Monthly Archives: May 2024

Digitalization of process engineering systems

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How migration works

process automation

Process engineering systems, often based on automation technology from the late 1990s or early 2000s, need an innovation boost to remain competitive. Digitalization offers opportunities for more efficient working, better insight into processes, and additional functionalities. Furthermore, the migration towards Ethernet-based communication promises greater openness and higher transmission speed. Consumers are increasingly thinking online. However, process automation still requires systematic thinking and a pragmatic approach. The NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) allows for the installation of additional sensor technology and monitoring elements, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud services, without disrupting ongoing system operation.

Cooperation between OPAF and NAMUR

Open Process Automation

Open Process Automation (OPAF) is based on the idea of a modular IT world with process-oriented systems and long-term availability. Moreover, it has developed into an internationally active consortium of renowned system operators, technology manufacturers, standardization organizations, and software companies, collaborating with NAMUR for pilot projects and industry expertise.

Axioline F I/O system for implementing the NOA side channel…


In addition, the Axioline F I/O product family and PLCnext Technology controllers are used in pilot projects. This modular system, originally designed for factory automation, can implement NOA side channels or data diodes. Since 2020, the portfolio has also included intrinsically safe I/O modules for NAMUR sensor technology, HART communication, and valve controllers.

…and Axioline P with proxy functionality

Phoenix Contact introduced the Axioline P, a high-availability I/O system for process automation, at Achema 2018. The system offers both conventional I/O modules and Profibus PA proxy functionality, allowing hot-swap and dynamic reconfiguration. Furthermore, it can integrate up to eight Profibus PA segments in one Profinet I/O station, supporting 10/100 Mbps Ethernet transmission. The Axioline P proxies also provide redundancy, shielding, and 14 watts of power per segment. The Phoenix Contact portfolio includes I/O modules with and without intrinsic safety for every applications.

Integration of the intrinsically safe power supply into the modules

Phoenix Contact has introduced intrinsically safe Axioline F and Axioline P modules in the XC Ex series, which eliminate the need for intrinsically safe power supply modules. The Axioline F system is used in NAMUR automation and PLCnext Technology controllers. The Axioline P module supports Profinet S2 redundancy and is used in zone 2 installations to connect field devices that are mounted in zone 2 or 1. The modules have a black power supply connector and partition plates. A Modbus/TCP version version of the Axioline P family will be launched in 2024, opening up new possibilities in open process applications.

Connection of up to eight Profibus PA segments

For migration, the Axioline P platform enables the connection of up to eight Profibus PA segments with high-power trunks and universal I/O connections into the field. It offers advantages in size and cost-effectiveness compared to previous designs. The intrinsically safe I/O modules provide greater flexibility. The first NOA and OPA pilot solutions were presented at the NAMUR Conference, and APL technology is predicted to be of great importance.

Learn more about process automation.

Comprehensively certified signal conditioners and measuring transducers

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Customized solutions for classic point-to-point applications

Phoenix Contact offers a range of signal conditioners and measuring transducers for point-to-point wiring in industrial environments. These devices are used to safely isolate, filter, amplify, and convert electrical signals from field devices. The Mini Analog Pro series features intrinsic safety and functional safety, while the revised MACX Analog Ex device family and VIP I/O marshalling provide a comprehensive range of signal conditioners and measuring transducers. In addition, point-to-point wiring offers advantages such as easy installation, high flexibility, easy troubleshooting, and less interference. However, the wiring can be disadvantageous as each device must be connected to the controller. The Termination Carrier from Phoenix Contact eliminates this issue.

The main spectrum of tasks

Moreover, signal conditioners and measuring transducers are essential for safely isolating, filtering, amplifying, and converting electrical signals.

Signal amplification

Moreover, signal amplification is necessary when a weak signal and can therefore only be acquired in distorted or attenuated form. For example, adding an amplifier reduces the load connected to the measuring sensor to 70 ohms, preventing distortion and ensuring the measurement signal remains accurate.

Conversion to a standard signal

Conversion to a standard signal

Depending on the measuring task, analog sensor signals can be converted into standard signals in an interface block. The conversion result should be proportional to recorded input values, to avoid distortion. Moreover, the standard signal converter adjusts the required signal between the transmitter and the evaluation unit.


signal conditioners

Furthermore, interference voltages in cables for measured value transmission can occur due to electromagnetic induction or high-frequency signals. Signal conditioners with filter functions detect and suppress these voltages, while twisted or shielded cables reduce induced voltage. To avoid interference, convert voltage signals into current signals.

Electrical isolation

Electrical isolation

An electrically isolated signal connection, referred to as a floating connection, is essential in the plant and process industry. It eliminates compensating currents between potential differences, ensuring the recording of identical signals. This is achieved by integrating a galvanic signal isolator into the connecting cables.

Line monitoring

Line monitoring

Line monitoring is a crucial function in interface blocks, ensuring line interruptions and short circuits. It is detailed in NE 21 NAMUR recommendations. The figure illustrates line monitoring on the entire signal transmission path, with resistances ranging from 400 to 10 kΩ, ensuring maximum current and zero current in line breaks.

The diverse areas of application

The diverse areas of application. Signal conditioners.

Furthermore, the tasks described are required in various industries, including chemicals, oil and gas, infrastructure, cement, machine building, and renewable energies like wind and solar power.

Industrial process control

Industrial process control

Signal conditioners and measuring transducers are commonly used in industrial applications to isolate, convert, and amplify analog signals from sensors or measuring devices for precise and reliable monitoring and control of the process.

Energy monitoring

Furthermore, devices are utilized for energy monitoring, accurately measuring and controlling energy consumption in buildings and industrial plants by isolating and amplifying electrical signals from current and voltage sensors.

Monitoring of process variables

Lastly, Phoenix Contact provides signal conditioners and measuring transducers for monitoring sensor signals, conforming to explosion protection standards, international approvals, functional safety certifications, and maritime applications.

Discover more about Signal conditioners and measuring transducers.

Fiber-optic connection technologies in the field

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A reliable connection

Fiber-optic cables

Fiber-optic cables, often supplied by meters, the different types of fiber-optic cables require different connection technologies for field use. Additionally, they are commonly used for cabling data technology systems, with different fiber types like POF, PCF, and quartz glass. Moreover, suitable tool sets, connectors, distributor boxes, and cables are required for proper cabling and connection, with the fiber type planned for use serves as the starting point.

Use and connection of POF


Polymer optical fiber (POF) cables are often used in industrial environments with low data rate and range requirements. These cables have a plastic core and cladding, protected by a 2.2 mm diameter coating. They are typically used in breakout cables, which have two POF cores, filler material, and strain relief elements. Phoenix Contact offers a wide range of breakout cables with POF cores for different applications. In addition, specially adapted tool sets are the solution. They are used to connect connectors, making the assembly of POF fibers easy and safe.

Use and connection of PCF

Fiber Optics

Polymer-clad fiber (PCF) cables are used in industrial environments due to their robust design and high-quality workmanship. These cables have a 200 µm core and 230 µm cladding, enclosed in a plastic sheath with strain relief elements. 2-core breakout types are commonly used in harsh conditions. Moreover, different connector types are available for field assembly, with tool sets for each type. The cleaver, matched to the respective connector type, ensures a precise and optimally prepared fiber face. Additionally, Phoenix Contact offers PCF cables for various applications.

Use and connection of GOF


Pure quartz glass fiber (GOF) is increasingly used in industrial networks for fiber-optic cabling due to its high data rates, attractive cost, and easy management. Many specialist companies have established themselves in fiber-optic connection technology field, specializing in fusion splicing and large-volume connector assembly. Phoenix Contact offers the necessary cabling and connection technology products, including fiber-optic cables and fiber-optic splice boxes. However, if you prefer to perform GOF connector assembly in-field, a specially adapted tool set allows SC and LC connector assembly on site. Furthermore, The connectors contain factory-prepared fibers. All that remains to be done is to strip the cables and prepare the fibers. This results in a reliable, long-term stable connection with low attenuation values.

Learn more about Fiber-optic cables.

Automotive supplier Krah relies on NearFi technology

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Wear-free wireless transmission of data and power


The Krah Group, a leading global supplier of power resistors for the automotive industry, has introduced a contactless NearFi power and Ethernet transmission solution. The company, based in Germany, has been manufacturing electronic components since 1970. It specializes in developing products with customers and employs around 2,000 people globally at sixteen production sites. The Krah Group is a founding member of the Automotive Center Südwestfalen e.V. association.

Contactless solution for mobile applications

Contactless solution for mobile applications

Oliver Krause, team leader for automation and control technology at Drolshagen plant, explored alternatives to conventional connectors at Hannover Messe 2022. He discovered contactless NearFi technology for data transmission at Phoenix Contact’s booth. The laser welding machine processes workpieces in four steps. First, the workpieces are inserted, then, the workpieces are aligned with each other. The tolerances are then checked and the workpieces are welded. Finally, the finished workpiece is married and given a barcode. Sensors at each processing station are picked up by a Profinet I/O module, communicating machine states and workpiece positions to the controller. The data forwarding and power supply are contactless, making it wear-free.

Simple startup without configuration effort

NearFi couplers are a new solution for data and power exchange. Offering a flexible and customizable interface. These couplers can be positioned to face each other from any direction and rotate. Reducing the precision needed for mechanical movement. They also display operational readiness with bright LEDs, reducing service calls and maintenance costs. In addition, the contactless solution supports the Profinet Fast Startup function, preventing communication delays. The proximity couplers also offer a simple startup without configuration effort, making them a significant improvement over traditional inductive coupler solutions.

Protocol-independent Ethernet communication with no appreciable latency

Industrial automation relies on Ethernet with a 100 Mbps data rate, but NearFi technology offers contactless and protocol-independent Ethernet connections with low latency. NearFi couplers transmit 50 watts of power and real-time Ethernet data over a small distance, ensuring coexistence with existing wireless technologies like Bluetooth or WLAN. Moreover, Phoenix Contact’s IP65 housing and M12 connections make them suitable for demanding environments. NearFi couplers are ideal for moving applications with high interference risk.

Learn more about NearFi technology.