Connecting trends


MEPCA spoke to Brian Coyle, Product Manager and Kevin Canham, Product & Applications Manager, both from HARTING, to find out how the company’s connector technology supports the drive for modularisation and miniaturisation in machine building.

MEPCA: Miniaturisation and modularisation of machinery in production and process environments are currently driving design trends in the industrial sector. What do they mean for connector technology?


Brian Coyle, Kevin Canham: With the introduction of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0, the need for more connectivity has increased. This means increasing the density of connectors and becoming even more flexible to include hybrid connections for data, signal, and power. Machine designers need to incorporate modular construction to enable swift changes to the production flow or for repair, to keep downtime to a minimum. Included within new connector technologies, we have Single Pair Ethernet (SPE), which has many advantages over the classic RJ45. Modularity within the connector also allows the designer to ‘construct’ a product from standard inserts and condense the system requirements into one product, rather than multiple connectors.


M: Your Han-Modular range is designed to support these trends. How does it meet their demands?


BC/KC: The Han-Modular series of inserts allows engineers to combine different transmission media into one highly flexible building block custom connector solution, which is perfectly tailored to their needs. This includes a combination of the three industrial lifelines of data, signal and power and the potential to include compressed air into standard sized industrial housings, offering substantial space-saving benefits. The use of placeholder modules also allows engineers to design in future-proofing. Han-Modular is the original and global leading series for modular rectangular connectors with an ever-expanding list of available inserts that meet the challenging needs of today’s engineers.


M: You have also recently launched the har-modular range, designed for PCB-to-PCB connection. How does this solution support the drive for modularisation and miniaturisation?


BC/KC: As with the very successful Han-Modular range, HARTING has used a similar methodology. The har-modular is designed for PCB-to-PCB connectivity in the traditional 90° arrangement or mezzanine assembly. Again, this range gives the designer freedom to create a bespoke connector from standard off-the-shelf parts. Designed along the lines of traditional DIN 41612 products, har-modular has many millions of potential combinations to enable power and signal connections to be installed into one connector, potentially saving money and time along with PCB real-estate space. Connectors can be supplied in small quantities to enable the customer to make their own bespoke connector, or HARTING can supply fully assembled connectors, designed to the customer’s requirements. Both Han-Modular and har-modular products can be ‘assembled’ digitally using HARTING configuration tools on our website, allowing exact customer requirements to be configured. 


M: Some machinery has to operate in harsh environments, such as the food and beverage sector. Can connector technology that meets the trends we have already discussed be employed in these applications?


BC/KC: HARTING offers a range of Han F+B connectors specially designed to meet the challenging standards of hygiene in the food and beverage industry with surfaces, threads and seals designed to prevent dirt accumulation which makes it harder for bacteria to accumulate. The housings have large surfaces in accordance with the guideline of the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG). The series is also rated to IP69K to allow for high-pressure cleaning, Ecolab approved and manufactured in materials that conform to FDA21. 


M: Finally, HARTING is known as an innovator, with one recent example being your rear-fit housings available in the Han B range. What benefits does this development bring to machine builders?


BC/KC: The rear mount housings from HARTING enable both ends of pre-assembled cable harnesses to be installed into the rear of bulkhead housings from the inside of a cabinet or panel, without the need for special tools. The rear mount functionality can help manufacturers further optimise cable harness assembly, increasing efficiency and productivity and leading to a significant reduction in costs. Employing rear mount housings can also allow for assembly processes to be outsourced or automated if necessary. The rear mount functionality is a unique design from HARTING available in several different housings – Han-Eco, Han B, Han M, Han EMC/B, Han HPR & Han-Yellock.


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