The new cable assemblies address these challenges by combining a speedy “plug & play” approach during assembly and installation with a flexibility whose benefits extend from the initial design and prototyping phase to operation and maintenance activities.
The assemblies are based on Harting’s Han-Eco® modular connector family, which features a wide range of standard inserts that can be mixed in one connector, allowing the combination of various power requirements or even combining power and signal into a single connection point. For datacentre applications, a typical installation uses 6B sized hoods and housings for cable-to-bulkhead and cable-to-cable versions, with 4-pin and protective earth inserts for either 40 A or 70 A current handling.
In the past, datacentre designers have generally hard-wired the conductors inside the cable directly to the UPS and PDU. If the connection is for something that will never change or be disconnected, hard-wiring provides an economic solution because the only cost is the labour involved in connecting the wires. If the installation is disconnected and reconnected just once, however, the story changes. First, only a skilled electrician can disconnect and reconnect a hard-wired PDU. Even if the disconnection and reconnection goes as smoothly as possible, the user still pays a premium for the time involved. Secondly, there may be additional costs for troubleshooting as well as unplanned downtime, which results in lost revenue and frustrated customers.
When integrating a connector as the direct interface from the PDU, the user realises the full benefits of “plug & play”. There is no longer any need to hire a costly electrician, and since everything is pre-wired and pre-tested, wiring errors are virtually eliminated. Systems integrators have more flexibility to suit the local site installation conditions, consequently saving on installation time.
Connectorised cable assemblies also give the user the option of standardising the size of the PDU by having a uniform footprint including the power entry points. The ability to offer a choice of power ratings by loading the appropriately current-handling modular inserts during factory assembly eliminates the need to modify the PDU design as a whole. Unlike the situation for PDUs using circular power cord interfaces, where a separate version would need to be produced for each power rating type, the Han-Eco® solution means that the only PDU design variables for consideration are the cable length and the power outlet type.
A further benefit is that, when maintenance becomes due, it is quick and easy to disconnect and reconnect a cable assembly, reducing the amount of time offline compared to hard-wiring.
The flexibility of the modular Han-Eco® connector system means that users can easily integrate additional future-proof design benefits. For example, new IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) compatible “smart” connectors are now being developed that will monitor the power system’s status and advise the user when maintenance needs to be done. The problem can then be dealt with before users notice or any critical information is lost.
“These connectorised cable assemblies can form the basis of a reliable standardised power distribution connection system that will offer substantial improvements in ease of installation, reliability and cost savings for data-centre operators, as well as accommodating potential future developments in data-centre infrastructure management improvements, achieved by the integration of smart devices compatible with the Industrial Internet of Things”, concludes Howard Forryan.