“One-cable-solutions” are not only being discussed, manufacturers of servo and linear motors are actively promoting this new connection technology. It shows that hybrid connection systems have finally arrived in industrial automation. Intercontec, as the manufacturer of the corresponding connectors, is supporting this trend.
“The advantages of one-cable-connections are obvious”, says Siegfried Funk, product and marketing manager at Intercontec. “The amount of cables and connectors can be reduced to a minimum, which reduces the system cost.” Cost-intensive copper can be saved. But the combination of power, data and signal transmission brings additional positive effects. Cutting in half the cabling on the machine, results in reduced maintenance. Furthermore the whole system is optimized, because excess cables and connectors are eliminated, which follow the movements of robots and machines as inert mass
Intercontec is one of the pioneers in the development of hybrid connectors. Unlike other manufacturers Intercontec is consistently specializing in industrial-strength circular connectors. As early as 2000 they made a name for themselves for the first time with their size M32 hybrid connectors. The connector presented at that time was called “twintec” and was able to combine the transmission of power and signals in one connector housing. According to Siegfried Funk this connector series is used until today in many applications. In the meantime however, it is not anymore the “twintec” connector that sets the standard in hybrid technology, but the “htec”-system. Just like the twintec it has its origin in the Intercontec engineering department, but offers tri-functionality.
Apart from the signal and power transmission a separately shielded bus element (e.g. Ethernet) is part of the hybrid features, which is fully integrated in the connector system. Siegfried Funk points out that this is an important prerequisite for “practicable and industrial-strength one-cable-solutions”. The industry expert, who is working in the connector market for almost two decades, 12 years in R&D and eight years in product management, regards the universal applicability of the connector system as the a clear competitive advantage. “Motor manufacturers follow different concepts when implementing one-cable-connections.” Due to obligations to confidentiality towards customers Siegfried Funk cannot comment further on the individual approaches. But the spectrum ranges from simple solutions with standard servo cables to highly customized solutions with special hybrid cables. There is one requirement that all concepts have in common: “Their implementation must ensure process reliability”. The connectors from Intercontec meet this requirement. They are vibration proof up to 25 g, IP67 to IP69K protected depending on what is necessary for the individual application and available with a quick connection mechanism. For many years Intercontec has been developing connectors for the automation industry. All the available knowhow in industrial connection technology went into the design of this particular hybrid connector system.
The biggest advantages are generated when one-cable-connections are used to chain servo motors or linear units. This set up releases the full potential. Instead of cabling every single motor directly from the cabinet, the motors, each fitted with an integrated control unit, are linked with each other to create a daisy-chain. The first motor in the chain is connected to the control system in the cabinet. The rest of the chain is connected with one cable from one motor to the next. The individual motor power ratings and the wire sizes of the connection cables determine the length of the chain. For this purpose the “htec” connectors system provides a sufficient number of signal and bus connections. In principle any kind of fieldbus system can be integrated. The example of a machine in the food industry will illustrate the example: With the implementation of a daisy-chain setup it was possible to reduce the amount of cable from 2 x 250 m to one hybrid cable of 30 m total length! Two cabinets with 2 m x 2 m dimensions were replaced by two small enclosures with a space requirement of only 0.50 m x 0.50 m.
According to Siegfried Funk the interest in hybrid connectors is increasing. Already completed projects in the field are fueling this trend. “With our products it is possible to introduce one-cable-solutions with high process reliability. More and more systems are fitted with our connectors”, says Siegfried Funk. “And the demand for our products is further increasing.” Without doubt, hybrid cabling has a lot of advantages. Nevertheless, there are exceptions, the expert admits: “In applications with extreme movements and vibrations in some cases it might be better to use thinner, individual trailing cables that have advantages over hybrid cables with several inner shielding braids. “ The approved minimum bending radius might pose further limitations because it is dependent on outer the diameter of the cable. In some applications, where space is limited, the traditional cabling method might be preferable. “The common method of connecting with a separate power and fieldbus connector will play an important role also in the future”, Siegfried Funk points out. At the same time it is clear that the number of hybrid connections will increase.
The most recent expansion of the product range
Hybrid Connectors up to 70 A
A new member of the Intercontec hybrid connector family is the “740 htec”, a hybrid connector in the higher power range. The 70 Amp versions are designed for motors up to 44 KW and complement the more compact M23 types in the product series “723 htec”. The manufacturer specifies 16 mm² maximum wire size. The connector series “740 htec” for power, signal and communication can be configured individually: Apart from different pin layouts and codings the customer can choose an additional separately shielded Ethernet element with one, two or three pairs of wires. Where space is limited it is possible to save additional resolver and fieldbus connectors.
TE Intercontec contact:
Mobile: (281) 744-9876
USA Electro-Matic Products, Inc.
National Product Manager
Intercontec Produkt GmbH
23409 Industrial Park Drive
Farmington Hills, MI 48335
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