New Ethernet-capable optical data couplers enable live video communication

Pepperl+Fuchs LS680 combines user-friendly operation with higher data transmission speeds for new levels of communication.


Pepperl+Fuchs LS680 combines user-friendly operation with higher data transmission speeds for new levels of communication.Pepperl+Fuchs has introduced its LS680 series optical data couplers with speeds that can transmit signals such as live video and other communication information, that were previously unavailable in material handling applications. The LS680 has no operating controls such as push buttons, switches, or potentiometers, and requires no programming, making it a true tamper-proof, plug-and-play solution.

“Live video can be very helpful for maintenance, diagnostics, and feedback, especially for very remote or inaccessible locations, like high bays in a warehouse,” says Jeff Allison, P+F product manager. “In the past, users would often have to shut down a line and send a technician to trouble-shoot if there is overhang from a bay. Now, these issues can be addressed remotely with live video from the trouble spot, which saves time and makes for a more secure system.”

The LS680 optical data transmitter transmits protocol-free, meaning various industrial Ethernet topologies such as EtherNet/IP, Profinet, and TCP/IP can all be transmitted on the same product without changing a thing. It transmits signals from 0 to 150 m, with a 180 m threshold distance. It transmits data consistently at a rate of 100 MB/s via a 100 Base-TX interface.

As an optical data coupler, the device acts a “virtual cable” that replaces a physical Ethernet cable, which has inherent mechanical limitations and electrical limitations such as susceptibility to noise. 

“The LS680 is able to achieve significantly higher transmission speeds than WiFi and RF-based methods because data is optically transmitted and is not affected by large masses of metal that are common in warehouses or ASRS’s (automated storage and retrieval systems),” Allison adds. “WiFi and RF-based signals are attenuated with metal, so the signal quality and speed vary depending on where it is. Additionally, other optical data couplers often save data packets before they are transmitted. This typically results in speeds that are just 2 to 3% of that available with LS680 optical data couplers, which transmit data packets immediately.”

Quick-disconnect connectors enable fast set-up. Diagnostic and status LEDs, such as a bar graph display, simplify troubleshooting and indicate the quality of the optical signal. The LS680 also features a wide and forgiving beam angle, and two built-in alignment LED’s, making alignment quick and easy.

“The LS680 employs a built-in alignment aid in the front lens that is visible from long distances,” says Allison. “The LED flashes at varying frequencies to indicate how good the optical signal is. It also has an 8-segment LED display on the front of the housing to further indicate eight levels of signal strength. This can be helpful for optimizing the placement of the couplers to achieve the best signal.”

The LS680 is designed to help position moving stacker cranes and vehicles in ASRSs by relaying placement information from the stationary control system to the mobile vehicle controls. It can also send images from a camera on a high-bay stacker crane, retrieve the location of pallet pick-ups on pallet transfer vehicles, and transmit data in overhead monorail systems, mobile transport units, automated guided vehicles and carts, and material transfer systems.

Edited by Peter Welander,

Visit the Control Engineering Information Control Channel.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
2015 Mid-Year Report: Manufacturing's newest tool: In a digital age, digits will play a key role in the plant of the future; Ethernet certification; Mitigate harmonics; World class maintenance
2015 Lubrication Guide: Green and gold in lubrication: Environmentally friendly fluids and sealing systems offer a new perspective
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Cyber security attack: The threat is real; Hacking O&G control systems: Understanding the cyber risk; The active cyber defense cycle
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths
New industrial buildings: Greener, cleaner, leaner; New building designs for industry; Take a new look at absorption cooling; Offshored jobs start to come back

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.