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Towards made-to-measure wiring via 3D
One step ahead. It is our mission to always stay one step ahead when designing, building, maintaining and upgrading your electrical control panels. In this section, we take you behind the scenes, and we show you how we put that ambition into practice. This time, we’re looking at the step forward into automated made-to-measure wiring.
In the previous edition of Switch, we talked about the transition to 3D engineering, and about how this is leading to shorter lead times and better quality. But the transition to 3D designs is also opening the door to another step forward: the Komax Zeta 640.
R&D Engineer Bernd Mouchaers explains: “The Komax is a machine that cuts, strips and labels electrical wires. Investing in this machine has enabled us to automate our made-to-measure wiring process. Our panel builders now get supplied with labelled wires tailor-made for their application, so they can make the right connection straightaway in the cabinet they are working on, without the need to perform any preliminary tasks themselves, such as cutting wires to size, exposing the copper and labelling them.
Data straight from the design software
Engineering Manager Berny Pellaers continues: “The data the Komax machine needs comes straight from our design software. However, to provide the machine with the right data, we needed to make the transition to 3D engineering first. 3D adds depth to the process, which means we can now work with the exact lengths of wires, their connection points and so on.
Bernd: “We really took the challenge to the manufacturer. Most of their machines are equipped for wires up to 6 mm2. Ours can handle wires up to 10 mm2. Combined with all the extra options we wanted, we really have a unique machine on our hands. There can’t be any more than three of these around the world.”
A step forward in speed and quality
Berny: “This has enabled us to take another step forward in terms of speed and quality. The margin of error has also reduced: it is now nearly impossible to connect a wire incorrectly, as every wire is made to measure and has its start and end point labelled. This labelling also means we no longer need to look at the plan every time to check where exactly the wire needs to be connected. That way, our panel builders can focus even more on their core tasks. We’ve been working on breaking down the panel building process into different parts for a while, so we can see which parts we can automate or do more efficiently. The eventual aim is to allow our professionals to use their knowledge and experience for what matters most, without wasting time on simple and repetitive tasks. Their practical experience can be put to much better use in helping engineers come up with solutions for a design, for example, than it is in cutting wires to size.”
Bernd: “These are standard tasks that can be performed by staff without technical training, so P&V Panels is actually expanding the pool of talent from which we draw by shifting them away from our professionals. A final benefit of this new way of working is that we can increase our just-in-time production, meaning we need to keep less stock. In that area too, this development is enabling us to work more efficiently.