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Powerline Connectors

Powerline Connectors – a Short History

Ten 47’s Powerline connectors are an evolution of a program to change  standard single pole power connectors used in the entertainment and temporary power sectors starting more than 30 years ago.

There was clearly a need to move from the Cam style connectors used in the US and Northern Europe and the other welding origin connectors used in Southern Europe. The safety limitations of these designs were clear. The initial drive towards developing a new product came from Litton Veam in the US where the then General Manager Al Bernardini issued a challenge to the Veam sites to design a sequentially mating box to offer a superior product in the late 80s. The Italian, US & UK sites offered designs and in the end the US stuck with their concept. This became the B-lok box with the accompanying L series connectors. So called because of the L shaped keying on the connectors.

The box was tooled, product marketed and sold in limited quantities. There were some deficiencies in the concept and design however. The other Veam locations tried to sell the product with limited success. The salesman tasked with selling the product to the UK market was John Cameron. He got together some of the leading technical people within the target market of the entertainment industry for their input. The L-series had only what is now known as panel source and line drain variants so it was not possible to daisy chain, the contact design was poor and very difficult to mate with poor conductivity over time. Companies in the industrial temporary power market would also require a locking feature which could only be opened with a separate key. They also needed a 240mm2 version for higher amperages.

Powerline QC
Powerline QC

A Powerlock Mark 1 copy line drain connector, note the open front female contact.

Early stages

Taking this feedback into consideration a team was assembled inside Litton Veam to look at the options in early 1994. The team consisted of Tom Mckechnie (General Manager Veam UK), Keith Gordon (Business Manager), John Cameron (Sales) and Walter Chalmers (Engineering). A design was put together incorporating a multi lam band, secondary locking pin, possibility for different contact bucket sizes and having the four versions to allow daisy chaining. Research into available materials and costings was also undertaken. The name Powerlock was chosen from a poll of several names by the Veam UK workforce. Power as it was a power connector and lock because there was the secondary locking system and the decision was taken to tool and manufacture the range from the Veam UK site in Scotland. As this was underway AC Lighting (now AC Entertainment Technologies) asked to become sole distributor for the Entertainment market making a large commitment. Veam UK and AC would agree commercial arrangement where AC became sole Entertainment industry distributor which would see AC promoting the brand to the market and winning “Product for Excellence award” at the Plasa show in September 1995.

Over time the industrial range and accessories were developed further. One of the requirements from the temporary power market was for both drain and source connector to be fingerproof. This was developed and initially provided through machined insulators. By 1999, as quantities increased it became economic to retool the product and improve on the original series incorporating a patented design for a spring loaded finger proof female contact designed by Don Morris who would go on to work with Ten 47 for many years before retiring. In the meantime Link Srl had launched their Powerlock mark one copy manufactured by Van-System, as did US based Camlok manufacturer Cooper Crouse Hinds which were soon to be out dated. Veam in Italy manufactured a sequential mating box (called NRG box at the time) to complement the series.  The product started to be adopted around the world but not really in the USA where the original push had come from.

Early stages

Taking this feedback into consideration a team was assembled inside Litton Veam to look at the options in early 1994. The team consisted of Tom Mckechnie (General Manager Veam UK), Keith Gordon (Business Manager), John Cameron (Sales) and Walter Chalmers (Engineering). A design was put together incorporating a multi lam band, secondary locking pin, possibility for different contact bucket sizes and having the four versions to allow daisy chaining. Research into available materials and costings was also undertaken. The name Powerlock was chosen from a poll of several names by the Veam UK workforce. Power as it was a power connector and lock because there was the secondary locking system and the decision was taken to tool and manufacture the range from the Veam UK site in Scotland. As this was underway AC Lighting (now AC Entertainment Technologies) asked to become sole distributor for the Entertainment market making a large commitment. Veam UK and AC would agree commercial arrangement where AC became sole Entertainment industry distributor which would see AC promoting the brand to the market and winning “Product for Excellence award” at the Plasa show in September 1995.

Over time the industrial range and accessories were developed further. One of the requirements from the temporary power market was for both drain and source connector to be fingerproof. This was developed and initially provided through machined insulators. By 1999, as quantities increased it became economic to retool the product and improve on the original series incorporating a patented design for a spring loaded finger proof female contact designed by Don Morris who would go on to work with Ten 47 for many years before retiring. In the meantime Link Srl had launched their Powerlock mark one copy manufactured by Van-System, as did US based Camlok manufacturer Cooper Crouse Hinds which were soon to be out dated. Veam in Italy manufactured a sequential mating box (called NRG box at the time) to complement the series.  The product started to be adopted around the world but not really in the USA where the original push had come from.

Powerline QC

A Powerlock Mark 1 copy line drain connector, note the open front female contact.

Ten 47 founded

Tom Mckechnie and Walter Chalmers retired. With Litton being taken over by Northrop Grumman and the likely sale of the Veam Group, Keith Gordon approached John Cameron & Douglas Fury (another Veam sales person) about starting a new company to service the market and develop new products as well as innovate existing ones. That company was Ten 47, founded in early 2001 in partnership with the then owners of Van System Srl, Ricardo and Augusto Vanzo. 10:47am was the time the 3 original directors agreed to found the company. One of the products they wanted to develop was the Powerline. Trying to iron out some flaws in the original Powerlock connector designs. Augusto Vanzo would design the first Powerline connector series to our specifications.

In 2003 Veam was purchased by ITT Industries and the Veam UK facility was closed and merged into ITT Cannon’s operations in Basingstoke.

Powerline series launched

In 2004 Ten 47 launched its Powerline series connectors which incorporated a quick assembly clip contact retention system eliminating the hole in the moulding which is difficult to guarantee sealing and electrical insulation. The product was well received and Ten 47 supplied many major events. A downside being that a separate tool was needed to disassemble. This was overcome with a collar which allowed easy assembly and disassembly.

In the meantime John Cameron left Ten 47 in November 2004 and started up Phase 3 UK Limited in competition. Initially distributing for other companies and finally producing his own product, largely a copy of the original Powerlock. Sadly John passed away in 2011 leaving Keith Gordon as the only original Powerlock team member still active. John’s company failed a few years later and the assets were bought by new owners before relaunching under a similar name.

Powerline QC

Original Powerline with the now common fingerproof female contact on the drain connector.

Powerline QC Connector

Powerline QC Connector

Powerline Sequential Box

Powerline Sequential Box

Powerline QC launched

Over time the Powerline connectors became more of a commodity as the market price steadily reduced. Ten 47 sought to improve the product once again by launching our Powerline QC series which has a number of innovative features including a two piece construction allowing fast assembly / disassembly with easier component replacement, new IP protected louver band retention system and new locking method. At the 2016 Plasa show, the Powerline QC connector won an award for Innovation with judges pointing out the innovative design provided a long overdue solution to an old problem with high current connectors. 2019 saw the development and launch of a robust Sequential Box to complement the range.

Powerline QC launched

Over time the Powerline connectors became more of a commodity as the market price steadily reduced. Ten 47 sought to improve the product once again by launching our Powerline QC series which has a number of innovative features including a two piece construction allowing fast assembly / disassembly with easier component replacement, new IP protected louver band retention system and new locking method. At the 2016 Plasa show, the Powerline QC connector won an award for Innovation with judges pointing out the innovative design provided a long overdue solution to an old problem with high current connectors. 2019 saw the development and launch of a robust Sequential Box to complement the range.

Powerline QC Connector

Powerline QC Connector

Powerline Sequential Box

Powerline Sequential Box

Ten 47 continues to commit to the original vision to continually improve performance and safety of products offered to the market.