What efficiency potential is revealed during the process from the planning of a panel through to its integration in ongoing operation? This is the question that Weidmüller was looking into as part of a large-scale project. Together with research partners such as the Heinz Nixdorf Institute, Weidmüller carried out a complete deconstruction of the value chains involved in panel construction, and broke them down into their individual steps. As part of the project, users from the fi eld of machinery and plant engineering, the energy sector and the process and railway industries were visited, and research was carried out into the precise nature of the processes related to panel building, and how exactly these panels are used on site. As a result ofthis research, a number of recurring customer problems emerged – or from Weidmüller’s perspective, potential for more added value at all stages of panel building.
“One of the identified customer problems that we have been working on intensively relates to having an optimal power supply for consumers in the panel,” explains Product Manager Wolfgang Weltermann. “Up until now, this was something that had to be set up by users themselves, but we have now solved this problem by developing specially adapted application products for surge current protection and structured distribution within the limits of control voltage circuits.”
With rising numbers of control functions and increasingly complex machines, the number of components needing to be supplied with power in the panel is also increasing. At the same time, system designers are demanding increasingly small dimensions from their panel builders, such as in the case of localised control boxes designed for inconspicuous incorporation into the system design.
“The installation width of the necessary control parts is something that can’t be compromised on, meaning that users are keen to make space savings with the terminal blocks. This results in complex structures that are difficult to retrofit and that offer barely any flexibility,” says Weltermann, referring to his own practical experience. “In light of this, we developed a solution designed specially for applications where space is tight, allowing for unprecedented levels of clarity. The new concept involves central potential distribution with the option of direct cabling for all of the positive and negative potentials of the various devices.”
The innovative combination of load monitoring and potential distribution saves time during installation, increases fail-safeness and reduces the amount of space required on the
terminal rail by 50 %
Up until now, terminal blocks for potential distribution and electronic load monitoring were always installed separately. In the new maxGUARD system, the two terminal blocks are both integrated into a single 24-V control voltage distribution system. This combination, which is currently unique on the market, saves time during installation, increases safety against failure and reduces the amount of space required on the terminal rail by up to 50 %.
The wide range of single and multi-channel variants and the large number of different potential distribution termi- nals and additional components mean that it is always possible to create a customised solution. Less cabling work is required between the load monitoring and potential distribution terminals thanks to the unique cross-connectors, and the specially developed operating, testing and connection elements allow for safe access to all voltage potentials and load circuits during commissioning and maintenance.
Tailor-made potential distributor terminal blocks and a modular concept with integrated electronic load monitoring add real added value at all stages of panel building. The web-based Weidmüller Configurator makes the configuration and request process a great deal easier.
“During the market analysis, we had a real lightbulb moment in relation to the issue of checking and testing, and we recognised that there is a major backlog in this area,” says Weltermann. “Our solution: uniform, integrated test connections designed to speed up error analysis. All new products within our updated Klippon® Connect terminal block range are now fitted with this feature. In the case of maxGUARD, the potential distributors also have practical disconnecting levers for simple galvanic isolation of the load circuit for testing and checking purpose.”
If the customer wants just potential distribution without electronic protection, Weidmüller’s Klippon® Connect application products AAP are the perfect solution. The modular system with two cross-connection channels can be combined to create a clear block solution, and the coloured pushers designed to help distinguish between the potentials help to prevent incorrect wiring and reduce time and costs. Maintenance and modification task are particularly easy thanks to the clear assignment and marking of the contact points, while the AAP’s alternating structure with two potentials on one block creates huge space savings. The PUSH IN technology, also used in maxGUARD, opens up rationalisation potential in the cabling process.
“Every application within the panel has its own specifications, and can basically be triggered in an extremely wide range of different ways. So which solution is the most precise and the most economically efficient? It was not only in the development of our application-specific product solutions for panels where we addressed questions like this one. The cumulative expertise from the decades of experience that our product experts have in the field, and also from the wide-reaching market analysis relating to panel building, has also been incorporated into the Weidmüller Configurator,” says Weltermann, speaking of yet another market innovation. “Rather than going through individual steps, the web-based software solution takes users seamlessly through the entire panel building process, thereby bridging the gap between the planning stage and ongoing operation.”
The Weidmüller Configurator supports panel builders in the structured selection, configuration and requesting of assembled terminal rails. Automatic filter functions and seamless documentation ensure that typical errors, such as those relating to compatibility, are prevented right from the outset, which ultimately results in time savings of up to 75 % over the entire engineering process.
In the area of control voltage distribution, for example, the Configurator helps ensure that the perfect solution is found, by allowing the user to simply specify the number of positive and negative potentials to be distributed, and to select the required cross-section and marking scheme. The user will then receive a proposed solution showing all components and accessory parts. An additional option is planning using an ECAD system.
The product data from the Weidmüller Configurator offers comprehensive support during project planning and can be fully integrated into all common engineering tools
In this case, the products can simply be transferred to the Configurator, where the accessories are then added, the manufacturing documentation compiled and the structure logically checked. The parts list can then be exported back to the ECAD system. The composition in the Configurator is performed completely in 3D, thereby giving a realistic impression of the future result right from the planning stage. As a result, accurate planning structures can be presented to the end customer before the manufacturing process has even begun.
“Extra efficiency in planning, installation and operation – we arrived at this objective due to the increasing complexity of processes relating to panel production,” Weltermann concludes. “Our application program for control voltage distribution and the Weidmüller Configurator are just two examples of how we are consistently putting this objective into practice.”
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Published in December 2016