Intrinsically Safe Ethernet
Ethernet is now established as the preferred network for business and control layers in industry. In factory automation and the power industry it is established as the device level network of choice. In process automation it is becoming established for high bandwidth applications such as cameras and analysers and is forecast to be adopted at device level.
The deployment of Ethernet into process automation has been hindered by the gas or dust hazardous area classification in which the end device is often installed. The high installation costs of the mechanical protection methods required to install general purpose Ethernet in hazardous areas, together with the maintenance limitations, have reduced the uptake of both wired and wireless Ethernet. Many end users prefer to use intrinsic safety for low power hazardous area applications, such as instrumentation, having made significant investment in training their design, installation and maintenance staff in the technology.
IS Ethernet has been adopted for communications across hazardous areas using copper for short distances and fibre for long distances. It provides WLAN infrastructure for the mobile operator using Intrinsically Safe mobile computers and tablet PCs, reducing installed cost and simplifying architecture with IS serial devices and providing automation infrastructure in coal mines. High definition intrinsically safe Ethernet cameras have been widely adopted in mining and process applications, allowing operators to monitor critical systems from a safe environment