Market dynamics driving innovations in connectors

0
334

Connectors are an integral part of every electronic device as no circuit is complete without a connector.

By Sandhya Malhotra

Saturday, April 17, 2010: All outputs of a circuit depend on the performance of the connectors used. However, the performance of a connector depends on a number of factors such as raw material selection based on inputs and outputs in terms of voltage and current; number of pins, pitch between the pins and their structure, which is decided at the designing stage; insulator of the housing, which takes into account temperature and other conditions under which the connector has to perform; and plating in terms of gold, tin and nickel, which depends on the type of application. The packaging is also done carefully so as to mitigate the effects of environment on the pins and insulators.

Thus, the growth of electronics industry in India is directly linked to the growth of connectors. If manufacturing of electronic products increases, volumes of connectors are bound to increase. As electronics manufacturing services (EMS) and contract manufacturing companies soak up the largest volumes of connectors, they play an important part in creating their demand. “In terms of market share, the connector market enjoys about 18-20 per cent share in manufacturing of electronic devices,” says Anand Bhansali, director, Anand Industrial Components.

There is a large variety of connectors that can be used in a large number of applications. “As per industry estimates there are about 27,000 different types of connectors. Some can be used for single connection, whereas others can be used to provide a large number of connections. Requirements may include features such as the size of the connector, the intended use, etc,” says Prakash Bharwani, CEO, Rank Infotech.

There are a number of manufacturers of connectors in India including 3M Electro & Communication India Pvt, ABB Limited, Amphenol Corporation, Amphenol TCS, Delphi Connection Systems Tyco Electronics, Molex (India) Pvt Ltd, FCI OEN Connectors Ltd, etc, but since the demand for connectors is increasing in India at a fast rate, distributors have to import them in large scale.

Why connectors are being imported?

Technology, precision, raw material, right design and high investments are the key requirements for manufacturing connectors. But due to lack of technology and automation, basic infrastructure, highly fluctuating raw material rate, Indian manufactures are unable to compete with the manufactures of China, Taiwan and other Far East countries.

“From the manufacturers’ point of view, Indian companies do not have any competitive edge as the cost of basic raw material in India is almost double compared to other Asian countries. Therefore, most of Indian manufacturers have started importing connectors,” says Ganesh Padmanabhan, country manager, JST.

SK Jain, CEO & MD, Sumitron Exports, adds, “Customers look for locally manufactured products to improve supply chain lead time. Availability of the right quality products at competitive prices is their top priority.”

Types of connectors

Connectors come in many types and sizes and are constantly modified to give better efficiency and connectivity. Preman Ninan, senior sales manager, Molex India, says, “Since connectors are used by various industries for different applications, their range is also quite wide.”

“We have been importing more than 50 types of connectors from Taiwan and China which range from 0.5 mm to 3.96 mm. Our customers include power suppliers, networking companies and small manufactures,” says Padam Aggarwal, proprietor, Aggarwal Electronic. Over the years, connectors have gone through several technological changes. For example, soldered based connectors have been completely replaced by crimping connectors which are more rugged in nature, informs Aggarwal.

However, the most commonly used are 8P8C connectors, D-subminiature connectors, USB connectors, power connectors, radio frequency connectors and DC connectors, informs Jain.

What’s new and innovative?

New product development is the lifeblood for the electronics industry in general and connector manufacturers in particular. The demand for faster, better and cheaper electronic devices drive all component manufacturers to constantly upgrade their offerings in order to stay competitive in the market.

“Digital convergence is a major factor affecting a wide range of applications, from consumer to telecommunication sector. This market dynamics is an important driving factor for the connector industry,” says Jain.

Thus, innovations are consistent in connector segment in line with developments in the electronics industry. “Micro miniature connectors are constantly under innovation to support ever decreasing electronic gadgets’ size. Connectors with 0.2mm pitch support products like mobile phones, iPod, etc,” says Ninan. Adds Nimish Doshi, director, Spectra Connectronics, “Innovations are also happening in compact power connector and high speed connector segments.”

As electronic products are becoming smaller and compact, the connectors are matching to the expectation of manufacturers in shape and size. Pitches of connectors are becoming smaller now from 2.54 mm standard size to 0.5 mm, 1mm and 1.25 mm size, and due to smaller pitches the connectors are now surface mount devices (SMD) rather than the previous Dual In Line Plug types (DIP) SMD says Bharwani.

According to Bhansali, the latest innovations are happening in the fine pitch connectors ranging from 1mm to 0.50 mm. Another development is taking place in the surface mount devices (SMDs) for faster assemblies of connectors on the printed circuit boards (PCBs) with the help of automatic pick and place machines. Also, constant development is being undertaken in the field of telecommunication and defence applications.

“Of late, there have been dramatic improvements in size and functions of connectors with their growing need in meeting design breakthroughs in circuit industry, reliability and cost reduction. Manufacturers are required to provide solution to specific standards, informs Padmanabhan.

Connectors are becoming smaller with more pins to cater to various handheld devices. “Miniature connectors and SMDs for high speed data transmissions are also becoming popular,” says Joy Thomas, key account manager, 3M Electronics & Electrical.

Some special connectors and their variants are also being used for some specialised applications, for example—reverse polarity connectors designed for radio frequency local area network, which are fast replacing RF connectors.

As automotive, computer and telecom markets are undergoing constant innovations, low cost and high volume connectors for cellphones, notebook, desktop PCs, motherboards, HDDs, etc, are also evolving fast to keep pace with the technological changes.

Challenges faced by buyers

If the right connector from the right manufacturer is not used, it can pose a major performance challenge for the end product. However, availability of connectors is the major challenge for buyers, says Thomas.

Another major challenge is customs duty which affects prices when buying in Indian Rupee (INR) even though the basic duty is nil. Moreover, traders are not technically sound and their sales teams are not adequate to give right solutions to the customers. Hence, they end up paying more without getting the right solutions.

Since connectors are available in bulk, it is essential for a buyer to select the connectors from IEC certified companies as they guarantee life up to one year.

“A buyers should consider the credibility of trader, ruggedness of connectors and price before making the purchase decision,” sums up Sachin Tantia, director, Myson Cabletronics Pvt Ltd.

Moreover, in the field of connectors there is nothing like latest trend as the application is very wide. Connectors which were used two decades earlier are still used in good quantity but with lots of improved features, says Bhansali.

Customisation and after sales support

Connectors based on the modular approach permit a high degree of customisation while utilising standardised building blocks. Users may mix-and-match connector modules that are optimised for low speed, high speed and power circuits within one assembly. Further, attempts to fine tune interface performance and cost to the specific needs of individual applications is resulting in the effort to fill in the performance cost gap between existing product lines.

JST take utmost care to see that their end customers are properly guided for making a good harness. “We also have a support system in which the application tools are even leased free some times,” says Padmanabhan.

Post service support is almost as important an the initial purchase, therefore, it should be considered with great care. “Connectors are generally not serviceable products. Once they are used in equipment, corrections and changes are generally not possible. Good process control in manufacturing is important to ensure good performance of connectors,” says Ninan.

Connector distributors offer a wide range of services. “We offer services like designing, sampling, documentation, white papers, approvals, updates, road shows, seminars, exhibitions and technical support which help design engineers to choose the most suitable connector for their application,” says Doshi.

Jain claims, “We offer world class products at very competitive price. Wire nut connectors from Sumitron are the right ones for every wire connection job. These are built to provide strong and safe connections covering applications ranging from residential, commercial, interior to exterior—across a wide range of wire sizes and connections.”

To keep users informed is essential part of the service support. As Bhansali puts it, “We update our customers on new versions available with samples and data sheets to help them incorporate the right connector in their new products. We also guide them in selecting the right connector at various stages of product development.”

Buying tips

The requirements of the customers are unique and differ from vertical to vertical and industry to industry. So, individual requirements and applications have to be considered while choosing the connectors. “Connectors are available for various applications and different performance levels. Hence, identification of the right connector for the application is quite important,” adds Ninan.

While purchasing connectors, the first consideration should be given to the quality of the material used in the connector. “Always avoid using connectors made of steel pins as they may not carry the plating for long and may start rusting once exposed to the environment and result in bad or loose contact,” informs Bhansali. Another important factor is the make of connectors. It is advisable to choose well known brands as they are industry tested and approved by the quality control agencies and various government bodies. Also, connectors having international approvals like the UL, CE, VDE and meet the RoHs compliance should get the priority over others.

“No one can afford electronic connector failures when tight production schedules, important data transmissions and even lives are at stake. Therefore, a customer should always go for most technologically advanced and cost efficient electronic connectors,”says Padmanabhan.

Connectors should withstand 1,000 times mating operations and should not fail during this test. According to Thomas, understanding of signal, power and mating requirements of the PCB or system is very essential. While buying connectors from importers, the buyers should check whether the supplier or manufacturer produce certified connectors. Aggarwal suggests, “Good plating and solderabilty should also be checked, as connectors should not be tarnished.”

Besides these factors, buyers should check humidity capacity of connectors to ascertain their suitability for Indian weather conditions and it should have a good insulating material to withstand soldering temperature.

“The absolute cost of ownership should also be looked into, as one should not be carried away by initial low prices. A failure costs much more than the cost of components,” adds Thomas.

Agrees Doshi, “Cost saving should not be at the cost of quality because the cost of replacement, repair and downtime is much higher than the money saved on cheaper and inferior quality connectors.” It is advisable to do a comparative survey before making the purchasing decision.

Segments creating demand

• Power and energy

• Dispaly systems

• Robotics

• Toys and games

• Audio and video

• Automobiles

• Computers

• Consumer electronics

• Telecom

• Medical

• Aerospace

• Transportation

• Telecommunications

Grey market threat

Grey market constitutes trading of a commodity through distribution channels which, while legal, is unintended by the original connector manufacturers. With the opening of international borders and use of the Internet to sell goods, availability of grey market equipment is common in the electronics components and consumer electronics markets. Since the resellers’ cost is less, grey market products are cheaper. But unfortunately, this price saving is only on the initial purchase because service and support is more difficult to obtain later. So, it may cost the buyer more in the long run.

Thus, adequate policing to stop grey market goods from entering the market is necessary. It is advisable that end users should not buy from the grey market as beside losing the manufacturer’s service, the traceability of products in case of any failure also becomes difficult.  According to SK Jain, MD & CEO, Sumitron Exports Pvt Ltd, the prevalence of counterfeit components is growing significantly, partly due to companies failing to plan contingency against the threat of obsolescence. “In a desperate attempt to maintain production harmony, they use supply channels of unauthorised component markets and end up with a bad case of grey market blues,” he says.

In connectors market, most of the counterfeit products come from countries like Taiwan and China. The duplicated connectors are mainly RJ45, ribbon cables and FRC. “Grey market is like a virus, if we don’t take corrective measure at the right time then we will have to pay a heavy price in future,” says Nimish Doshi, director, Spectra Connectronics Pvt Ltd.  On the positive side, Preman Ninan, senior sales manager, Molex India says, “Grey market caters to the very low end of the market. Hence, these problems hardly matters.”

Types of connectors

• PCB connectors

• I/O connectors

• IC sockets

• RF and coaxial

• Circular connectors

• Fiber optic

• Terminal blocks

• Heavy duty connectors

• Power/voltage connectors

• Water sealed connectors

• Application specific connectors

• Heavy duty connectors

• Mi-grade connectors

• Aerospace grade connectors

• Ethernet connectors (RJ45)

• Terminal blocks

• Crimp-on terminals

• Pin headers and sockets

• D-sub and HDD

• Din and mini din

• Relimate

• Euro

• Blade connector

• Ring and spade terminals

Products and their features:

Name of manufacturer/distributor

Types of products

Price range

Key Features

Contact details

3M

Low speed & high speed signal connectors & cable assembly – printed circuit board-to-board, wire-to-board, wire-to-wire

Competitive with reputed brands

 

Ph: 080-2223 2373;
Email: joy.thomas@mmm.com;
Web: www.3m.com/interconnects

Aggarwal Electronic Co

Relimate, D-sub connectors, USB connectors

22-25 paisa

 

Ph: 011-23865421, 23865422; Fax:23865423;
Email: aggarwalelectronic@gmail.com

Web: www.aggarwalelectronics.com

Anand Industrial Components

 

IDC & pin headers, D sub & HDD, relay sockets,euro connectors,PCB edge connectors, terminal blocks and miniature connectors

Rs10-60,
Rs10 to 300,
Rs 2 to 80

Reliable in quality and low cost solutions

Mobile: 9322231143;
Ph: 022-23882783 / 32535006;
Email-anand@aic-india.com;
Web: www.aic-india.com

JST

wire to wire, wire to board insulation displacement type, board to board,

FPC, FFC range and automotive connectors

Variable

 

Mobile: 0993041545;

Email: ganesh@jst-india.com;

Web:www.jst-india.com

Molex(India) Pvt Ltd

 

Impact -backplane, SFP+ – IO, extreme power

US$ 2 -10, US$ 1- 5, US$ 2-15

Data rate upto 25 Gbps, DIPS upto 100 pairs,Data rate upto 10 Gbps, SMT design,high power up to 320 Amps, hot pluggable

Ph: 080–41293500;
Email: rajaram.srinivas@molex.com;

Web: www.molex.com

Myson Cabletronics Pte Ltd

PLCC socket type, DIP & SMT, D-sub HD and FPC connectors

   

Ph: 011-23867297;

Fax: 23865344;
Email: mysonconnect@yahoo.co.in

Rank Infotech/ Toyo

All types of connectors and cable around 5000 different types.

Rs 0.60 paisa – Rs 2500

0 per cent rejection

Mobile: 9819566323

Email: rank@hathway.com

Web: www.rankinfotech.com

Spectra Connectronics Pvt Ltd

Circular, power, board-to bora, wire-wire, RF, fibre

 

Provides total connectivity solutions

Ph: 022-61468800, 61468888;
Fax: 022-23802753;
Email: purchase@spectra.in;
Web: www.spectraconnectronics.com

Sumitron Exports Pvt Ltd

Wire nut, battery modular connector

Variable

Cover a full range of wire sizes from 22 to 8 AWG

made of polypropelene and flame resistant

Ph: 011-41410631-32;
Fax: 011-41410494/25891761;
Email: sumitron@vsnl.com;
sumitron@airtelmail.in;
Web: www.sumitron.com

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Are you human? *