Creating touch-safe connections: a guide for industrial and commercial electric vehicle designers

9th May 2024  |  Electric vehicle

Ensuring touch-safe connections for industrial and commercial electric vehicles (EVs) is paramount for safety, efficiency and durability. These vehicles operate under demanding conditions, and every component, especially connectors and terminals, plays a crucial role in their overall performance and safety.

This article explores key considerations for designing touch-safe connections in EVs, focusing on the role of high-performance connectors and their impact on the integrity and functionality of these vehicles.

Importance of touch-safe connections

Touch-safe connections are crucial to preventing accidental contact with electrically live parts, enhancing safety during maintenance and operation. In commercial and industrial EVs, where high voltages and currents are common, securing these connections is a fundamental aspect of EV design philosophy. The integration of touch-safe features directly impacts the reliability and user safety, mitigating risks associated with electrical hazards.

Additionally, designers must adhere to stringent international safety standards and regulations that govern the construction and operation of EVs. Standards such as those set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) (IEC 62196) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) specify requirements for touch-safe connectors, ensuring that designs meet global safety benchmarks.

Design considerations for touch-safe connectors

Material selection

The choice of materials in connector components is crucial, especially when it comes to providing a protective insulating layer. High-performance polymers that offer excellent insulation and can resist environmental stresses such as temperature fluctuations and moisture are the perfect fit. Moreover, the chosen materials must also withstand the mechanical stresses of repeated connection and disconnection over the vehicle’s lifetime.

Connector design

Connector designs that incorporate shields or barriers prevent direct contact with live terminals. These designs often feature recessed contacts or automatic shutters that engage when disconnected. The configuration of these connectors plays a significant role in how effectively they prevent accidental exposure to live parts.

Ergonomic and intuitive use

Touch-safe connectors should not only be safe but also ergonomic, allowing easy handling and operation by technicians. Features like coded keyways, colour-coded components and Connector Position Assurance (CPA) help ensure the proper alignment and connection, reducing the risk of incorrect assembly and ensuring that connections are both secure and user-friendly.

Additional solutions for enhanced connector safety

Integrated safety technologies
Incorporating advanced technologies such as smart sensors and automatic disconnect systems can further enhance the safety of EV connectors. Sensors can detect unsafe conditions, such as overheating or improper connection, and trigger preventive actions like disconnecting power or alerting maintenance personnel.

High-performance connector solutions
High-quality connector solutions are integral to ensuring touch-safe connections in high-voltage EVs. TE Connectivity is perfect in this respect with connectors that are robust and reliable, ensuring that they meet the rigorous demands of commercial and industrial EV applications. Their touch-safe connectors are designed to handle high voltages while providing safety features that prevent accidental contact with live circuits.

Specifically, the IPT-HD High-Voltage Connectors and PowerTube Connectors are engineered for critical applications. These connectors are equipped with features like integrated locking mechanisms and insulated housings that provide both physical and electrical safety, making them ideal for use in environments where touch safety is a priority.

Think Dalroad for connector expertise

Ensuring touch-safe connections is a critical component of EV design. With the potential harm that can be caused by the high voltages present in these designs, it’s essential that the right precautions are taken to protect drivers, technicians and the general public.

At Dalroad, we offer a comprehensive catalogue of high-performance connectors and components designed to meet these needs. Our team of specialists is dedicated to assisting vehicle designers in selecting the right components that align with safety standards and enhance the resilience and lifespan of EVs.

For further guidance and to explore our product range, get in contact with our team of experts. Together, we can drive the future of electric transportation towards a safer and more efficient horizon.

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