- Register


Home>MACHINE BUILDING & ENGINEERING>Connectors>Plug-and-play connectivity

Plug-and-play connectivity

15 March 2022

Mark Rushton looks at how using connectivity from the right connectivity partner can help companies make the shift to flexible manufacturing

THE GLOBAL pandemic has had a profound effect on manufacturing and its supply chains, from plant shutdowns to the current issues with sourcing raw materials, leading to revaluation as companies make changes to their manufacturing and supply chain structures to make them more resilient.

In the past, a manufacturing floor was static, meaning lines remained relatively fixed with upgrades occurring every few years. Machines were placed with the intention that they would perform the same tasks for the duration of their useful life. Now, manufacturing floors need to be rearranged frequently in order to customise products to customer-specific needs and manufacture varying products.

When manufacturing plants were static, connections for bringing power, signal, and data could be hardwired. This meant all connections going in and out of the machine were permanently fixed to terminal blocks. Although this method was cheaper, there were drawbacks; installation or disassembly had to be done by a skilled electrician, which was time and cost intensive, and hardwiring errors were costly to repair and resulted in long downtimes.

In contrast, ‘plug and play’ connectorisation aids flexible manufacturing enabling quick disconnection and reconnection of machines, without the need for skilled labour and with no risk of miswiring. Connectorisation, simply put, is the backbone of a successful risk-competitive structure.

Modular system

As a leading supplier of connectivity technology, Harting strives to deliver cutting edge technological developments to make innovations such as flexible production and miniaturised products possible. For example, the Han 1A has been designed to be versatile and take up less installation space. By using a modular system of inserts, it can integrate contacts for the delivery of data, signals and power.

Modules for Cat. 5 or Cat. 6A are available for data transmission, while a shielded variant can be employed in areas that are particularly susceptible to interference. Additionally, only two components are required to quickly assemble an IP20 solution, while additional housing elements or single wire seals can be used to enhance ingress protection to IP65. TheHan 1A’s ‘plug and play’ design allows the connector to be assembled in seconds without using any specialist tools.

Han-Eco is another new product range developed to address growing demands for more compact, lightweight connector solutions that are easier to install. A range of designs and configurations is available, including bulkhead, surface mount and cable-to-cable, with sizes from 6B to 24B. All are manufactured using high-performance, glass fibre-reinforced polyamide plastic, making them substantially lighter than traditional metal connectors.

The lightweight build does not come at the expense of robustness and performance, as Han-Eco B products are fully compliant with IEC 61948 and EN 45545-2 standards, offering IP65 protection that makes them suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and fire resistance according to UL94 V0.

Like the 1A, Han-Eco supports modular inserts, meaning data, signal and power options can all be combined into one standard-sized industrial connector housing for additional space savings.

For the ultimate in versatility, the Han-Modular series enables the design of design connectors to supply machinery and equipment by combining individual modules for different transmission media, such as signals, data, power and compressed air, in standard-sized industrial connector housings.

It is possible to design a customised industrial connectors using the new and improved Han Configurator, an online 3D tool which allows users to build a bespoke connector using the vast Han-Modular portfolio. Once designed, all technical data (including STP files) is easily saved and downloaded for sharing – an ideal solution for those working remotely in a different location from colleagues.

Mark Rushton is UK marketing manager at Harting


Key Points

  • Where connections for bringing power, signal, and data are hardwired, installation or disassembly has to be done by a skilled electrician
  • Plug and play connectorisation aids flexible manufacturing enabling quick disconnection and reconnection of machines
  • Harting delivers cutting edge technological developments to make innovations such as flexible production and miniaturised products possible