Reliable High-Performance Electrical Connectors

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July 25, 2023

How Electrical Connectors successfully embraced the e-mobility market

Winnijar Kauz

The shift towards the use of battery, hydrogen, or e-fuel vehicles is quickly gaining momentum. This marks the beginning of an e-mobility revolution that has the potential to transform the transportation sector, reduce pollution, and endorse renewable energy sources. E-mobility systems that meet the rigorous demands of modern transportation must offer products that are of high and consistent quality. Companies like Stäubli Electrical Connectors are the driving forces behind the necessary technological advancements. With their innovative spirit, they have laid the foundation for the production of affordable and efficient products. What criteria must suppliers meet to secure a share in this growing market of the future?

Figure 1

As a pioneer and global market leader, Stäubli has an established tradition in providing advanced connection solutions for many major industries. “The e-mobility market is rapidly growing, and we see a radical change in the market away from conventional combustion technology,” says Winnijar Kauz, Global Head of Business E-Mobility at Stäubli. “One trend we’re witnessing in the e-mobility market is to replace conventional bolt-down operations with high-performance plug-in connections.” Reliability expectations in e-mobility components are high with zero tolerance for disruptions. Stäubli’s vision is to create products that provide significant added value to their customers. As a result, “we provide customer-specific and standard solutions for high-voltage on-board applications,“ Winnijar Kauz adds. An expert for high-current connections, the company was approached at an early stage by various customers from the e-mobility sector to develop customized high-power connection solutions for on-board applications. Especially in the initial phase of electromobility, some startups and EV (Electric Vehicle) conversion companies have relied on Stäubli’s standard industrial products. The Swiss company was faced with a major challenge: Most of the products available on the market offered solutions with much higher cable cross-sections. When Stäubli started, standard or customer-specific products for high-voltage on-board applications were virtually not available in the automotive industry; corresponding specifications were practically non-existent. As the EV market segment evolved, customers approached Stäubli’s engineers with more severe requirements. As a result, the development grew with more and more speed.

Figure 2

Patented MULTILAM contact technology

Electrical connectors have been developed to ensure that e-vehicles fulfil all the requirements placed on them efficiently and even under harsh environmental conditions. When designing its on-board applications, the company’s R&D engineers were confronted with a number of unique challenges. Their goal was to develop a state-of-the-art on-board product that could be mounted easily and quickly. To be reliably used for electric and hybrid drives, on-board connecting solutions needed to be robust and feature a compact design, as well as maintain all the clearances and creepage distances required for high operating voltages. The result was a compact connector based on Stäubli’s patented MULTILAM contact technology that delivers a maximum current output of 600A with a cable of 95 mm2. High current capacity, low contact resistance and an extended product life were also essential criteria for Stäubli when designing the PerforMore for EVs. It was essential for the two-pole connector to meet the LV215 quality standard for use in harsh on-board applications in electric motors, converters, battery packs and High Voltage Distribution Units (HVDU).

Figure 3

High level of expertise

Working in partnership with customers has always been a starting point for innovations and new markets at Stäubli,“ says Winnijar Kauz. Electric and hybrid vehicles require a high level of safety, reliability and performance of connectors. To be successful in the e-mobility market, suppliers like Stäubli need to show strong capabilities in terms of technology, partnership, customized solutions and global presence:

  • In-depth knowledge of EV technology
    For companies like Stäubli Electrical Connectors it is essential to continually invest in advanced technologies and improve their products. Given its proximity to the market, Stäubli is able to offer vehicle manufacturers a wide range of customized solutions. The connectivity solutions company has demonstrated great expertise in high-current contact technology for use in electric motor technology, battery management systems, power electronics and charging infrastructure.
  • Cost-effective solutions
    As EV technology is evolving, cost is an important factor for the profitability of new products. Stäubli’s innovative on-board connectors are required to save the customer time in assembly and design, resulting in total cost of ownership (TCO) savings.
  • Strong partnerships
    Suppliers must work closely with OEMs and other stakeholders in the e-mobility industry. This includes the ability to adapt to the dynamic demands of markets and customers. In the development process of the PerforMore, Stäubli made sure to regularly talk to OEMs and partners it directly conducts business with.
  • Customized solutions
    Given the rapid growth of the e-mobility industry, suppliers like Stäubli are expected to offer customized solutions that are tailored to the individual needs of their customers. This includes the development of products that can be easily integrated into existing systems, flexibility in design and production, and the ability to quickly adapt to changing requirements. More than ten years ago, Stäubli developed the first customized e-mobility solutions that are in use worldwide. This sparked the company‘s interest in the on-board market as Stäubli saw the potential first hand.
  • Global presence
    Successful vendors must have a global presence to meet the needs of customers worldwide. A strong distribution network, localized customer support, and the ability to meet regional regulatory requirements and standards are all part of Stäubli’s global presence.

IATF 16949 certified competence center

As early as the 1990s, Stäubli equipped the first electric test vehicles manufactured by a German OEM with connectors. At that time, it was not yet necessary to configure applications for high currents. Stäubli has been able to draw on its expertise in developing top-notch high-voltage EV products when entering the on-board market. As a result, the new products have easily passed extensive quality tests with regard to vibration, power transmission, uninterrupted operation, and durability. Stäubli’s on-board solutions are developed in its own IATF 16949-certified competence center in Weil am Rhein, Germany.

Ready for the automotive industry

Looking back, the Stäubli team has done its homework and achieved its goals in the high-voltage on-board market. Worldwide, customers in the production lines of the automotive industry have trusted the reliability of the Swiss company’s connectors for many years. Today, the company is perfectly geared to supply innovative EV charging and on-board connection solutions directly to the automotive industry itself.

Winnijar Kauz, Global Head of Business E-Mobility, Stäubli Electrical Connectors AG

Infobox

General specifications of PerforMore Connecting Solution

Rated currentUp to 400 A (@ 85 °C) Up to 600 A (@ 40 °C)
Rated voltageDC 1000 V
Conductor cross-section50 mm² / 70 mm² / 95 mm² in accordance with LV-216-2 for shielded, sheathed high-voltage cables for vehicles and their electric drive systems
Protection type, mated unmatedIP68, IP6K9K IP2X
Connection type – plugScrew-on connection; customer-specific connection available
Connection type – socketCrimp connection Welded connection
VibrationTest IX for utility vehicles, unsprung mass (ISO16750-3)
HVILYes
      

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