At Data Center World 2023, Steven Hill of Data Center Knowledge connected with Giannis Buchner of Phoenix Contact.
In this video, Buchner explains Phoenix Contact's clipx WIRE Assist, which uses digital data from CAD designs to streamline the wire preparation and wiring process, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing the potential for errors.
The transcript follows below. Minor edits have been made for clarity.
Steven Hill: Welcome back to Data Center World 2023. My name is Steven Hill, and today we're talking with Phoenix Contact. Phoenix Contact is a company headquartered in Germany. It's a manufacturer of industrial automation, interconnects, and interface solutions. They develop terminal blocks, relays, connectors, signal conditioners, power supplies, controllers, PLCs, IO systems, industrial ethernet, controller systems, and systems cabling. You name it, they do everything IIoT. Today, I'm joined by Giannis Buchner. Hello, Giannis, nice to meet you, sir.
Giannis Buchner: Nice to meet you.
Steven: And we're going to be doing an introduction and a quick demonstration on this new clipx. It's called clipx WIRE Assist. It's a platform designed to be able to dramatically speed up the manufacture of control panels. And I'll leave it up to you to tell us a little bit about what this is like and what this is about.
Giannis: So, this is a clipx WIRE Assist system. And today, all the people are facing some challenges. So, the challenges they are facing are mostly the increase in productivity and the decrease in lead times, while maintaining a high level of quality. And so, therefore, it's impossible to increase the efficiency in cabinet building. And when we want to figure out where the biggest potential is to increase the efficiency of cabinet building, then we have to look at the different process steps of cabinet building. So, cabinet building starts every time with the preparation – the mechanical preparation of the mounting plate, cutting the din rails, cutting also the cable duct, and so on. And then goes on with the assembly of the terminal strips. And the last two steps are the labeling and the wiring of the cabinet. And these last two steps can make up to 78% of the whole time needed to build such a cabinet.
Steven: Absolutely, and again, it's a very manual process at this point. I mean, making sure that everything is accurate, making sure that you go back to the design. And you’ve got the right wire, the right length, and being able to track it through the entire system. Now, this is a matter of being able to utilize modern CAD technology to be able to identify the way that you can detach a wire that you can use, and how to dramatically streamline that process. What's the biggest improvement that you find in efficiency? Just the ability to have this automatically lay out your cable and cable environment?
Giannis: So, when we have this layout for the cabling, then we can also use this data so that we don't have to make the wiring manually, with pulling the wires through the cabinet. So, when we're using this digital data, we know everything we need to know to do the wire preparation. And then we can split the process steps of wire preparation and the wiring. And then before we do the wiring itself, we are doing the wire preparation. And with all the information we have, we are reducing the failure potential and increasing efficiency, and we will be much faster.
Steven: And not to mention the fact that your termination system is guaranteed to work perfectly for that environment. Again, it's if you look at the way that cabling used to be in manual crimping, there are a lot of variables involved in that. But when you start talking about bringing that to automation, I have to believe you get good termination when you do it this way.
Giannis: Of course. Because here in the visualization of the system, we have all the information we need. So, it starts with the color of the wire. We have the length and the cross-section. And then you see also the labeling information and the wire end processes. So, what do we have to do with the wire ends? Here, we have to apply the ferrule. With that information, we can start to prepare this wire. And for the wiring itself, we have two additional pieces of information. You see it here, that is the routing direction. So, we have to go the same way the CAD system goes before. And for that, here I have the information that I have to go down and then to the left into the cable duct. So, I have everything I need to know for the wire preparation and for the wiring.
Steven: Wow, and again, unless you've spent time doing cable preparation, it's hard to imagine how much time this saves. We're going to jump into a demonstration here, because having terminated cables myself, I've just amazed I haven't seen this before today. Why don't you go ahead and explain how this system works?
Giannis: Perfect. So, here I have two basic filtering functions. One filtering function for the cross-section and one for the color. Because when you're using automatic devices for cutting or also for crimping, then every color change and cross-section change will take some time. So, to be more efficient, you will do one color and one cross-section first. So, we start now by pressing the start button. Then the wire will be cut, the printer got its printing job. It opens a shrink sleeve, and I can easily insert the wire into the shrink sleeve. I have to do it for the target and also for the source side of the wire. Then, the last step is to apply an insulated ferrule. For this, I can use this stripping and crimping device, and now I have the finished prepared wire and can do the wiring.
Steven: Amazing, and again, it's hard to describe the amount of efficiency this brings to the process of building out and wiring out a panel. Purely because you know where it's supposed to go. You know where it's come from. All these factors are taken into account as the wire is being manufactured. Not to mention, I have to believe that doing that same thing manually, you said, saved about 70% of the time involved, right?
Giannis: It saves a lot of time, and one other big advantage, as you mentioned before, you have all the information you need. So, you don't need to look at any kind of drawing or circuit diagram to do the wiring of the cabinet.
Steven: Right. So, what is necessary to be able to enable this as part of your CAD design?
Giannis: Yeah, so as part of the CAD design, you need all the data available. And so that means you need the product data for every component inside your cabinet. And then you need also a 3D layout of your whole cabinet that the software can make the routing of the wires.
Steven: Right, okay. And again, this is where we’re looking at it from a 3D perspective rather than 2D. Because most CAD systems now work in a 3D model, but you need to think in those terms when it comes to laying out the wiring tracing as well. So, this, I have to believe is a major improvement in terms of efficiency. What else can the company do to improve its process as far as utilizing these types of technologies? Because again, this brings automation to a bespoke process. In our custom process, mostly, this was all done by hand. Now, you've got a level of automation that usually you'd find in larger and more closely manufactured environments. So, I think we've covered everything that we need to cover here. I appreciate your time today, Giannis, it's been a treat. Thank you very much.
Giannis: Thank you very much.
Steven: All right and take care. Have a great day and enjoy the rest of the show!
Giannis: Thank you.
‘Phoenix Contact Demos clipx WIRE Assist at Data Center World’