DesignSpark talks industrial automation with TE Connectivity
I’m delighted to talk to Ruud van den Brink, Product Manager Industrial Communication Europe at TE Connectivity about some of its key product ranges.
Ruud, thanks for taking the time to share some of TE Connectivity’s automation connection technologies with DesignSpark.
So Ruud, what are the key changes in industrial connection and automation that are driving TE Connectivity’s latest innovations?
The increasing cost of labour is in sharp contrast to the constant decrease in the cost of automation, improved quality standards and increased speed of production is making automation a more favourable scenario than expanding production based upon human labour.
TE Connectivity's M8/M12 Connectors
More Connections as Standard – M8/M12 Connectors
Today’s industrial environments are demanding ever-increasing sensor connections to ensure reliable and safe communications for industrial automation and control applications. TE Connectivity’s M8/M12 Connector System provides a solution to fit these demands and additionally serves non-traditional industries requiring a reliable and compact connection system with environmental protection. Meeting the requirements of up to 10 Gb/s, TE’s solution provides a wide connector range of cable assemblies, PCB headers and I/O boxes. Additionally, TE Connectivity offers Cat5e and Cat6A shielded or un-shielded cable assembly variants in a range of lengths. TE Connectivity’s industrial communication products play a vital role in factory automation with widespread use in today’s networked factories. TE solutions are used extensively in materials handling equipment and industrial robots, whilst the development of smaller industrial Ethernet products provides solutions for vision systems commonly needed in sortation and security equipment.
The overall growth combined with the increased complexity of today’s industrial automation installations, TE sees an increasing number of sensors, actuators and other components in an industrial automation build requiring the necessary interconnect. This translates into an ever increasing number of new connections, around 250 million each year in the industrial automation space alone.
With the need for more data, Ethernet becomes a better choice of technology. Rather than having systems with dumb peripheral devices and a layered build-up of serial, BUS and partial Ethernet, a more manageable system is implemented by using Ethernet everywhere. Combined with smart peripherals, additional data collection can take place alongside the required control data, enabling services like predictive maintenance.
What are the benefits to organisations looking to automate and the engineers they employ?
TE’s products will bring benefits to the OEMs developing their next generation equipment, as well as the machinery makers and installers using this equipment to build industrial installations.
Mini-I/O and Industrial RJ45 jack with integrated magnetics are good examples of products which offer the industrial robustness in combination with reducing the board space of the design and due to the integration of the analogue system parts saving on development time and cost.
The installers and machinery makers can benefit from the easy and error-free installation of TE’s cable connectors. These tool-less installable connectors offer the industrial robustness in combination with short installation times (RJ45 within 1 minute) and optimal performance realized by the automatic wire cut off function.
TE Connectivity's Industrial Mini I/O Connectors
What applications are these latest connection technologies best suited to?
Minimising Board Space – Industrial Mini I/O Connector
At just 25% of the size of a traditional RJ45, the Industrial Mini I/O solution from TE Connectivity combines industrial ruggedness with saving valuable board space. The reduced height allows design engineers to develop more compact modules for DIN rail systems. Unnecessary disconnections are a thing of the past with dual contact point contact technology and a compact metal latching mechanism which prevents accidental unmating to reduce potential downtime. TE Connectivity’s Industrial Mini I/O Connector is perfect for motion and drives applications, industrial communications, PLCs and robotics applications.
TE’s industrial connectors are used in a broad set of industrial applications. This ranges from equipment using serial connections, BUS systems up to industrial Ethernet. Furthermore, applications that are IP20 graded, down to the industrial work floor requiring IP67 grade products.
Application examples include, but not necessarily limited to:
- Automotive production
- Motors and motor control
- Control cabinets
- Industrial communications
Have the products/ranges been used in any unusual designs or applications that you are aware of?
Although TE’s products are designed for use in industrial environments, a usage outside of the industry is also seen. The easy-to-terminate field installable cable connectors, e.g. RJ45, are used in traditional RJ45 applications – typically office and home – while M12 connectors are seen in charger applications, for example.
Solutions in the range include:
- Industrial IP20 RJ45 Cat6A plug – single piece common core Cat6A plug featuring tool-free and error-free installation with automatic wire cut-off function
- Industrial RJ45 Fibre Optic Push-Pull connector – supporting IEC 61076-3-117, ideal for automotive production.
- Industrial RJ45 Jacks with Integrated Magnetics – reducing design efforts required with magnetics already integrated into the jack.
How do engineers go about selecting the correct product type from these ranges?
Industrial Ethernet – RJ45 Connectors
Take RJ45 connectors. The standard in reliable communications, TE Connectivity’s industrial Ethernet RJ45 connectors provide a rugged design for robust industrial applications with fast termination technology. TE’s RJ45 connectors are all based on common core technology used across the entire industrial RJ45 product family.
Detailed product leaflets across TE Connectivity’s product ranges can be used to determine the correct connection types according to engineers’ required use.
Find out more about these TE ranges at RS now:
TE Connectivity's Industrial Ethernet – RJ45 Connectors