SFP ports. If you can afford it then go managed switches and I recommend AB Stratix 5700. If you need cheaper and unmanaged is fine then the AB Stratix 2000 range also have options for built-in fiber ports.

Otherwise Advantech make some really cost effective basic unmanaged switches with built-in fiber ports, like the EKI-2525M for example.

Last edited by brendan.buchan; April 13th, 2018 at 06:02 PM.
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Old April 13th, 2018, 06:42 PM   #11
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I think there is a lot of flexibility to be had by having CAT cable with managed switches and/or routers. As systems grow and expand your network can easily grow and expand with it. If you have fiber, it’s more difficult to do (and costly). If you want to add a panel right in the middle of a path between two existing panels simply add the panel cut the existing CAT6 (or CAT5) cables and rewire them into the new switch or router. Yes the process is somewhat the same with fiber but much more difficult.
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Old April 14th, 2018, 04:06 AM   #12
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Run a 6 pair armored fiber from your central switch (the real one, not a din mount thing, but something serious in a rack, HP or Cisco) out to IDF's (Intermediate Distribution Frame) that are localized to your machines, then just run copper from the IDF to the machines.
You really want to try to avoid daisy-chaining switches as much as possible.

Terminating bulk fiber really isn't all that bad, just takes some care and patience. We use the Corning Unicam system, no epoxy, no glue, and haven't had any issues over thousands of feet run. Unicam connectors are NOT cheap, nor re-usable, but they are solid and don't require specialized training to install.
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Old April 14th, 2018, 10:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firejo View Post
I think there is a lot of flexibility to be had by having CAT cable with managed switches and/or routers. As systems grow and expand your network can easily grow and expand with it. If you have fiber, itís more difficult to do (and costly). If you want to add a panel right in the middle of a path between two existing panels simply add the panel cut the existing CAT6 (or CAT5) cables and rewire them into the new switch or router. Yes the process is somewhat the same with fiber but much more difficult.
Not really. I've been implementing fiber optics since the early '80s with serial comms. Multimode fiber isn't difficult to work with. You need only invest in a toolkit and a bare minimum of training. Fiber is vastly superior to copper for distance and immunity to electrical noise. Neither is it prohibitively expensive to implement fiber optics. Huge savings can be realized when utilizing existing power poles for long distance runs vs. wire in conduit. I think all of this scary talk about fiber is coming from people who don't know what they're talking about.
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Old April 14th, 2018, 01:29 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Bit_Bucket_07 View Post
Not really. I've been implementing fiber optics since the early '80s with serial comms. Multimode fiber isn't difficult to work with. You need only invest in a toolkit and a bare minimum of training. Fiber is vastly superior to copper for distance and immunity to electrical noise. Neither is it prohibitively expensive to implement fiber optics. Huge savings can be realized when utilizing existing power poles for long distance runs vs. wire in conduit. I think all of this scary talk about fiber is coming from people who don't know what they're talking about.

I could not agree more. I will pull a fiber without giving it a second thought these days. My decision point - is it over 300'? If so, fiber. Buy yourself a termination kit for the style of connector you like and run with it. Although it is a bit dated, I've been terminating hot melt ST connectors for over a decade.
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Old April 16th, 2018, 07:32 AM   #15
Dravik
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For known distances, We'll just buy the cables pre-terminated. Even easier tho you still should test them when they are installed.
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