New IEC 61918 edition regulates SPE cabling and installation

May 10, 2022

Harting reported April 21 that the new edition of IEC 61918:2018/AMD1:2022, Amendment 1, "Industrial communication networks—installation of communication networks in industrial premises" was published in March 2022.

The standard describes the installation of communication networks in industrial plants, machines and automation islands, and this latest version covers cabling structures based on single-pair Ethernet (SPE), which makes it an important foundation for users who want to use the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) for production. IEC 61918:2018/AMD1:2022, Amendment 1 defines cabling infrastructure and components to be used, such as wires and connectors, for all automation profiles. Cabling solutions using fiber-optic cables, symmetrical copper cables and wireless media are considered, too.

This latest amendment to IEC 61918 addresses new single-pair cabling structures for SPE and associated remote power supply via Power over Data Line (PoDL). Harting reports this closes the gap between classic IT infrastructures and IIoT. It explains that SPE has a special significance for industry and automation. For the first time, SPE can enable universal application of TCP/IP-based automation protocols, such as Profinet and EtherCAT, even for long distances, as in process automation or for the simple connection of sensors and actuators up to the industrial field level. Higher data rates, more power transmission and greater ranges than with classic fieldbuses pave the way for IIoT and Industry 4.0.

Harting adds that Amendment 1 gives users clear specifications for infrastructure components that are identical and compatible with ISO/IEC 11801-3 (industrial buildings). Annex 1 (AMD1) references the cable standards for single-pair data cables according to IEC 61156-11/12/13/14 and the standard for the single-pair data connectors according to IEC 63171-6. This gives system designers and users a stable basis for selecting suitable cables and interfaces, and enables SPE implementation in the automation world to begin.

The new version of IEC 61918 now provides a clear and unambiguous normative description of how and with which components a sensor-to-cloud data infrastructure in industrial applications must look. The tools for the implementation of IIoT are now available - device suppliers can now start the development and production of SPE devices with internationally ensured compatibility and investment security.