Underwater Connectivity
W H I T E P A P E R S E R I E S – P A R T I:
Published in collaboration by LEMO and Northwire, this
white paper represents the first in a series focused on
the critical to quality requirements of connector and
cable assembly applications in extreme environments.
Ranging from underwater to oil and gas, the series will
address key specifications that are as diverse as their
markets. Since more than 71% of the earth’s surface is
covered by water, it is no surprise that there are an
abundance of application failures associated with this
dominant element. To ensure your success, rely on our
subject matter experts to improve your risk assessment
of off-the-shelf parts, learn how custom designs improve
protection, and navigate complex environmental factors.
Table of Contents
3 | Total Cost of Ownership
4 | Expensive Lessons Learned
5 | Fit vs. Function
7 | Environmental Factors
8 | Critical-to-Quality Factors
11 | Conclusion
Total Cost of Ownership
Avoid the inherent hazards of a narrow-minded bottom line focus
Sometimes focusing on hurdle rates, internal rate of return, and the short-sighted bottom
line can lead to disaster. This is often the case when making “apples to oranges”
comparisons. While engineered products can have a marginally higher price vs. off-theshelf parts and appear more attractive initially, it is vital to be aware of the longer-term
hidden dangers of decision-making based on price alone. There are actually 29 cost
factors to consider, including service quality, risk management, total landed cost, labor,
training, and much more.
The importance of specifying products based upon quantitative critical-to-quality
requirements cannot be over-stressed. Price alone cannot be the deciding factor;
decision-makers should evaluate subject matter expertise, domestic and international
standards, agency compliance, environmental regulations, and electrical, mechanical,
ergonomic, aesthetic, harsh duty, and end-user requirements to name a few.
Third-party testing will add assurance to an “apples to apples” comparison. Make sure an
independent Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) certifies to the standards
of IP68, CE Mark, UL, CSA, cUL, CE, MSHA, NFPA, ABS, USCG, IEEE, SAE and more
as appropriate.
Employ additional selection criteria to avoid the pitfalls of expensive lessons from judging
apples and oranges by the same criteria:
Cheap alternatives could create:
• Safety Issues
• Equipment Damage
• Productivity Downtime
• Loss of Revenue
• Reputation Harm
Be sure to research:
• Are the products counterfeit?
• Are the copper bases identical (e.g.,
$4.14 vs. $3.82)?
• Is the copper quality similar?
• Are the combination of approvals
Expensive Lessons Learned
When cheap commodities cost a lot
When it comes to spectacular displays and incredible entertainment, few places rival the
casino. A huge amount of work goes into powering, programming, controlling, and
maintaining the shows and attractions seen at these sites.
In 2011, a contractor at one of the world’s largest casinos contacted Northwire. One of
the large underwater entertainment venues at the facility, a water theater housing a
multimillion dollar production, experienced massive destruction due to an underwater
cable system that failed to properly block water – resulting in an equipment loss to the
tune of $250,000 USD.
The original cable assembly was designed to control and power water jets, lighting,
moving platforms, and more as directed by a central control computer. When the
system broke down, it was not only unsuccessful in stopping water leaks, but siphoned
water back into the central control computers. In addition to the equipment damage, all
operations had to be shut down in the venue.
As with this contractor, many project managers struggle to find reliable cable and
connectors for underwater use. Another layer of factors comes into play when mixing
electronics and liquids, so precision, quality, and safety are of the utmost importance.
Avoid liquidated damages associated with commodity parts that are not
engineered and designed to meet the exact function!
Fit vs. Function
Custom designs for your protection
From time to time a standard part is installed and
operates without obvious problems. This short-term “fit”
can have defects that are hard to detect, like inferior
materials or manufacturing non-conformances. While
not immediate, selecting products on “fit” alone
increases the likelihood of early failure. Custom
engineered OEM solutions, on the other hand, are
designed to meet exact product specifications, ensuring
that both fit and function are achieved. And, they are
tested and field-proven to the identical application and
subjected to their intended life cycle.
One size does NOT fit all
With the diverse range of underwater applications, there truly is no “one size fits all”
cable assembly system. When a customer comes to LEMO or Northwire with a project
in mind, the goal is to find the most effective connector or cable or cable assembly for
that specific use.
Therefore, no off-the-shelf product is standardized for underwater applications. Instead,
a customer will meet with a subject matter expert to discuss the challenges and
requirements of each individual project. Working closely with the customer, the experts
employ rapid prototyping and testing capabilities to design and manufacture each
component to the customer’s needs.
Northwire met with the casino’s contractor and identified
the root cause of the failure. Meanwhile, the team
gathered all of the critical-to-quality requirements from
key stakeholders. Then, NWI’s subject matter experts
rapidly designed, tested, and prototyped a cable
specifically for the venue’s rugged requirements. The
custom cable system was tested to withstand 100 PSI
(6.985 bar) and delivered high performance when fully
submersed in chlorinated water. Reinforced tensile
strength, abrasion resistance, and flexibility enabled the
cable to wrap around concrete pylons while preserving
signal integrity.
Solution-oriented and application-driven, the cable and connector design, engineering,
and manufacturing processes all become tailored for the individual project, giving
customers a best quality, highly effective, long lasting system.
LEMO’s Cable Connectors are designed and tested to exact specifications
From shallow waters to ocean depths of 1000 meters (3280 feet), LEMO’s precisely
manufactured watertight connectors have been the answer for clients across the world.
With a guaranteed IP68 rating, the line of shallow-use connectors is built off LEMO’s
pioneering Push-Pull connection system that has been perfected over the last six
decades. The manufacturer’s line for deep sea connectors, also called high pressure
connectors, are based on a screw coupling design. Both lines can be made with
chrome-plated brass or stainless steel materials, chosen as appropriate for the length of
immersion and risk of corrosion or oxidation.
LEMO’s primary connector lines for underwater use consist of the V Series, W Series,
and 03 Series:
• V Series. Available in multiple contact types, including coaxial, triaxial, and
multipole, these connectors perform in pressures up to 30 bar (435.11 PSI).
• W Series. Also for pressures up to 30 bar (435.11 PSI), the W Series is designed
for multipole and fiber optics contact configurations.
• 03 Series. This small connector has been tested for extensive salt spray
corrosion resistance up to 1000 hours. Additionally, the 03 Series is tested for
depths of 1200 meters (3937 feet) and high voltage for absolute waterproofing to
ensure a reliable, high performing connection.
These connector series are ideal for applications
from underwater cameras and telecommunications to
unmanned submersibles and bathyscaphes. For
example, LEMO connectors can be found in the
Delphin 2 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle created
for subsea environments by the University of
Southampton (UK).
Additionally, the leading quality of LEMO connectors
enables these components to meet and exceed the
requirements of critical applications such as sea wind
power, offshore oil rigs, oceanographic science, and
military defense systems.
Environmental Factors
The wide variety of environmental factors drives the broad scope and need for highquality connectors and cable assemblies’ precision engineered and designed for
underwater applications. Field-proven, LEMO and Northwire address challenges in
nearly limitless industries and functions beyond the entertainment world, such as:
• Offshore or fixed oil rigs
• Fixed or floating offshore structures
• Underwater lighting
• Inspection and monitoring
• Vision systems
• American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
• United States Coast Guard (USCG)
• Marine Shipboard
• Umbilical cables
• Sensors and transducers
• Buoy systems
• Fishing equipment
• Tracking and locators
• Military and marine
• Aquatic research
• Industrial water systems
Critical-to-Quality Factors
When evaluating underwater cable systems, consider these critical-to-quality factors:
1. Application. Underwater vision systems may require a fundamentally different
type of cable than underwater lighting or monitoring and research applications.
2. Compliance. Ratings, agency listings, government certifications and
environmental standards: UL, ANSI, CSA, CE, IEEE, ABS, RoHS2, REACH,
and 1,000 hour weatherometer requirement.
3. Features. Signal, control, instrumentation and power.
4. Water Type. Different options exist for salt, fresh, brackish, chemical-treated,
waste, and potable water. For example, cable in contact with potable water
may need to be made of FDA-approved, food-grade materials.
5. Cable Depth. Cable systems at greater depths require heavy-duty materials
and pressure resistance. NWI’s underwater cable capabilities extend to a
depth of 30 meters (98.43 feet).
6. Flex. Cold bend, torsional, rolling, variable, bend, and continuous flex options
exist for cables whose applications require regular motion.
7. Environment. Knowing whether a cable must function in an industrial pipe,
ocean, or rocky riverbed determines many design factors.
8. Temperatures. From Arctic to high rating, cable systems are designed for
specific temperatures ranges.
9. Buoyancy. Special considerations must be taken when a cable is required to
have a negative, neutral, or positive buoyancy.
Northwire’s Custom Cable Expertise
Underwater applications are subject to extreme engineering challenges; you can rely on
subject matter experts at LEMO and Northwire to meet your product specification:
Cut and abrasion resistance
Flame resistant
Cold impact and bend
Oil, chemical and UV resistance
Weld flash and weld slag resistance
FDA-approved materials
Kevlar ® integrated for strength and stability
Navigate requirements from domestic and international regulations to electrical,
mechanical and aesthetic standards and end-user requirements. For wet use and
submersed cable systems, NWI subject matter experts work one-on-one with customers
to determine factors such as:
Jacket, insulation, and fluid blocking materials
Strength members and temperature resistance
Buoyancy, depth, and pressure needs
Labeling and color coding
Electrical performance requirements
Application-unique factors
Partnering with NWI cable experts gives customers access to the ideal cable set-up,
whether for vision systems, sonar and tracking, power and control, sewer pipes and
wells, geophysical applications, or far beyond. For immediate needs or challenging
projects, Northwire has an answer.
Unique Designs for Your Protection
One of the most important factors when designing and manufacturing underwater
cables and connectors is the level of water resistance. Beyond basic protection to keep
the system from damage, there must be an intrinsically safe measure in play. In the
case of the casino, when the first degree of protection failed, the compromised cable
acted as a hose, syphoning the leak efficiently and directly to the control center.
In order to ensure absolutely watertight components in a variety of uses, LEMO and
Northwire use top-quality materials with purposeful design.
For cable systems, a choice of water-blocking conductors, tapes, and fillers work to not
only prevent leaks, but to create a barrier in case of cut, abrasion, or severe damage.
Unlike many cable assemblies, which use a gel filler as a barrier for the first few inches
of the cable, Northwire implements a dry component throughout the entire length of the
cable that only activates when wet. Highly effective in preventing and mitigating leaks,
this unique alternative also allows for a much more convenient and cleaner process
when installing and handling the cable.
Find a full selection of wire and cable, cable assemblies, retractable cords, cable
connectors, and other key components with the complete line of products and custom
capabilities from LEMO and Northwire. The strong cooperation between these
companies results in integrated offerings that guarantee high performance and quality,
ultimately saving customers time, money, and downtime.
In response to his urgent request, the casino’s contractor had an effective, custom cable
and connection solution on site within five days, saving the casino from further loss and
“The customer called late on Friday in need of an urgent solution,” explained a
Northwire team member. “Our engineering team translated the customer’s critical-toquality requirements into several designs, test and development protocols and rapid
prototypes. Results were reported to the customer the following business day. He
selected one of several custom solutions. Two days later, our production team shipped
his product.”
Gain a comprehensive solution for underwater systems by leveraging LEMO’s best-inclass connectors alongside cable components and contract manufacturing services by
The integration of LEMO, an international
connector leader, and Northwire, an
innovative supplier of exceptional wire and
cable, benefits the customer by acting as
a one-stop shop for any project. Take
advantage of:
• Quotes in 24 hour or less
• No minimum quantity or length
• Same day custom cable products
• Free wire and cable samples
• Rapid prototyping
• Full testing capabilities
For essentially limitless underwater applications, partner with LEMO and Northwire to
design and manufacture ideal cable and connection solutions that prevent system
failure, accomplish innovative goals, and reliably last many years into the future.
LEMO is the acknowledged leader in the design and manufacture of precision custom
connection and cable solutions. LEMO's high quality push-pull connectors are found in a
variety of challenging application environments including medical, industrial control, test
and measurement, audio-video, and telecommunications.
LEMO has been designing custom connectors for six decades. Offering more than
75,000 combinations of products that continue to grow through tailored, specific designs,
LEMO and its affiliated sister companies REDEL, NORTHWIRE, and COELVER
currently serve more than 100,000 customers in over 80 countries around the world.
In 2014, LEMO Group acquired
Northwire, Inc., a top custom cable
manufacturer in the U.S., for the purpose
of better serving both companies'
customers through fully integrated,
comprehensive cable connector solutions.
Northwire, celebrating over 42 years of
innovation, has corporate headquarters
and manufacturing in Osceola, Wisconsin
and engineering and manufacturing in
Santa Teresa, New Mexico. The cable
supplier is the premier partner for the
design, manufacture and contract services of custom technical products including wire and
cable, retractable cable, cable assemblies, connectors, harnesses, injection molding, overmolding and contract engineering and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) for diverse
applications in life sciences, energy, MIL-Spec, industrial, machine vision, architectural
lighting, underwater, and more.
The custom wire and cable, retractable cables, and cable assemblies from Northwire
work seamlessly with the diverse selection of wire connectors produced by LEMO.
Ch. Des Champs-Courbes 28
P.O. Box 194
1024 Ecublens - Switzerland
Phone: 41 21 695 16 00
Fax: 41 21 695 16 01
110 Prospect Way
Osceola, Wisconsin 54020
United States
Phone: 1 715 294 2121
Fax: 1 715 294 3727
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Copyright: Northwire White Paper
Created in 2014 by Northwire, Inc., in cooperation with LEMO Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this White Paper may be reproduced without
the prior written permission of the publisher. Trademarks, Corporation
names and designated information located throughout this White Paper are
the property of the respective companies.
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