From the Lab: Examining the performance of the Harnessflex® Heavy Duty Series versus Traditional Connector Backshells

Cable protection is not only important for agricultural vehicles, construction machines, lorries, buses and other heavy duty utility vehicles - it is essential.

This is because these types of vehicles often have to operate in the toughest conditions and harshest environments. Some vehicles are often in service for long hours while others travel across treacherous terrain, which puts great strain on the vehicle’s electrical wiring, in addition to the damaging impacts caused by vibration, corrosion and regular power jet washing. With a vehicle’s electrical wiring a key part of the engine and therefore the vehicle’s heartbeat, it is crucial that it is kept safely protected at critical junctions. Without this protection, these heavy duty vehicles can be vulnerable to reduced productivity due to increased downtime and more frequent costly repairs.

The Harnessflex® products team already works closely with many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to develop protection for electrical connectors – a critical area of a vehicle‘s engine wiring harness. With Harnessflex’s history of innovative connector interfaces and our understanding of OEM and Harnessmaker requirements, we are well positioned to produce bespoke designs that easily integrate electrical connectors into the wiring harness. As a result, we have developed a wide range of tough and durable protective backshells for commonly-used electrical connectors, that help defend effectively against high pressure wash-down, excessive cable strain and mechanical abrasion.

The latest in this range is our new Heavy Duty Series of connector interfaces, which deliver robust plug and socket backshell protection for a wide range of popular TE HDSCS & Aptiv CTCS XP connectors.

The big question is: how does the Harnessflex Heavy Duty Series compare when tested against other backshells for these connectors? Here’s what we found.

Ease of assembly

For the harnessmaker, the necessary labor involved in assembling the harness is an important consideration. If parts are difficult to put together, this adds to the installation time and ultimately the costs.

When the traditional backshell design was tested for ease of assembly, clips were found to be hard to open with a screwdriver, causing parts to slip which creates the potential for hand injuries if not careful. The design of the backshell is also bulky and square, with the overall dimensions bigger than those of the Harnessflex Heavy Duty Series. This means that where space is already limited inside the vehicle, the clips protrude and take up valuable space in the engine compartment.

Although the connector plug sits inside the backshell, there is no retaining clip for the conduit thus making assembly tedious because the conduit easily falls out. Unless held firmly in place by hand, there is the potential for disruption during installation caused by components dropping out. This could cause damage and increase both cost and assembly time. Security of the connection is also a concern because clips aren’t securely fastened, leaving them vulnerable to tampering.

By comparison, the Harnessflex® Heavy Duty Series is easy to open with a screwdriver and the backshell is a single, hinged piece that smoothly closes around and captures any parts, helping to make assembly operations fast and easy. The design of the backshell is also ideal for engine harnesses as the part is tightly constructed, providing wire protection without taking up valuable engine space. The connection is less vulnerable to tampering since a screwdriver is required to open the clip.

Unlike the traditional backshell, the Harnessflex backshell has a retaining clip that holds the conduit in place thus eliminating the traditional backshell fall out risk. Additionally, the connector plug smoothly locks in to specifically designed location slots. These features are designed for simple and easy assembly as all components are held in place by the Harnessflex part, securing any components from becoming loose and falling out of place. This design helps ensure that cost and assembly time are kept to a minimum.

Tensile Testing

As mentioned above, it is vitally important that vehicle wiring harnesses are able to withstand the intense strain they are put under when operating in the field. At Harnessflex, we help ensure this by using a Z010 tensile testing machine for testing pull-out resistance in all application areas. Whether in quality control or research projects, this tensile testing process enables us to deliver outstanding performance in even the most challenging situations and environments.

To test the performance of the Harnessflex Heavy Duty Series against the standard backshells for the TE HDSCS connectors, we conducted tensile testing under the following recognized regulatory conditions:

  • Tensile strength – ISO 527 55
  • Elongation at break – ISO 527 50

For this test, the conduit was 200mm length with the appropriate backshell. Using a tensile testing machine, the force applied was determined by the ISO classification and the conduit had to hold the applied force for 120 seconds. After the test was complete, the conduit system with backshell had to still be intact with no visual damage (without magnification).

The results of this test demonstrated that when subjected to the same testing conditions, the Harnessflex Heavy Duty Series performed 33% better than the standard backshell for the TE HDSCS connector. This validates a correctly installed Harnessflex backshell is more resistant to intense strain and thus more likely to keep critical wiring safely protected when subjected to tough operating conditions.

Harnessflex Heavy Duty Series is the clear choice

With an intuitive, practical design and proven strength when subjected to intense testing, it is clear that the Harnessflex Heavy Duty Series offers safer and more secure cable protection by providing a continuous sturdy link between harness and connector. This series is designed for use with all TE HDSCS and Aptiv CTCS XP Type B & E connectors, helping to maintain continuous vehicle operation even in the toughest operating conditions. For more information on Harnessflex, visit our website here.

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About the author

Nathan Cook

Nathan is the Global Business Development Manager for ABB’s Harnessflex Brand of products, the leading and best range of cable and connector protection systems in the Heavy Automotive Sector. Harnessflex is dedicated to innovating and delivering maximum circuit integrity and performance in productivity critical heavy vehicles, e.g. Construction, Agricultural & Mining machinery, Bus, Truck, and Drive Train technology. Harnessflex is moving into the future with specialty ranges developing alongside growth industry sectors and high spec applications for example, EV development, and High Temperature protection. Nathan is based in the UK but is globally available to work with customers and colleagues alike to protect electrical systems from in field failure and the resulting machine downtime.
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