Autonomous heavy-equipment

Trend Insight

Next Generation of Heavy Equipment

Tomorrow’s construction equipment, farm machinery, and mining vehicles will operate autonomously, working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. TE Connectivity’s (TE) sensors and connectivity solutions are at the heart of the technological breakthroughs that will make it possible.


Clark Woodruff, Global Product Manager, Industrial & Commercial Transportation

The equipment currently operating in the fields and worksites are loaded with technology.  Global Positioning Systems (GPS), camera systems, efficient engines, large touchscreen monitors, and advanced diagnostics are commonplace in heavy machines. Many of these items are helping operators control the vehicles semi-autonomously. The advancements reduce operator fatigue and have made working long days easier. The new technology has also helped increase safety and saved operating costs.

Taking things to the next level – fully autonomous heavy vehicles are just around the corner. The idea of having huge combines and mining trucks driving around without an operator at the controls raises several concerns in the minds of many. Questions about safety, standards, and regulations are front and center for most people. However, for the engineers that are tirelessly working to design the equipment of the future, questions about how to transform their ideas into creations are top of mind. For autonomous operation the sensing and decision making activities normally assigned to the operator are now assigned to the vehicle itself. Decision making involves complex software analytics to process inputs and then assign tasks to the vehicle. All of these inputs must be provided by devices that communicate with sub-systems and ultimately the vehicle master control. To integrate all of these new systems, industrial and commercial engineers ask themselves, “What type of connectivity products will support the breakthrough technology needed to automate the next generation of equipment?” That’s where TE comes in to help.

One of the primary connectivity challenges that construction equipment, farm machinery, and mining vehicle manufacturers are faced with is exposure to harsh conditions.  This is true in today’s equipment and in the future’s fully autonomous vehicles. Even a small degradation in electrical connections can be critical. Over the days, weeks, months, and years, all of the vibration, moisture, dirt, and dust that the machines go through can wreak havoc on its electrical system. Failure in an electrical system can be expensive to diagnose and broken down equipment can stop entire operations. Choosing connectivity solutions that are capable of withstanding the difficult conditions is imperative.

Connector bodies and terminal systems must be able to stand up to the conditions that they face in the field. Proper material choices are imperative to withstand exposure to extreme temperatures, humidity, and fluids. Connector sealing capable of withstanding immersion and pressure exposure is required, as well as a firm, secure locking mechanism to withstand vibration and shock. A sealed and steadfast connector engagement is only the first step for suitable connector performance. The terminal system is the heart of the connector and must perform flawlessly. Without these heavy-duty connectivity features, electrical systems are not going to hold up under the stresses of the construction, agriculture, and mining industries.

Failure in an electrical system can be expensive to diagnose and broken down equipment can stop entire operations.
Clark Woodruff,
Global Product Manager, Industrial & Commercial Transportation

TE specializes in connectors and sensors that are built to survive harsh environments.  TE’s unparalleled portfolio of industrial and commercial transportation products are specifically designed to meet the extreme demands and challenges of non-stop, all-weather use. TE connectors are offered in several different shapes, latching mechanisms, mounting styles, and materials to meet diverse application requirements.

To protect connections from the harsh conditions that construction equipment, farm machinery, and mining vehicles operate in, many engineers choose TE’s DEUTSCH DT connectors. DT connectors have been making connections in harsh industrial and commercial transportation environments for over thirty years. Manufactured in 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 12 cavity arrangements and for cable-to-cable, cable-to-board, and cable-to-device applications, design flexibility is at the heart of the DT connector product line.

DEUTSCH DT connector design strengths include optional flange mounting, multi-pin arrangements, and design flexibility.  DT connectors offer the ability to use multiple size 16 DEUTSCH contacts, each with 13 amp continuous capacity for power and plating options for signal. Wedgelocks are used to secure the contacts in position within the connector shell. Thermoplastic housings offer a wide operating temperature range and silicone rear wire and interface seals allow the connectors to withstand conditions of extreme temperature and moisture. DT connectors can be configured for printed circuit board mounting. DT connectors for electronic modules are available in straight or 90° pins and offer sealed flanges or flangeless header mounting. DT products have options for specialized headers and offer full enclosure solutions. They are also available with internal components including resistors, diodes, buss-bars, and LED.

Engineers designing the equipment of tomorrow need connectivity products that offer field proven reliability and rugged quality.  Peace of mind knowing that the connections on autonomous construction equipment, farm machinery, and mining vehicles are protected by decades of engineering knowledge and confirmed by being put to the test in the real-world is priceless.

TE is helping to bring the seemingly impossible to life. Collaborative relationships between TE and innovative equipment companies will make the future’s heavy machinery more connected. When autonomous equipment takes over the fields and worksites, products like DEUTSCH DT connectors will be making it all possible.

DT connectors feature several accessory items that complement the connectors including boots, backshells, gaskets, dust caps, and mounting clips. They cover a wide array of design requirements such as assisting with mounting, providing additional protection, and offering enhanced aesthetics.

The DT connector product line’s design flexibility empower engineers – there’s no need to compromise. Because DT connectors have been around for thirty years, the product line has evolved and strengthened by offering innovative modifications to meet engineering requirements, while remaining true to the original DT connector design as a rugged solution for harsh environments.