Sourcing interconnects for harsh environments

TTI’s connectors/emech business development manager, Steve Brahosky

TTI’s connectors/emech business development manager, Steve Brahosky, explains how bespoke design helps interconnects survive harsh conditions.

From the factory floor to oil/ gas exploration, undersea and even space, more applications require rugged connectors when reliable performance is needed in harsh environments. With new and innovative connector solutions coming to market to address these demanding environments it is important to partner with providers who can address all aspects of the application.

Connector failure in rough conditions is something most of us don’t think about until it happens. However, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so it’s better to think about it before it happens. Whether an OEM is building factory robotics, aerospace equipment or undersea devices, it needs to ensure its products can withstand extreme pressure, temperature variations, rough handling and anything else the environment might throw at them.

For many, rough conditions are just part of the job, not merely something they need to worry about for a few weeks every winter or only when driving through gravel and swamp lands. Power fluctuations, excess moisture, chemical exposure and even salty air constantly threaten those who rely on their equipment to get the job done in less-than-ideal conditions.

The most obvious examples of harsh conditions are natural environments—underwater, off-highway, space, etc— where physical material considerations come into play. For instance, insulation tends to be less effective at higher altitudes, meaning equipment used in aircraft, including eVTOL and spacecraft, need to be built from the ground up to prevent flashover.

Even in a totally controlled environment, like a factory floor, automated equipment and robotics must contend with dust, machining oil, moisture, shock from constantly moving heavy objects from point A to B, and extreme temperature variations that often come with the job.

Developing equipment to withstand these conditions is a constant process of testing and improvement. Innovations occur daily in insulation, corrosion resistance, sealing and pressure shielding for work below sea level and above the stratosphere.

Managing these concerns and building electronic equipment users can count on in uncertain conditions is a trying task. Doing it at scale is another matter entirely, compounded when done within a specific budget/ time frame and all delivered without compromising functionality. Insulation and impact resistance at the cost of weight and portability only introduce new challenges.

A guiding principle in developing equipment for extreme conditions is to forget the one-size-fits-all solution and to source, design and build equipment around the specific hazards relevant to the field of operation. When building electronics
for a harsh environment, a trial-and-error approach to finding the right components quickly gets very expensive.

This is why TTI takes pride in guiding its partners to the best technology available for their needs, sourcing connectors built specifically for harsh environments. TTI brings decades of combined experience to the table to deliver exactly what customers need, no matter where the journey takes them.