Choosing the Right Connectors for Manufacturing

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Due to the range of different applications within manufacturing, organizations can have a wide range of needs from their connectors. There is rarely a single solution for all manufacturing challenges, but there are thousands of different types of components and connectors that can help you meet your exact needs from an application.

It is not always easy to select the right connector without experience and expertise in their technical specifications. Choosing the wrong part for your application can prevent your system from working properly, make it less energy efficient, or even have dangerous consequences. Especially if your application has specific strength requirements – for example, if your production environment presents a risk of fire or explosion – choosing the wrong component can put the entire system at risk.

To be sure you’re selecting the right part for your needs, it’s best to speak to an expert who can guide you through the decision-making process and make recommendations based on the specifics of your desired application. Understanding your technical requirements can help narrow your search, and you will need to make a number of important decisions when selecting a component, even with expert advice.

Here we’ll outline the steps to identify the type of component you need, then understand some of the technical information you may need to know to ensure it will suit the specifics of your applications, not whatever or the manufacturing sector in which you work.

What are your practical needs?

There are several types of connectors you might need for a manufacturing application, including power, signal, data, and compressed air. There are many variations in the components available which can complicate things. For example, there are connectors that are suitable for multiple transmission media simultaneously and can be used to greatly optimize your system if implemented correctly, but they will not be suitable for all applications.

Connectors also have different physical characteristics related to their intended function, which you should consider when purchasing parts. The main connector styles are:

  • Circular connectors.
  • Rectangular connectors.
  • Power connectors.
  • Sensor connectors.
  • RF coaxial connectors.
  • D-Sub connectors.
  • Industrial RJ45 connectors

A final practical consideration is that the connector should be the correct size to fit the cable you are using. Due to the complicated technical needs you have to consider when purchasing components, it’s easy to overlook this simple aspect. Fortunately, connectors usually come in different sizes to suit different applications, so you should have no trouble finding a suitable connector in the right size.

Consider industry requirements

In addition to working to transmit signals, power, data, or air through a system, connectors have built-in safety features that may be required, depending on the nature of your application. This may include resistance to high temperatures, adverse weather conditions, explosions or other risk factors. There are components for every application, so you need to consider your industry-specific risk factors and locate connectors that have the resistances you need.

If you manufacture in the food or medical industry, you will need to ensure that you select components that meet high hygiene standards – this may include high levels of SPF, which may make them easier to clean – while meeting your performance and safety requirements. All components have an IP rating that indicates the level of protection they provide, and it is helpful to understand how IP ratings work when choosing connectors.

Power connectors can also be fitted with a grounding tag, which can help prevent power surges in the event that wiring becomes loose inside a cable. Loose wiring can lead to electrocution of a person if they are nearby, as electricity takes the fastest possible path to the ground. However, a grounding tag will neutralize the shock hazard by causing an overvoltage and tripping the fuse. Depending on your application, this may be a necessary addition to your connector.

The large number of components available means that you are sure to be able to find a part that will meet your exact technical requirements. If you start by understanding exactly what you need and identify an appropriate part (or work with a technical expert to do so), you can optimize your entire system for high performance.

Scott Jones is the Managing Director of North Connectors.

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