Drives and Controls Magazine
SPE industry groups expand – and one gets a new name
Published:  06 May, 2020

Two separate industry groups that are promoting Single-Pair Ethernet (SPE) technologies, have both added new members. The SPE Industrial Partner Network, whose previous members included Harting, TE Connectivity, Leoni, Murrelektronik, igus and Softing, has added Belden’s Hirschmann brand to its ranks, while the second group – now called the SPE System Alliance – has attracted several new members including Sick, Rosenberger and Microchip Technology. The Alliance already counted Phoenix Contact, Weidmüller and Fluke Networks among its supporters.

SPE is intended to overcome limitations with existing Ethernet cables and connectors. Using just one pair of conductors, rather than two or four pairs, SPE will support scalable, deterministic data transmission from shopfloor sensors and actuators to the cloud.

The two groups are supporting different SPE connectors defined in different IEC standards. The SPE System Alliance is backing IEC 63171-2 (which defines an IP20 connector) and 63171-5 (which defines IP67 connectors), while the SPE Industrial Partner Network is promoting the T1 interface defined in IEC 63171-6. And while the Alliance is interested in SPE applications across a variety of settings including smart buildings and automotive, the Network is focusing on industrial applications.

Dr Oliver Kleineberg, global CTO for industrial networking solutions at Belden, the latest member of the SPE Industrial Partner Network, predicts that SPE will be “transformative” for industrial networks. “The technology saves space, weight, overall material costs and – in case of PoDL (power over data line) – eliminates the need to install separate lines for power and data,” he points out.

The SPE Industrial Partner Network is championing the T1 SPE connector technology

“The entire physical network becomes more pervasive,” Kleineberg adds, “meaning not only cabling and connectors, but also the switch, router, firewall and wireless equipment can be seamlessly interconnected with one single technology for end-to-end connections in demanding industrial environments.”

The SPE System Alliance says its members are collaborating on the technological challenges faced when implementing SPE in IIoT applications. “The focus is not, however, on individual aspects such as connection technology,” it says. “Instead it is on questions and challenges that continue to exist with many market participants in connection with SPE.”