Fluke announces automated industrial Ethernet tester

Fluke Networks

Friday, 09 April, 2021

Fluke announces automated industrial Ethernet tester

Fluke Networks has announced the LinkIQ-IE Cable+Network Industrial Ethernet Tester, designed to troubleshoot network cabling — the leading cause of Industrial Ethernet failures.

As Ethernet-based technologies have come to dominate automation networks, the need for easy-to-use tools to troubleshoot these networks is growing rapidly. By combining Fluke Networks’ cable measurement technology and basic tests for industrial Ethernet switches, the LinkIQ-IE is designed to speed up the discovery of network failures.

Maintenance and support of industrial Ethernet is becoming critical as it becomes the dominant technology for automation. In its annual survey, HMS, a provider of industrial communications solutions, found that 70% of newly installed factory automation nodes employ industrial Ethernet. Research from Indu-Sol, an industrial network support organisation, finds that more than half of its industrial Ethernet service calls result from cabling-related issues. Clearly, the ability to test and troubleshoot cabling is critical to supporting industrial automation.

“Troubleshooting industrial Ethernet problems too often involves the use of complex tools such as protocol analysers or trial-and-error approaches such as running a bypass cable in the hope of solving the problem,” said Walter Hock, VP of Product for Fluke. “We designed the LinkIQ-IE to provide answers to key troubleshooting questions in seconds through an easy-to-use, gesture-based interface — and at a price that puts it in the reach of factory teams.”

“With the ability to display switch port, VLAN and PoE information, LinkIQ-IE is a great addition to our toolkit,” said James Sinn, Owner of Sinn Development, an Ontario-based provider of design, installation and troubleshooting services. “And the cable tests are essential as well. The first thing I did with LinkIQ-IE was to test the cabling for a face shield production line. It instantly showed me that the cause of the problem was a disconnected shield that made the cable susceptible to the EMI from a nearby machine tool with a large induction motor.”

The LinkIQ-IE is based on a single-test approach that automatically provides the appropriate measurements based on what’s at the other end of the cable. For an open cable, it shows the length and pairing. If it’s terminated with the supplied remote, the test result shows the maximum data rate the cable can support — up to 10 Gbps. If the cable is connected to a switch port, LinkIQ-IE will show the name of the switch plus the port name, speed and duplex. If PoE is advertised, it will display the power and class (up to 90 W or Class 8) and then load the switch to verify the power can be delivered.

The LinkIQ-IE features an RJ-45 connector and includes cabling and adapters simplifying connection to M12-D, M12-X and M8-D connectors commonly used in industrial applications.

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