When technicians work in hard-to-reach places, dangerous environments, or in the absence of all their tools, they sometimes need a fast and effective way to install or terminate cabling. Field-installable connectors have been adapted for just this purpose. These specially designed connectors do away with unnecessary processes like epoxy curing to reduce the amount of tools, time and effort needed by a technician to complete installations or terminations. But before you assume that the many benefits of field installables are right for your application, here are four things you might not know about these clever connectors.
1. Lack of standardization makes shopping for field installables challenging.
Product standards create transparency for consumers and communicate exactly what the product offers. Unfortunately, there is no standard for field-installable connectors. One manufacturer’s connector might eliminate the need for a crimp tool. Another connector design might boast completely tool-free installation. A third might advertise their connector as “field-installable” despite the fact that it still requires a controlled environment for installation or termination. Working with a connector and cable assembly expert will help you navigate the various options available to you and select the right field-installable connector for your application.
2. Always review the assembly instructions before purchasing a field-installable connector.
If you choose to purchase an off-the-shelf field installable, ask the manufacturer for assembly information before making your final decision. This information will give you a better idea of exactly what type of field-installable connector you are buying, and what tools you will need to get the job done.
3. Clearly define why you need a field installable connector, and what environmental conditions it will be exposed to.
Let’s say your goal is to reduce installation costs and decrease risk for a job that will be performed in a hazardous, chemical environment. If your connector isn’t designed to withstand chemical exposure, it will need to be replaced frequently or could pose additional challenges for the technician, which is counter-productive to your goals. Usability doesn’t matter if the rest of the connector isn’t built to meet all of the demands of the application environment. For this reason, we recommend creating a master list of every requirement your connector must meet to survive environmental factors, such as:
- Flexibility and Strain
- Exposure to Liquids, Dust or Chemicals
- Flame Resistance
- UV Protection
4. Double check that you truly need a “tool-free” field-installable connector.
Field-installable connectors that are advertised as “tool free” can be more expensive. In appropriate situations, they’re worth every penny. In other situations, you may be able to achieve the same goals with a more cost-effective solution. For example, you may already own a tool that enables you to invest in a field-installable connector with less or different features that reduce the overall cost.
The benefits of field-installable connectors are well worth the investment. Some field installables are so user-friendly, they only require 30 seconds to complete! From a business standpoint, the speed and simplicity afforded by these connectors could result in lower labor costs, higher potential for ROI and increased field safety. However, realizing these benefits will depend on how well the connector aligns with the product, application and environment. A connector and cable assembly expert will help maximize your investment by making certain that the field-installable connector you purchase or custom create meets your exact requirements—no more and no less.
Remember, there is no such thing as a standard field-installable connector that provides optimal performance for all applications or survives in every environment.