Advanced Military Connectors
Günter Rohr, Global Portfolio Manager, ODU, talks about connectors for Soldier Modernisation Programmes and Military/Security Applications around the world
|The ODU AMC product series variety
Q: Could you give some background to your company and business operations?
A: All makers in the military industry sector know that safe and reliable connectors are a crucial part of any product development. ODU has made connectors its speciality. The ODU company was founded 1942 and is headquartered in Mühldorf on the river Inn, Germany, where all technologies are housed under one roof: Design and Development, Tool Manufacture, Injection, Stamping, Turning, Electro Plating, Fully automatic assembly as well as cable assembly. ODU has production locations and sales subsidiaries as well as distribution partners and sales offices all over the world. ODU connectors are certified to ISO 9001, ISO 13485 : 2003 + AC : 2007, ISO/TS 16949, ISO 14001:2009 and furthermore VDE, UL, CSA, VG, MIL. Since the foundation of ODU, well known companies in the area of military and safety trust in the quality and competence of ODU connectors. In 2011 the companies turnover was 114 Mio. € - worldwide.
Q: What experience do you have in producing connectors for the military market?
A: Since its founding in 1942, ODU has developed and manufactured reliable connector systems for the military and security sectors. These high-quality, innovative products are produced for the global market. ODU connectors are involved in many different sectors of the security and military market e.g. soldier communication systems, various „Soldier of the future” programmes, night vision systems, radio systems, radar systems, sonar systems for nuclear and non-nuclear submarines, weapon systems, portable navigation systems, launcher/rockets, aviation, battleships, armoured vehicles etc.
ODU is involved in soldier modernisation programmes – worldwide. In this field connectors must fulfil a number of rigorous criteria including ease-of-use and reliability under the most extreme conditions, ODU connectors meet and often exceed these by providing a reliable connection even in the toughest of situations. If you are looking for an innovative, robust, secure and reliable connector solution in the military/security area – ODU is your partner! To meet all future requirements ODU has developed a completely new and innovative product series: ODU AMC. These Advanced Military Connectors are a connector series for soldier modernisation programmes and military/security applications where high quality and reliable connectors are needed.
Q: Could you discuss some key applications and advantages of the product?
A: “We are working on various programs, all of which are well known. One particularly interesting segment concerns the interfaces around the soldier such as weapons, vehicles, non portable radios and so on. High density is one facility that we are working on, but there are also other ideas and projects in progress. Our goal is, to be well known in the market as an expert in a new generation of military circular connectors. Of course a close relationship based on trust with the customer is also very important to us, because that is the only way of allowing our customers and ourselves to successfully press ahead with the projects. ODU is continually working on new developments and innovative technologies for the soldier of the future in order to make the equipment even lighter and, what is even more important, safer.”
“ODU AMC is not just a connector solution, it is a connector family.” “ So with ODU and the ODU AMC, the customer gets more than just a connector”. We provide systems for the soldier modernisations programmes and all of their different requirements. Standard push-pull connectors have inherent limitations, so the flexible ODU AMC offers alternatives. “We do have standard push-pull locking,” says Rohr, “But there are also tear-off versions as well as screwed or bayonet locking.” The ODU AMC is also much lighter than push-pull systems, offering weight reductions of up to 60%, while excellent shielding characteristics (up to 360º) ensure that there is no interference to data and signal transmission, and optimised coding serves to eliminate the possibility of incorrect insertion. “Independent contact inserts also make it possible to transmit different data rates,” Rohr continues“, and the ‘easy to clean’ version offers further advantages in the field.” Pressure contacts on both the cable and the device allow quick and effective cleaning to take place in the field. A self-cleaning version can also be deployed if necessary. The cylindrical connector family ODU AMC satisfies various technical requirements and also remains attractive in terms of cost.
Q: How does it improve on other military connectors? What are its chief competitive advantages?
A: “ODU AMC is a “standard” product family, so we expect good performance with regard to delivery times. We have the majority of parts in stock. Of course, product development will continue, and with our wide range of manufacturing capabilities and a highly motivated team of experts we are able to serve the needs of our customers and realize new concepts and developments faster than anybody else.”
Q: Could you say something about ODU’s design and development facilities?
A: Our motto is: “If it’s not out there yet, we’ll work with you to develop it!” Because we have all the necessary technologies under one roof, we can respond to our customers’ requests flexibly and quickly. We work with the user to develop individually application specific solutions to meet the user’s special requirements and needs. A high degree of vertical integration, extensive experience in a very wide range of fields and the willingness to achieve lead to pioneering innovations time and time again. We contribute to our customers’ success with these forward-looking new developments and reliable products.
Q: What services can ODU offer clients who buy the AMC series?
A: “ODU is also a competent partner for cabling the systems, meaning that everything comes from one source.” There are clear advantages to having one complete connector solution, for the soldiers and the manufacturers. While the combatant can quickly familiarise with the basic principle of a single connection system, the system manufacturers are able to cover all their requirements with one solution, eliminating the current need to rely on four or five different connector series.
Cable assembly is a very complex subject. It requires equal measures of expertise in the areas of connectors, cable and assembly. ODU meets all these requirements fully. We handle everything for our customers – consultation, problem analysis, project planning, development, prototype construction with first sample test report, assembly, technical documentation – in short, all the jobs involved in creating a complete solution – our customers get everything from one source, with no intermediary suppliers.
Furthermore we are flexible enough to adapt the existing version to customer needs. The global presence of ODU’s ultra-modern production facilities in Mühldorf (Germany), Shanghai (China), Sibiu (Romania) and Camarillo (USA) makes it possible to handle all projects, from small to large scale production, swiftly and flexibly within the group, and above all with a consistent quality. For ODU, close collaboration with customers is top priority when developing and manufacturing system solutions. “Our outstanding supplier management system allows us to find the right cable for each customer - whether it’s a standard line or a special cable. We support our customers in all aspects of task definition for cable assembly!” reports Günter Rohr. “ODU is expanding its production facilities for complex and premium cable assemblies both at the headquarters in Mühldorf and at its assembly subsidiaries.”
Q: What future trends do you see occurring in terms of military connectors?
A: “Budgets will be still limited but the defence industry continues to progress, and soldiers’ equipment is becoming increasingly complex and connected. Ground combat soldiers are set to be equipped with an integrated array of high-tech uniforms and applications – in the not-too-distant future –. Rohr sees new challenges on the horizon. “New technologies will be needed in all areas of the army.” “The trend is moving towards networking all troop units; this starts with the soldier and continues through to the means of security and transport market segments,” he concludes. “Having the right information in the right place, at the right time, can mean the difference between life and death, and we’re convinced that developments in this area will continue at full speed.
Q: What future plans does ODU have?
A: To serve the various soldier modernisation systems is only the start - ODU’s target for the future is to connect all interfaces around the soldier such as weapons or vehicles using the ODU AMC family, so that customers can benefit from a “connector family that meets all requirements” in the future.