Choose the right industrial connector
Evaluate application and environment to determine the best connector to incorporate into an industrial design or upgrade.
Determining the connector to incorporate into an industrial design or upgrade is simply a matter of evaluating the application needs and environment. Start by asking yourself, “What type of transmission do I need?” and “What are my environmental conditions?”
Are your connection points needed for power, communication, signaling, or a combination? This is your first variable. What is your transmission requirement? Then determine the number of contact points needed, the current (amperage) requirements of the application, and the space constraints, if any. And, if using a heavy-duty rectangular connector, determine the wire termination method for the contact pins (spring, clamp, or screw). For many power (under 15 amps), signaling, and communication applications requiring fewer than 20 contact points, an overmolded circular connector offers a durable, economical, and reliable solution. Connector solutions requiring higher current carrying capacity or a greater pin count can often be found with a heavy-duty rectangular connector.
When the application calls for communication via an industrial protocol, specific network cordsets can be used. Whether using DeviceNet, Profibus, industrial Ethernet, Foundation Fieldbus, or one of many other protocols, each has its own connector design and often a specialized wiring code.
The application environment is also very important in determining what connector to choose. This factor will dictate what cable jacket should be used when considering a molded cordset. If the application is such that the cable needs to be protected from weld slag, TPE might be the best choice. If lubricants and coolants are prevalent, PUR would work. An application with continuous movement may require a cable with a high flex rating. Most standard applications can be addressed with a simple PVC jacketed cable. Selecting the correct cordset for the environment in the beginning can save money and time in the long run, by avoiding unneeded downtime, troubleshooting, and premature replacements.
Using high-quality overmolded cordsets, and the proper mating receptacles, an IP67 rating can be achieved to accommodate various industrial environments. IP67 indicates that a connector is protected from dust and will withstand being immersed in water for a limited amount of time. This rating is sufficient for most industrial applications.
For wiring machines and system controls, legacy standards such as the MIN family of circular connectors still prevail as do the hard-to-match rectangular connectors. After evaluating power needs and environment, your choices are usually clear. When we include network configurations, the options expand to include bus networks and Ethernet. Micro-connectors for each of these formats are easy to find. Keep in mind that all connectors are not equal. Quality of components leads to reliability. At the end of the day, systems are only well connected when they’re running.
- Lynne Keener is marketing coordinator for Mencom Corp. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer, firstname.lastname@example.org.
ONLINE extra - Founded in 1987, Mencom Corp., located in Oakwood, Ga., provides industrial electrical connectors. Mencom is among the last remaining manufacturers of U.S.-made electrical cordsets, Keener said.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.