A typical manufacturing plant today will have thousands, or even many thousands, of electrical connections on both fixed equipment and moving machines. And it's just a matter of time before some of those connections fail or wear out, bringing production machines to a dead stop. One way to minimize this downtime is to "connectorize" power and signal cables.
Power and signal disruptions have many mechanical and electrical causes, everything from forklift accidents to over-current conditions. With all the mission-critical electrical connections in a modern plant, downtime from damaged electrical connections is a matter of "when" not "if."
Think of connectors as a low-cost insurance policy against this downtime. While connectors do add a small premium to the initial cost of cabling, they will pay for themselves many times over if they eliminate even a few minutes of downtime on a busy production line.
There are currently dozens of connector varieties and thousands of individual connectors on the market, and even experienced engineers can find it difficult to select the right connector for the job at hand.
Fortunately, connector confusion can be minimized by gathering information on five key technical factors. This information is readily available to any engineer who has already sized the application's power or signal cables:
Taken together, these factors determine whether the connector will function as a true extension of a given cable. It's important to emphasize that all five factors must be taken into consideration. A connector, for instance, may meet the requirements on number of contacts, wire gauge and outside diameter but not satisfy the application's current or voltage requirements.
The five key connector factors should be thought of as a starting point. They don't capture the effects of difficult operating environments or unusual electrical requirements. But they will help you quickly narrow down the otherwise overwhelming field of connector products.