Page 52 - 2019 How-to-Specify E-Book
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Common Misperceptions of Custom Connectors
Chris Beevers, Manager of Solutions Engineering and Market Development — Device Connectors at Phoenix Contact USA
Industrial device development is undergoing a transformation. Pressure to reduce costs, reduce size, and make devices more functional to leverage trends inspired by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and 5G is driving a lot of new design activity. The original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) creating new products are dealing with opposing challenges when designing for connectivity. Striking the right balance between meeting both new trends and the classic needs of the market pose problems and require device manufacturers to think differently. Standard connectors are not always the best choice, but customized connectors strike fear in many OEMs.
There are many misperceptions regarding custom connectors. The three most common are that they are too risky, take too long to develop, and are too expensive. But new development strategies and new production trends are helping to address these concerns.
Misperception: It’s too risky to ensure quality in a custom connector.
Going with a new contact design could create unknown problems. However, custom doesn’t always mean a totally new contact system. Connector suppliers with a reputation for high-quality products, a broad product portfolio, and experience in customization can significantly reduce the risks associated with developing an entirely new connector by utilizing existing connector components, basing a custom connector on an existing contact system, and having a defined development process for customized solutions. Repurposing connector components into a customer-specific solution can be a great option for meeting application demands without a clear-cut off-the-shelf solution, and can do so with much less risk than is associated with ground-up development.
Phoenix Contact offers an extensive portfolio of standard industrial connectors and housings and is well versed in leveraging its core technology to develop custom-engineered solutions with significantly reduced risk.
Misperception: Custom connectors take too long to develop.
Off-the-shelf connectors can be quick to design-in, but if they have to be made more robust for use in industrial applications, the design process could require additional time for testing and validation and potentially create additional production costs as well. In comparison, the strategy of utilizing existing connector components and repurposing them to develop a new industrial connector can significantly reduce both validation time and the costs associated with new agency approvals.
Tooling lead-times must be considered as well, even though new technologies like additive manufacturing can greatly reduce them. Printed metals are coming closer to the performance of machined or stamped and formed contacts, and plastic materials are beginning to approach the high-temperature and flame retardant requirements needed for industrial agency approvals. But it’s not just connector components that can benefit from additive

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