Solutions beyond the ordinary for the defence industry

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Out of all the industries we specialise in, the defence sector is one of the most complex and challenging. The field requires innovative solutions and robust products that can withstand extreme conditions, comply with strict national standards, and keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancements. So, let’s look at what it takes to develop solutions beyond the ordinary for our defence customers.

High demand for customised solutions

Unlike other industries, defence applications often cannot rely on off-the-shelf cables and harnesses. Almost every enquiry we receive is unique, requiring a specialised solution that is tailored and customised to the customer’s needs.  In most cases, the cables must also be constructed from only approved materials and designed to seamlessly integrate with solutions from multiple other suppliers.

A good example is the complex requirements of modern naval vessels. While the cables used to maintain the ship’s infrastructure might be relatively standardised, the numerous subsystems – such as navigation, sonar, communication, or radar systems – are not. This means that our solutions must not only withstand harsh environments, but also need to integrate with various sophisticated subsystems, each of which has its own set of unique cable specifications to ensure optimal performance and reliability.

Customer partnerships are vital

Partnering with our customers is key to understanding their needs and designing solutions according to their specific applications. This usually means a lot of questions to understand every factor involved, as well as a lot of co-innovation and cocreation.

One of our recent solutions for a major defence contractor is a good example. They needed more robust and cost-effective spiralised headset cables for their tanks. Together, we developed a new design with over moulded connectors. This reduced the number of parts which made the cables easier to assemble, fully watertight, dustproof, and able to withstand extreme temperatures.

Extreme environments, tough standards

The defence industry operates within a highly regulated environment, where all solutions – from the raw materials we use to production processes and qualification standards – must meet stringent requirements. Often, they vary significantly between countries. A customised solution for a customer in Germany might look very different from a similar solution for a customer in the UK or France.

A future trend is the move towards more uniform standards. There is an ongoing debate about whether separate national requirements are still necessary, as more uniform standards could simplify development and deployment across different markets. However, this transition will require significant coordination and collaboration among international defence stakeholders.

Either way, our engineers and cable designers have more than 50 years’ experience in developing connectivity solutions according to the main national standards and we are an approved supplier for most defence contracts.

Material and technical innovations for robust and future proof solutions

Extreme environments in defence applications demand robust solutions that can withstand harsh mechanical, fluid, and physical challenges to name but a few examples. It is also important that our solutions are future proof and able to keep up with the industry’s rapid technological and electrical advancements.

Our R&D department is dedicated to developing cutting-edge solutions that address these needs, while also proactively preparing for future trends and regulatory challenges. Our Hi-Flex™ cables, for example, are designed to maintain performance under extreme mechanical stress, ensuring reliability in the most demanding environments. These innovations are crucial for future applications such as hybrid and electrical military vehicles, where cables must be lightweight, yet robust enough to handle high data transmission rates and power requirements.

Speed and flexibility in supply chains  

The significant increase in demand within the defence industry places immense pressure on the entire supply chain. Adherence to strict timelines is also often non-negotiable. For example, a warship scheduled for maintenance in a harbour has a limited window for repairs and upgrades. Any delays in the supply of new or replacement cables can have serious implications.

This means operational innovation and a high level of flexibility to produce customised solutions quickly and efficiently is a must. By sourcing materials globally – and ensuring we are as close to our suppliers as possible – combined with multiple manufacturing locations, we are able to meet the urgent and specific needs of our defence customers without compromising quality or performance. It also allows us to rapidly scale production and adapt to changing demands.  

At Habia, we specialise in developing connectivity solutions for innovative and challenging applications. We have supplied the defence industry with a wide variety of military-grade cables and harnesses since the 1970’s. Read more on our Defence & Aerospace page.