Industrielle Automatisierung

Merging Tray Cable with M12 Power Technology for New Uses

Ryan Smith

As an alternative to conduits, cable trays are often used to transport and protect cables in industrial environments. They’re faster to install and require less maintenance than conduits but they also come with a caveat: The cable you install in a cable tray must be a tray cable.



What does this mean? A tray cable is exactly what its name implies: an incredibly versatile cable that is approved for use in cable trays and raceways.


Available in multiconductor and multipair styles, tray cable is used for control, instrumentation and signaling, power and lighting applications in a variety of environments: light industrial, utilities, construction and even traffic control. It's also the norm in the United States for power cabling applications in automotive manufacturing.


Tray cable options vary in terms of jacketing material, insulation material, shielding and several other features. Its construction determines whether it can be used inside or outside, in wet or dry environments or in moving applications.


In an industrial environment, you’ll often encounter certain types of tray cable: power-limited tray cable (PLTC), power and control tray cable (TC), and instrumentation tray cable (ITC), just to name a few.


In addition to being deployed in cable trays, a tray cable can also be installed in conduit or unsupported in an exposed run for up to 6 ft (to connect to instruments, motors, machines and devices). This eliminates the need to run cable from a cable tray to a conduit entry (conduit flange on the bottom of the cable tray) and then to a rigid conduit into a box and out to the end device with flexible conduit. In other words, tray cable can significantly reduce labor and expenses. 


Tray Cables Bring New Possibilities to Industrial Environments


As compared to tray cables, traditional cords (such as AWM-style cables) have limits in terms of where they can be used inside a plant.


For example: They can't be run to the ceiling or be used to connect an adjacent piece of equipment. It can be tricky to find cables that pass inspection in that "gray area" (the space between the machine and the rest of the building), which falls under NFPA 79, electrical standard for industrial machinery.


For years, we've used tray cable with our 7/8" power connectors. But M12 power technology is gaining traction as an alternative-especially in automotive environments as they plan for next-generation technology and need flexible, low-maintenance power connectors that have a small footprint and can handle power delivery of up to 16A.


As 7/8” connectors continue to give way to M12 power connectors, we decided to take tray cable a step further by combining it with M12 connectorization to strike an ideal balance between size, performance and easy handling.


Traditionally, M12 connectors are used in I/O systems and sensors while tray cables are found in NEC environments (or spaces subject to codes and practices designed for buildings vs. machines). Within these spaces, there are strict burn requirements put forth by the NEC to protect people inside the building.


By using tray cable with M12 connectors, you can create longer, pre-terminated assemblies that go beyond the boundaries of the machine and out into other areas of the plant while still maintaining compliance with NFPA 79.


Because some instruments are prewired with M12 connectivity, a tray cable can also be used to connect to an M12 pigtail, taking advantage of the NEC’s exposed run provision between a cable tray and equipment.

M12 Power with a Tray Cable Rating


The combination of tray cables and M12 connectivity will be valuable not only in automotive applications, but also in applications that need to supply power to motors on a conveyor belt system, as well as power supplies, power converters and the industrial lighting industry.


Belden's M12 Power L Code products from Lumberg Automation will now be available a tray cable rating to resist sunlight and UV rays, as well as oil, grease and coolants. Its UL 1685 flammability rating allows it to be used in spaces regulated by the National Electrical Code; it can also be used in drag-chain/c-track and welding applications.  The new TPE jacket offers the best benefits of PVC and PUR cables to help you reduce the number and types of cables you have to keep in stock.


Want to discover more about what Belden’s unique combination of tray cables and M12 power connectivity can do for you? Get info here!