How to Bring Industrial Ethernet to the Food and Beverage Plant Floor

The need to employ more advanced plant floor networking technologies is becoming clear as manufacturers look to increase operational efficiencies and bottom line profits.   While Ethernet offers many benefits, the extreme conditions found on the food and beverage plant floor has delayed its progress.   Harsh washdown procedures, rust and corrosion, extreme temperatures, moisture and vibrations can all take a toll on the performance and reliability of the communications infrastructure.  But by choosing the right products, food and beverage manufacturers can securely make the transition to Industrial Ethernet.  Some features to consider when evaluating the various devices, components and wiring options include:

  • Ingress Protection (IP) Rating:  An IP67 rating, which indicates the product is dust tight and protected against the effects of short-term immersion, is typically acceptable for food and beverage use.  However, an IP69K rating, which indicates protection against ingress of dust and high temperature, high-pressure water, is ideal in locations where equipment must be carefully sanitized.
  • Stainless Steel Construction: A smooth-surfaced, 316 grade stainless steel connection system helps prevent bacteria growth by limiting the area where it can collect and can stand up to harsh chemicals and high water temperatures without rusting.  Rugged overmolds and cable jackets that can endure extreme temperatures provide added protection.
  • Push-to-lock Technology:  Connectors that incorporate a mechanical locking design deliver a secure connection not found with threaded cordsets. This built-in reliability reduces connector-related intermittent signals in the harshest environments.
  • DIN Rail Mount/Machine Mount:  By moving the Ethernet switches to plant-floor devices, manufacturers can save cabinet space, reduce cable costs and simplify installations.  Heavy-duty enclosures provide protection from water and temperature changes, making them ideal for harsh industrial applications.

A well thought out migration to Industrial Ethernet will allow food and beverage companies to both retain legacy systems that are still relevant and tap into innovative applications that support future business growth.

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