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How Digitization Accelerates Engineering And Manufacturing In Control Cabinet Construction

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How Digitization Accelerates Engineering And Manufacturing In Control Cabinet Construction
How Digitization Accelerates Engineering And Manufacturing In Control Cabinet Construction

Video: How Digitization Accelerates Engineering And Manufacturing In Control Cabinet Construction

Video: How Digitization Accelerates Engineering And Manufacturing In Control Cabinet Construction
Video: Automation in control cabinet construction 2023, June

Control cabinet builders are under enormous cost pressure: The reason is increasingly complex control technology, the customer request for individual solutions, national and international standards, last minute changes and ever closer delivery dates. In addition, classic control cabinet construction is characterized by many manual work steps. Overall, this makes the process time-consuming, expensive and also prone to errors. It is therefore important to make the processes faster, more economical and more precise.

Prevent media breaks

This will be achieved with paperless, networked processes from preliminary planning and project planning through construction to mechanical and electrical processing and wiring.

Picture gallery

Picture gallery with 8 pictures

"It is crucial to recognize where there are media breaks in the entire process, how to prevent them and how to create seamless processes - a seamless digital value chain," explains Uwe Scharf, Managing Director Business Units and Marketing at Rittal.

His colleague Sebastian Seitz, CEO at Eplan, adds: "Our vision is that, based on a consistent digital model - i.e. the digital twin of a switchgear assembly - we can enormously improve all processes in switchgear construction and increase the efficiency of the individual steps." the companies share their engineering and manufacturing expertise.

Supplementary information on the topic of construction enablers: electrical construction

  • Challenge: In control and switchgear construction, there is a high and constantly increasing pressure on efficiency and costs. In the planning and construction, complex circuit and wiring plans are created on a page-by-page basis, which must be implemented quickly and error-free in personnel-intensive production with many manual work steps.
  • Solution: Eplan and Rittal offer solutions for the holistic optimization of the value chain through virtual prototyping with an integrated data concept and automated control cabinet construction. For this purpose, the companies supply engineering software as well as specific system solutions and automation technology such as modular control cabinet series and fully automatic wire assembly machines.
  • What's in it: This makes it possible to accelerate the complex and complex process, network data from planning and design with production, thus avoiding errors in assembly and wiring, and automating time-consuming manual work steps.

Study reveals potential in control cabinet construction

In order to identify potential for process improvements and efficiency increases, Rittal and Eplan carried out the study "Control cabinet construction 4.0" in 2017 in cooperation with the Institute for Control Technology of Machine Tools and Manufacturing Facilities at the University of Stuttgart.

Switchgear construction very strongly project and order oriented

For example, it reveals which processes in control cabinet construction take a lot of time and where there is room for improvement. The project planning and construction of a circuit diagram (SLP) take up more than 50% of the construction time of a control cabinet. This is mainly due to the fact that the engineering of a switchgear in classic control and switchgear construction is still very project and order-oriented.

The graphic shows the different time requirements in classic control cabinet construction
The graphic shows the different time requirements in classic control cabinet construction

A list of equipment to be installed is created from the individual requirements. This equipment list is the basis for creating the assembly structure in 2D. The parts lists, including the number and type of all terminals, contactors and other built-in parts, then result from the assembly layout and the information from the circuit diagram. A clear disadvantage of this way of working: the proverbial wheel is reinvented for every control cabinet.

Function-oriented engineering with templates reduces effort

This is remedied by function-oriented engineering, which 72% of the companies surveyed are already using. Project templates are used which are created, for example, on the basis of certain basic functionalities. In engineering only specific additional components then have to be inserted - if these have already been created as functional units, the integration step should be short and error-free. Configurators can further simplify the creation of construction drawings.

Eplan eBuild automates plan creation

Numerous companies in control cabinet construction have intensively prepared all the components that are often installed as macros and also use the Eplan Data Portal. If the company wants to do functional engineering, users can use Eplan Eplan eBuild, for example.

The libraries provided in the cloud in Eplan eBuild provide templates for widely used controls with which users can work productively. Based on the Eplan macro technology, the software offers a simple configurator for the generation of complete electrical circuit and fluid plans.

Construction Practice Podcast

Electrical construction

The Konstruktionsspraxis podcast, the specialist magazine for listening, provides quick and entertaining information about exciting technology topics. In this episode we take a look at digitalization in control cabinet construction. Our editor Sandra Häuslein talks to Sebastian Seitz from Eplan and Uwe Scharf from Rittal about what the ideal digital value chain in control cabinet construction looks like and what options are available to initiate the first digital processes.

Stored macros accelerate configuration

How does that work in detail? Circuit diagrams for standard circuits can be generated automatically via stored macro libraries. This saves a lot of drawing work and time when configuring automation systems. What makes Eplan eBuild special is that it does not provide data for individual articles or components, but rather macros for entire circuit and fluid plans, including the corresponding logic and variance. This speeds up the configuration process enormously and is more fun thanks to its smart usability. In the future, users will be able to concentrate more on their core tasks, the previous "copy and paste" method is a thing of the past.

Error-free thanks to standardized templates

Another advantage that solution provider Eplan passes on 1: 1 to its customers is that the quality of the documentation increases with already tested circuit templates. By using functional units, the testing effort can be reduced to a minimum or carried out independently of the actual project development. In addition, construction plans that are derived from a standardized template can generally be assumed to be error-free. This relieves design engineers, mechanics and electricians can work more efficiently because the plans in production are usually correct.

Thanks to 3D construction to a virtual control cabinet

Another decisive lever for accelerating production are 3D construction models. However, control cabinet construction is often still in 2D - according to the study, 63% of the participants still work in this way. Spatial collisions during mechanical and electrical assembly cannot be easily determined in a two-dimensional drawing, which can lead to complex corrections. In addition, the determination of the wire lengths for the connections between the components necessary for automated production is impossible due to the lack of spatial information in a 2D drawing.

Additional information on the topic of new: the digital circuit diagram bag

In the event of maintenance, service or maintenance, the digital circuit diagram pocket can be called up directly on the control and switchgear using a tablet. The assignment between digital documentation and the real control cabinet takes place via a component QR code on the control cabinet: a unique identification system in this form, which every Rittal VX25 large cabinet and every AX compact and KX small housing already has at the factory. The system makes it possible to clearly identify every cabinet or housing worldwide. The Rittal product scan app can be used, for example, to call up information on control cabinet items or, in the future, the Eplan project associated with the control cabinet or machine.

Digital twin is the basis of end-to-end value creation

A solution for virtual control cabinet construction is available with Eplan Pro Panel. It covers the entire range of services in control cabinet and switchgear construction - from the assembly structure in 3D, through the virtual wiring of the components to the individual design and adaptation of copper bars for flexible power distribution systems.

The resulting digital twin forms the basis of the continuous digital value chain in switchgear construction. “A digital twin shows the completely finished control cabinet with all its components in digital form. That means you not only see all the dimensions and the electrical equipment, but also all the additional data that you need to subsequently manufacture the cabinet in a digital process,”explains Sebastian Seitz.

  • It also includes the entire wiring with all wire paths, cable ducts and top-hat rails (position and length) as well as all holes and cutouts.
  • The plastic representation simplifies many activities, since individual positions in the trade are more easily recognized.
  • As a result, production is less time-consuming and the susceptibility to errors is significantly reduced.

Paperless manufacturing

Future opportunity digitalization in control cabinet construction

Automate manufacturing

The data stored in the digital twin ensure that many work steps can be automated in production. For this purpose, Rittal develops tools, machines and semi or fully automatic machines that integrate into the digital value chain in order to accelerate individual processes in production. If there are lengths of the cable ducts and top hat rails, measuring and manual cutting are not necessary. If automatic cable duct and DIN rail cutters then provide the material for each cabinet, the process of mechanical assembly becomes even more efficient.

Smart wiring simplifies wiring

The wiring of the system can also be mapped using the digital twin. The software for this is called. It makes it possible to visualize the wiring in the twin. Printed circuit diagrams, confusing searches for the individual wiring points and long processes for changes to the diagram are a thing of the past. Instead, the work is done directly on the 3D model using a tablet.

Smart wiring: wiring made easy

Smart Wiring is currently available in version 2.9. The solution should make the wiring process easier and clearer. The architecture and layout of the smart wiring monitor have been completely revised. The wiring status of projects is now displayed directly, including test mode. Dashboards can be customized and automatically displayed using the latest display libraries for web diagrams.

In version 2.9, the connection types have also been significantly expanded. Today's automation technology is traditionally composed of two topics - electrical engineering and pneumatics. Valve terminals installed in the control cabinet require both the electrotechnical control and the corresponding hose connection. From version 2.9, users can also integrate cables and hoses into their workflows. The different connection types are taken into account and available information on cables and hoses is automatically displayed. Incidentally, the display for cable data is more comprehensive than for wires: Additional information such as BMK (equipment label), cable length (overall length), stripping length or the number of connections in the cable - all of this can be determined with Eplan Smart Wiring 2.9.

More information about Eplan Smart Wiring.

Wiring does most of the work

When it comes to electrical assembly and wiring, manufacturing benefits the most from the digitization and automation of the processes. With around 50% of the work involved, wiring represents the largest share of the total effort for the creation of a control cabinet. According to the study, it takes 157 seconds to prepare the wire for the wiring in the conventional approach, ie: cutting to length, stripping and crimping. If it is possible to “think ahead” with the connections in the planning phase, to determine the optimal laying routes and to calculate the lengths, this step can be further accelerated.

Automated wire assembly

Finally, the automated assembly of the wires follows a step further. With its Wire Terminal WT, Rittal promises wire assembly 8 times faster than the manual process. Up to 24 or 36 different wires in cross-sections from 0.5 mm² to 2.5 mm² can be produced fully automatically without having to change over. If the process is based on planning with Eplan Pro Panel and thus a complete digital twin, the wires can be completely assembled and prepared for the wiring - without having to intervene manually.

Rittal Innovation Center supports customers on their way to digitization

The processes in switchgear construction are complex, so it is not easy to implement digital processes. “The conversion process at the customer is not a one-off process. It is a continuous improvement process. We offer support in the Rittal Innovation Center in Haiger,”says Uwe Scharf. There, users can go through every process step - from engineering to system technology to system expansion, including the automation of production.

The central element is the virtual prototype of a control cabinet - the digital twin. Customers experience where they can start in their own process and are continuously supported by the experts during the optimization. The aim is that every company can determine and implement the ideal digital process.

Control cabinet construction

Cloud-based to the circuit diagram

switch cabinet

Control and switchgear construction 4.0 at your fingertips: Rittal opens Innovation Center


Eplan is driving the digitalization of engineering

On virtual paths against the corona crisis

In view of the latest developments relating to the corona virus, events are being canceled or postponed in a row. The future can belong to digital platforms that can compensate for this development. With the "Industrial Generation Network", the Vogel Communications Group presents a solution for professionals in the industry. As a digital supplement, the platform enables extensive networking: the focus is on digital encounters and establishing contacts, as well as product presentation and thematic exchange. Tools such as making appointments and video conferences enable professionals to network, make appointments and do research close to the respective branch. The platform thus replaces the currently severely restricted face-to-face communication, especially at trade fairs.

How can the platform help me?

* Sandra Häuslein and Monika Zwettler, editors in construction practice

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