Switches are core components of safety and security systems
Electronic safety systems are an integral part of modern living, whether in the home, office, factory, school or hospital. Devices such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, sprinkler systems, intruder alarms and CCTV cameras protect our lives and property and, with IoT technologies becoming ever cheaper, these systems are increasingly networked and integrated into the cloud, enabling end users to interact with them using smartphones and tablets.
Enabled by these networked technologies, the Smart Building sector is experiencing rapid growth, with some forecasts predicting a CAGR of 34% between 2017 and 2024, according to ResearchAndMarkets. Unsurprisingly in the face of such opportunity, a range of industry players, from innovative start-ups to established electronics manufacturers, are competing with aggressive new product launch plans. Consumers and building managers are consequently faced with an enormous choice, ranging from DIY ‘plug and play’ systems, such as Hive and Nest, to sophisticated, high-end building management systems.
As ever, in such a disruptive market, where lives depend on the quality of the technology, appropriate regulations and standards are critical and, within the EU, the CE marking system ensures that products conform with all relevant health, safety and environmental protection standards. Any product made or sold within the EU trading zone must undergo a rigorous design verification and testing process in order to obtain CE marking, and therefore manufacturers are strongly incentivized to source their components from recognized, quality suppliers.
Electrical and electro-mechanical switches are ubiquitous components of security and safety systems. The test/reset button on a smoke detector must be prominent, easy to operate, and must function repeatedly and reliably over the life of the detector. DIP switches, such as C&K's new SDB DIP series, are commonly used in many networked building devices to set up addresses, and a vast array of switches of differing types and formats can be found in systems such as motion sensors, door and window sensors, control panels and outdoor lights – many of which require their switches to have tamper protection mechanisms.
C&K's new SDB DIP switch series is designed for safety and security applications.
The IEC Technical Committee (TC) 79 is responsible for the definition of international standards governing the protection of buildings and personnel, which mandate performance levels for safety and security systems and also specify environmental operating conditions. A switch certified to IEC 60068-2-42:2003, for example, has been satisfactorily tested against the corrosive effects of sulfur dioxide-polluted atmospheres. These standards also cover interoperability between devices; an increasingly important consideration as the use of IoT devices grows exponentially.
While product certification is one key selection criterion for any designer, the quality of the supplier is equally important. To ensure responsiveness to the changing needs of its market, a manufacturer relies on suppliers that are not only compliant with industry standards but are also innovative, proactive and committed to continual improvement. As well as market reputation, tangible indicators of a supplier’s attitude to quality include ISO 9001 certification and also investments in market-specific certifications such as TS16949 and AS9100, which demonstrate the organisation’s commitment to its customers.
In the market for switches, C&K is a leading example of a quality supplier, with its ISO 9001 and TS16949 certified global manufacturing locations producing a wide range of standard switch products, backed by responsive customization capabilities. C&K’s market-focused approach enables a deep understanding of the needs of its customers, based on which the company develops specific switch variants. For the smoke detector market, for example, C&K has qualified a selection of its switch products, including its popular KMR, KMT and KSC ranges, to IEC 60068-2-42:2003 standards.
With most forecasts predicting strong growth in networked security and safety systems, quality, reliability and interoperability of these devices are fundamental to the protection of lives and property. System designers must choose their components and suppliers carefully, and standards and product certification are key indicators of quality.