The first two sections of the whitepaper have covered many of the aspects required in selecting a suitable connector, by considering the connector itself:

  • Electrical
  • Mechanical
  • Environmental
  • Assembly and replacement
  • Space constraints
  • Additional equipment

This final part will focus on what is needed from a connector manufacturer/vendor in order to specify their connector in your project.

(Note: Part 1 of this White Paper Series appeared in the October issue of Tech Briefs. Read Part 2 here on TechBriefs.com: Addressing Materials, Layout, and Assembly Aspects.)

Specifying the Correct Supplier

While specifying the right product is key, it is equally essential to engage the right supplier. The criteria for supplier selection falls into three main areas:

  • Certification
  • Support
  • Supply chain

Certification

Many companies specify that suppliers should meet certain basic standards or certifications, such as the widely-recognised ISO9001 or equivalent company-wide quality certifications. This approval is now very common and unlikely to present an obstacle in supplier selection.

Support

Support can be judged through interaction with the supplier, especially during the R&D phase when most of the technical questions are likely to arise. Reviewing the website is also a good policytoseeifthesuppliermakestechnicalinformationavailablefreely and whether support desks are located in (or close to) the relevant time zone. Easy availability of samples for design evaluation is another point to reflect upon.

Supply chain

Moving into production, the key consideration is whether the manufacturer can ensure supply for the duration of the project. Longevity in the industry is always a good guide when selecting a supplier, as is multiple manufacturing locations to provide resilience in the event of a major issue that could otherwise impinge on output.

Like all manufacturers, connector companies are constantly innovating and this inevitably means changes to the product line from time to time. When selecting a supplier it is essential to not only understand whether there are any plans to discontinue the product that has been selected, but also to see how the supplier manages to deliver an uninterrupted supply chain when changes are inevitable.

EOL and Obsolescence

A good supplier will provide clear notifications about forthcoming end-of-life (EOL) or obsolescence events and will offer services such as last time to buy to alleviate the pressure on the supply chain. This is particularly important in high reliability markets, such as defense, aviation, space, and industrial where a change to a connector could require the customer to undergo expensive and lengthy re-qualification of their product.

Summary

That concludes the final installment of this white paper. Clearly the number of different items to be taken into account can mean that choosing a connector (and connector supplier) may seem somewhat daunting. However, by contemplating the application needs carefully and following a methodical approach, it is not actually as challenging as it first appears.

While the product parameters are important, supplier selection is equally so. The chosen connector manufacturer should be easy to work with, technically astute, familiar with the needs of the specific market being operated in and capable of providing long term support throughout the life of the OEM’s project.


Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2018 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from this issue here.

Read more articles from the archives here.