The Velaro® high-speed trains are already being used in Spain, China, and Russia. The trains are intended for actual speeds of 320 km/h. An unmodified Velaro® train has already travelled at the worldrecord speed of 458 km/h, making it the fastest train in series production ever.
But such speeds can only be reached because trains like the Velaro® no longer employ the motor in a locomotive. Instead the motor is positioned over the drive axes for acceleration. So the focus is no longer on just the locomotive, since the electronic systems and sub-systems are built into and distributed over the length of the entire train. A large variety of wide-area cable connections are required in order to reliably transmit signals throughout these systems. One of these connections is made by Weidmüller’s RockStar® HighPower connector. This product was specially developed for high-current applications involving motor power cables, eddy-current brakes and train carriage crossovers. The system is pluggable so that it is quick and easy to swap out components during maintenance work.
An innovative product development for pluggable power transmission
Weidmüller’s RockStar® HighPower system offers completely new and custom-tuned components. These provide an innovative product solution for pluggable power transmission in transportation applications. The system consists of one-piece crimp contacts, insulating sleeves, insert-holder frames and a multi-part, die-cast aluminium housing.
“The no-maintenance crimp contact that we use has the advantage that you can establish a permanent connection with the help of a standard tool,” explains Weidmüller product manager Jürgen Beymann. “The connection is reliably maintained even when exposed to strong vibrations and does not become partially loosened.” The insulation sleeve, made from high-quality PA66 insulation, protects the connection reliably. This material is rail-certified and UL-listed.
We were able to develop a clever alternative solution for our HighPower connectors. We use a specially developed cable gland for the connector and are ensuring electromagnetic compatibility by means of an internal shield connection. A permanently secure connection is guaranteed.
A continuously reliable connection
For rail manufacturers such as Siemens, the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of a device is critically important because it ensures interference-free operations. “We were able to develop a clever alternative solution for our HighPower connectors,” states Jürgen Beymann. “We use a specially developed cable gland for the connector and are ensuring electromagnetic compatibility by means of an internal shield connection. A permanently secure connection is guaranteed.
The wiring is visible during the entire work flow
Because of its modularity, the HighPower connector can be assembled according to the requirements of the individual user. An advantage offered by the construction of the Weidmüller plug is that the progress of the wiring is visible up to the end of the process. Inserts held in a support frame are connected to a mounting plate which is then screwed into the body of the housing.
The multi-part aluminium die-cast housing was specially designed for RockStar® HighPower and features IP 68/69K protection. The housing is highly resistant to shock and corrosion. Even if a stone happened to impact and cause damage while the Verlaro® D was travelling at high speeds, the entire connector would not need to be replaced because of the modular design. It would only be necessary to replace the damaged housing.
The housing is extremely stable while at the same time finely contoured. Housing walls are thinner than comparable permanent (chill-casted) enclosures. The HighPower connector has minimal weight and a compact size so that it makes the best use of available space and adds only a minimal load to the train.
Practical – down to the smallest detail
The stainless steel mounting brackets that are screwed on to the housing are not standard hardware – they have been custom-designed to meet Siemens’ requirements. “We designed a special mounting bracket for use in the Verlaro® D that can easily be installed in an overhead position,” explains Weidmüller’s Jürgen Beymann. “Special guide cut-outs in the bracket allow them to be easily attached to the inserts.”
All of these features add up to make Weidmüller’s new HighPower connector a product where every design detail is focussed on adding real-world value. When using this connector, the end user benefits with improved productivity during the installation and maintenance of the Siemens systems. So the Velaro® D and HighPower can travel together at high speed.
A connectivity solution in a tight space
Siemens Mobility was also looking for a non-interrupted power supply for all eight wagons in its Velaro® D train. They sought a solution for safely connecting the medium-power cables with up to 4 kV that would be efficient and, most importantly, compact. In order to implement these connections in the smallest space possible, Weidmüller designed their compact WFF 185 two-stud terminal so that it could carry 4 kV.
Inspired by an idea from key account manager Hans-Jürgen Kern, the Weidmüller engineers designed a special construction with partitions positioned between the stud terminals. The terminals also needed to be fastened to an insulation panel in order to ensure that they would be capable of carrying 4 kV.
The specially-processed panels that are attached to the WFF stud terminals must accomplish two functions. Firstly, the terminal attachments and the mounting bracket are separated from each other so that they are safely insulated from each other. Secondly, the panel must withstand mechanical loads and ensure that there is a vibration-resistant connection between the stud terminals and the mounting bracket. The rails are then placed in a compact installation room which is located on both ends of each train wagon. The mounting bracket is a key factor in establishing a quick and easy attachment for this connectivity solution.
Clever reduction of variants
The WFF 185 – with a width of 3.5 cm – is much smaller than the standard stud terminals conventionally used for 4-kV transmissions. But it was not only the compactness of this solution that convinced Siemens Mobility. The train manufacturer was also able to reduce the number of stud terminal variants and cable lug variants that they require for connecting the medium-power cables. Weidmüller's WFF-185 rails were chosen as the connectivity solution for both the 110-V and 4-kV cables in the Velaro® D.
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