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As manufacturers strive to minimise energy consumption in order to improve efficiencies, it’s clear that, alongside improving aerodynamics and drive unit efficiency, reducing the weight of components is a key method of delivering savings.
Every gram in weight needs to be accelerated and decelerated thousands of times during a vehicle's life. A heavier vehicle requires more energy to accelerate, which in turn costs the operator more money. According to calculations by railway operators, each kilogram of train weight costs more than £10,000 over an average service life of 40 years.
When it comes to reducing mass, connectors can make a measurable contribution. Obviously, these potential savings seem low compared to the overall weight of a train, but manufacturers are scrutinising the design of their rail vehicles ever more closely and looking to reduce weight wherever possible. With the Han-Eco B, HARTING has developed a range hoods and housings manufactured from high-performance, glass fibre-reinforced, polyamide plastic. These offer substantial weight savings of up to 50% per connector compared to traditional metal versions.
The Han-Eco range complies with standards IEC 61948 and EN 45545-2 HL3 and is fire-resistant according to UL94 V0. Furthermore, the Eco B range is compatible with standard metal Han B housings, meaning both variants are intermateable. As well as being lightweight, the Han-Eco B supports modular inserts, which means data, signal and power can be combined into one standard-sized industrial connector. Not only does this make them versatile, it further reduces the space requirement for connectors within the train.
HARTING is also implementing the trends of modularisation and miniaturisation within the sphere of heavy-duty connectors. Continuous development of the High Pressure Railway (HPR) housing range means it is now possible to incorporate more connectors within a single housing. For example, the Han 34 HPR can now take up to four 650 A high-current contacts or twelve individual Han-Modular modules.
Previously two housings, each fitted with six individual Han-Modular modules, were required in order to deliver a comparable data supply. This reduces both the proportional weight of the connector and the space requirement too, offering greater flexibility and reduced costs. Similarly, the flat, compact shape of the Han 22 HPR Slim motor connector makes it particularly suited for use in underfloor areas.
Interior fitting work in trains is often awkward due to tight space conditions and cable ducts, wall ducts and the interior of control cabinets can be difficult to reach. As space for fitting components becomes increasingly scarce in rail vehicles, HARTING has looked at the issue of assembly solutions. When working in confined spaces, simple installation processes are crucial. Thanks to the M12 PushPull, there’s now a solution which offers handling, time and reliability benefits for the user.
Traditionally, M12 connectors were locked in place via a screw connection, with a tool being used to achieve the necessary torque. However, if there is barely any space to insert a screwdriver or accommodate a wrench, the assembly quickly becomes complicated. This method is also extremely time consuming, especially if 20 ports on a switch need to be mounted in a confined space or uncomfortable working position. The M12 PushPull uses an intuitive, tool-free connection technique that ensures absolute dependency; as the two sections are clicked into place by hand, an audible feedback indicates the connection is secure. As well as simplifying difficult fittings, the tool-free installation method means the assembly density can be significantly increased, helping to save valuable space.
At the same time as reducing weight, railway operators are faced with the challenge of expanding data capacities on new and existing rolling stock. Customers now expect high-performance infotainment systems on trains, as well as fast and reliable internet access.
By using the preLink system and EtherRail cables, which are specially designed for railway requirements, data networks in trains can be securely built and made future-proof. The central component of the preLink system is the termination block, which makes it possible to create the cable connection quickly, simply and reliably. The small size of the preLink contact block also makes it possible to pre-fabricate data cables outside the carriage and then install them. For pull-through, a minimum hole diameter of 12 mm is sufficient. After the cables have been laid, the appropriate connector is assembled, depending on the network device to be connected. This method offers unique flexibility and simplifies assembly, making it faster and more reliable.
HARTING has created a space-saving, future-proof solution for the delivery of Ethernet up to 10 Gbit/sec. As devices in trains such as sensors, cameras and automation equipment are rapidly decreasing in size, so passenger information screens are becoming thinner and flatter. It therefore stands to reason that device connectors themselves must decrease in size, to ensure they don’t take up too much of the limited installation space on miniaturised equipment.
The ix Industrial is a robust Ethernet connector to replace the traditional RJ45. It has a 70% smaller PCB jack, enabling manufacturers to use it in much smaller devices and a high current-carrying capacity that supports both existing and future Power over Ethernet (PoE) applications. It is standardised to comply with IEC 61076-3-124 and conforms to the shock and vibration resistance levels set out in EN 50155 railway specifications.
HARTING’s UK facility in Northampton manufactures Intercar Jumpers for power and data. For more information about these turnkey solutions, or to learn more about HARTING's range of rail-focused products, visit Stand E65 at Railtex.
For more information, visit https://www.harting.com/UK/en-gb/markets/transportation
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