Backing the agricultural revolution

ES June15 Pg21 & 22 Binder 1Increasing computerisation of heavy farming and construction equipment has increased demand for connectors able to withstand extremely harsh environments, explains managing director of Binder UK, David Phillips.

Recent years have seen a dramatic change in the design of heavy outdoor machinery and equipment, with a move from mechanical and hydraulic components to electro-technical devices incorporating sophisticated, computer-controlled electronics and telematics systems. Such innovation has dictated the increasing need for connectors suitable for use in these difficult and extremely harsh operating conditions.

On the farm

This trend is particularly prevalent in the agricultural sector where the radical development of equipment such as tractors and combine harvesters has seen a huge shift in technology. Seeding systems in use today, for example, are worlds apart from those used 15 years ago.

Previously, seed dosage was controlled via a dial according to the judgement of the operator, whereas today the tractor has global positioning system (GPS) support and a personal computer (PC)-based intelligent software program that calculates seed requirements and controls output precisely via electrically controlled dispensers. This leads to significant efficiencies and greater yields and is typical of new developments covering many applications that were hitherto completely devoid of electronic support.

Tough conditions

What hasn’t changed over the years is the harsh environment in which such equipment operates. High levels of ultra-violet (UV), fluctuating temperatures, acid rain, salt spray, ozone and other pollutants are just some of the hazards that occur naturally. Many systems are also subject to regular high-pressure washing.

To meet such arduous conditions, connector manufacturers have responded and developed connectors like Binder’s harsh environment connector (HEC). This recently introduced, UL-approved connector series 696 is designed specifically for outdoor use and is waterproof and dustproof to IP68 and IP69K respectively. It also withstands high-pressure washing and boasts high levels of resistance to all the hazards mentioned above.

Series 696 is manufactured from a tough UL 94V-0 rated polyamide and incorporates a three-point bayonet locking system designed to offer quick and secure fastening. It also lays claim to a robust and safe coding mechanism, which prevents incorrect orientation, with Binder rating the connector as suitable for over 1,000 mating cycles. The use of a variety of crimp contacts is also said to ensure a secure, vibration-proof termination.

Two versions are available: a 12-pole version with each contact rated to 5A and 250V and an eight-pole hybrid with four signal contacts and three +PE that can accommodate a variety of wire gauges. The gold-plated signal and power contacts are rated up to 3A/60V and 25A/400V respectively and the system caters for cable sizes from six to 17mm in diameter.

This makes the Series 696 ideal for all applications operating in harsh environments including agricultural and construction equipment, traffic and signalling systems, process engineering plants and water purification and recycling equipment.

Electronics everywhere

Binder is fully aware that product developments will continue to take sophisticated electronic equipment into processes that were traditionally the domain of rugged mechanical machinery and it is therefore essential that it continues to cater for evolving customer requirements.

Another Binder product development fulfilling just such demand is the 770 non-connected closed (NCC) connector series, designed such that it protects the contacts to IP67 when not connected, without a protective cap. Together with the Series 696, developments such as these set new standards in environmental protection and are part of an on-going commitment from Binder to push capabilities in this area.