For a long time, control cabinets have been an integral part of machines and systems and it is almost impossible to imagine machines and systems without them. However, the planning, development and wiring of control cabinets costs a lot of time and is also prone to errors. Approaches already exist to build automated control cabinets, thus increasing the resources required and also reliability. However, even then, the problem remains that control cabinets require valuable production space on the machine. These challenges are also met with solutions such as decentralized terminal boxes, drives or, for example, Beckhoff EtherCAT Box modules, which can be mounted directly on the machine outside the control cabinet. None of these concepts, however, claim to replace the complete control cabinet and integrate the entire world of automation technology into the machine in a compact and robust way. After all, almost every machine still requires one or more separate control cabinets.
Machine and plant concepts without control cabinet in IP67
With the new MX-System, Beckhoff Automation is rising to these challenges and starting a revolution in the automation environment. Control cabinets can be reduced to a minimum or even substituted with the holistic, modular and plug-in approach. This means that machines and systems can now be designed and controlled entirely without control cabinets.
The MX-System exemplifies system integration of all machine functionalities, as it harnesses all the advantages of PC- and EtherCAT-based control technology at the same time. The compact system made of metal is not only dust and waterproof due to its high quality workmanship, but also robust and resistant, which allows it to be placed directly at the machine.
The MX-System: The system architecture
With the holistically modular and pluggable MX-System solution, a wide variety of applications and machine concepts can be implemented. The extensive portfolio provides users with all the benefits of PC- and EtherCAT-based control technology.
MBxxxx | Baseplates
Scalable baseplates form the basis for the automation system without control cabinets.
MCxxxx | IPC modules
Robust Industrial PCs of various performance classes as the basis for all automation applications.
MOxxxx | I/O modules
Comprehensive product range of pluggable I/O modules for all signals of the automation world.
MDxxxx | Motion modules
Innovative drive package for the realization of modular and safety-oriented machine concepts.
MRxxxx | Relay modules
Versatile relay modules enable switching of large currents and powers.
MSxxxx | System modules
System modules such as power supply, power supply unit, coupler and mains output modules round off the modular plug-in automation system.
Five system advantages for machine and plant construction
Machine and plant builders can use the MX-System to significantly reduce not only their engineering and installation costs, but also their machine footprint. In addition, system availability and flexibility are increased while maintenance is minimized. The five system advantages of this new automation approach without control cabinets are decisive for these user benefits.
The mechanical and electrical modularization of the system becomes the new engineering standard. The optimally coordinated product portfolio makes it possible to design the electrical equipment of machines and plants according to the modular principle. Since significantly fewer components are required than in classic control cabinet construction to implement the same requirements, the entire MX-System is consequently significantly more compact. With these advantages, the MX-System is convincing in the field of engineering:
- minimal engineering effort
- less components: no housing, no cable gland
- decentralization and modularization
- one solution for UL, CSA and IEC
- integrated functions: safety, diagnostics, electronic fuse
Unlike a classic control cabinet, no time-consuming and error-prone installation in the form of individual wire connections is necessary. The standardized interfaces of the MX-System enable an effortless plug and play principle, as all function modules can be easily plugged onto the baseplate. Consequently, the following benefits result:
- huge reduction of assembly time: from 24 h to 1 hour
- cabinet assembly can be done in-house by nonelectrical workforces
- no external cabinet construction and logistics necessary
- high quality: no error in cabinet wiring
- drastic reduction in supply chain complexity
The MX-System can be integrated visually and functionally into the machine room due to its considerable compactness in contrast to conventional solutions. This reduces the machine footprint many times over. In addition, there are significantly shorter cable routes to the process level and thus cost savings.
The MX-System, which is highly scalable thanks to its standardized interfaces, can be expanded in no time at all with additional MX-Systems or combined with existing machine concepts using existing control cabinet solutions.
- easy mounting of preassembeld baseplate on the machine
- plug and play installation of all cables due to EtherCAT P cables and connectors
- no installation faults due to prefabricated cables
- electrical installations may be done by mechanical workforces as part of the mechanical installation
- no need for electrical technicans during assembly
- shorter assembly time, less space consumption for electrical components and cables
In addition to the advantages for the end user for easy expansion of the MX-System, there are further advantages for the system user in the area of service and maintenance. The MX-System consists of intelligent EtherCAT components throughout, enabling comprehensive system diagnostics at any time. In addition to classic status LEDs, each function module has a unique serial number in the form of a data matrix code. This code can be scanned via smartphone app, which causes the smartphone to connect to the controller and output diagnostic data to the corresponding function module.
The modular system and the simple plug and play principle make it possible to replace a defective module quickly and easily. This offers an enormous time advantage, especially for the end user/machine operator.
- fully integrated, non-intrusive system diagnostics EtherCAT devices
- diagnostics can be done by nonelectrical specialists – no electrical cabinet has to be opened
- easy fault localization: module, cable or device
- modules can be exchanged by nonprofessionals
- easy replacement of defective modules due to hot swap function
- unique part number diagnostics
Machine and plant builders can use the MX-System not only to simplify their entire engineering, but also to simplify the entire installation and wiring of the components on the machine itself. Thanks to the uncomplicated plug and play principle, the function modules can be mounted on the baseplate and the entire system can be put into operation in no time at all. The number of total user benefits is large:
- huge reduction of system compexity, space requirements and in construction, assembly and installation time
- huge reduction in machine cabling length and complexity
- huge reduction in supply chain mangement
- compatibility to all major world standards (CE, UL, CSA, IEC, …)
- ruggedized metal housing with exceptional EMC stability
- easy maintainance by end customer
- easy application expansion
- compatibility to all major device and communication standards
- EtherCAT, EtherCAT G, EtherCAT P
- coupler for ProfiNET, Ethernet/IP, …
- communication controller for all major fieldbuses
- high-level TwinCAT support
- reuse of all components for new applications
- lower costs