Ethernet technology is coming to the factory floor. Once limited to networks in office environments, Ethernet has also proven to be a robust alternative to the RS-232 interfaces traditionally used with industrial devices such as programmable logic controllers. Ethernet brings speed, versatility, and cost savings to industrial environments.
The requirements of industrial environments are different from those of offices, and there have been a proliferation of industrial standards. The most commonly accepted are the Ingress Protection (IP) ratings developed by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC), which specify the environmental protection an enclosure provides.
Two or Three Numbers
An IP rating consists of two or three numbers. The first number refers to protection from solid objects or materials; the second number refers to protection from liquids and the third number, commonly omitted from the rating, refers to protection against mechanical impacts.