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,

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