New HARTING connector solutions for weight reduction, easy handling and fast data transfer in the rail industry


HARTING has introduced a number of innovative connector solutions and products targeted at the rail industry and focusing on the three key benefits of weight reduction, easy handling and increasing data throughput.

Weight reduction plays an increasingly important role in rail vehicle construction, and connectors can make a measurable contribution here. For trains and trams, the continuous transition from metal to plastic can reduce the weight of connector housings by up to 50% from one generation to the next.

In line with this trend, HARTING has extended its Han-Eco® plastic connector series by adding housings in Han B® size which are plug-compatible with Han® connectors in metal housings and offer additional installation flexibility.

HARTING offers the largest selection of contact inserts for industrial connectors, with more than 100 different modules and at least as many monoblocks available for the transmission of power, data, signals and compressed air.

In order to save weight and still be able to handle the same volume of data, HARTING’s future rail technology offering will rely on Ethernet via Single Twisted Pair and small T1 connectors according to IEC 61076-3-125. For cable lengths up to 40 m, IEEE 802.3bp (1000 BASE-T1) can transmit 1 Gbit/s, using cable about one-third lighter than conventional 8-wire Ethernet cable. Commercially available Ethernet cable with four wire pairs for 1/10 Gbit/s Ethernet weighs about 45 kg per kilometre. A single-pair cable with the same bandwidth weighs only 30 kg per kilometre. Since several kilometres of cable are installed in the coaches of passenger trains alone, there is considerable potential for saving vehicle weight here.

Easy handling with tool-free assembly via PushPull

HARTING offers its PushPull connector solutions in order to simplify assembly and service in the railway sector (Easy Handling) and make it more reliable. The M12 circular connector is now also available with PushPull locking. For device connection technology, there is also the easy-to-use PushPull system in the square connector variant 4. Both with M12 and with variant 4, the secure transmission of power, signals and data up to Cat.6A can be managed without problems.

The advantage of PushPull connectors is their tool-free installation, regardless of whether round or square versions are used. They are simply gripped and mated. An audible click signals that the connectors have been securely locked and correctly connected – and thereby saves up to 75% of assembly time.

Service-friendly drive control with the Multifibre module

In trains, IGBT semiconductor elements control high-performance electric drives, which are connected to the required insulation via plastic fibre optic cables. Previously, the connection between controller and driver board was managed using single fibres. The electro-optical conversion of the signals takes place in the transceivers of the printed circuit board where optical contacts make the connection to the fibres. Each optical fibre has a single connector on both the driver and controller boards that house the transceivers. With this previous solution, all transmit and receive elements on the controller board require significant space, and the board is unnecessarily enlarged.

The plastic housings are not only lightweight: they can also be mounted quickly. Unlike standard connectors, where cables must be routed through a mounting cut-out in order to assemble the inserts on the control cabinet, the Han-Eco® B monoblocks and modular inserts can be pre-assembled and snapped directly into the mounting housing, easing assembly by allowing harnesses and control cabinets to be prepared separately for final assembly.

More functions in a smaller space

By using smaller connectors, including modular types, more functions can be combined in a smaller space. This not only reduces the weight of the connectors, but also their space requirements. This gives users more flexibility when designing rail vehicles and opens up further opportunities to save costs in this area.

As a result, HARTING has developed the High Pressure Railway (HPR) housing series, in which more connector modules are fitted into a single housing. One of the largest HPR housings, the Han® 34 HPR, can now accommodate up to four 650 A high-current contacts or 12 Han-Modular® single modules. In the past, two housings each had to be equipped with six Han-Modular® individual modules to supply a comparable data volume.

Another HARTING solution that can help to reduce weight in railway applications is the Han® 22 HPR Slim motor connector, which is particularly suitable for underfloor applications due to its compact, flat design. Through miniaturisation, HARTING has succeeded in creating space for four contacts in the connector – without sacrificing performance.

Ethernet over Single Twisted Pair

HARTING has further developed the Han-Eco® B lightweight plastic connectors to make them compatible with metal housing connectors of the same size

HARTING now offers users a miniaturised solution in IGBT control: the Multifibre module, based on a transmission principle that includes the transfer of the transceivers of the controller board into a pluggable module, thereby integrating the optical interface according to the principle of “plug electrically and transmit optically”. In the future, only a robust interface rather than up to sixteen sensitive optical contacts will need to be accessed for maintenance purposes.

)Higher power density in the High Pressure Railway series: the Han® 34 HPR housing can now fit up to four 650 A high current contacts or 12 Han-Modular® modules

To simplify assembly, HARTING offers PushPull locking systems for the circular connector M12 and the square connector variant  4