Issue Jan Feb 14
A leading supplier of application-specific, high-reliability electrical interconnect solutions, Smiths Connectors is part of the Smiths Interconnect division of Smiths Group. In fact, it is part of the Smiths Interconnect family of companies along with Smiths Microwave and Smiths Power. Its solutions range from highly integrated assemblies to micro miniature connectors and spring probe contacts, and it is made up of the Hypertac, Sabritec and IDI brands.
“We target the high-performance connector sector,” Vice President Gabriel Guglielmi says. “Our strength is in the design, manufacturing and sales of high-reliability connectors for harsh environment and mission-critical applications. Our products and solutions provide value to our customers through excellent performance and durability in situations where the implications of a potential failure are hugely significant from a financial or safety perspective.”
Altogether, Smiths Group employs around 23,000 people in more than 50 countries. Smiths Connectors has six locations in North America, five in EMEA and two in Asia providing a mixture of regional manufacturing centers and close to the customer sales and engineering offices.
Ready to Play
Smiths Connectors serves a diverse array of markets. It has a strong presence in the defense industry in the United States and Europe, providing connectors for everything from missiles to jet fighters to submarines. Another strong market for Smiths Connectors that is somewhat related to the defense industry is the space industry. It counts both NASA in the United States and ESA in Europe as customers.
“The space agencies are mandating the use of our connectors because they don’t fail,” Guglielmi says. “They can’t afford to fail when a satellite is in space.”
The aerospace, medical, test and measurement, industrial, communications and transportation industries are all additional markets where Smiths Connectors has a presence.
“The rail industry is pretty big for us in Europe,” Guglielmi says. “We’ve also moved into the medical market, which is more recent for us in Europe but is a mature market for us in America. Complex equipment such as MRIs use our connectors. The industrial market is much like the medical market for us in that there are pieces of equipment that need reliable connectors to deal with challenging issues like high mating cycles and vibration.”
In all of its markets, relationship building is of the utmost importance. It is because of the efforts the company put in to building strong ties to the space industry and proving the reliability of its equipment that space agencies are mandating use of its connectors.
“In all of our industries, we have to continue to focus on building relationships and working with customers to understand their requirements,” Guglielmi says. “That way, we can find out what we can do to fulfill their needs. We believe in deep cooperation and working together with customers to design solutions that fit with their application requirements.”
Fortunately, Smiths Connectors can rely on the strengths of each of the brands within its portfolio. Hypertac provides high-performance electrical connectors and interconnect solutions for demanding applications. It utilizes Hypertac Hyperboloid contact technology, which is known for excellent performance and reliability in harsh environments. State-of-the-art design and development tools are used to oversee all design and production aspects of each product line.
All Hypertac connectors are tested in its laboratories and certified according to military and industrial standards. It can devise customized, innovative connector solutions, delivering products to customer locations through its worldwide distribution and service network. Its cable assembly capability provides value added solutions when needed.
“The Hypertac brand is mostly focused on the ‘inside of the box’ and maintaining the contact integrity at all times, even under harsh environmental conditions such as high levels of vibration and shock,” Guglielmi says. “Hypertac contact technology provides a high number of mating cycle, resistance to shock and vibration, and very stable contact resistance, thus ensuring a low cost of ownership for our customers.
IDI provides spring contact probe-based technologies, including connectors, advanced semiconductor test sockets, ATE interfaces and spring contact probes. Smiths acquired IDI in 2010. Its spring probe technology is known for its reliability.
IDI is the originator of the spring contact probe test socket and strives to maintain its leadership in the semiconductor test industry with its test sockets. IDI has the world’s most complete offering of spring contact probes, contacts and connectors, off the shelf and customized, as well as the most advanced test sockets available.
“IDI is focused on spring contact probe test sockets. Through our technical innovation and miniaturization, our products help customers reach compliance and contact density requirements,” Guglielmi says.
Sabritec offers interconnect solutions for military, space/satellite, medical, telecom, commercial avionics and test and measurement applications. Its specialty is the design and manufacture of coax, triax, filtered and high-speed interconnects; fiber-optic connectors; contacts; and cable assemblies. The company has a broad interconnect product offering that extends from highly integrated assemblies on military missile systems to micro miniature connectors on printed circuit boards. Its connectors help protect sensitive avionics electronic systems and can stand up to harsh environments.
The Sabritec team has extensive experience in electrical and mechanical design, EMF/RFI/EMP suppression techniques, microwave transmission, high-voltage applications, severe environments and material selection.
“The Sabritec brand is focused on filtering signals and high speed,” Guglielmi says. “The technology connects from box to box and ensures high speed passing of signals from box A to box B whilst also protecting from potential interference.”
Throughout all of its operations, Smiths Connectors is an engineering company that understands that the continued development of high-performance connectors requires a high level of in-house expertise. It also understands the importance of launching more platforms that can be used in a variety of applications and customized as appropriate to address specific customer needs.
“We are investing in product development and want to accelerate the release of new platform products moving forward; that is a journey that we are engaged in,” Guglielmi says.
In addition, Smiths Connectors is looking at market opportunities in terms of geography and industry. The company feels there is a high potential for growth in the Asian market.
“If you think about the current challenges of the oil and gas exploration market, the deeper down the hole you go, the more harsh the environment,” Guglielmi says. “Our technology can be valuable in that industry. Previously, we treated that as part of the general industrial sector, but we are investing in resources to create a new separate vertical market for us. As for electric and hybrid vehicles, voltage and current requirements are going up providing opportunities for the application of our higher performance technologies.”
Smiths Connectors plans to put a great deal of effort into exploring those markets and expanding its presence in Asia. “We believe we can do more in Asia because customers in the region are becoming more sophisticated,” Guglielmi says. “Japan has long been a strong market for us, but China and Korea are growing and see the value of our technology.”
The company is also dealing with reduced defense budgets in Europe and the United States by focusing more on operational markets like commercial aviation.
“That is a strategic fit with a lot happening that can take advantage of our products,” Guglielmi explains. “The medical market is another area we think will be good for us.
“Overall, we will continue to develop new platform products and combine the capabilities of our brands so we can provide great solutions for our customers.”