Hannover Fair's Digital Factory shows industrial manufacturing in action | Automation.com

Hannover Fair's Digital Factory shows industrial manufacturing in action

February 2, 2009 - For the second time the trade fair Digital Factory is presenting the special display RapidX at HANNOVER MESSE 2009 (20 - 24 April). The tagline for RapidX - "Mechatronics in the Process Chain" - already suggests that the focus of this year's event has moved away from the usual stages of design, modelling, NC programming and production involved in the development of products that are essentially mechanical. Instead, RapidX 2009 takes us into an area that is currently the talk of the industry: the cross-disciplinary development of mechatronic products.

EPLAN Software & Service and its parent company Rittal, the manufacturer of industrial enclosures and switchgear cabinets, have teamed up with partners KOMAX Kabelverarbeitungssysteme and Steinhauer Elektromaschinen AG to demonstrate the development process for modern products, live in Hall 17. The demonstration focuses on the development of a switchgear cabinet and its contents for a machine tool and the manufacture of its cabling and housing.

Product development, simulation, calculation, virtual testing and production without the need for physical prototyping - Digital Factory showcases state-of-the-art industrial manufacturing in action:

- The first station in the process chain is the EPLAN Engineering Center (EEC), the control centre for the conception, planning and development of industrial installations that integrates all aspects of mechanics, electrical engineering and control technology. Here visitors can see how the control technology for a machine tool is developed. Based on mechatronic components and using product data from the data portal, engineers are able to generate a full set of hardware documentation and the SPS program.

- The second station shows the traditional form of product development: EPLAN P8 is used to design the hardware, while EPLAN Fluid supports the development of pneumatics and hydraulics, cooling and lubrication systems.

- The modelling of the cabinet housing is the subject of the demonstration at Station Three. Standard components from Rittal are assembled virtually, as 3D objects, the parts are inserted virtually into the mounting panel and the necessary cable entries and fixings are added to the panel. Out of this process comes the production documentation for manufacturing the conductors and cables and fabricating the sheet metal components.

- With the aid of software supplied by Rittal, tests are carried out at Station Four to discover how best to cool the built-in electrical systems. Simulation delivers the required energy efficiency without over-dimensioning the cooling system. Depending on the main direction of air flow as determined by the simulation, it is now possible to manufacture and install cooling baffles (for example) on an ad hoc basis.

- Two more stations utilize the NC data derived from the installed systems for (1) the automated production of cabling and (2) the computer-aided machining of a mounting panel on a flat-bed milling machine. This machine, equipped with a CNC/SPS control unit supplied by Beckhoff, is controlled via a switchgear cabinet whose development has been demonstrated at the previous four stations.

Repeating last year's format, there will again be regular guided tours led by independent experts Thomas Pflug, Executive Secretary of the industry association NC Gesellschaft e.V., and Ulrich Sendler, Director of the sendlercircle it-forum. And throughout the show industry specialists will of course be on hand at the various stations of the process chain to answer questions from visitors.

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