Jun 1, 2021

Digital Transformation and Connectivity in Manufacturing

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Stewart Beer is the Site Manager at Electrix International on how cables are adapting and transforming in manufacturing in the wake of the wireless age

In a wireless age, the use of cables may be losing its function in some industries, however for others, the role they play is as important as ever. In the case of the manufacturing, as technology becomes increasingly integrated, so does the prominence of cables.

Within the manufacturing industry, cables are key for both the delivery of electricity to machinery and transporting digital information between consoles and departments. They also do a whole lot more, playing a vital part in ensuring the safety of workers and creating streamlined forms of communication between staff and robotics. 

In the future, technological advancements in manufacturing will rely even more on the increased efficiency and safety of cables. While innovation is key to manufacturing’s success, safety should always be the priority.

For a deeper insight, read our guide below and find out how cables are adapting and continuing to pave the way forward for the manufacturing industry.

Wired connections offer the manufacturing industry efficiency

The 5G revolution is tipped to bring new speeds and capabilities to technological sectors. However, maintaining cabled connections is key because wired connections allow businesses to utilize a dedicated bandwidth. The benefits of this include faster information transfers, reduced risk of network transfer interruptions, and fewer chances of connection outages – all essential for an industry that relies on efficiency, 

Connection outages can halt the production process, particularly where automation is used. The consequence of this can result in burdening costs and lost profitability. For safety, a wired connection is always the most reliable and the most secure compared to a wireless connection.

Industrial ethernet means that information can be processed at high speeds and transferred to machinery. When devices are working in unison and in sync with each other, this speed is essential. While wireless capabilities continue to improve, cables will still produce the most efficient form of connection.

Robotics depend on wires and robust cable management 

With automation comes a large amount of movement. However, with the efficiency of cabled connections, robotic wires must withstand a high amount of stress and tension through their constant and alternating bending cycles. Because of this, special requirements for wires are needed to prevent breakages and other safety concerns.

These wires must be protected from damaging conditions, including exposure to oil, chemicals, and high temperatures.

With the large number of wires required in robotics, the use of robust cable management systems is another way that wires can be protected. Here, wires are separated when passing into electrical enclosure boxes. This means that when wires are exposed for connection, particles are prevented from touching the cables.

This is particularly important in terms of the safety of the operators, preventing chances of accidental harm. 

While wires are essential to manufacturing, ensuring that they are safe should be a bigger priority.

Technological advances in cables requires improved insulation and voltage grade

As far as technological advancements within cables are concerned, improving insulation and voltage grade has been a major focus in recent years. In terms of insulation, the industry’s objective is to produce better quality polymers to reduce the thickness of insulation, whilst maintaining strength.

Newer smoke retardant PVC is becoming commonly used in place of regular PVC in manufacturing. PVC has long stood as a useful insulator for wires due its flame and oil resistance. However, in the event of a fire, the plastic coating produces a high quantity of smoke. While the innovation of thermoset plastic is not new, its use as cable coating is now more appropriate. In the event of a fire, low levels of smoke are produced. This allows workers to safely evacuate working premises.

Further to this, Teflon is a popular alternative to PVC. It is predominantly used for low voltage or communicative wiring, essential for manufacturing. While PVC can withstand temperatures of around 160F, Teflon can withstand heat of around 480F.

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