Increased automation and the movement toward fully autonomous manufacturing will require more and faster data transmission, combined with tremendous compute power, all in a harsh industrial setting. To meet this need, technology providers and industry groups are preparing for the expansion of single pair Ethernet (SPE). In May 2023, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) adopted the 63171-7 standard for SPE interconnect technology. TE Connectivity, a founding member of the SPE Industrial Partner Network, has pushed for the SPE standardization as a technology provider and as part of the global network of organizations.
The 63171-7 standard specifies hybrid interfaces with SPE and power contacts in the M12 format, both with screw locking and push-pull quick locking. The standard applies to shielded, free and fixed circular connectors for power and data transmission. TE said the hybrid configuration offers greater flexibility in network-based power distribution than a point-to-point connection such as Power over Data Line (PoDL). Thus, it is possible to distribute higher current levels to several cascaded power devices.
The new hybrid connection standard is a further development of IEC 63171-6, which defines M8 hybrid connectors but does not consider the M12 industry standard used in IP65 and IP67 environments. The new standard now accounts for SPE-M12 hybrid connectors for different applications with power classes from 8 A to 16 A and from 50 V to 600 V.
After much discussion and collaboration, connectivity providers and trade groups agreed to the IEC 63171-7 cable using the M12 connector as the industrial standard for SPE in September 2021. The one cable for hybrid SPE and power transmission does it with high-speed data rates up to 1 Gbps/600 MHz and power up to 11 kW/16 A. TE said this allows engineers to optimize machine-to-machine communication without data loss. It also decentralizes computing power and gets data to the edge of the network in a more streamlined, transparent way.
TE expects to release its SPE-M12 hybrid interfaces later this year. They fit almost seamlessly into existing Ethernet infrastructures and help to enable simple plug-and-play connections, the company said. Separate pins for data and power transmission contribute to a higher performance. While previous concepts with PoDL are limited to 50 W, SPE-M12 hybrid connectors support powerful devices up to 11 kW and 16 A.
TE said the SPE-M12 hybrid interfaces ensure reliability, durability and safety in harsh environments, and the new technology is a promising option for robotic systems and servo and three-phase drives.