Connectors – the foundation of Integrated Industry

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Smart Factory system modules require a simple connection to infrastructure. Han-Modular means these connections are produced uniformly while still offering customization.

Integrated Industry is often viewed solely from the perspective of IT technologies and therefore seen as a pure software issue – but it is no less dependent on the appropriate hardware components. In particular, these include the electro-mechanical interfaces that provide connection to the infrastructure, i.e. the connector foundation.

Smart Factory system modules

Modular connectors

A Smart Factory calls for the use of a standardized, modular connector. The connector must be suitable for all media present within a system module as well as the media to be supplied externally. Consequently, the connector functions as a power connection, a communication port (Gigabit Ethernet), signal connections for various auxiliary connections, and for prepared compressed air for supplying handling units. A size 16 connector is used in the Smart Factory. The connector has four module slots.

The dimensioning of the connectors is based on a uniform standardization of the interfaces. Here, Han-Modular meets all the requirements of the system modules across the broad spectrum of modules available.

Besides the system module, in many cases the backbone connection­ must be implemented in pluggable manner as well. Given this, within the backbone the need will exist for the system-specific determination of the connectors since the dimensions­ of the backbone depend on the requirements of the overall system. Here, key criteria are total power consumption as well as spatial extension. The correct dimensioning of cables and contacts must be carried out for the power supply. With regard to communication, the distance involved will determine the selection of electrical and optical transmission.

Han-Modular

The Han-Modular range offers a variety of combinations for transmission media. This allows the required connections to be dimensioned in space-saving and cost conscious manner and permits the connectors to be adjusted to the respective installation situation. The product range includes over 40 different modules that can be combined for the transmission of power, signals, data and compressed air.

Han-Modular

The modules can be used in a wide variety of HARTING connector housings with the help of special plastic and metal frames. Contacts and inserts for power up to 200 A / 1000 V and high voltage modules handling up to a maximum of 5000 V / 40 A are available. In addition, signal modules are available which feature high packing density that extends up to a maximum of 25 contacts per single module (50 – 250 V / 4 A – 10 A).

Moreover, the range extends from Ethernet Cat. 6 interfaces to modules for single and multi-mode fiber optic cable transmission. In addition, various bus technologies are implementable, e.g. PROFIBUS. Even pneumatic contacts can be integrated which transmit prepared compressed air up to 8 bar. Numerous other application possibilities round out the product lineup.

Pluggable fiber optic contacts

The LC module for pluggable fiber optic contacts ranks among the most recent additions. Fiber optic cable offers enormous advantages such as the transmission of sensitive industrial data. It effectively shields the transmission from sources of external interference such as electromagnetic radiation. It also enables galvanic transmitter-receiver separation and prevents cross-talk

Railway applications: HARTING connectors meet new fire protection standard

The standard EN 45545-2 “Railway applications – Fire protection on railway vehicles” means that, for the first time, a mandatory European requirement for the fire behavior of components and materials used in rail vehicles is now in place. The standard also takes into account installation situations.

The new standard specifies test methods and limits values and establishes requirement sets (R1 to R26) for components. Hazard levels HL1 to HL3 indicate the testing severity.

The standard EN 45545-2 “Railway applications

Small electrical components like electronic connectors must demonstrate a material certification rating of “V 0”, which represents very low flammability. No obligation to demonstrate certification exists for flammable materials under 10g in weight unless they are installed adjacent to components for which no certification exists. In such cases, the requirements depend on grouping rules. HARTING plastic housings and inserts in connectors fulfill “V 0” requirements.

Depending on the installation situation, the same requirements may be in effect for heavy connectors as for the switch cabinet on which they are mounted. If the cabinet wall acts as a fire resistance zone, depending on its size the cabinet must exhibit a fire resistance of E10 or E15. The number represents the minutes that a connector must withstand as a physical barrier in case of fire. If the requirements are fulfilled, the components in the interior are exempt from the obligation to demonstrate certification.

HARTING housings in the Han B, Han M and Han HPR series meet the requirements of E15. Most HARTING housings even resist fire for more than 30 minutes. Additionally, their surface coating meets the requirements for flame spread.

For the materials in connectors, R22/R23 are the maximum applicable requirement sets. The sets prescribe the parameters, procedures and limits for tests. Specifically, R22/R23 mandate tests and limit values for oxygen content, smoke density and toxicity. The polycarbonate used by HARTING in its connectors and special electronics products conforms to the limit values.

Higher mating cycles for modular industrial connectors

The modular construction of industrial facilities is developing into the central solution in Industry 4.0. This also increases the demands made on heavy-duty connectors. With the Han HMC, HARTING is introducing a connector family designed for over 10,000 mating cycles.

Industry 4.0” is the central concept with which classical industry is evolving at a considerable speed. A key point in this development is the strong individualization of products, which nevertheless requires highly flexible mass production.

This means that, in addition to more intelligent control and automation technology, highly flexible interfaces are being required in more and more modularly constructed production facilities. These interfaces are being faced with greater demands than hitherto has been the case due to more frequent tool and system change intervals. In particular, they need to accommodate increased mating cycles.

Based on these aspects, the HARTING Technology Group has developed the Han® HMC series as heavy-duty industrial connectors. While standard industrial connectors are designed to handle in excess of 500 mating cycles, the Han® HMC series tolerates more than 10,000 mating cycles with no performance degradation. Even after such high loads, the requirements of DIN EN 61984 continue to be met.

Technical basis

The Han® B series forms the technical basis for this new connector, which has proven itself millions of times over and has been firmly established on the market for decades. Focused development efforts have seen the Han® B series successfully adapted to these new requirements. In this context, new solutions were employed. By way of example, entirely newly developed high-performance contact springs replace conventional earthing contacts. Likewise, special measures permitted the locking system to be adapted to the somewhat increased number of locking operations.

The contacts are the heart of a connector, which must reliably transmit signals, data, and power over its entire lifespan. The Han D and Han E contacts employed in the Han HMC series are coated with a special gold layer, ensuring optimum electrical properties in all stages of the connector’s lifespan.

For customers, however, nothing changes in terms of mounting dimensions and the assembly tools to be used. This makes a transition to the new series equally convenient and unproblematic, since the connectors can be used in the customary way

Selectively loaded har-flex connectors offer even more flexibility in device design

There are trends that begin in machine and plant construction and then make their way from control and drive technology all the way to a device’s internal interface. In a word, modularization, miniaturization, flexibility. HARTING now fulfills these requirements to an even greater extent thanks to the expansion of the har-flex® product family to include selectively loaded variants.

har-flex connectors

The trend in machinery is towards small, independent modules capable of performing individual work steps. The modules feature decentralized control and drive technology and can be easily combined with one other. This increases the flexibility available to mechanical engineers.

The demands on automation technology are growing in step with this. No matter whether control or drive units are involved

– the demands are for ever smaller, more powerful units. Tailored functionality for each machine module is expected.

More and more, this is being implemented via modularly constructed automation systems. Whether Control units, pneumatic valve terminals or frequency converters, many new and innovative device generations can be flexibly extended by pluggable function assemblies and thus be adapted individually to the requirements of applications.

This is only enabled by device-internal interfaces that, in addition to miniaturization, provide targeted support for modularization and flexibility in the device design.

This is precisely where the HARTING har-flex® product family of electronics connectors enters the picture.

Industry appropriate miniaturization

The small 1.27 mm grid and an extremely compact design permit miniaturized device design. Despite its dimensions, the connector delivers what HARTING products promise: High reliability also under harsh industrial conditions. Consequently, the side-mounted SMT hold-downs relieve the signal contacts from mechanical stress. This ensures the reliability of the over-all system – even at high shock and vibration loads.

New paths to modularization

This robustness, coupled with mating cycles in excess of 500 cycles, opens up entirely new paths in the modularization of industrial equipment. As a result, har-flex® connectors are already being used in highly innovative device generations as an interface for additional function assemblies that can be plugged and unplugged in the field by users. In essence, they act as an external interface.

Boosting flexibility even more

The availability of straight and angled male and female connectors, as well as IDC cable assemblies in all the even number position pin counts from 6-100, means there is no limit to flexibility in device design.

But HARTING is now driving flexibility considerations even further ahead.

Effective immediately, all straight and angled male and female connectors are available as selectively loaded versions. With the option of partial loading, customers can increase clearance and creepage distances and thus flexibly adapt to their system requirements. Where two or more connector pairs previously needed to be used, electrical isolation is now possible within an interface. This reduces costs, increases flexibility in equipment design, simplifies and shortens the SMD loading process and also saves valuable board space.

And partial loading is not subject to limits – HARTING can already implement any type of partial loading upon customer request.

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