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24 September, 2021

Hybrid M12 SPE connectors will power small drives

27 August, 2021

The SPE Industrial Partner Network is developing M12-size hybrid connectors that will combine SPE (single-pair Ethernet) connections with power connections capable of powering DC servodrives, small three-phase drives and similar loads. It says that the hybrid system – which will be specified in the IEC 63171-7 standard – will combine the advantages of a direct supply of data and power, with the lower cost and compactness of a single cable and interface.

There is already a specification (IEC 63171-6) for a hybrid SPE/power interface based on the smaller M8 connector format, which includes contacts capable of handling 8A at 60V DC. The larger, higher-power M12 connector will come in various versions supporting power systems from 60V DC / 50V AC to 630V AC three-phase.

The SPE Industrial Partner Network says that the M12 version is the “logical and natural progression” of the M8 hybrid SPE/power interface specified in IEC 63171-6. It is being developed as an independent standard “to give all SPE users the confidence to invest in it”.

The M12 interface, the Network points out, is one of the most common formats for field-level automation connections. “To establish SPE as the new physical layer for the IIoT at the field level,” it says, “the right infrastructure is needed.”

The existing M8 connectors offer one SPE contact pair and two power contacts rated at 60V DC / 8A. IEC 63171-6 specifies that power must be transmitted via data contacts using a Power over Data Line (PoDL) technology, which has a maximum capacity of 50W. Another limitation is that the M8 versions only support point-to-point star network topologies.

The SPE Industrial Partner Network says that if higher power levels are needed, or if alternative networks – such as a line or tree structures – are required, then hybrid cabling is needed, with separate pairs of wires for SPE and the power supplies.

The new M12 SPE connectors will be an addition to the existing M8 versions (above) which are limited to carrying 50W of power
Image: Harting

Following consultations with Network members and end-users, the M12 versions will include up to five power contacts plus the SPE contact pair, and will provide “fool-proof coding”. The M12 interfaces are also said to offer good EMC properties by having separate data and power contacts.

The SPE Industrial Partner Network believes that the availability of the two standardised formats will give users “the confidence to invest in the successful establishment of Single Pair Ethernet at the field level”.

The Network, based in Germany, has almost 50 members and a mission “to promote single-pair Ethernet technology as the basis for rapid and successful growth of the IIoT”.

SPE Industrial Partner Network:  LinkedIn

The SPE Industrial Partner Network envisages a migration path from adding SPE to existing installations (left) through to eventual integration into automation equipment (right)
Image: TE Connectivity



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