IEC 61918: New edition with specifications for SPE use
Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) finally provides industrial applications with an infrastructure that enables the use of Ethernet protocol from the cloud to every sensor at the field level. Space- and resource-saving, data and power can be transmitted to areas that were previously inaccessible for Ethernet. In order to be able to implement SPE reliably and according to testable rules, international standards are required that define the use of SPE. The new IEC 61918 makes an important contribution, for which a new edition was published in March 2022.
In this short interview, Matthias Fritsche, Head of Technical Working Group at SPE Industrial Partner Network e.V., answers three important questions about the new edition of IEC 61918.
What does the new edition of the standard describe and what impact does it have on the market introduction of SPE?
IEC 61918 describes the installation of communication networks in industrial plants, especially in the so-called "automation islands". This refers to the data cabling within machines and plants. This new edition now also contains the specifications for the use of SPE and gives the user precise information on which cables and connectors to use and how the cabling is to be carried out. Information on the number of permitted connection points, the connector assignment, the wire cross-section and the cable length and many other details can also be found here.
What reference does the new 61918 have to existing connectivity standards such as the IEC 63171 series?
IEC 61918 references the "Industrial Style" SPE connectors of IEC 63171-6 and also gives advice on which of these M8 or M12 variants is best suited depending on the cable type. Thus, as in the new edition of ISO/IEC 11801-3 for industrial building cabling, the same connector types are specified and thus there is a clear and uniform definition of the interfaces for all industrial applications. This is very important for the device developers and users, because a uniform interface definition is elementarily important for the market introduction of SPE.
What is your personal assessment of the market development of SPE in industry?
Currently, the new technology is being discussed very intensively in the market, in the user groups and manufacturers. After an initial, let's say, hype phase, the perception of SPE on the market is now cooling down somewhat and we are really seeing the first projects and the first real products with SPE technology on the market. To generate relevant sales, you usually need 8 - 10 years. In my estimation, we will see significant sales of SPE products in the industry from 2025 onwards.
If you want to know more about SPE standardization, read our application note "SPE standardization":
About Matthias Fritsche:
Matthias Fritsche studied electrical engineering at the Technical University of Ilmenau and has been working at HARTING in Espelkamp as a product manager for Ethernet data connectors and cabling systems since 2006. In his role as Senior Expert Ethernet Connectivity, he is a member of various Industrial Ethernet user groups such as PNO for PROFINET, ODVA for Ethernet/IP, ETG for EtherCAT, VNO for Varan as well as standards committees at IEC and TIA. Since 2015, he has been active in the IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet working group), where he is helping to drive forward standards for new transmission methods such as single pair Ethernet, remote powering, etc.