At this year's InnoTrans, the world's leading trade fair for the rail industry held from September 18-21 in Berlin (Germany), HARTING once again showcased numerous innovative solutions and products. At the same time, the technology group focused on the three trend topics of weight reduction, easy handling and data increase.
Weight reduction plays an increasingly important role in rail vehicle construction, and connectors can make a measurable contribution here. For trains and trams, the continuous transition from metal to plastic can reduce the weight of connector housings by up to 50 per cent from one generation to the next.
Consequently, HARTING has extended the Han-Eco plastic connector series by adding housings in Han B size. The advantage: the housings are plug-compatible with Han connectors in metal housings. This makes HARTING's connectors even more flexible. HARTING offers the largest selection of contact inserts for industrial connectors. More than 100 different modules and at least as many monoblocks are available for the transmission of power, data, signals and compressed air.
The plastic housings are not only lightweight, they can also be mounted quickly. For standard connectors, cables must be routed through a mounting cut-out in order to assemble the inserts on the control cabinet. With the Han-Eco B, monoblocks and modular inserts can be pre-assembled and snap directly into the mounting housing. The new option makes work easier: harnesses and control cabinets can be prepared separately for final assembly.
More functions, small space requirements
Modularisation and miniaturisation open up new possibilities in numerous areas. By using increasingly smaller, at times modular connectors, more functions can be combined in a smaller space. This not only reduces the weight of the connectors, but also their space requirements. This gives users more flexibility when designing rail vehicles and opens up further opportunities to save costs in this area.
Given this, the past few years have seen HARTING in particular develop the High Pressure Railway (HPR) housing series in such a way that more connector modules fit into one housing. One of the largest HPR housings, the Han 34 HPR, can now accommodate up to four 650 A high-current contacts or twelve Han-Modular single modules. In the past, two housings each had to be equipped with six Han-Modular individual modules to supply a comparable data volume.
Another HARTING solution that can help to reduce weight in railway applications is the Han 22 HPR Slim motor connector, which is particularly suitable for underfloor applications due to its compact, flat design. Through miniaturisation, HARTING succeeded in creating space for four contacts in the connector – without sacrificing performance.
Ethernet over Single Twisted Pair
In order to save weight and still be able to handle the same volume of data, for rail technology HARTING will in future rely on Ethernet via Single Twisted Pair and small T1 connectors according to IEC 61076-3-125. For cable lengths up to 40 meters, IEEE 802.3bp (1000 BASE-T1) can transmit 1Gbit/s, while the cable length is about one-third lighter than conventional 8-wire Ethernet cable. Commercially available Ethernet cable with four wire pairs for 1/10Gbit/s Ethernet weighs about 45 kg per kilometre. A single-pair cable with the same bandwidth weighs only 30 kg per kilometre. Since several kilometres of cable are installed in the cars of passenger trains alone, there is considerable potential for saving vehicle weight here.
Tool-less assembly via PushPull
HARTING offers its PushPull solutions in order to simplify assembly and service in the railway sector (Easy Handling) and make it more reliable. The M12 circular connector is now also available with PushPull locking. For device connection technology, there is also the easy-to-use PushPull system in the square connector variant 4. Both with M12 and with variant 4, the secure transmission of power, signals and data up to Cat. 6A can be managed problem-free.
The advantage of PushPull connectors is their tool-free installation, regardless of whether round or square versions are used. They are simply gripped and mated. An audible click signals that the connectors have been securely locked and correctly connected – and thereby saves up to 75 per cent of assembly time.
Service-friendly drive control with the Multifibre module
In trains, IGBT semiconductor elements control high-performance electric drives, which are connected to the required insulation via plastic fiber optic cables. The previous connection between controller and driver board, i.e. control and motor side, was managed using single fibers. The electro-optical conversion of the signals takes place in the transceivers of the printed circuit board, wherein optical contacts make the connection to the fibres. Each optical fiber has a single connector on both the driver and controller boards that house the transceivers. With this previous solution, all transmit and receive elements on the controller board require significant space, and the board is unnecessarily enlarged.
HARTING offers users a new, miniaturised solution in IGBT control – the Multifibre module. The technology group has thus developed a transmission principle that includes the transfer of the transceivers of the controller board into a pluggable module and in this way integrates the optical interface according to the principle of "plug electrically and transmit optically". In the future, only a robust interface will need to be serviced in the event of maintenance, and not up to sixteen sensitive optical contacts.
HARTING joins International Railway Quality Board
The International Railway Quality Board (IRQB) was founded at this year’s rail fair InnoTrans, with HARTING one of the founding members. The aim of the consortium is to ensure quality in the rail industry.
The consortium consists of railway operators such as Deutsche Bahn and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), system integrators such as Siemens and Alstom, as well as component suppliers such as Knorr-Bremse and HARTING. The consortium’s founding marks the first time an international association has been created across all levels of the value chain of the rail industry. This makes it possible to jointly define industry-specific quality standards that are adapted to the demanding requirements of the rail industry. In addition, participants from the different value-creation levels can also directly monitor results, such that specifications lead to immediate benefits for the customer.
“Joining means we’re always in tune with the times. We know early on which quality requirements the railway industry places on our HARTING products and solutions and can continue to actively ensure the high quality standard within the rail industry,” says Dr Frank Brode, Chief Technology Officer of the HARTING Technology Group.
An important instrument for ensuring quality will be the expansion and continuous improvement of the IRIS certification scheme. After the transfer of the IRIS standard to the international standard ISO TS 22163 and the revision of the certification scheme to Revision 3, the conditions for this are very good. HARTING has been involved in IRIS certification from the very beginning as a member of the IRIS Steering Committee and e.g. holds the first IRIS certificate. That is why it was natural for HARTING to assume responsibility here as well and to further enhance quality within the railway sector as a member of the IRQB.