Ethernet APL Status Update: Q1 2024

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State of the Art

Ethernet-APL is done. The specs are written, finalized, and published in the international standards organizations. To recap: Ethernet-APL is an extension of IEEE (10BASE-T1L) two-wire Ethernet –for intrinsically safe environments. This is done and standardized in the IEC under TS 60079-47 2-WISE (2-Wire Intrinsically Safe Ethernet).

Now is the time for products to appear on the market. Pressure, temperature, level, and flow transmitters are already available from Endress+Hauser (E+H). In 2024, 16 new products are expected to be released from: ABB, E+H, Honeywell, Krohne, Samson, Siemens, and Vega. In 2025 another 16 new products are scheduled for release. And those are just the ones from the founding members of the Ethernet APL Group. There are other companies developing Ethernet-APL products as well.

Ethernet is Ready

Just about every major industry in the world already uses or is moving towards Ethernet as their preferred means of communication: in-car automotive, IT, buildings, entertainment, factory automation. And the Ethernet physical layer comes in many different flavors each suited for a particular use-case. Now, Ethernet is ready for process control plants. Industries like pharmaceuticals, oil & gas, and chemical processing can benefit from its capabilities and familiarity.

Ethernet is immensely widespread as a communication medium and is therefore familiar to many as a networking solution. Like any networking solution, appropriate hardware is required. For Ethernet-APL, these are the Field Switches. They are Ethernet switches purpose-built for use with APL; and are available from Pepperl+Fuchs, Phoenix Contact, Softing, and Stahl. The wiring is very simple: two wires carrying both power and communication. APL was designed in such a way that it runs over existing Fieldbus Type A (PROFIBUS PA) cabling.

Intrinsically Safe PROFINET

As more Ethernet APL products are released on the market, PROFINET stands to become the networking solution of choice for process control devices in the field. The reason is because such a choice is future-proof and a safe bet. Also, PROFINET is further ahead, by leaps and bounds, of any other protocol, in adopting this technology. Ethernet APL brings the same breadth and depth of features to intrinsically safe environments that already underpin many other industries around the globe. Betting on any other networking solution besides Ethernet APL appears risky in comparison.