Trimming CO2 emissions with HARTING connectors
All for (regenerative) Energy
By Norbert Gemmeke, Managing Director, Business Unit HARTING Electric
The energy transition is in full swing and is pervading all branches and sectors of industry. The European Union has set itself the goal of being a global pioneer in combating climate change and of achieving climate neutrality by the middle of the century. CO2 avoidance targets are derived from these aims and objectives, which can only be achieved if not only energy supply but also industrial sectors significant contributions. The challenges for companies, also those beyond the energy-intensive sectors, are tremendous: Due to spiralling energy costs, more and more producers are looking for new approaches and are reviewing efficiency of their processes.
HARTING is committed to accompanying its industry partners on this course, and, in line with the concept of "Connectivity+", is combining products and solutions which, among other things, generate benefits for the social megatrend of sustainability. Energy generation, transmission and storage as well as the sustainable use of resources require know-how and a discerning view of the bigger picture. HARTING can do something to help its customers achieve their savings targets, because it meets the challenges of efficient power transmission every day.
Our Connectivity+ solutions represent a significant element in the energetic transformation and are multifaceted in this respect. We accompany our customers in different application environments. Activities and measures in one of the following three areas have emerged as central to the success of energy-oriented transformation projects and form the foundation of the Connectivity+ concept in the field of sustainability:
- Efficiency optimisation: How do I achieve a power transmission with less resistance on a given surface, in a given installation space? How do I save energy and weight?
- Easy integration of new technologies in connection with renewable energies, hydrogen, fuel cells
- Recyclability/reusability of material used and application
1.1 +Efficiency: Lower transmission losses
One way to achieve greater energy efficiency is to minimise transmission losses: The voltage drop in an interface is reduced if contacts with lower contact resistance (due to better conductivity or thanks to better contact surfaces and materials) are opted for. HARTING has successfully implemented this in equipping data centres with Han-Eco® connectors. The interfaces in the black plastic housing are used to network computers into larger computing units. The savings potential, which results primarily from the lower voltage losses at the Han® contacts, adds up to 650,000 kWh per year - calculated by way of the example of the operation of a data centre with 15,000 racks. Measured against the average price of industrial electricity, this means a cost saving of over €100,000 that can be achieved by using “Connectivity+” solutions.*
* On the basis of electricity prices according to Eurostat figures for the first half of 2022, source: Eurostat (Electricity price statistics - Statistics Explained (europa.eu))
1.2 +Efficiency: Weight reduction
Weight reduction is the second lever for achieving savings: this can be accomplished by deploying lightweight materials for the connector, or by way of systemic changes that reduce the total number of interfaces to be used.
If there is a complete switch from metal to plastic housings, for example up to 50 % of the weight for the connection technology can be saved in trams and trains from one generation to the next. This is also worthwhile over the long term, because every kilo of weight significantly reduces consumption over the assumed service life of 30 years.
Under the heading of "Connectivity+ Enabling a different tomorrow", HARTING has presented a wealth of new transmission solutions over the last two years making rail vehicles fit for the future. The Han® HPR TrainPowerLine, which debuted at InnoTrans 2022, is a prime example here and also helps to save energy. The series consists of a Y-distributor and the Han® HPR Single Poles for power distribution in the underfloor area. The interfaces are designed in such a way that as an absolute minimum of connectors and connector types are required per wagon. A standardisation is achieved that enables a process-optimised and energy-saving installation of the power distribution on the rail vehicle. The new standard is decidedly weight saving: up to 10 kg are trimmed per wagon – by comparison with the common UIC 552 interfaces previously in use.
1.3 +Efficiency: Installation space optimisation
Space optimisation represents a third possible strategy. Different aspects and motives come into play in the spatial design of interfaces. The first goal is always to achieve the most compact design and construction. Other sustainability aspects, however, also play a role: a long service life as well as concepts that are sustainable over the long term, plus the most convenient assembly as possible.
The new Han® HPR Compact enclosures for use in harsh and demanding environments, for example, provide the same degree of protection and offer the same options for equipping with contacts and insulators as the other proven Han® HPR series (up to HPR EasyCon). They are narrower and flatter than their counterparts, and they weigh in at a quarter less than their counterparts of the respective comparable HPR standards. If it becomes apparent during assembly that more installation space is required for the desired assembly, users can opt for a maximum of two extender frames that increase the overall height of the grommet by three centimetres each.
Consequently, the sustainability benefits of the Han® HPR Compact are not restricted to weight reduction, as users also benefit from the open concept. Thanks to the new enclosure standard, all interfaces can first be designed to minimise space requirements. Over the longer term, however, they also offer opportunities for optimisation and expansion. If the performance requirements increase, it will not be necessary to purchase larger connectors, meaning that there is also less waste.
Side effect: Miniaturised solutions - such as the Han® Domino modules and the Han® HPR Compact - also reduce the amount of energy and material required in manufacturing the connectors. The lower weight and smaller formats also reduce the input and effort required to transport products to customers. This also benefits the social megatrend of sustainability and helps our customers in achieving their often ambitious energy-saving goals.
2. Easier integration of new technologies
The latest technology innovations at HARTING include the Han-Modular® Domino modules. By comparison with the previous modular standard, Han-Modular®, which has been successfully established on the market since the early 1990s, the insulating bodies are only half the size. Two small individual modules for the transmission of power, signals, data or pneumatics, fit into one single slot of the Han-Modular® holding frame. With the help of a simple interlocking system, the new "Dominos" quickly fit into the proven modular interfaces. Consequently, the previous modules are not obsolete, as they still fit into the modular concept and will continue to be produced and developed as before. Both product generations fit side by side in one holding frame, meaning that the tried and tested does not have to be replaced.
3. Better reusability
What’s more, connection technology is sustainable if it enables the reuse or very long-term use of the resources employed. The technological megatrend of modularity pays off directly in terms of sustainability.
A salient example is provided by a HARTING Connectivity+ solution for blind contacting of reconditioned car batteries: With the help of a Han® docking frame in which Han® Modular connectors are lined up, the Berlin-based company batteries AMPS is already able to efficiently refurbish used e-car batteries for a second life - and supply them to individual applications. The Han® Docking Frame with Han-Modular® can be easily detached for changing the batteries - and then reused.
It is well worth working with HARTING in planning connection solutions for industrial projects and especially their energy aspects - whether in the railway sector or in energy generation from renewables. Right from the first contact and design on the configurator, through planning support and the creation of samples, and on to pre-series production and the assembly of entire cable harness structures, we are ready with concepts for long-term cost-effective and energy-saving solutions. In addition to the social megatrend of sustainability, HARTING's Connectivity+ solutions are also addressing the challenges of demographic change and de-globalisation.