Pneumatics & Hydraulics

Flexible yet standardised solutions from Festo simplify connector production

March 2018 Pneumatics & Hydraulics

Just as PCBs have successfully managed to pack an increasing amount of power into a smaller space, developers of plug connectors are working to accommodate more power and a higher contact density into smaller, lighter plug connectors. The family-owned British manufacturer, Harwin, relies on Festo automation to safeguard the quality and flexibility of its production using equipment such as the servo press kit YJKP and the compact handling system YXMx.

Harwin’s connectors are high quality, reliable and durable and can thus be used in harsh ambient conditions. They do not only fit the bill for customers in industry sectors such as cost-conscious consumer electronics, but also in the ultimate performance seekers such as aerospace, motor sports and the automotive industry, where extreme operating temperatures between –65 and 150°C, as well as severe vibrations, are the order of the day. This means the connectors have to be manufactured to very high standards.

High standards

The response by Harwin to these market requirements has been to launch the Gecko range of connectors. These advanced connectors have a pin pitch of only 1,25 mm and are half the size and 75% lighter than micro D connectors. Their robust screw connection makes them extremely safe and reliable and able to withstand countless mating operations without damage.

The Gecko connector manufacturing process has been continuously refined from an initially manual operation to today’s highly automated solution, capable of producing hundreds of thousands of connectors a year with a wide range of configurations ranging from 4 to 50 pins, and many PCB mounting options.

Modular concept

Harwin started developing a new manufacturing line with the aim of making the production of the Gecko series more efficient. Both a high level of automation and a high degree of flexibility were needed to produce differently shaped and sized connectors on one line. “That is why we developed a modular concept together with Festo,” explains Paul McGuinness, operations director at Harwin.

The new assembly lines are built around the servo press kit YJKP and the compact handling system YXMx from Festo. The handling system takes care of the XY movements of the workpiece carriers and the plastic housings assembled in several of the system stations. The servo press kit, which provides easy-to-configure position and force controlled movement along the Z-axis, is used for press-fitting and bending the contact pins.

Standard parts

In all stations, the electric and pneumatic drives are each controlled by their own controller together with a valve terminal. “These Festo systems enable maximum standardisation and modularisation, as standard parts are used everywhere. This makes commissioning and maintenance easier,” explains McGuinness.

One of the assembly lines for manufacturing the connectors consists of multiple stations for inserting, press-fitting and bending the contact pins. In the first station, the workpiece carriers are equipped with the connector housings, which are positioned using the compact handling system so that the contact pins can be inserted. In the second station, the servo press presses the contact pins into the connector housing. The precision gripper from Festo locates the workpiece carriers while the pins are fitted.

The handling system and the servo press kit are also used in the last station for bending the contact pins to the required angle. The CoDeSys software in the controller allows comprehensive control of the servo press profile, providing position and force control throughout the cycle. The application software supplied with the servo press makes programming extremely easy thanks to an intuitive graphical user interface.

Three valve terminals controlled by the master controller actuate the numerous electric and pneumatic grippers and actuators. “The automated modular concept ensures low production costs and high reliability, precision, repetition accuracy and flexibility,” concludes McGuinness. “This makes it easy to adapt the press profile to the different connector variants without the need for special programming skills.”

For more information contact Kershia Beharie, Festo, 086 003 3786,,


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Experience digitalisation at the Festo Virtual Exhibition
June 2020, Festo South Africa , News
Festo is breaking new ground with its first-ever Virtual Exhibition scheduled to take place from the 15-16 July. Visitors will get to experience digitalisation as never before. This exhibition will be ...

Festo TechTalk: Energy efficiency thanks to smart products
July 2020, Festo South Africa , IT in Manufacturing
This year’s TechTalk focused on smart products that help companies to produce energy efficiently, educational measures that empower employees for lifelong learning as well as for the digital working world ...

Festo online configurator tool simplifies sizing of process valves
April 2020, Festo South Africa , Valves, Actuators & Pump Control
From manually operated to automated process valves, the new configurator tool for process valves from Festo makes selecting the right solution easy and less time-consuming.

Seamless integrated connectivity for electric automation from Festo
April 2020, Festo South Africa , Fieldbus & Industrial Networking
The cloud is everywhere. We save data on the cloud and access it on our phones and computers from anywhere at our convenience. The same applies to seamless connectivity in industrial automation from your ...

RS adds self-adjusting double-acting air cylinders
December 2019, RS Components SA , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
RS Components has expanded its offering from factory automation manufacturer Festo to include new double-acting pneumatic cylinders in the DSBC product range. Aimed at both machine builders and maintenance ...

Festo’s digitalised product world
January 2020, Festo South Africa , System Integration & Control Systems Design
HoloLens, mobile phones, 3D printing and smart glasses – the gadgets that captured the public imagination in the blockbuster movie ‘Back to the Future’ over 30 years ago have now become a reality, all thanks to digitalisation.

Refrigeration compressed air dryers
January 2020, Artic Driers , Pneumatics & Hydraulics
The R Class range of compressed air refrigeration dryers and RSXW chemical adsorption dryers have consistently low dew points, with an attractive entry price and a low cost of ownership once in operation. ...

World record for Festo’s BionicOpter
December 2019, Festo South Africa , News
The Festo BionicOpter will be included in the 2020 Guinness World Records. The chapter ‘Robots’ presents the most amazing records from the world of super robots and artificial intelligence. The Festo ...

Festo inspires with smart digital solutions at the Automation Expo
September 2019, Festo South Africa , News
Festo hosted the first leg of the Automation Expo in Johannesburg at the Sandton Convention Centre, while the second took place in Port Elizabeth at the Boardwalk Convention Centre. Both ended on a high ...

Productivity Master points the way to digitalisation
September 2019, Festo South Africa , System Integration & Control Systems Design
Seamless connectivity of handling and software solutions developed by Festo.