Molex Incorporated has announced that its BradConnectivity Ultra-Lock range has been installed into the new Modulfill bottling equipment from Krones, the world market leader in beverage filling and packaging technology. Thank to a stainless steel version, the M12 quick connector system meets Krones' strict standards of hygienic design, as well as the most stringent requirements regarding tightness and reliability.
In strict hygiene environments, such as those found in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industry, IP69k protection class is a pre -requisite. This is because of the stringent sanitation standards imposed on manufactures to ensure their processing systems and handling equipment are capable of withstanding frequent high temperature and high pressure wash downs to prevent bacteria growth and cross contamination. In addition, the integration of smart sensors and complex control devices calls for more sophisticated connectors, which follow the de facto standard M12 format, with a higher pin density to accommodate the greater data traffic.
Backward-compatible with existing M12 connectivity systems, the Ultra-Lock range includes cordsets to connect to Ultra-Lock distribution boxes and receptacles, as well as sockets, in-line splitters, adapters and field-attachable connectors. Thanks to the simple push-to-lock technology - instead of screwing and unscrewing - tightness and reliability are guaranteed - explains Bernd KÃ¶lle, Key Account Manager at Molex: ''It is the screwdriving process, used in traditional M12 quick locking systems, that causes these systems to fail to obtain acceptance in the food industry.''
The threadless connectors are made of polished stainless steel (type SS316 - V4A) that effectively prevents microorganisms or impurities settling and spreading during processing or cleaning. Comprehensive tests have confirmed: even in case of frequent high-pressure wash downs up to 1500 psi and high temperatures, the radial O-ring seal stays reliably leak-proof.
Decentralised machine concepts are rapidly becoming more important in automation engineering. ''From the award of contract to the delivery of a complete system often only three months will elapse,'' says Bernd KÃ¶lle. ''Modularity and decentralised intelligence make it possible for mechanical engineers to produce, test and deliver their plants more quickly. In addition, defective modules can be conveniently replaced for servicing. Here also, the Ultra-Lock connectors enable to quickly and safely connect sensors and control elements in factory automation systems like conveyor belts, bottling plants or production lines thereby supporting the decentralised, modular approach.''
On selecting the Ultra-Lock system for use in its Modulfill range of volumetric bottling machines to fill PET containers, Rupert Meinzinger, Manager of Filling and Closure Technology at Krones, said: ''With the increased use of sensors in production machines, the topic of tightness of the threaded connection has become more and more important - especiallyif the ingress of moisture into the system causes frequent downtime. We chose the Ultra-Lock stainless steel system as it saves us a lot of time during installation and maintenance. The high tightness of the Ultra-Lock connectors, compliant to IP69k, ensures reduced downtimes. The connector can be fitted and removed without tools - errors and contamination are out of the question. In addition, they are highly resistant against the chemicals we use for cleaning.''