Special cable and network solutions make office standards suit industrial needs

Nuremberg, September 27, 2007 – The product range developed and manufactured by Nexans Deutschland Industries GmbH & Co. KG in Nuremberg includes engine, sensor, control and bus cables for automation and transport applications. These cables are designed to withstand the rough operating conditions in the world of industry and provide a contrast to rigid solutions which come under less stress, as commonly used in office and building technology. For instance, they have a sheathing which is resistant to chemicals and an inner construction which can provide both flexibility and rigidity. Examples of these solutions are the new USB cable which can be used in drag chains, twistable cables for use in robots and twist-protected cables for control panels. The range is completed by active network components from the Nexans site in Mönchengladbach such as gigabit-Ethernet switches and WLAN access points.

Twist-protected or twistable? The subtle and crucial difference

The twistable cables from Nexans are suitable for long-term use in three-dimensional movement. It is not just the field of robotics which places these demands on cables, it is also increasingly the case in machine tool manufacture. Depending on the design, the cables can twist by ±90°, ±180°, ±360° and ±540°. The focus is on the longevity of the line and thus the process reliability of the machine tool or robot. Optimum ability to twist is guaranteed by line configurations adapted to the movement. Numerous factors must be taken into consideration, from the selection of the conductor to the type of stranding and use of special film and fleece, while the construction of the shielding also plays an important role. Flexibility and durability are also determined by sheathing materials and extrusion processes. The adept combination of these measures lowers the resistance to which the cable in a twisting movement is exposed and prevents premature wear and tear. This has been corroborated by tests: prior to introducing the twistable cables, Nexans put them to the test at the Nexans Research Centre in Nuremberg. Cables and lines can be thoroughly tested there in the new "Automation Application Centre" and investigated as to their suitability for specific customer requirements.

Twist-protected: avoid damage caused by twisting

In contrast, excessive twisting is undesirable with teach pendants and teach panels. In order to avoid kinks and bends – as with a simple telephone flex for example – the cables are twist protected. Their core is similar to the drag chain cables and allows frequent movement (bending) with no damage. Twist-protection braiding between the inner and outer sheathing counteracts twisting. This twist protection makes it easier for the devices to be controlled during machine operation.

Office technology suits industrial needs: USB 2.0 conquers the workshop

The universal serial bus (USB) was for a long time the preserve of office life and the home office user, but Nexans has now made the PC interface suitable for industrial needs: the special USB cable was designed for use in drag chains and two versions are available: one is suitable for lengths up to 5 m and the other bridges up to 10 m with no need for repeaters. The inner construction of the special cable allows frequent bending, for example in drag chains. The stranding is such that the data and power supply wires are not overstretched when twisting. In addition, plastic films which minimise frictional resistance between the wires ensure flexibility and in this way counteract fraying of the insulation. A wound film shielding and additional copper braiding protect the USB cable from electromagnetic disturbances and an abrasion-resistant polyurethane sheathing makes it resistant to oils and fats.

Active components: safety becomes the order of the day

Nexans in Mönchengladbach is developing and manufacturing switches which meet the needs of industry with maximum system availability in gigabit-Ethernet technology. Examples are systems which fulfil stringent safety requirements: iSwitch G10xx series devices not only have eight gigabit-Ethernet data connections and the option of being connected to three uplink SFP-transceivers in fast Ethernet and/or gigabit-Ethernet technology, they also support power over Ethernet (PoE). With suitable end devices, for example IP cameras and wireless access points, wall power supply becomes superfluous. The switches themselves can be supplied with power with multiple redundancy in order to prevent malfunctions, or their power can be obtained via twisted pair data cables. The configuration of the top-of-the-range iSwitch G10xx is easy, as the devices can be configured via the web, Telnet or SNMP. The configuration can be saved on a card slot for SD cards and can be transferred to another device or – in the event of a malfunction – to the new switch.

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