Think Again: Control Panel Design Winner 2010

The Think Again column for June/July 2010 Control Engineering highlighted the winner of the 2010 Control Panel Design contest. Link to all four finalists, and learn how to submit a tutorial video. The 2010 winner of the Control Engineering Control Panel Design Contest is Specialty Tooling Inc., Evansville, IN.


The 2010 winner of the Control Engineering Control Panel Design Contest is Specialty Tooling Inc., Evansville, IN. (Click the link provided below to learn more about the winner, view the four finalists, including the winning video.)

The end-user is a major appliance manufacturer. The application is a machine that applies bends and twists to the tubing on the bottom of a refrigerator. The controls challenge was to reduce wiring, cabinet space and eliminate the 90-minute hard tooling change-over. Among four finalists that submitted tutorial videos on control panel design in 2010, subscribers voted online to select machine builder Specialty Tooling's tutorial video as the winner.

Ryan Johann, automation engineer, explains: "When I'm laying out control enclosures, my thought process is, ‘Where is it going to be easiest to bring my I/O cabling in from the machine, what kind of components do I need to have with 480 V ac, 3 phase, or 24 V dc? What's the supply power? What kind of drives, controls, and communication cables do I need? And how can I think about how to isolate the high and low voltage, to keep noise out of the equation."

Specialty Tooling control panel design saved about 25% on panel size, decreased wiring by 35%, and improved productivity by 15% by integrating safety. The control cabinet needs to be laid out to ensure everything is placed appropriately.

Enabling tools included Bosch Rexroth's MLD-M control architecture. For the 4-axes application, Johann sought to reduce panel size. One master axis, with integrated PLC and motion control functionality, reduces the need for an external PLC that would take more panel space. The drives save space, wiring together with one wire, in a daisy chain, to SERCOS III I/O blocks.

Panel design and component selection helped Specialty Tooling resolve related controls challenges. Another space saving technique is having one point to terminate up to a three-wire sensor thus reducing the amount of wiring and time needed to assemble the panel.

A more traditional architecture would have required additional wiring to an external PLC or motion controller with I/O cards back to a separate portion of the panel. The Specialty Tooling control panel design saved about 25% on panel size, decreased wiring by 35%, and improved productivity by 15% by integrating Bosch Rexroth's Safety-On-Board technology. Ordinarily the operator would need to drop the 480 V ac power to the drives in the work cell to load and unload the part. MLD Safety on Board technology meets safety requirements by putting the drives into a safe stop condition when the operator is in the work cell, Johann says.

Software tools, such as these from Bosch Rexroth, help with control panel design, programming, and automation system integration, Specialty Tooling says. Software from Bosch Rexroth helped Specialty Tooling program, integrate, and execute all project components, including PLC and motion programming, human-machine interfaces, and I/O connections.

Good tools help a smart design.

Get more information about the Specialty Tooling design, see photos, link to videos.

Submit a video for the next contest:

Thanks to all participants and voters.

Contact Specialty Tooling at 812.464.8521.

Mark T. Hoske

Think Again June/July 2010

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