Drastic reduction of the number of cabinets and cables

M23 Hybrid Connector with new possibilities

The advantages of decentral servo applications using the Intercontec hybrid connector htec Series 723

Power, feedback and bus in one connetor

A cable can only be as good as the connection of its interfaces. Therefore Intercontec developed in collaboration with leading cable manufacturers a circular connector system especially designed for hybrid applications.

One example for new technical requirements is daisychaining servo motors. Such an approach needs an intelligent hybrid cable solution that combines the auxillary supply for operation, the intermediate voltage with increased electric strength of 850 VDC, an EtherCAT bus signal and an additional bus signal for system diagnosis in one connector.

The superhybrid htec

Robox S.p.A. in Catelletto Sopra Ticino, one of the leading Italian designers and manufacturers of controls for robotics and automation is successfully using the Intercontec hybrid connector htec Series 723 for their decentral automation solutions.

1. Where do you use the Intercontec hybrid connector? What is he function of the connector in a decentralized solution?

The connector is used for chaining servo motors and linear units. Depending on the application we identify the number of motors required for the solution. The chain is dimensioned according to the power of the motors and the cross sections inside the cables. The number of motors in the chain is also highly deopendent on the length of servo cables in between the motors.

The hybrid connector provides a sufficient number of signal and bus terminals. Standard signal terminals are combined with fieldbus terminals. So far the focus is on the fieldbus systems EtherCat, Power Link, Profibus und Can Bus, but generally it is possible to inegrate any kind of bus signal. Depending on the requirements of the application the four power contacts can carry standard 560 V or even 850 V.

Vertical-circular set-up of a daisy-chain of linear modules. The unit is used in a packaging machine in the food industry.

2. What exactly are the applications for this kind of connector and what are the capabilities of the system?

Up to 30 motors with 400-500 Watts in one chain inside a labeling machine. Up to 80 motors splitted into 5 chains.

In the automotive industry the cables between the motors are very long, sometimes more than 120 meters. To avoid signal and power loss due to the exteremely long distances, the system was splitted into 5 lines with 5 control units.

When we look at motors with around 2 Kilowatts it is possible to chain 7-8, controlled by only one unit.

We had an application where we chained 70 motors, 500 Watts each. This solution is used for decentralized applications in many different areas of automation in the packaging and food industry, in conveyor systems, robots, assembly lines and machine tooling.


Chain of horizontal and vertical linear axes on a handling robot in the automotive industry

3. What exactly is „decentral“ and what is the difference to traditional servo applications?

Instead of connecting each motor seperately and directly with the cabinet, the Robox system creates a chain of up to 80 motors. Each motor carrries an integrated drive and only the first motor in the chain is connected to the control unit in the cabinet. For the rest of the chain you only need the connection cables in between the motors.

The result is a drastic reduction in the number of cabinets and cables. In addition you can reduce the amount of cable by another 50%, because the Series 723 htec is combining power, signal and field bus in one cable.

One example from the food industry:
With the Intercontec Series 723 htec it was possible to reduce the amount of cable from 250 m each of power and signal cable, to one type of Hybridcable with 30 m.

An integrated drive from Robox available for brushless servo motors up to 2 KW

Two 2 m x 2 m cabinets were reduced to one cabinet measuring 50 cm x 50 cm.

Besides the cost reduction it is also imortant to look at maintenance and cleaning: There are no cables lying around and less dirt is collected. The equipment is a lot easier to clean.

A traditional cabinet wired for 11 motor units
Compare with a cabinet with supply and control units for 2 x 11 motors
No cabinet at all: The whole control and power supply unit is placed in a box integrated into the robot

Another example for the application is a packaging machine:
Linear units are rotating on a slipring, performing various tasks in the packaging machine. In the past this was possible with a mechanical solution only. Now you can use decentrally chained linear units.

4. What are the advantages of the Intercontec hybrid connector system in comparison to other products?

With 30 A and 850 VDC the Intercontec system is very powerful and unique for this connector size. The integration of a separately shielded fieldbus unit up to 1 GB/s in combination with a sufficient number of standard signal contacts opens a lot of possibilities.

Everything is packed into a very compact, standard M23 connector, which is established in the market and widely accepted for use in servo applications. The 723 htec can be fitted with contact pins or sockets, providing an external input/output interface. A special safety feature is the touch-proof power contacts that protect from shock from possible capacitor discharges when the connector is disconnected in case of maintenance.

Furthermore there are many different designs and set-ups of machines that require individual directions of the cable outlet. It is very common for example to combine servo and linear applications in one automation system. Therefore it is a great advantage that the angled Intercontec hybrid connectors for the motor are continuously rotatable. The user can select and permanently fix the direction of the cable outlet.

Intercontec Series 723 htec continously rotatable angeld motor receptacle connector

The Intercontec speedtec quick connection system helps to connect cables safely and very quickly. No other manufacturer can offer a similar system for a hybrid connector. While comparable connector systems rely on a connector housing made of plastic, the Intercontec hybrid connector system comes with a metal housing providing vibration resistance and a 360° EMC shield.

Other decentral solutions available on the market are much bigger, the connectors are not rotatable and each motor has to be connected to a distribution box additionally. -> That is not really decentral.

Daisy chain with termination connector on the last motor in the chain. All connection cables have the same configuration.

5. How do you like the assembly of the connector and attaching the connector to a cable?

There are customized hybrid cables developed by leading cable manufacturers in collaboration with Intercontec. The cables are adjusted to the connector which creates a symbiotic unity, because the harmonized pin and cable layout facilitate the termination of the crimp contacts. It is not necessary to cross any single wires, which allows for the compact design of the connector. The Intercontec crown clamp holds the cable safely inside the hybrid connector, combining strain relief, IP protection and shield connection.

6. Our Interviewee

Daniele Delle Monache, Production Manager at Robox S.p.A.

Citation: "Our collaboration with Intertcontec is very smooth. They listen to our requests and requirements and provide good ideas and innovative solutions. The hybrid connector from Intercontec is very compact and flexible and is used in many applications at ROBOX."

Daniele Delle Monache, Production Manager at Robox S.p.A.

7. Additional Information about Robox:

Robox S.p.A., established in 1975, has always been at the forefront of industrial automation. Since the very beginning it has specialized in the design and manufacture of microcomputerized controllers for robots. Starting in 1987, with the spreading of the Flexible Automation, Robox has transferred its know-how to non-robotic applications. Its motion controllers are now employed to control the movement of any machine.
Despite being a relatively small company, Robox has played an active role in industrial research.
Since 1990 Robox is included in the circle of Highly Specialized Research Laboratories authorized by the Italian Ministero dell' Istruzione, dell' Università e della Ricerca (Decreto Ministeriale 25.5.90).
Robox took part in the CNR "Progetto Finalizzato di Robotica".
Since 1997 Robox is certified ISO 9001 with IMQ (now ISO 9001 :2008)

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