Modular Connectivity Outperforms Hardwiring (.PDF Download)

Dec. 22, 2017
Modular Connectivity Outperforms Hardwiring (.PDF Download)

Traditional machine hardwiring involves a virtual maze of wires and cables. In modern machine setups, electrical, signal, and data contact points can number into the hundreds for complex operations or multifunctional machines.

For example, a machine designed to stamp, print, and cut paper combines extensive electrical, data, and signal schematics for three separate machines. Problems arise if each function does not know what the others are doing. So if printed paper is advanced before the cutting process completes the first batch, the machine jams, which can damage the product.

Typically, a host of sensors prevent problems and production delays. In hardwired machines, each point of power, sensor data, and control communications is transferred via cable or wire into a control panel or power panel. That can add up to hundreds of point-to-point contacts requiring stripping, soldering, and possibly crimping.

The Downside of Hardwiring

Before a hardwired machine even ships, all points of entry or input/output must be tested, which involves wiring each point, testing, and disconnecting. Then, every point-to-point contact is reconnected at the customer’s site by skilled technicians, electricians, or engineers. The process generates significant labor costs. Moreover, each wiring and unwiring process adds another layer of risk and exposure for machine builders. Even one misplaced wire can damage or destroy a machine worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To mitigate risks, machine builders often dispatch engineers to plants to oversee machine wiring during installation, or if a customer adds a new production line. Each site visit incrementally drives up the overall machine cost.

Customer technicians handling cumbersome wiring tasks depend on electrical and signal schematics to perform routine tasks and troubleshoot problems. A problem in a plant with several hardwired motors and drives may require disconnecting and reconnecting hundreds of point-to-point contacts to safely troubleshoot and diagnose the issue.

Machine-builder and end-user engineers working on industrial machinery in processing, manufacturing, and assembly plants are challenged by the time, cost, and complexity of commissioning and maintaining machinery. Typical automation configurations require many hours of labor to hardwire and power up systems for smooth operation and synchronization. And machines requiring routine maintenance must be disassembled, serviced, and reassembled. Once again, that means disconnecting and reconnecting each hardwired point, which, as mentioned, is a time-consuming task. Machine downtime always translates into productivity and profitability losses, and escalates total cost of ownership.

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