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Connecting Servo Motor to Industry 4.0 – why TE Connectivity’s Motorman hybrid connector can be the next big thing

As the product manager of industrial connectors, I have responsibility for market analysis if we decide to launch a product to general market. I will work to understand the customized product and promote it to the general market. Motorman is a new area for me. I was not involved in the engineering phase for specific customers, therefore my first stop was the engineer’s office, and Dusan is my contact. He introduced Motorman as a hybrid connector, which combined power, signal and two data Ethernets. It has used TE’s well-known MCON contacts, which are robust, highly performed and cost effective. Customers could install one or two CAT 5E Ethernets according to their needs of the data transmission.

For our specific customers, we created different coding and for the general market, we have developed general coding available. This product was created for Servo motors and servo drives on the decentralized machines. The reason of using this product on the decentralized machines was because of the one cable solution and the data transmission. Our sales colleagues gathered voice of customer data to create the requirement of this product. Now a few Motorman have already started for mass production. In the past, TE has designed the plugs of 90° /180° plastic and metal versions, and the receptacle of only PCB tab headers. Currently the engineering team has just finished designing the wire to wire receptacle. It is complete portfolio now.

Customers can now solder the contacts on the PCB drives as well as crimp them into a cabinet. Dusan continued to talk about the nice features and benefits of the connector, such as the easy to diagnose feature due to the easy-to-open side cover, which helped the onsite repair; also the secondary locking system, which met the industrial safety standards. He highlighted that this connector had been verified by UL E28476, meeting the maximum voltage of 900V DC/AC, temperature range from -40°C to 85°C, the MCON 2.8 power contact could reach 20A at 40°C. It was also sealed with IP65 protection. In addition, Motorman’s cable seals were using the rubber with an extension of 13mm-17mm, which customers could choose the number of power contacts, signal contacts, as well as the Ethernet cores according to the requests regardless of the change of cable entry diameters. Looking at this connector and Dusan, I felt the confidence from the market.

After talking to the engineer, I contacted our model shop to better understand cable assembly. Richard welcomed me. The one cable hybrid solution demands the high requirement from cable. First of all the cable would have to be equipped with power wires, signal wires and the Ethernet wires, which increased the difficulty because of the noise influence with each other. It needed to be shielded to avoid the interference of the power contacts and signal contacts and ethernets.

After understanding the cable construction, I planned my trip to an industrial exhibition in order to understand the applications which were using the Motorman connector. Our Motorman connectors were developed based on the “Voice of Customers”. Several Motor and Drive manufacturers gave TE the opportunity to produce a connector for them as a joint effort. The request was that the connector needed to be hybrid (power, signal and data connection in one cable), which was the number 1 requirement, as customers’ applications were mainly daisy chain machines such as bottle filling machines, packaging machines, material handling machines, etc. It was the work for a couple of months. Customers were happy with our products.

When I was walking around, I saw the servo motor/drive exhibition area. Due to its high precision positioning, servo motor was widely used in industrial applications, robotics, in-line manufacturing, pharmaceutics and food services, etc. On one servo motor application, the soldered motorman receptacles were mainly installed in a small distribution box on top of the motors as an embedded motor, and motorman connector would connect the drive. With the new crimped motorman, it could connect the motor to the cabinet. On one servo drive application, motorman was used as the hybrid socket connector and locking latch for hybrid cable. It was installed on one side of detached serve drive, and on the other side of the distribution box to connect the servo modules.

Decentralization, as one technology trends associated with Industry 4.0, is the decentralized networked smart production system, which enables the computing system simply to gather and analyze the data between machines, between production lines as well as between supply chain networks (Almada-Lobo, 2015). More and more manufacturing sites are adopting this technology. Decentralized servo motors could be applied in one simple production line or as a tree or circle form in production construction. As the motorman connector has power, signal and data on one connection, it can be quickly connected to the operation of the module as well as the data network. In this way, the diagnostic functions and automatic network configuration are easily performed, which increased the flexibility. Some decentralized servo drives can be moved out of the cabinet, so they could save the cabling cost and the wiring time. In some cases, the cabinets are unnecessary for the servo drives.

Our motorman is a product that fits well with this trend and I believe that it will be the next star product in the application of servo motor.

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