From electronics housings to the control cabinet module for AS-Interface

EMC chamber at Pepperl+Fuchs in Mannheim

EMC chamber at Pepperl+Fuchs in Mannheim

Customer profile

Pepperl+Fuchs is considered a pioneer and innovator in electrical explosion protection and sensor technology by customers all over the world.

Among other things, the company’s headquarters in Mannheim are home to Development and Marketing – the laboratories are also located here.

Product Manager Dr.rer.nat. Konrad Kern (left) and developer Dipl.-Ing. Frank Ebert from Pepperl+Fuchs

Dr.rer.nat. Konrad Kern (left) and Dipl.-Ing. Frank Ebert


The journey from the development of a new device to its practical application by the end user is often a long one. That is why it is by no means usual for the detailed device requirements of the end user to be passed onto the component developers.

“With Phoenix Contact specializing in electronics housings and PCB connection technology, we were able to break down our requirements from systems manufacturing for the beverage industry into specific components,” recalls Dr. Konrad Kern, Product Manager for Factory Automation at Pepperl+Fuchs GmbH in Mannheim.

“AS-Interface (AS-i, Actuator Sensor Interface) plays an important role for leading manufacturers of bottling plants,” states Kern. Developed as a standard for fieldbus communication to connect actuators and sensors, nowadays AS-i not only offers an optimum price/performance ratio, it has also gained a lot of popularity as a distributed interface system thanks to its simplicity and flexibility.

ME-IO housing and KE5 control cabinet module

The ME-IO housing serves as the “packaging” for the KE5 control cabinet module


As a leading provider of AS-i solutions, Pepperl+Fuchs has succeeded in developing an efficient system in a compact design with its KE5 device series. In an overall width of less than 19 mm, the front area provides convenient access to 28 terminal points. “We were able to increase the packing density by 50% compared to other solutions,” Kern states, explaining the benefits.

Previously, both the AS-i and the AUX interface had to be looped through in a complex manner using double-wire ferrules. “Our KE5 module uses a bridged male connector which means that AS-i and AUX can now be looped through using four additional terminal points,” explains Dipl.-Ing. Frank Ebert, the developer who headed the KE5 project. “And it does this under a full current load of 8 A.”

For the electrical isolation of switching outputs, relay modules were also developed for the connection of third-party systems with different potentials. In addition, the relay modules enable switching under a high load at 230 V AC. “The modules feature an innovative PCB design, enabling AS-i and AUX to be safely isolated from one another,” states Kern. “This functional safety is particularly important because it also allows the KE5 modules to be used in safety applications as an output multiplier.”

This means that machine safety concepts can be implemented very easily and inexpensively – such as safe shutdown via AUX with distributed multiplication via the AUX outputs of the KE5 module. “All of the sensor signals are still available via the inputs on the module,” adds Kern, “and the end user receives all the relevant information about the system state, even when the auxiliary power is switched off.”

The ME-IO housing family from Phoenix Contact can be used to implement up to 54 plug-in terminal points in the front – in an overall width of just 18.8 mm. The housing system was designed based on the modular principle – various lengths for the covers and connector profiles support a variety of different connection combinations.


User-oriented solutions are achieved through close cooperation between the project partners at an early stage. This is demonstrated by Phoenix Contact, as an expert in electronics housings and connection technology, and Pepperl+Fuchs, as a driving force for innovation with respect to AS-i.

It was possible to develop an innovative control cabinet module for bottling plants that met the requirements from systems manufacturing. The innovative connection technology on the housing is especially efficient, and the Push-in spring-cage connector enables convenient and tool-free wiring. For maintenance-friendly device replacement, the codable male connectors can be released swiftly via a locking system. A DIN rail connector is used for communication between the modules.

ME-IO electronics housing

Multifunctional ME-IO electronics housings

The electronics housings from the ME-IO series are particularly suitable for applications with a limited amount of installation space and high function requirements. Tailor-made modules, such as controllers and I/O modules, can be easily assembled thanks to their modular design.