Serial Ports for Today’s Networks

The Challenge
We were contacted by a specialty steel manufacturer whose technicians customarily used laptops to communicate with the serial ports on some of the machinery. The machinery itself was built to last for decades, but the laptops weren’t quite as durable. They had to be replaced from time to time, and it’s getting harder and harder to find a new laptop that comes with a serial port. The manufacturer was seeking a simple way to connect new, USB-equipped laptops to the serial ports out on the factory floor.

The Solution
In this case, B+B solved the problem by equipping the technicians with USB to serial mini converters. The mini converters are small enough to tuck into your pocket, but they let a serial port communicate with a laptop via the laptop’s USB port. The converter’s driver sets up a serial COM port in Device Manager, and after that it’s business as usual.

In this case, the specialty steel manufacturer chose inline mini USB to serial converters. But serial devices can be connected in a number of different ways. Multiport Ethernet to serial converters, for example, will connect multiple serial devices to Ethernet networks, allowing each of them to function as a network node.

There are wireless options as well. B+B’s line of Airborne wireless serial converters can be used to give serial ports their own Wi-Fi hotspots. Techs can then communicate with serial devices without attaching a cable. Airborne Wi-Fi products can also be used to connect serial equipment to networks, relieving technicians of the need to visit them in person.

Serial ports may be becoming rare on new computers, but it’s not an issue for concern. One way or another, you’ll always be able to communicate with your serial equipment.