If you design or build industrial machines, you probably know all about hardwiring.
It remains the most common way to bring power and signal to the machine because it offers perceived savings in installation costs.
But the cost savings are really just a mirage once you factor in the full range of wiring costs. These installation costs obviously include time and materials – the cost of the wire, cable, accessories and labour. Less obvious is the fact that you’ll also incur hidden installation costs with their own labour and time-to-market considerations.
For example, many machines have to be disassembled for shipping and reassembled for startup. So, you’ll have to hardwire parts of the machine at least twice.
Then there’s the cost of errors. Field wiring errors are common, especially when local electricians, unfamiliar with the machine, are handling the wiring. At best, these errors can cause delays in machine commissioning. At worst, they can damage the machine.
Finally, add in the cost of testing, which can be complex and expensive in hardwired systems. Keep in mind that the hidden costs will grow exponentially with the number of connection points on themachine.
Fortunately, you can avoid all these costs through ‘connectorisation’. While connector components do require a bigger upfront investment, you will recoup that money and then some.
Connectors enable lower-cost machines: Using connectors gives engineers the flexibility to create modular machines that are faster and less expensive to build. In this approach to machine design, common subsystems and components can be pre-built, tested and stocked for installation.
Machines ship faster: When new, large machines get ready to be shipped, they have to undergo some disassembly. At the very least, cables to and from the control panel will need to be disconnected for shipping. With hardwired machines, this extra step can be time-consuming, expensive and fraught with error.
Quicker commissioning: Once the machine arrives at its destination, all wires disconnected for shipment need to be connected all over again. Connectorised machines have a true plug-and-play start-up process. The need to rewire the machine in the field, and the possibility of wiring mistakes, are eliminated.
Ongoing savings: Machine buyers today expect and demand continuous, uninterrupted operation of their manufacturing and assembly lines. In large factory operations, even the briefest downtime can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars due to lost production.
Put differently, connectorised systems remove any wiring-related downtime, which ultimately leads to ongoing cost savings.