As automated machinery continues to change through the use of IoT-enabled technologies, with updated standards and the need for faster speeds and production, more pressure is put upon the cables that are used to control, power and carry these critical signals.
Recently, Horst Messerer, data, network, and bus technology sales manager at Helukabel shared his thoughts on changes the company is seeing with its relationships with customers and how it is adapting cable designs to meet these needs.
Q: How does your company ensure interoperability between its offerings and product families?
A: To ensure that our components work with other component manufacturers, we work closely with OEMs like SEW, FANUC and Siemens to ensure that our cables meet their standards. For data cables we submit our cables to the leading associations like CC-Link, to make sure that they comply with the standards set forth by them. Other associations such as PROFIBUS and PROFINET list our products on their website to show we comply with their standards.
With end users — including those in the automotive business at Daimler, BMW, VW, and Ford — we work with engineering and purchasing departments to get our products onto approved supplier lists … which means our products have been approved because they meet specifications required to be in manufacturing plants.
We extensively test drag chain as well as robot and wind cables at our R&D testing facility to ensure our own quality standards and those of our partners and customers. We can provide our customers with certified test reports on our continuous-flex cables from our mechanical test center, as well as high frequency test reports on our data cables.
Q: How is the IIoT and increasingly networked manufacturing prompting changes in the way motion systems are installed? What are some connectivity-component features to help future-proof designs?
A: The advancements in IIoT are causing industrial Ethernet cables to be manufactured with a twisted quad structure that allows the same signal runtime between each pair. This is critical for data transmission in applications that require real time or industrial real-time updates for machines to perform at high speeds.
We are also seeing the trend of applications requiring the use of hybrid cables to lower installation time, minimize component size to shrink the size of machines, and reduce cable and connector stock volumes — instead of stocking a power cable, a data cable, and a connector for each, you have one hybrid cable and one hybrid connector.
In terms of connectivity-component features to help future-proof designs, we are also seeing “smart” components that self-diagnose — for example, those that can count bit failures in drag chain cables that will notify maintenance to replace the cable before it breaks once a pre-determined limit is reached. There is also a movement to increase the use of PUR cables due to their higher lifetime than PVC cables in continuous-flexing applications.
Additionally, more and more plug-and-play solutions are being used — including industrial Ethernet harnesses with RJ45 or D-/X-coded M12 connectors.