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Smart connection technology


Smart connection technology

The future of connection technology holds exciting and surprising innovations in store. Lapp will provide an insight into these upcoming developments with their futureLab display at the SPS Smart Production Solutions trade fair (Nuremberg, Germany, November 26 – 28, booth 310, hall 2). Guido Ege, Head of Technology and Development at Lapp, says: "With the futureLab, Lapp underpins its claim as a technology leader”, and adds: "Some of the innovations presented are ready for the market and already available, others are functional prototypes."

Predictive maintenance holds one of the great promises of Industry 4.0. The analysis of large amounts of data should detect defects before they happen and avoid expensive failures. In the futureLab, the developers at Lapp present an innovative solution for monitoring the condition of a data cable. Unlike other solutions, the Lapp concept does not require any changes to the cable, for example no additional wires that would have to be sperately connected by the user. Instead, an electronic device continuously monitors the signals transmitted by the cable and analyses their quality to calculate the Lapp Predictive Indicator. If this falls below a critical value, the electronics sounds an alarm. The cables can then be replaced during scheduled maintenance works or retooling. If Lapp cables are already in use (the electronics are designed for their electrical properties), it is even possible to retrofit existing systems and machines. This predictive maintenance solution for data cables is a development project at Lapp; market maturity is planned for the near future, and Lapp is currently in talks with potential partners to test the technology.

How many meters of cable are left on the drum? The smart cable drum provides an amazingly clever answer. A sensor determines the remaining length of the drum when the cable is unwound and sends this information to the ERP system. If a defined minimum stock level is reached, an internal message or even an automatic reorder can be triggered. Other functions are also possible: If a GPS receiver is integrated, an automatic theft warning system can also be implemented. This feature is particularly interesting for large cable drums on construction sites. The smart cable drum was developed together with Schildknecht AG, a radio communication specialist for industrial applications.

Until now, the rule for data cables in factories was: faster is better. But to connect individual sensors at the field level in the factory, Cat.6 or even Cat.7 cables are often oversized. Single-pair Ethernet cables are often a better alternative here. Instead of four wire pairs they have only one pair, which saves up to 75 percent time when connecting the wires. Also, a cable with two wires costs less than one with eight. In addition, these cables are thin, making them suitable for confined spaces. Lapp already has single-pair Ethernet cables in its range, and suitable connectors and devices that can use the new standard will soon be available.


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