Understanding the choices and options for your system's connectivity early in the design process is essential to making the right selections. Unfortunately, dealing with connectors, cables, and cordsets usually occurs late in the system design. With a little expert guidance, most engineers can reduce cost, improve performance and customer acceptance of their system.
Insight into the Issues
An integrator or system engineer has so many items to think about when designing a complex system that connectivity can seem like it is too simple to consider early in the process. But consider the following issues:
More complex networks require connecting several sensors and actuators to provide power and transfer data. In these systems, it is essential to know if the system uses standard 4 to 20 mA analog and digital devices, so the cables can be suited for both and it is easy to differentiate between them.
Something as simple as adding an LED for a diagnostic to a connector means that an electrician does not have to walk back and forth 50 feet to determine the problem when a machine requires repair.
Depending on the level of protection that the applications demands, it may be possible to trade off running wires though conduit by using a flexible plastic cordset with molded terminations at each end.
Know the Connectivity Options
Options, which can truly differentiate a well-thought-out connection system from an adequate one, require a thorough analysis of the application and its environment. For example, if the cordset will be frequently or constantly flexing, the proper choice of copper conductors, insulation material, and fillers can increase the expected number of cycles.
Environment also impacts the overall connector. If the system must meet the requirements of Class I Division 2 hazardous areas, a standard cable system will not be acceptable. Knowing the various options and the benefits from including each one in a particular connector system makes the decision to include or exclude it easier.Perhaps the most important tip for connectivity success is to start sooner. With appropriate consideration early in the design cycle, the right connector, cordset, an/or cable can be selected to match the other key design attributes of the product including performance and cost — and, it will be available when it is needed.Ten Timely Tips
1. Start definition/selection process sooner rather than later.
2. Identify the connection pieces.
3. Establish voltage and current limits.
4. Determine the connector environment.
5. Identify connector specifics (threads, pins, terminals, etc.).
6. Determine certification requirements for all potential regions.
7. Identify wiring esthetic options (color coding, etc.).
8. Determine diagnostic requirements.
9. Identify unusual application requirements.
10. Determine protection requirements.
For more information on making the right connector choices, check out: