A Lasting Connection: Industrial Mixing
The agricultural industry is tasked with feeding the population of our planet – but production is just one element in the global food supply chain. There is also a vast network that handles processing and distribution from the farm to the consumer, and this industry is constantly embracing innovation to feed the public more substantially and efficiently.
The use of the newest machines and technology can be found in all stages of the food supply chain and require reliable, innovative interconnects to go with them.
In this post, we’ll outline how Bulgin was create a connector solution for a customer in one of these applications.
The Customer’s Requirements
At the end of the supply chain are the stores that sell to the consumer.
Many of these shops are large enough to handle some of the processing tasks themselves, from in-house bakeries with industrial ovens to specialist delicatessens that prepare dishes on-site. Despite the scale of production, hygiene and cleanliness are of paramount importance.
A customer in this category approached Bulgin to find a solution for an industrial mixer. To meet—and exceed—the most stringent food safety regulations, the equipment was designed to be frequently washed. This meant using materials that would not be affected by cleaning chemicals and a design that would resist high-pressure water sprays.
Although the electronics would not come into direct contact with food, they still needed to be protected from the cleaning process.
To provide the highest possible reliability, all electronics were mounted to printed circuit boards (PCBs), which were treated with a conformal coating to protect components from water damage.
However, the customer was experiencing reliability problems associated with cables. The mixer used a cable to provide power to the machine that was “hard-wired” or fixed permanently into the housing.
The Challenges of Fixed Cables
Fixed cables provide a long-term solution for protecting the cable entry, traditionally an area that is vulnerable to moisture ingress.
However, fixed cables can also cause maintenance headaches. If the PCB needs to be removed, there is no simple way to disconnect the cable for access.
The PCB’s conformal coating makes this even trickier. If the cable needs to be removed from such an installation, the entire PCB must be scrapped.
Bulgin’s challenge was to create a solution that would allow the PCB to be disconnected from the cable whenever necessary, but would still provide superior protection against the high-pressure sprays used during cleaning.
The Buccaneer circular connector family are available in a range of sizes and power ratings and are specifically designed to provide protection in tough conditions.
Bulgin initially chose the 900 series as the basis of its solution for this industrial mixer application. The 900 series is one of the largest products in the Bulgin range and is sealed to IP69K when mated.
The IP69K rating denotes that the connector will retain its watertight integrity even when subjected to high-pressure sprays, whether directly or from multiple angles. This level of protection makes the 900 series ideal in a product subjected to constant cleaning.
However, when Bulgin’s engineering team discussed the potential solution with the client, they discovered a problem.
While the 900 series offered the necessary environmental protection and high current rating, it was too large to be used in a traditional panel mount configuration. The connector would have to exit the enclosure perpendicular to the enclosure wall, making it cumbersome and inconvenient.
The 900 series would have to be adapted for the specific customer application.
A Turnkey Solution
Working quickly to create a new design, the team at Bulgin developed a surface-mounting panel connector that allowed the cable to exit the enclosure parallel to the surface, greatly reducing the height and making the connector far more useable in confined spaces.
The panel-mounting solution was finished with pre-installed cables that allowed quick connection to the PCB within the enclosure.
Bulgin’s supply of a completed cable assembly offers many advantages over traditional industrial connectors. The 900 series provides a complete solution, with terminals, insert, connector housing and cable sealing integrated into a single product. This service allows the ordering of a single part number, which mitigates common supply chain issues.
In addition, by providing a completed cable solution, Bulgin relieved the customer from the need to purchase additional components or employ a cable manufacturer to complete the work. The assembly is provided as a single part number, fully tested, and ready for installation.
All told, Bulgin was able to work with the customer to create a complete, turnkey solution. The 900 series provides the environmental protection that is vital to the customer’s needs, while the integrated cable assembly reduces costs and headaches associated with sourcing and purchasing.
Bulgin has nearly a century of experience in developing connectivity products for some of the most demanding conditions. It is important to remember that harsh environments are found not only in factories but are present in food production, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and many more.
Bulgin is uniquely equipped to serve customers in a diverse range of industries applications. If you would like to learn more about the products, interconnect solutions, or value-added services offered, please reach out today.