USB and you

Engineering at 30 Frames: Everywhere we look we see USB (as well as issues that come along with them) - in the field, office, and at home.


The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is something we see so often that it can disappear from our minds when considering projects, but in heavy industrial applications USB fatigue and other issues can bring things to a screeching halt. I myself use USB for the most important things in my life: carrying documents on my always-with-me flash drive, importing videos of cats from a digital camera, warming beverages, and as decorative lighting.

Mike Fahrion, of B+B Electric, utilizes USB a bit differently though. In his USB Tech Tips Video, Fahrion details USB weakness and solutions, along with tips for implementing USB solutions in rugged field applications.

One of the biggest issues with USB is electromagnetic immunity (EMI) or electrical interference due to industrial grade equipment and the equipment itself is packed into a small space. This results in data errors or lagging within systems. Fahrion states the easiest way to minimize this issue is to look for equipment geared towards industrial applications.

Another issue discussed has to do with USB connections. In commercial applications, everyone can probably attest to connections often being a large issue (and expense, at times). I’ve had to replace entire cell phones due to wear of mini- and micro-USB ports and due to their larger size, USB connections often suffer similar fatigue issues. This problem can be amplified further in industrial settings, which may require additional considerations for vibration and numerous insertions.

Feel free to share your USB applications, whether it’s outfitting a new PLC design or a siren to notify you of new mail.

See more on industrial networking at

Have comments or suggestions about these videos or for future coverage? Leave your comments below or send an email to ggianos(AT) (Note that to prevent spam, we review all comments, so they won't be immediately available.) Don't see a comment box below? Click here.

See prior "Engineering at 30 Frames" blog post, 2011: Year of the Robot.

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