Yearly Archives: 2024

Single Pair Ethernet (SPE)

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A key technology in the digitalization of our world

Digitalization and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are driving the demand for faster, seamless networking in various industries. Ethernet has proven effective in intelligent device networking, but Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) will replace serial fieldbus communication protocols in the future. SPE’s innovative characteristics make it valuable for advanced communication infrastructures. Phoenix Contact offers cross-industry expertise and an ideal product portfolio for SPE implementation in various fields. Ethernet solutions typically require two wire pairs, but Gigabit Ethernet may require four for increased data transmission rates. Single Pair Ethernet, which works with a single wire pair, can transmit data and power simultaneously. Its transmission rates range from 10 Mbps at 1,000 meters to 1 Gbps at 40 meters, making it suitable for demanding tasks like networked sensor technology. This technology is suitable for fields previously affected by limitations in data rates, ranges, and seamless communication.

Connections of up to 1,000 meters

Standard Ethernet solutions have limitations, such as a maximum of a 100-meter point-to-point connection distance. Furthermore, To cover longer distances in industrial systems, additional repeaters or switches are needed. SPE technology allows devices to be connected over 1,000 meters with 10 Mbps transmission speed and Power over Data Line (PoDL) technology with only one cable, potentially replacing specific fieldbus technologies in the future.

Speeds of up to 1 Gbps and more

Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) is a reliable solution for complex network topologies with gateways, offering transmission speeds ranging from 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps. Hence, IEEE 802.3 consortia is discussing further SPE standards for higher data rates and distances which will open up the spectrum for SPE for even more fields of applications.

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Indian vaccine manufacturer relies on scalable, safe, and secure digitalization

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Digitalization for more sustainability and productivity

Phoenix Contact has developed a solution for the energy-intensive pharmaceutical production industry to achieve the Net Zero Factory climate target. The solution uses the open IIoT framework from PLCnext Technology to digitalize all machines, systems, and processes. The Digital Factory from Phoenix Contact covers all stages of the value chain, addressing digitalization requirements in all stages. Rapid climate change, demographic development, deglobalization, and global political changes present opportunities for sustainable digital processes, new business models, and agile working methods.

Indian vaccine manufacturer relies on scalable, safe, and secure digitalization.

Minimally invasive digitalization approaches

The All Electric Society envisions a world where renewable energy is the primary source of electricity, available abundantly, inexpensively, and carbon-neutral. Industry plays a crucial role in developing solutions for electrifying sectors like energy, infrastructure, buildings, and mobility. Addressing all factory areas, including raw material warehouses, production, power supply, packaging, and buildings, is essential for reducing greenhouse gases and complying with environmental and materiality analysis directives.


Leverage for minimizing consumption and optimizing processes

Digitalization is the key for a sustainable factory, based on data collection and evaluation. This transparency allows for resource optimization and reduced consumption. However, many users struggle with the implementation of digitalization, including data collection, recording of machines, consistent data transport, and cybersecurity measures. Despite these challenges, digitalization offers significant benefits for productivity and competitiveness.

Subsequent integration of a machine learning system

Phoenix Contact is introducing the MLnext machine learning system to optimize processes in facilities. This predictive approach reduces waste, improves equipment effectiveness, and allows for smart monitoring of sensors. The system requires a controller or edge device with container visualization. Phoenix Contact has also launched the Digital Factory now initiative, allowing for easy and cost-effective integration into factories worldwide. This solution combines PLCnext Technology with IIoT and ML approaches, allowing machine builders, manufacturers, and integrators to implement products tailored to their specific applications.

International certification for safety and security

The PLCnext Control product family has been certified with OT security certification in accordance with IEC 62443-4-2, a leading international standard. This certification aligns with existing safety standards, ensuring successful automation solutions. The series already meets the Machinery Directive requirements.

No disruption to ongoing operations or effects on existing certifications

Phoenix Contact’s digitalization solution is used by Serum Institute of India, one of the largest global vaccine manufacturers, to monitor and evaluate processes to achieve the Golden Batch, ensuring quality and efficiency, and reducing waste and resource wastage.

Predictive maintenance:

Preventing system failures is crucial for vaccine deliveries and avoiding costly downtimes. Process transparency and anomaly detection help detect and remove defects like material fatigue.

Industrial security:

The Serum Institute of India commissioned Phoenix Contact to collect and store data from over 300 machines and processes for a Central Data Archival System (CDAS). The Data Collection Box ensures data collection without affecting certification or ongoing operations.

Engineering times reduced by 60 percent

PLCnext Technology’s IIoT framework standardizes data bidirectionally, connecting the OT to the IT level. This open and scalable interface allows for numerous interfaces, unlike proprietary systems. The solution also offers comprehensive security expertise and products certified in accordance with IEC 62443, ensuring secure handling both inside and outside the company. The Serum Institute of India’s General Manager IT & Automation, Vishal Patil, explains that the solution reduces engineering time by 60%. The Digital Factory concept includes data collection, management, normalization, and use to improve efficiency, productivity, and sustainability.

Learn more about Digital Factory and PLCnext Technology

SHL AG uses NearFi technology to automate rotary tables

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Less maintenance effort thanks to contactless data and power transmission

SHL AG has been developing systems for automated grinding, polishing, and deburring since 1989. The company uses NearFi contactless power and real-time Ethernet solutions from Phoenix Contact for wear-free and maintenance-free communication. SHL’s systems include flexible robot cells, grinding, polishing, and deburring cells, as well as complete production cells. The company supplies users from various industries, including faucets, automotive crankshafts, and titanium and ceramic for medical applications. With 95 percent vertical integration, SHL reduces production costs through better cycle times. However, shorter cycle times and movements can lead to more wear, resulting in downtime.


Data exchange via slip ring was previously prone to interference and wear

Surface processing requires workpieces to swivel 360 degrees, and rotary tables with swivel units are used. The system consists of three areas for the various processing steps: insertion onto the carrier, ithe initial processing of the workpiece by sanding robots with coarse grit, and finally processing by sanding robots with fine grit. The rotary table rotates the workpiece to the next processing station. Bernhard Mattes, Senior Director of Engineering at the Böttingen plant, introduced contactless NearFi technology for wireless data exchange, which is mounted on each rotary axis for the three endlessly rotating swivel units.

Data exchange via slip ring was previously prone to interference and wear

Simple startup without configuration effort

NearFi enables contactless data and power transmission using base and remote couplers that can be flexibly positioned without precise alignment. It reduces maintenance costs, enhances system availability, and simplifies startup with quick, configuration-free connection via 24V and Profinet cables, communicating Ethernet protocols at 100 Mbps full duplex.

NearFi technology

Protocol-independent Ethernet communication with no appreciable latency

Industrial automation relies on Ethernet with a 100 Mbps data rate, but NearFi technology offers contactless and protocol-independent Ethernet connections with no appreciable latency. NearFi couplers transmit 50 W of power and real-time Ethernet data across an air gap of just a few centimeters, ensuring coexistence with existing wireless technologies like Bluetooth or WLAN. Phoenix Contact’s wireless products are ideal for rotating applications where slip rings for Ethernet communication are susceptible to interference.

Protocol-independent Ethernet communication with no appreciable latency

Learn more about NearFi technology.

More efficient wire processing

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Optimized processes and coordinated system solutions for greater efficiency in wire processing


Control cabinet builders face international competition, skilled worker shortages, and increasing labor and material costs. In-house production and cost structure are increasingly under spotlight. The process chain in control cabinet building offers potential for efficiency gains in engineering and production through the use of optimally coordinated systems.

Identifying time-consuming process steps

control cabinet building

The continuity of the control cabinet building process chain is vital for efficiency and competitiveness. Untapped potential in wire preparation, identification, and wiring can be exploited through the use of optimally coordinated hand tools and automatic tools, as well as manual and automated marking systems.

Automating and bundling core processes

Automatic cutting devices, such as the Cutfox 10, can cut wires precisely and with repeat accuracy at high speed, saving time and allowing for easier stripping and crimping processes. These devices also offer flexibility in production by allowing for interchangeable dies for different types of contact. Bundling individual stripping and crimping capabilities can result in time and cost savings of up to 70%. Phoenix Contact offers a wide variety of marking solutions for wire identification, including thermal transfer printing, UV LED printing, and direct laser marking. The Thermomark E Series marking system from Phoenix Contact automates and combines the printing and applying of various marking materials in a single process step, resulting in time savings of around 60% in industrial identification. This system consists of three applicators for wire and cable identification, connected to a standard thermal transfer roll printer, eliminating the need for an additional device.

Efficiency and ergonomics

 Clipx Wire Assist system

Phoenix Contact’s Clipx Wire Assist system offers a scalable, efficient, and ergonomic worker assistance system for semi-automated wire production. The system guides users through the process, controls automatic tools and printers, and displays necessary information on a monitor. The system is built around a height-adjustable workbench, allowing workers to switch between sitting and standing while working. Mounted on four industrial-grade castors, it is mobile, reducing unnecessary legwork. The modular workbench design allows users to arrange their workstation as desired, with guides attached for additional accessories.

Nothing works without data and software

 CAE programs

Furthermore, the Wire Assist worker assistance system enhances productivity by controlling devices and guiding users through wire preparation, reducing manual effort and errors. Its intuitive graphical user interface features touch capability and a clear design. The system saves time and money by exporting necessary wiring information from CAE programs and importing it into Wire Assist. Filter and sort functions ensure efficient wire processing, eliminating unnecessary material changes.

Read more about control cabinet building.

Digitalization of process engineering systems

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How migration works

process automation

Process engineering systems, often based on automation technology from the late 1990s or early 2000s, need an innovation boost to remain competitive. Digitalization offers opportunities for more efficient working, better insight into processes, and additional functionalities. Furthermore, the migration towards Ethernet-based communication promises greater openness and higher transmission speed. Consumers are increasingly thinking online. However, process automation still requires systematic thinking and a pragmatic approach. The NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) allows for the installation of additional sensor technology and monitoring elements, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud services, without disrupting ongoing system operation.

Cooperation between OPAF and NAMUR

Open Process Automation

Open Process Automation (OPAF) is based on the idea of a modular IT world with process-oriented systems and long-term availability. Moreover, it has developed into an internationally active consortium of renowned system operators, technology manufacturers, standardization organizations, and software companies, collaborating with NAMUR for pilot projects and industry expertise.

Axioline F I/O system for implementing the NOA side channel…


In addition, the Axioline F I/O product family and PLCnext Technology controllers are used in pilot projects. This modular system, originally designed for factory automation, can implement NOA side channels or data diodes. Since 2020, the portfolio has also included intrinsically safe I/O modules for NAMUR sensor technology, HART communication, and valve controllers.

…and Axioline P with proxy functionality

Phoenix Contact introduced the Axioline P, a high-availability I/O system for process automation, at Achema 2018. The system offers both conventional I/O modules and Profibus PA proxy functionality, allowing hot-swap and dynamic reconfiguration. Furthermore, it can integrate up to eight Profibus PA segments in one Profinet I/O station, supporting 10/100 Mbps Ethernet transmission. The Axioline P proxies also provide redundancy, shielding, and 14 watts of power per segment. The Phoenix Contact portfolio includes I/O modules with and without intrinsic safety for every applications.

Integration of the intrinsically safe power supply into the modules

Phoenix Contact has introduced intrinsically safe Axioline F and Axioline P modules in the XC Ex series, which eliminate the need for intrinsically safe power supply modules. The Axioline F system is used in NAMUR automation and PLCnext Technology controllers. The Axioline P module supports Profinet S2 redundancy and is used in zone 2 installations to connect field devices that are mounted in zone 2 or 1. The modules have a black power supply connector and partition plates. A Modbus/TCP version version of the Axioline P family will be launched in 2024, opening up new possibilities in open process applications.

Connection of up to eight Profibus PA segments

For migration, the Axioline P platform enables the connection of up to eight Profibus PA segments with high-power trunks and universal I/O connections into the field. It offers advantages in size and cost-effectiveness compared to previous designs. The intrinsically safe I/O modules provide greater flexibility. The first NOA and OPA pilot solutions were presented at the NAMUR Conference, and APL technology is predicted to be of great importance.

Learn more about process automation.

Comprehensively certified signal conditioners and measuring transducers

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Customized solutions for classic point-to-point applications

Phoenix Contact offers a range of signal conditioners and measuring transducers for point-to-point wiring in industrial environments. These devices are used to safely isolate, filter, amplify, and convert electrical signals from field devices. The Mini Analog Pro series features intrinsic safety and functional safety, while the revised MACX Analog Ex device family and VIP I/O marshalling provide a comprehensive range of signal conditioners and measuring transducers. In addition, point-to-point wiring offers advantages such as easy installation, high flexibility, easy troubleshooting, and less interference. However, the wiring can be disadvantageous as each device must be connected to the controller. The Termination Carrier from Phoenix Contact eliminates this issue.

The main spectrum of tasks

Moreover, signal conditioners and measuring transducers are essential for safely isolating, filtering, amplifying, and converting electrical signals.

Signal amplification

Moreover, signal amplification is necessary when a weak signal and can therefore only be acquired in distorted or attenuated form. For example, adding an amplifier reduces the load connected to the measuring sensor to 70 ohms, preventing distortion and ensuring the measurement signal remains accurate.

Conversion to a standard signal

Conversion to a standard signal

Depending on the measuring task, analog sensor signals can be converted into standard signals in an interface block. The conversion result should be proportional to recorded input values, to avoid distortion. Moreover, the standard signal converter adjusts the required signal between the transmitter and the evaluation unit.


signal conditioners

Furthermore, interference voltages in cables for measured value transmission can occur due to electromagnetic induction or high-frequency signals. Signal conditioners with filter functions detect and suppress these voltages, while twisted or shielded cables reduce induced voltage. To avoid interference, convert voltage signals into current signals.

Electrical isolation

Electrical isolation

An electrically isolated signal connection, referred to as a floating connection, is essential in the plant and process industry. It eliminates compensating currents between potential differences, ensuring the recording of identical signals. This is achieved by integrating a galvanic signal isolator into the connecting cables.

Line monitoring

Line monitoring

Line monitoring is a crucial function in interface blocks, ensuring line interruptions and short circuits. It is detailed in NE 21 NAMUR recommendations. The figure illustrates line monitoring on the entire signal transmission path, with resistances ranging from 400 to 10 kΩ, ensuring maximum current and zero current in line breaks.

The diverse areas of application

The diverse areas of application. Signal conditioners.

Furthermore, the tasks described are required in various industries, including chemicals, oil and gas, infrastructure, cement, machine building, and renewable energies like wind and solar power.

Industrial process control

Industrial process control

Signal conditioners and measuring transducers are commonly used in industrial applications to isolate, convert, and amplify analog signals from sensors or measuring devices for precise and reliable monitoring and control of the process.

Energy monitoring

Furthermore, devices are utilized for energy monitoring, accurately measuring and controlling energy consumption in buildings and industrial plants by isolating and amplifying electrical signals from current and voltage sensors.

Monitoring of process variables

Lastly, Phoenix Contact provides signal conditioners and measuring transducers for monitoring sensor signals, conforming to explosion protection standards, international approvals, functional safety certifications, and maritime applications.

Discover more about Signal conditioners and measuring transducers.

Fiber-optic connection technologies in the field

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A reliable connection

Fiber-optic cables

Fiber-optic cables, often supplied by meters, the different types of fiber-optic cables require different connection technologies for field use. Additionally, they are commonly used for cabling data technology systems, with different fiber types like POF, PCF, and quartz glass. Moreover, suitable tool sets, connectors, distributor boxes, and cables are required for proper cabling and connection, with the fiber type planned for use serves as the starting point.

Use and connection of POF


Polymer optical fiber (POF) cables are often used in industrial environments with low data rate and range requirements. These cables have a plastic core and cladding, protected by a 2.2 mm diameter coating. They are typically used in breakout cables, which have two POF cores, filler material, and strain relief elements. Phoenix Contact offers a wide range of breakout cables with POF cores for different applications. In addition, specially adapted tool sets are the solution. They are used to connect connectors, making the assembly of POF fibers easy and safe.

Use and connection of PCF

Fiber Optics

Polymer-clad fiber (PCF) cables are used in industrial environments due to their robust design and high-quality workmanship. These cables have a 200 µm core and 230 µm cladding, enclosed in a plastic sheath with strain relief elements. 2-core breakout types are commonly used in harsh conditions. Moreover, different connector types are available for field assembly, with tool sets for each type. The cleaver, matched to the respective connector type, ensures a precise and optimally prepared fiber face. Additionally, Phoenix Contact offers PCF cables for various applications.

Use and connection of GOF


Pure quartz glass fiber (GOF) is increasingly used in industrial networks for fiber-optic cabling due to its high data rates, attractive cost, and easy management. Many specialist companies have established themselves in fiber-optic connection technology field, specializing in fusion splicing and large-volume connector assembly. Phoenix Contact offers the necessary cabling and connection technology products, including fiber-optic cables and fiber-optic splice boxes. However, if you prefer to perform GOF connector assembly in-field, a specially adapted tool set allows SC and LC connector assembly on site. Furthermore, The connectors contain factory-prepared fibers. All that remains to be done is to strip the cables and prepare the fibers. This results in a reliable, long-term stable connection with low attenuation values.

Learn more about Fiber-optic cables.

Automotive supplier Krah relies on NearFi technology

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Wear-free wireless transmission of data and power


The Krah Group, a leading global supplier of power resistors for the automotive industry, has introduced a contactless NearFi power and Ethernet transmission solution. The company, based in Germany, has been manufacturing electronic components since 1970. It specializes in developing products with customers and employs around 2,000 people globally at sixteen production sites. The Krah Group is a founding member of the Automotive Center Südwestfalen e.V. association.

Contactless solution for mobile applications

Contactless solution for mobile applications

Oliver Krause, team leader for automation and control technology at Drolshagen plant, explored alternatives to conventional connectors at Hannover Messe 2022. He discovered contactless NearFi technology for data transmission at Phoenix Contact’s booth. The laser welding machine processes workpieces in four steps. First, the workpieces are inserted, then, the workpieces are aligned with each other. The tolerances are then checked and the workpieces are welded. Finally, the finished workpiece is married and given a barcode. Sensors at each processing station are picked up by a Profinet I/O module, communicating machine states and workpiece positions to the controller. The data forwarding and power supply are contactless, making it wear-free.

Simple startup without configuration effort

NearFi couplers are a new solution for data and power exchange. Offering a flexible and customizable interface. These couplers can be positioned to face each other from any direction and rotate. Reducing the precision needed for mechanical movement. They also display operational readiness with bright LEDs, reducing service calls and maintenance costs. In addition, the contactless solution supports the Profinet Fast Startup function, preventing communication delays. The proximity couplers also offer a simple startup without configuration effort, making them a significant improvement over traditional inductive coupler solutions.

Protocol-independent Ethernet communication with no appreciable latency

Industrial automation relies on Ethernet with a 100 Mbps data rate, but NearFi technology offers contactless and protocol-independent Ethernet connections with low latency. NearFi couplers transmit 50 watts of power and real-time Ethernet data over a small distance, ensuring coexistence with existing wireless technologies like Bluetooth or WLAN. Moreover, Phoenix Contact’s IP65 housing and M12 connections make them suitable for demanding environments. NearFi couplers are ideal for moving applications with high interference risk.

Learn more about NearFi technology.

Digitalization potential in control cabinet building

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 control cabinet building

Control cabinet building can benefit from optimization through digitalization, lean management, and agility approaches. However, manual activities still dominate production, making automation difficult. Electrically skilled personnel are essential for wiring and adaptability, as they understand equipment requirements and can react to unforeseen challenges that cannot be mapped in a highly automated process.

The skills shortage exacerbates the problem

 control cabinet building

Traditional control cabinet building relies on well-trained electrically skilled persons for long-term success, and automation is limited. in addition, time is pressing to integrate the remaining electrically skilled persons into relevant production processes. Moreover, untapped potential in information flows and digital support exists, especially for small and medium-sized companies.

Weaken your weaknesses and strengthen your strengths

 control cabinet building

The saying “Focusing on strengthening your positive qualities and skills while trying to overcome your weaknesses” fits well the digitalizing of company processes. To implement this strategy, identify and categorize areas of the company based on their influence on the company’s success. These areas are typically technical and represent the company’s competitive advantage. The support categories include non-technical areas necessary for core competencies tasks, while organization categories include non-specific areas like HR departments. Introducing market-standard software can help digitalize these areas, addressing weaknesses. However, standard commercial software may leads to loss of unique selling points, impacting the company’s competitive advantage. The digitalization plan should consider practical requirements, employee needs, and company goals.

The role of detailed analysis

 control cabinet building

A thorough analysis of information flow is the first step towards optimizing. Understanding all work steps is essential to identify optimization potential. Digitalized worker assistance systems can help by directly supporting work steps with necessary data. However, ad-hoc integration and digitalization without prior analysis can lead to unnecessary data addition, making the problem worse. However, as humans, we are not good at processing large amounts of data quickly. More data is generally required for automation, but in manual production, it can lead to waste and inefficiency. The challenge lies in sorting and filtering existing data to make it more accessible to employees in a targeted manner.

Data is not always information

 control cabinet building

In digitalization projects involving people, it’s crucial to differentiate between data and information. The term data is used here as a generic term, regardless of its use, and information is the part of the data that is necessary or beneficial for the process. The implementation only considers data classified in the Information field, with redundant data included if necessary. Uniform implementation in the form of just a document, as is the case in production supported by paper documentation, is therefore not the optimal solution, as it can lead to the optimization of specialist processes. Paperless production is a welcome side effect of digitally supported optimization.

Learn more about control cabinet building.

Single Pair Ethernet – one pin connector pattern for all industrial applications

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Single Pair Ethernet

Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) is a popular industrial communication technology that enables cost-effective and space-saving connection of sensors and extends the performance of classic Ethernet. It supports IP-based communication and Power over Data Line (PoDL) for IoT devices and other applications.

SPE continuity from IP20 to M12

SPE continuity from IP20 to M12

Phoenix Contact has developed connectors for SPE environments with IP20 and IEC 63171-5 for M8 and M12 versions in IP67. These connectors are user-friendly, available as patch cables or freely assembled versions. They meet industrial requirements in terms of impedance, electric strength, return attenuation, and coupling attenuation necessary in industrial environments.

Simple design-in with uniform pin connector pattern

Simple design-in with uniform pin connector pattern

Phoenix Contact offers IP20 and IP65/IP67 connectors with a uniform pin pattern, simplifying handling and facilitates both servicing and installation. These connectors allow for easy assembly in the system field, and their standardized M8 and M12 housing screw connections allow for seamless transition from previous Ethernet or bus systems to the current standard. They are suitable for data transmission rates up to Gigabit and meet future SPE standards.

Advanced Shielding Technology – the shielding of the future

Advanced Shielding Technology – the shielding of the future

Phoenix Contact’s Advanced Shielding Technology replaces traditional zinc die-casting for crimp sleeves with a liquid metal shield connection. This innovative method increases mechanical robustness and prevents short circuits between the shield molding and contact carrier. The technology improves M8/M12 connectors by providing robustness, availability, durability, and overload resistance. It supports Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things, supporting miniaturization in field and device cabling.

PNO supports SPE pin connector pattern of IEC 63171-7 for hybrid applications

The PNO guideline for “PROFINET Cabling and Interconnection Technology – Guideline for PROFINET Version 5.3” has defined hybrid M12 Single Pair Ethernet as the new pin connector pattern, marking the first time a user organization has opted for an SPE pin connector pattern..

M12 Hybrid – the perfect addition to PoDL

Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) offers the advantage of integrating power supply and data transmission via the same cable, making it ideal for supplying power and data in confined spaces. Phoenix Contact Group and TE Connectivity have developed SPE M12 hybrid connectors in accordance with IEC 63171-7, enabling hybrid interfaces with SPE and power contacts in M12 format. SPE is particularly beneficial in robotics, as it combines flexible and space-saving wiring with fast response times. SPE M12 hybrid interfaces integrate seamlessly into existing Ethernet infrastructures and offer simple plug-and-play connections.

Learn more about Single Pair Ethernet.