Much like the evolution of the human body, modern machines have evolved to comprise a host of sophisticated technologies and processes. These systems include a specialized computing device, machine framework, and motors, conveyors and robots. As a complex system, these industrial machines also include ubiquitous sensors that vigilantly monitor the environment. And at the heart of the machine, the programmable logic controller (PLC) synchronizes motion, provides logic, and functional safety to protect plant personnel, materials and machines.
The varied power, signal and data points (I/O) on a machine requires a reliable and secure connection to a power panel or control cabinet, which can count in the hundreds or more on a complex machine or assembly line. As machines are created, each connection must be fully wired and tested, then disassembled and reassembled again at the customer site. Commissioning often involves electricians and engineers, and each iteration in the process adds layers of risk for the machine builder. Routine maintenance or troubleshooting may also require disconnecting and reconnecting hundreds of contact points.
Benefits of Modularity
For the levels of complexity industrial machines and robots have, modular connectivity delivers a host of important advantages, including:
• Significant reduction in commissioning time
• Excellent mechanical stability and performance, IEC standardization
• Expedited maintenance and troubleshooting
• Less downtime and higher productivity
Modularity allows technicians to easily disconnect machines using modular assemblies with custom configurations and plug directly into portable testing equipment. Modularity also provides the flexibility and scalability to configure, modify, or expand machines and lines. The Molex portfolio features an array of modular on-machine and in-cabinet power, signal and data solutions, including Heavy Duty Connectors (HDC), Brand Connectors for Industrial Automation, and Brad HarshIO Modules.
Molex Heavy Duty Connectors (HDC) are specialized modular connectors that are designed and constructed to provide secure connections and protect against ingress. Molex HDC solutions deliver reliable performance in demanding applications with a locking mechanism for a secure seal and coupling stability to prevent accidental disconnection.
Molex’s Brad Connectors for Industrial Automation include Brad M23 solutions for power applications in automation and material handling and Brad M12 connectors for harsh industrial and weather environments. These high-quality connectors allow fast and simple replacement of sensors, encoders, switches and other input and output devices in industrial machinery. The M12-compatible Brad Ultra-Lock system is designed to bring the ease of a push-pull connector to IP67/IP68/IP69K rated sealed connections in industrial environments. The patented “push-to-lock” technology of this Push-Pull connector provides a safe, reliable connection of sensors, actuators and other control devices. The Ultra-Lock technology provides a seal that surpasses the performance and reliability of traditional threaded connectors. The Brad Hybrid connector series is based on a circular M12 threaded-coupling design. This provides the ability to occupy less space in automation control equipment and machine designs, while reducing cabling requirements and installation time with integrated power and data signal lines.
Molex’s Brad HarshIO Modules are machine-mountable and support all major industrial communications network PLC connections and protocols, including PROFIBUS-DP, DeviceNet, CANopen, Modbus TCP, EtherNet/IP and PROFINET IO. Compatible with M12 connectors, Brad HarshIO Modules come equipped with diagnostic LEDs to provide status information on network, power and I/O. Featuring QuickConnect for EtherNet/IP and fast start-up technology for PROFINET, HarshIO modules bring exceptional speed and precision to automatic tool change robots in repetitive tasks. B
Brad IO-Link Master Modules on EtherNet/ IP and PROFINET combined with IO-Link Digital Hubs meet the needs of machine builders looking for cost-effective, high-density, high-performance and seamlessly integrated fieldbus connectivity in harsh environments.