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Power Wiring Limitations Can Hold Back Industrial Automation: Two Case Studies

Supplying power is such a basic component of any industrial automation system—after all, you either have it or you don't— that it's easy to overlook how electrical wiring issues are holding back the full potential of an industrial automation. Sometimes, the smallest details can have huge implications, especially because they receive less attention. Industrial operators may not even realize how humble details such as power wiring are holding back the potential of their automation process. Let's take a look at two case studies to see how power wiring can constrain the potential of two industrial facilities.

Case One: An Older Industrial Facility

As a factory ages, devices can break down or grow obsolete. A device that is broken costs money to replace, but an obsolete device is a cost as well, because the factory is unable to exploit the new efficiencies and cost advantages of more modern devices. In addition, a facility may reach the caps on its productivity, and need expansion to additional serial devices in order to meet process demands. When upgrading or expanding a factory, it would be ideal if existing investments could be leveraged and combined with the new devices.

Unfortunately, it's not always possible to simply expand or upgrade an existing industrial facility. An upgrade or expansion adds new demands on the power wiring system: more serial devices must be connected, at more locations, and the system must support a higher load. The older the facility, the more likely it is that the power infrastructure simply isn't able to meet modern demands. What's worse, the electric wiring and power infrastructure of a facility is usually embedded very deep, making it time-consuming and costly to replace.

Because of simple power limitations, what should be a straightforward upgrade or expansion would now require a complete overhaul of the power wiring and infrastructure, possibly even including a remodel of the physical building itself.

Case Two: A New Factory with Many Remote Devices

Even new facilities can face power wiring issues, especially if they include many remote or outdoors serial devices. As industrial operations are growing more integrated, there are now many remote and outdoor serial devices, such as surveillance cameras, door sensors, and card readers. These remote devices expand the scope and effectiveness of an industrial automation system, but their remoteness also makes them very difficult to power.

Devices in remote locations already pose some challenges to install: they are often exposed, outside, and at higher risk for power surges, which adversely affect their reliability. On top of these pre-existing challenges, the power wiring issue presents even more obstacles. Outdoor, remote devices are often in locations where it's difficult and cost-prohibitive to deploy a power supply. Their remote nature means that installing power wires is expensive and requires a high level of electrical expertise. In addition, maintaining long power wires that run to remote locations (such as a rooftop remote device) is costly and difficult to do.

PoE on Devices Solves the Power Wiring Conundrum

Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) is an elegant solution that overcomes power wiring limitations in industrial automation, whether your facility is old or new. A PoE product delivers power and data on just one cable, removing the need to add additional power wiring infrastructure throughout a facility. Instead, power supply can be centralized with the PoE switches, which use Ethernet cables to deliver power to all the other devices.

PoE can even be extended to serial devices, through the use of PoE serial device servers. This key link eliminates many power wiring limitations. Let's take a look at how our two Case Studies are transformed when they are no longer constrained by their power wiring:

Case 1: An Older Industrial Facility: With PoE delivering power to devices, this facility can bypass its outdated power infrastructure completely when it comes time to expand or upgrade the facility's devices. Instead, the PoE network assumes all the burden of supplying power to these new devices. It's not necessary to completely overhaul the power infrastructure or remodel the facility.

Case 2: A New Factory with Many Remote Devices: This factory no longer needs to run expensive and difficult-to-maintain power cables all the way to the remote and outdoor serial devices. PoE technology supplies power on one cable, and enables the factory to expand the scope of its serial devices without imposing prohibitive costs.

Moxa's Unique Serial PoE Advantages

Moxa's NPort and MiiNePort PoE device servers and embedded device servers liberate industrial facilities from the limitations of power wiring, and deliver substantial further advantages.

Lower Costs Through Ease-of-Use: Moxa's NPorts and MiiNePorts come with technologies that dramatically simplify device deployment and maintenance, and the PoE models are no exception. Moxa's exclusive technologies include tools that automate configuration and streamline common maintenance tasks, so you can use serial devices with less workload and lower labor costs.

High Reliability, Even in Adverse Conditions: Power surges are a leading cause of device failure, and Moxa's NPort A products are surge protected on the Ethernet and serial lines to prevent power surges from disabling the device. In addition, Moxa's PoE device servers will soon be available in wide temperature variants, for dependable, consistent reliability even in extremely harsh environments.

Don't Let Your Power Infrastructure Hold You Back

Moxa's PoE device servers bring PoE-enabled connectivity to serial devices, bypassing completely the power wiring issues that would otherwise hold back many industrial applications. Use Moxa's PoE Serial-to-Ethernet solutions to power up your serial devices:

PoE Device Servers: NPort P5150A Series (Expected release date: End of October, 2011)
PoE Embedded Module: MiiNePort E3 Series (Expected release date: End of October, 2011)
PoE IP Cameras for IP Video Surveillance
PoE Switches
PoE Media Converters


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