Modular Connectors vs. Hardwiring
Is it best to install hardwiring or use plug-and-play modular connectors? Whether they’re designing industrial machinery or consumer devices, many engineers confront this choice, and they’re increasingly choosing to switch from point-to-point wiring to connector-based cable assemblies. Not only has this strategy been found to lower costs and increase flexibility, but also it can boost productivity by reducing time spent on maintenance and installation. If you’re considering making the switch, scroll down to explore why modular connectors are often preferable to hardwiring and how Positronic modular connectors can enhance your system.
Why Modular Connectors Are Better Than Hardwiring
Connectors have come a long way in the past few decades. Today’s connectors are reliable, convenient, and user-friendly. They offer excellent mechanical stability, and they’re often available with multiple termination options. Plus, to ensure they can stand up to harsh environments, many connectors are designed to prevent the ingress of dust and moisture, resist vibrations, and withstand extreme temperatures. If you’re considering making the transition from hardwiring to connectors, explore the merits of modular connectors:
Simple Assembly & Installation
Hardwiring must be completed and tested at the manufacturing plant, disassembled for shipping, and reassembled at the end user’s location. Not only is this time consuming, but also it is labor intensive. For reassembling, many customers hire electricians or subcontractors who don’t know the equipment as well as the manufacturer. Their inexperience may lead to failed tests followed by long evaluations to determine the source of the problem. Additionally, errors that occur during the final set-up may cause further delays and additional expenses.
Plug-and-play connectors, on the other hand, are designed to prevent faulty wiring, which makes for easy installation. The cables are wired directly into the connectors to provide reliability and ease of use. Mating and unmating are a breeze, and male and female connectors can be keyed to ensure that they’re only able to mate with their appropriate counterpart. Overall, modular connectors should provide a quick, fuss-free installation experience.
Modular connectors can be produced to meet the customer’s specific requirements, which can help engineers save space and design an ideal machine. In addition, when connector-based wiring is used, the user can disconnect and swap the components and sub-systems using compatible connectors. When equipment is moved, changed, or upgraded, you don’t have to waste time or money on rewiring, as you would with hardwiring. This allows for more flexibility within the system. Using plug-and-play connectors, users can quickly and easily adjust their production process as needed.
Although hardwiring costs less upfront, it also carries hidden costs for your total system that you might not expect. Modular connectors provide savings in several areas that typically offset their initial higher price tags:
- Lower Installation Cost: Connector-based wiring harnesses can typically be installed by a staff member or contractor, rather than an electrician or other specialist, which lowers the cost of installation. Installation is also faster and less likely to result in wiring errors, which translates to quicker and more trouble-free deployment.
- Faster Troubleshooting and Maintenance: With modular connectors, it’s easier to quickly solve problems that arise. For example, disassembling a hard-wired machine to replace a part takes time, and the company will lose money while the machine is down. Quick maintenance reduces downtime and increases throughput.
- Versatility: A single system may have a variety of power and signal needs, and engineers can configure a single connector to meet those needs, such as offering both AC and DC power. Hardwiring solutions would require more labor, materials, and space.
- Lower Transportation Cost: A modular-designed machine can be shipped to the end user in smaller pieces, which lowers transportation costs and also reduces the risk of damage.
- Smaller Footprint: Space is money, and modular connectors allow companies to streamline interior wiring. This can help them achieve their desired footprint.
By providing companies with extensive savings in time and labor, modular connectors can allow for an increase in production. Their efficiency can dramatically reduce costs. Although they do require a higher cost upfront, they lack the recurrent and typically unpredictable costs of hardwiring, which often arise due to wiring errors or unexpected repairs.
Machine downtime is very expensive for manufacturers. Fortunately, as we’ve already discussed, maintenance is quicker and easier using modular connectors. In the field, service teams can simply uncouple parts in need of repair or replacement and connect a back-up part or a replacement. Because maintenance doesn’t require skilled labor, it isn’t reliant on the busy schedules of maintenance personnel. With hardwiring, each wire must be removed and reconnected by a trained technician, resulting in considerable time and labor costs.
Clearly, modular connectors offer substantial benefits when compared to hardwiring. Yet some original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) still turn to hardwired connections. Why is this? Some are daunted by the prospect of overhauling their manufacturing process, while others aren’t fully aware of the cost differences between hardwired and connector-based systems. Many OEMs look at modular connectors as an excess cost, focusing on the upfront price and not fully recognizing how they could save their company time and money.
Modular Connectors at Positronic
Positronic offers several capable modular connectors in a range of materials and sizes with varying cable entry angles, termination technologies, and design objectives. They are optimized for particular environments, including those with harsh weather, extreme heat, or the risk of corrosion, as well as specific applications, including those that necessitate electromagnetic protection or high mating cycles. Explore two of our exceptional modular connector series:
- Scorpion Series: The most versatile power/signal connectors on the market, our Scorpion series is available in a 14.6mm standard profile (SP) and 8.2mm slim profile (LSP). Scorpion connectors offer excellent linear current density and heat dissipation as well.
- Great Golden Series: The Great Golden (GG) series is composed of extreme power connectors capable of up to 200 amps per contact. These modular connectors are designed with a fixed envelope and liberal blind mating ability.
At Positronic, we believe in crafting versatile, high-quality connectors. Our design and manufacturing processes meet and often exceed our customers’ needs for quality and reliability. And to suit the needs of our varied customers, we have a wide selection of options available. If you would like to request product recommendations, locate a sales agent, ask a technical question, or simply request a quote, please contact Positronic today.
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