Getting the right fluid connection solution
What is a quick-release connector? Just something selected from a catalogue that joins things together such as fluid and gas lines, compressed air circuits and the like? Or can a connector bring additional useful practical benefits such as reducing down time, eliminating errors and boosting productivity?
Stäubli is different to most connector manufacturers; the company studies closely the detailed requirements of a specific application and then provide an optimised connection solution that is easy to use, safe and secure, a robust connection capable of performing over numerous cycles with the minimum of maintenance. In most cases the offered solution will be from the extensive range of standard parts but, for more complex applications, Stäubli can adapt an existing product to meet the specific customer requirements. It is through such close customer relationships that the Stäubli product range has developed over the years to be the most comprehensive available.
So what parameters do Stäubli consider when recommending the right connection solution for any application?
It is critical to first consider the working environment and then the pressure, temperature and medium. The fluid characteristics could be identical in two different applications but individual demands of the industry can be very different. For example, minimum weight and high vibration may not be the first requirement of the nuclear industry but is critical for a Formula 1 car. Vice-versa, the chances of a coupling being connected via a remote handling device are of no consideration to the Motorsport industry but in nuclear applications this can be basic criteria. Military, automotive and pharmaceutical industries all have their own specific demands, which Stäubli can fulfil through their many years of experience across industry.
Safety is of upmost importance – is there a chance of making a cross connection?
Is hose whip a danger? What indications are given that a secure connection has been made?
These are each, in turn, considered by Stäubli technologists in making their recommendations.
Mechanical keying to avoid cross connection, colour coding for circuit identification, a unique profile on breathing air connectors making connection to the wrong circuit physically impossible, ‘active safety’ systems to eliminate hose whip on compressed air lines, robust locking systems tailored to the application, direct indication that a secure connection has been made. The list goes on.
Does any spillage on connection or disconnection need to be avoided? Flat face, clean break connectors eliminate completely any spillage. Also, air or contaminant ingress is also eliminated removing any need to purge the circuit; reducing downtime, improving productivity and maintaining the life of the medium.
Is connecting remotely required, perhaps by manipulator or robot, is one handed connection or connection in a difficult to reach location important, will the operator be wearing gloves – all requirements that regularly are raised by users and for which Stäubli have an ideal solution.
Are several circuits being connected? Is it an advantage for multiple medias to be connected simultaneously such as electrical, signal, data, fluids and gases? In this instance Stäubli can offer a solution using a multi-coupling plate making all service connections safely and simultaneously in one simple action, eliminating any chance of cross connections and with locking systems that ensure security.
These are just some of the requirements that need to be considered to ensure selection of the most suitable connectors. Connector requirements are often overlooked or given scant attention late in a project. But why should you, the user, bother at all? Stäubli are the experts in connection solutions; bring them in early, at the design stage ideally and benefit from their expertise in recommending the best connection for you.
Stäubli will be exhibiting an extensive range of their connectors at the Fluid Power & Systems exhibition being held at the NEC on12-14th April 2016. Stäubli Connectors are located in Hall 3A, stand AF100.
Displayed on the stand will be both mono and multi connectors suitable for hydraulics, all fluids and gases, specialist thermal management connectors, breathing air and compressed air connectors. Also being presented are robot arm tool changer systems, a wide range of connectors for motorsport applications, as well as ‘CombiTac’ modular connectors for applications where fluids/air and electrical/signal connections are required. There isn’t a better opportunity to explore the benefits that quick release connectors can bring to your business.
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