Rugged Industrial Switches for Datacomms and Networking

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Emily Chae, Marketing Director at TRENDnet

Emily Chae is the Director of Marketing at TRENDnet. She has been with TRENDnet for more than 10 years, and has almost 20 years of experience. At TRENDnet, she manages nearly all aspects of marketing, focusing on corporate marketing and international channel marketing. She earned her MBA from Northeastern University, and a BA in Communications from California State University, Fullerton.

Ideally, networking hardware used for data communications (datacomms) are placed in well-monitored, temperature-regulated environments to ensure that they do not overheat, which could result in critical failures. However, some datacomms equipment must be placed in industrial environments, including factories, warehouses, refineries, automation, and outdoors.

TRENDnet offers a wide variety of rugged industrial switches designed for harsh networking and datacomms applications in extreme hot or cold environments, and with heavy vibration and/or shock. These hardened industrial switches are designed with IP30/IP40 rated metal enclosures, and provide protection against ESD, EMI, and power surges. TRENDnet also offers industrial fiber and wireless solutions.

Types of Industrial Switches

Industrial switches are available with the same type of features as standard network switches. This includes both managed and unmanaged switches with support for PoE, SFP slots, etc. However, industrial switches can also have additional features.

Most industrial switches are available for DIN-Rail mounting. DIN-Rails are a common installation method used in industrial networking and datacomms. Using the DIN-Rail mounting systems, industrial switches are often installed inside an equipment rack or cabinet, or affixed on a wall. Industrial switches are also available in a standard, but hardened rackmount design.

Industrial switches are also available in a variety of other form factors to meet different needs and requirements of a datacomms project. One is a front access switch, which is designed for compact installs where space is limited. Another is an EN50155 railway switch for rolling stock and railway applications; it features M12 ports instead of RJ-45 Ethernet ports. 

Industrial Networking and Datacomms Applications

When thinking of industrial networking and datacomms, many people imagine they are only used in factories, warehouses, utilities, and other traditionally industrial environments. However, industrial switches are used for a variety of other applications including ski resorts, drive-thru restaurants, outdoor surveillance systems, outdoor A/V systems, and building-to-building wireless bridging.

Standard networking and datacomms equipment generally must be placed in a temperature-controlled environment. Most, if not almost all, outdoor applications would require the use of industrial-grade equipment.

Sample Applications

Ski Resort

A ski resort is looking to implement a networked surveillance solution to monitor customers while on the slopes. Inside the main surveillance center, an industrial switch is installed along with industrial fiber SFP modules. These modules connect to other industrial SFP modules inside industrial switches that are also connected to an outdoor PoE camera found in strategic areas throughout the mountain resort.

The industrial switches for datacomms and networking can be used  for ski resort by allowing monitoring of customers on the slopes.

Drive-Thru Restaurant

Drive-thru restaurants require use of equipment that can be used outdoor or used in networking and electrical cabinets that are also outdoors. At least one industrial switch would be placed where orders are taken. With an industrial PoE++ switch, the restaurant can easily network a digital menu, outdoor PoE cameras, and speaker system.

Outdoor Surveillance

Particularly for remote outdoor surveillance solutions, industrial switches are often paired with outdoor PoE cameras. Outdoor cameras are designed for outdoor use, but standard network switches are not. Industrial switches are used in this application because they are designed to withstand the heat and cold of the outdoor. 

Outdoor A/V

Outdoor A/V solutions, especially for outdoor music and performance venues, have a similar installation scenario as with outdoor surveillance applications. This is because outdoor A/V solutions and outdoor surveillance solutions often deal with the same types of barriers when attempting to use standard networking equipment outdoors. In an outdoor A/V application, instead of connecting surveillance equipment, outdoor audio systems would be networked.

Outdoor Wireless Bridging

Just as with outdoor surveillance, and outdoor A/V applications, outdoor wireless bridging solutions could benefit from using industrial switches for the same reasons. Industrial switches are ideal for use when the environment is much more rugged, especially compared to a temperature-regulated server room.

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