0430450200 – Quo Vadis, Connector Industry?

Whilst boring to most electrical engineers, connectors manage to gain significant interest in our search queries

Whilst boring to most electrical engineers, connectors manage to gain significant interest in our search queries. At the last Hannover Fair, connector manufacturers showed off an interesting developmental path.

Let us start out with the obvious; if something does not use extremely advanced technologies or difficult-to-clone software, it will get cloned in Asia eventually. Connectors such as Molex’s well-liked MicroFit series can, of course, be had somewhat cheaply when comparing distributors. The real profit, on the other hand, lays in sourcing products “elsewhere”.

The “pressure” felt by traditional vendors is best summed up in a recent shot by yours truly at Hannover Messe – Tianli had its booth literally metres away from trusty old connector-wiseguy Weidmüller.

What will change?

When faced with Chinese pressure, the safest response involves going into high technology and offering value-added services. A RIGOL spectrum analyzer might be able to give you similar performance in heterodyne sweep. Units like the Keysight MSA can play out their strengths by acting as an application platform solving technical problems without further human intervention.

The clearest demonstration of transition was shown at the booth of Phoenix Contacts; the company exhibited a wide variety of innovative plug designs, which aimed to reduce the time needed for the assembly of components. Some plugs even accept Litz wires without additional “wrapping” – the practice of tinning Litz wires is frowned upon in power electronics circles due to odd behaviours of the tin when high currents flow.

In addition to that, a drive towards technology is clearly visible. All vendors offer various SPS-like process computers which are intended to bind users to their connector and product portfolio. Weidmueller even went so far as to integrate a web-based programming environment into one of their systems; users can connect a phone or a notebook and code away without needing to install dedicated software.

Logistics, of course, also remains king. Weidmueller jumps onto the current sensor market by offering a series of sensing elements of their own – the idea behind this is that users who already have a relationship with the vendor will be less likely to buy another product for convenience reasons.

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