What Is A Patch Cord?

What Is A Patch Cord?

It’s true. We live in a wireless world. Each and every day, the vast majority of us use mobile devices that require no cords to be plugged into sockets in order to operate. However, it’s important to remember that – ironically – all wireless devices require wires at some point. How else can we charge our phones? How else can we attain Wi-Fi connections if not for modems connected to electrical sockets?

Even in a world where wireless devices are all the rage, the need for wires remains. And the patch cord is one of the most commonly used wires in our world. A patch cord, which is also known as a patch cable, is cord that has RJ45, TERA or GG45 connectors on both ends. They are used to connect a device to something else – usually a power source.

Patch cords can take on the form of RCA or HDMI cables which are commonly used to connect home televisions to cable boxes, Blu-ray disc players and stereo systems. Your laptop computers and PCs often use patch cords to connect the devices to wall outlets. Patch cords can also be used to connect a switch port or a server to a structured cabling system.

What are the differences between patch cords and Ethernet cables?

While the two are similar, there are differences. Patch cords are commonly used to connect traditional devices such as telephones and audio/video equipment to power sources. But they can also be used as Ethernet cables which are typically used to connect devices within a local area network, like PCs, routers and switches.

By definition, Ethernet is a protocol standard that defines the way that bits of information travel over a particular medium. The two most common Ethernet cables are traditional copper cables and fiber-optic cables. The twisted pair or coaxial cable and category cable (Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6) also belong to the Ethernet cable family.

“An Ethernet cable resembles a phone cable but is larger and has more wires,” explains Bradley Mitchell on Lifewire.com, “Both cables share a similar shape and plug, but an Ethernet cable has eight wires and a larger plug than the four wires found in phone cables. Ethernet cables plug into Ethernet ports, which are larger than phone cable ports. An Ethernet port on a computer is accessible through the Ethernet card on the motherboard.”

Patch cords and Ethernet cables are often referred to interchangeably.

However, main differences between the two also include their lengths and their purposes. Ethernet connections are generally designed for speed and long distances. These are often called the “backbone” or “long haul” in the world of cabling.

“Similar with Ethernet cables, there are fiber patch cable and Ethernet patch cable, like LC fiber patch cable or Cat6 RJ45 patch cable,” informs Chloe Wang of Fiber Optic Solutions, “And patch cables are often used for short distances in offices and wiring closets. Ethernet patch cable can link a computer to a network hub, router or Ethernet switch, which is useful for constructing home computer networks.”

For more information about patch cords and Ethernet cables, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Flux Connectivity team. Feel free to give us a call at 1-800-557-FLUX or email us at connect@fluxconnectivity.com.

Intelligent VS. Non-Intelligent Part Numbers: Which Are Better In Manufacturing?

Intelligent VS. Non-Intelligent Part Numbers: Which Are Better In Manufacturing?

In the world of manufacturing, there are different methods by which parts are managed. And, in the industry, there is an ongoing debate about which of those methods are best. There are two, in particular, that we’re referring to: intelligent part numbers and non-intelligent part numbers. By their very names, you’d think there was no debate at all.

When has being “non-intelligent” ever been better than being “intelligent”, right? Well, as you may have guessed, there is more to these methods than their names. So, let’s break down what each of them really means.

What is intelligent part numbering?

There are numerous companies within the manufacturing realm that swear by the intelligent part numbering method. Intelligent part numbering is a process by which descriptive details about the characteristics of each part are provided. The overall objective of providing such clear information is to avoid any confusion about the parts and to save time.

Professionals who vouch for the intelligent part numbering method highlight how easy and efficient it makes searching for parts. By clearly labelling a cable assembly “CAB”, for example, it makes the part easy to locate and sort among the many others that may be necessary on a production line.

The “intelligent” method also helps to specify the groups to which every part belongs. Locating parts that are in the wrong groups is made easy. This allows for efficient processing.

Opponents of intelligent part numbering, on the other hand, note the challenges associated with having to train workers on how to appropriately define and label each part. Differentiating the names of each part can be confusing when they start to share some of the same characteristics. A misnamed part can wreak havoc on a product’s design if it is mistakenly used.

What is non-intelligent part numbering?

Non-intelligent part numbering is a process by which no descriptive details about each part is provided, but instead, a numbering system is used to differentiate each part. Instead of any descriptions, a list of serial numbers is created and assigned to each separate part. Proponents for the non-intelligent part number method believe that much less training is required in order for workers to learn it.

After all, you don’t need to know anything about the part in order to assign it a number. However, those who prefer the intelligent part numbering method contend that it’s much harder to locate parts based on random serial numbers. When perusing through a spreadsheet, for example, it’s difficult to tell one part from the other without any descriptions or names.

Opponents also cite having no frame of reference when trying to select a part. Again, numbers don’t provide descriptions, so being confident that the right part has been chosen doesn’t come easy.

Choosing the right method all depends on your business.

Manufacturing companies that are large in size often have multiple product lines. Training large staffs can be difficult, so such organizations often opt for the non-intelligent part numbering method to make things easier. It’s important to take into account the size of your company and its overall objectives. Each part numbering method is designed to meet different requirements and specifications. Which one would work best for you?

Which one works best for Flux Connectivity? Find out by giving us a call at 1-800-557-FLUX or emailing us at connect@fluxconnectivity.com.

What Is IPC/WHMA-A-620?

What Is IPC/WHMA-A-620?

Photo courtesy of ASSEMBLY.

IPC/WHMA-A-620. At first glance, it looks like an excellent password, doesn’t it? Online security experts quite often champion the act of selecting a password that is made up of a long line of random characters including numbers, letters and even punctuation. And while IPC/WHMA-A-620 may appear to fit that bill, we’re pretty sure you’re already well aware that this week’s blog has nothing to do with protecting your email account from being hacked.

The seemingly random string of characters actually represents the only industry-consensus standard for Requirements and Acceptance of Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies. As we highlighted in our previous blogs, cable assemblies and wire harnesses are among Flux Connectivity’s most popularly requested manufacturing solutions. So, as you can imagine, the IPC/WHMA-A-620 Standard is very important to us.

What is the IPC/WHMA-A-620 Standard?

Let’s break it down. IPC stands for Institute for Printed Circuits, which is the former name of the Association Connecting Electronics Industries. WHMA stands for Wiring Harness Manufacturer’s Association. Together, these organizations prescribe the practices and requirements for the manufacture of cable, wire and harness assemblies.

As described by the WHMA website, “the standard describes materials, methods, tests and acceptability criteria for producing crimped, mechanically secured and soldered interconnections, and the related assembly activities (corresponding lacing/restraining criteria) associated with cable and harness assemblies. Any method that produces an assembly conforming to the acceptability requirements described in this standard may be used.”

There are three Electronic Product Classifications (or Classes) set by the IPC/WHMA-A-620 Standard.

An important part of the manufacturing process of cable assemblies and wire harnesses is the identification of the Classes to which the assemblies are evaluated. As described by WHMA, those three classes are Class 1: General, Class 2: Dedicated Service and Class 3: High Performance/Harsh Environment.

Class 1: General includes products that are suitable for applications where the primary requirement is the function of the completed assembly. Everyday consumer appliances are examples.

Class 2: Dedicated Service includes products where continued performance and extended life is required. With these products – televisions, gaming systems, home computers and telephones, for example – uninterrupted service is desired, but not mandatory. End-use environments don’t generally cause failures.

Class 3: High Performance/Harsh Environment includes products where continued performance or performance-on-demand is essential. With these products – military and medical devices, for example – high performance is a must and equipment malfunction is considered unacceptable. Consider the extremely high importance of life support equipment. It falls into this Class. End-use environments can be uncommonly harsh.

In January of 2017, the IPC and WHMA released the IPC/WHMA-A-620 Revision C manual.

The IPC/WHMA-A-620 Revision C manual provides the electronics industry with the most up-to-date information regarding the performance and acceptance of cable and wire harness assemblies. It contains over 700 full color pictures and illustrations as well as 19 chapters containing criteria on safety wires and prep, requirements for individual wire seals, soldering to terminals and so much more.

We imagine that you may have more questions about IPC/WHMA-A-620 . As always, the Flux Connectivity team would only be too happy to answer them for you! For more information, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-557-FLUX or email us at connect@fluxconnectivity.com.

What Is A Cable Assembly?

What Is A Cable Assembly?

When we launched the Flux Connectivity Blog, we thought it was important to start it up by defining some of our most popular manufacturing solutions. In our first blog, we defined the wire harness – firstly, by distinguishing it from a cable assembly. As we pointed out, the two often get confused as being the same thing.

To remind you, a wire harness is grouping of wires that are designed to transmit signals or electrical power. A wire harness generally has multiple branches or ends that can go off in a number of directions with several terminations on each branch. Keep in mind that a “wire” and a “cable” are two different things.

As Bob LeGere of iConn Systems makes clear, a wire is a single conductor which is usually made of copper or aluminum. “Wires are low resistance, low cost, and measured by ‘gauge’,” he explains, “The smaller the gauge, the thicker the wire. The thicker the wire, the higher the risk of damage resulting from a burned fuse.”

So what is a cable assembly?

Firstly, it’s important to clarify what a cable is in order to differentiate it from a wire. A cable is two or more conductors that are wrapped in a single jacket. “Most cables consist of a positive wire that carries the electrical current, a neutral wire that completes the electrical loop and a grounding wire,” says LeGere.

A cable assembly is a group of wires or cables that are encased in a singular tube of material which is usually composed of rubber, vinyl or pressure extruded thermoplastics such as polyurethane. So, unlike a wire harness which exposes a number of individually separated wires, a cable assembly encases all wires within one cable.

What is the purpose of the exterior material?

The material helps to protect the grouping of wires or cables from extreme temperature exposure, fire, moisture, dust, friction and chemical substances exposure. Similar to the exterior coverings used in wire harnesses, the material also protects people and environmental materials from the potential harm that can be caused by the flow of electricity.

They also ensure that electrical systems are organized and easy for technicians to navigate while protecting the inner wiring or cable against wear and tear or other harsh environmental conditions.

What is a cable assembly used for?

There is a multitude of uses for cable assemblies. A variety of businesses from all industries that require the use of electronic equipment have needs for cable assemblies. Because cable assemblies are designed to hold and organize many different electrical wires safely, they can be used in a variety of indoor and outdoor settings.

Thanks to cable assemblies, the people installing them can keep all of their wires and cables very organized. This allows them and future electrical workers to gain safe and easy access to electrical systems.

We imagine that you may have more questions about cable assemblies. As always, the Flux Connectivity team would only be too happy to answer them for you! For more information, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-557-FLUX or email us at connect@fluxconnectivity.com.