Reliable Fibre Optic High-Speed Data Transmission Retrofit

Conductix-Wampfler offers a full range of conductor rails, cable reels, motor driven reels, slip rings, cable festoons, cable chains, flexible cables and even systems to transfer energy and data contactless. The unique combination of product options and practical experience gives customers the right solution, every time.

Increasing demand for automation and autonomous operation

The main reason companies are investing heavily in automation and autonomous operation is to increase the efficiency of processes such as improved performance and reduced downtime, enhanced safety of workers from hazardous work environment, and better cost effectiveness obtained by increased productivity and reduced operational costs. The increasing adoption of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), new sensor technologies, and smart devices are some other factors contributing to the growth of the demand for automation.

Autonomous operation: real-time, 100% reliable and high-speed data transfer

Autonomous operation will increasingly demand more reliable, redundant, real-time networks. In addition to being real-time, data sensing and transmission must be also 100% reliable, meaning that connectivity can’t fail because of environment conditions, such as heavy rain or snow and is expected to last many thousands of hours of operation, with as minimal maintenance efforts as possible.

The demand for high-speed data will only increase as systems such as on-board video systems, environmental monitoring systems, sensing technologies and reliable autonomous driverless systems will generate vast amounts of data, which will require sophisticated high-speed point-to-point data links, which will be required to continuously increase bandwidths capable of transferring gigabytes of data to the cloud every hour.

Using Fibre Optic (FO) in place of wireless technology

The limitations in existing wireless communications technologies, such as Industrial WIFI and 4G-cellular LTE affect their suitability for mission-critical requirements for autonomous operation, because they are not able to provide gigabit/s data rates or ultra-reliable low latency over long distances. Until this moment, these wireless technologies have not been able to replace fibre optic (FO) Data Links, due their significantly lower capacity and higher latency (slower response times).

One example of the risks of using wireless technology in mission-critical autonomous operation, is the collision of two driverless hauling trucks in a mine in Australia, occurred after industrial WIFI coverage, which provides communications between the trucks and control center, dropped out.

One additional advantage of FO over wireless systems is its easier maintenance and troubleshooting. While wireless equipment normally relies in proprietary technology and a vendor service team for troubleshooting and to perform adjustments, FO is a known and accessible technology, that allows the end customers to troubleshoot the fibre using a OTDR with their own personal and perform a quick fibre cable or fibre connector replacement if needed. Replacing the fibre normally requires significantly less time when compared to wireless data transfer troubleshooting.

Fibre Optic Retrofit Options for existing equipment

Conductix-Wampfler is able to provide two retrofit solutions for machines already equipped with a motorized power cable reel. Both solutions will require a Rotary Data Transmission Element, in this case a transmitter of fibre optic (TFO).

The TFO ensures lossless transmission of optical signals between a rotating part (e.g. trailing cable being spooled on a cable reel) and a fixed part (e.g. connection to machine room). It is compact and slim: compared to all other solutions on the market, we offer minimum size constraint being the most compact and thinnest on the market; only 200mm thick. Using plastic optical fibres (POF) light is transmitted contactless over passive and independent channels. This means long life with no maintenance and without the potential problems that can affect slip rings such as vibration, humidity, and magnetism. Cost-effective for multi-channel systems with its simple and robust design which leads to a long lasting lifetime (500,000 cycles) with no data rate limit and no interference

Scenario 1 – Adding a TFO to the existing motorized power cable reel and replacing the power cable with a new integrated fibre

Advantages:

  • Minimal additional space required for TFO enclosure

Challenges:

  • Requires the existing (MV) reeling power cable to be replaced by a new cable with integrated fibre optics
  • Retrofit made to a different manufacturer cable reel will need previous Conductix-Wampfler technical assessment

Scenario 2 – Independent Motorized Cable Reel for dedicated Fibre Cable

Advantages:

  • Price of new reel with fibre cable is competitive to the price of TFO combined with new MV reeling power cable with integrated fibre optics
  • Can be installed to an existing machine equipped with different brands of power cable reel
  • minimal maintenance required
  • In case fibre cable is damaged by external impact, its replacement is more cost effective and faster. Its smaller diameter and weight, makes it easier to transport by airfreight if needed.
  • Design can be standardize among different machines located in the terminal or stockyard.
  • These systems have been reportedly working over 10 years without problems at the largest mining company in Brazil and other countries.

Challenges:

  • The independent fibre cable reel requires more space when compared to the TFO enclosure solution.

Due to the wide product range and longtime experience Conductix-Wampfler is a preferred partner for 100% reliable high speed fibre optic data transmission for autonomous equipment. For further information, please visit our website.

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