How do you find the location of Ethernet connectivity problems when the cable is hidden behind walls, in cable trays or buried, and simple rip-and-replace is out of the question? The solution comes in the form of an Ethernet cable certifier with a locator function:
- Use an Ethernet cable certifier to ensure your Ethernet cable meets the specifications defined by ISO standards.
- Once the cable passes, the cable manufacturer will back the installation with a warranty.
- For troubleshooting, you can use the certifier’s locator function to pinpoint cable performance problems.
Let’s say you have a cable that you can’t rip and replace, you’ve been getting programmable logic controller (PLC) dropouts, or you’ve lost the network connection and need to pinpoint where the problem is to minimize downtime and repair costs. WireXpert is the perfect tool to locate faults.
In an industrial environment, however, you aren’t just testing RJ-45 connections. So what types of industrial Ethernet connectors can you test?
WireXpert Industrial Connector Accessories
You can test RJ-45, M12, M8, X-coded, D-Coded and both male and female connectors. And, you don’t need to buy an expensive reference cable for each connector type. Simply buy one reference cable that can adapt to most any industrial connection.
Here’s how it works: First, grab a Softing industrial adapter (part #228179) that plugs into the back of your WireXpert cable certifier. The TERA connector is where you’ll connect your reference cable. Next, grab the industrial end-to-end test reference cable (part #228153), which is just a standard part of the industrial cable certification test link. In this case, the test reference cable acts as a convenient part of the test link and is going to adapt to the various connector types in your industrial environment.
The industrial test reference cable comes with a standard TERA connector on one side that plugs into your new WireXpert industrial adapter. On the other end of the reference cable is a preLink connector, which is where the magic happens.
The preLink side of the cable will adapt to any of the industrial connectors you have in your plant and works by docking the preLink into any of the connectors that we offer. Industrial connectors include M12 D-coded, M12 x-coded, smaller M8 2-pair connector, IX and male and female variants of each — enabling you to mate your industrial connectors to WireXpert for testing or ISO certification. Check out this video to see things in action.
Let’s use the 228162 connector as an example. In the image above, this connector is pictured with a latch that’s opened at a 45-degree angle. This latch covers a bay that accepts the preLink connector. Simply grab the preLink side of the reference cable, insert the preLink ice-cube connector into the 228162 connector bay, close the latch — and your test reference cable has just been converted to the required industrial connector.
Let’s say you’re trying to install a shielded CAT 6A cable in an important industrial area by yourself. You take the connector apart, run the wires through the connector and then use the tiny screws that grab each cable strand. You’re setting up two connectors, and it probably takes you 20 minutes to set up each side. Running Ethernet may not be your forte, but you do what needs to be done; normally, you’re setting up PLCs, but today you’re assembling this connector and expecting 10 gigabytes per second of connectivity to flow through the cable and both connectors.
After everything is installed, you test the cable. Or perhaps you just put it into service and see what happens. Depending on how critical the application is, you may need to test the cable end to end, proving it works before you ramp up production. What are you going to test? You can conduct a bit error rate test (BERT), which is a great test to ensure your bits are arriving at the speed you need for your application.
If your cable passes — great. But if not, now what? What if the cable is bad, or what if there’s a kink in the middle of the cable? Any problem in the connector is easy to find and solve, but there are lots of things that can go wrong in between. When you need to know the location of the fault, you can use WireXpert. With WireXpert, you’ll receive a graph with distance on the X axis and decibel loss on the Y-axis. The distance axis will tell you the exact location of the problem — down to the foot.
So instead of guessing or ripping and replacing, look at the return loss as a function of distance and see exactly where the problem is. This is why our WireXpert is the top-tier tester. Its locator function is what differentiates a certifier from every other tool on the market.
When to Use WireXpert for Troubleshooting Your Industrial Network
You may find yourself in a situation where the cable is working but not working well, or the issue is intermittent and access to the cable is limited. You can use WireXpert whenever you need to know the location of the problem and your cable access is limited. With WireXpert, along with its convenient industrial accessories, you can find the location of the problem, fix the issue and eliminate any production issues due to network cabling.
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