Pave Technology Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Pivot Point, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Proto Labs, Inc.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Astro-MetInc ................. 19
Digi-Key Electronics. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1, 2
Fairlane Products Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
SchurterInc .................. 20
Shear-Loc Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Smalley Steel Ring Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
In the Product Design & Development Brainstorm we talk with industry leaders to get their
perspective on issues critical to the design engineering marketplace. In this issue, we ask:
What challenges must be overcome to develop the next generation of industrial interconnects?
Josh Jimenez, Product Manager,
Next generation industrial interconnect
designs will confront similar challenges faced
by their predecessors such as deliberation
on size, weight, signal speed/integrity, and
power considerations. The distinction will be
pushing the boundaries past the groundwork that legacy industrial
interconnect products established in order to be implemented into a
multitude of markets.
The challenge to capture business in multiple market segments
from a singular interconnect device will push connector designs
to be flexible enough to be used across market sectors. For
instance, connectors that were once marketed or designed
exclusively to an industrial market are now being improved upon
in order to be reliable options for other markets that have similar
needs – high reliability, harsh environment, and low- and high-voltage extremes. Markets such as aerospace, marine (i.e. offshore drilling), industrial, and some emerging consumer goods all
share these challenges to differing degrees.
The emergence of Io T and Industry 4.0 will also continue to push
interconnect design. Smart factories and the desire for autonomous
factory control and decentralization will challenge traditional
connector designs to incorporate sensing and feedback integration.
We can see similar trends within the appliance and automotive
sectors, and the concepts are also being deployed into the
wearables market. Io T and consumer demand will drive designers to
create cross-functional interconnect solutions that allow for closed-loop communication between machines/devices and people.
In the spirit of these challenges some new innovations for
interconnect solutions have already begun. TE Connectivity has
developed an interconnect device (ARISO) for use in industrial/
harsh environment applications that is a break from typical
interconnect devices in that it can pass data/power/signal without
actually mating in the traditional connector sense. The contactless
design affords it the ability to be used in industrial applications as
well as other market segments.
The next generation of industrial interconnects will need
to continue to push the envelope on traditional interconnect
designs. It will address how global internet/Wi-Fi access enables
the melding of the industrial processes of yesterday and the
consolidated needs for cross systems solutions of the future.
Global Portfolio Director of Basics, Amphenol FCI
Nothing stays the same, and that can certainly
be said of the technologies that drive the
electronics industry. Constant consumer demand
for greater bandwidth delivered in smaller form
factors continues unabated.
In my conversations with manufacturing CEOs and other decision
makers in the industry, one issue consistently emerges as a key concern
that will continue to challenge manufacturers of industrial interconnects
in the coming year – to do more with less.
To be specific, manufacturers have to maintain their productivity
and production capacity in less time, at a lower cost, and within an
ever-shrinking environment where connections are made. The three
points are elaborated with greater details below:
1. Less time
The life cycle of many products continues to decrease as new
technology innovations push last year’s must-have device into
obsolescence. While these shorter life cycles are typical in the
consumer, computing, and communication markets, it is also starting
to emerge in industrial equipment manufacturing, including connectors.
Meanwhile, new requirements affecting reliability and e-waste impact
the equipment product design process.
2. Lower cost
Cost is frequently the driving factor when deciding on a connector
style for device installation. Engineers and buyers consistently require
cost-effective solutions that provide quality and value, and meet the
application’s requirements. A solution that can save time and money
does not necessarily mean that it’s priced the lowest; efficiencies to
the operation and installation of a device are equally important.
3. Shrinking environment
The environment where connections are made often dictates
the reliability criteria to be met. For example, electromechanical
interference (EMI) from drives, motors, and other nearby noise-
producing equipment can cause loss or unreliable signal transmission.
Mechanical stress during installation or operation of a device may also
cause substantial vibration to the PCB and connector contacts, which
can in turn lead to connection reliability issues.
As the Internet of Things (Io T) market grows, this issue will only
be exacerbated. More devices with tiny PCB real estate will challenge
manufacturers to offer robust and reliable products at higher densities
than ever before.