Interview: The Benefits of One-Cable Automation

  • February 23, 2017
  • News
Interview: The Benefits of One-Cable Automation
Interview: The Benefits of One-Cable Automation

A continuing challenge with industrial automation is delivering higher performance with lower installation and maintenance costs. One significant cost is cabling, which takes up valuable real estate on packaging lines. As manufacturing becomes more automated and connected across a wide range of industries, it is more essential than ever to streamline installations and bring about new efficiencies in terms of power and communication.

Andy Garrido, I/O Market Specialist for Beckhoff Automation, will present a new technology that integrates industrial Ethernet communication and power into one cable at the Innovation Stage at PACK EXPO East 2017 (Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia; Feb. 27–March 1). Andy recently discussed how One Cable Automation can reduce costs and machine footprint sizes, and improve manufacturing flexibility.

Q: What is One Cable Automation?

A: One Cable Automation from our point of view refers to the integration of ultra-fast EtherCAT communication with the power supply, combined into a standard, 4-wire Ethernet cable. This innovation, called EtherCAT P, reduces cabling requirements by up to 50 percent while also reducing machine footprint sizes. EtherCAT P represents a progressive technology that adds industrial power transmission to the range of existing EtherCAT advantages, which include free choice of network topology, high-speed communication and optimum bandwidth utilization. We feel EtherCAT P is a game changer that moves the packaging industry forward, much as automation and industrial Ethernet have already transformed manufacturing. We believe we are entering an era in which it will become possible to have automated systems without electrical cabinets.  

Q: What are some of the benefits of reduced cabling?

A: Basically, the fewer cables you have on your production floor, the better. This cuts costs considerably, and with fewer cables, you also reduce the potential for errors during commissioning. This also makes production areas tidier and safer, to say nothing of increased convenience. One Cable Automation reduces the number of conduits needed in numerous application scenarios, which ultimately equates to lower maintenance and labor costs.

Q: Will One Cable Automation help companies automate?

A: Absolutely. As One Cable Automation is based on EtherCAT, the fastest industrial Ethernet technology available, it enables manufacturers to handle massive amounts of data at high speeds. One Cable Automation helps minimize hardware and wiring requirements when pushing data from point A to point B. This is also a key advantage for robotics, which are becoming increasingly integrated into manufacturing. Numerous sensors and other peripheral equipment may be required on robotic arms, so the more compact and unobtrusive your cabling, the better.

Q: What are next steps that manufacturers can take to integrate this technology into their production?

A: Every manufacturing line has specific needs, and it is important to have a thorough assessment from an automation specialist. These individuals can help identify your operation’s pain points with respect to networking and cabling, including an examination of the power supply, data transmission rates and current fieldbuses in use. Some popular legacy fieldbuses may essentially be obsolete, and modernization efforts can significantly improve performance and system efficiencies. Each company has specific needs and may require a customized networking and power solution.

Andy Garrido’s presentation, entitled “One Cable Automation – Industrial Ethernet and Power Combine for more Compact Packaging Machines,” takes place on Friday, Feb. 28 at 10:30 a.m. at Innovation Stage Booth #759.

The Innovation Stage at PACK EXPO East offers free, 30-minute seminars throughout the day for show attendees. Presentations include breakthrough technologies, innovative applications and proven techniques. The presentations offer comfortable lounge-style seating and a question-and-answer period with industry experts.

PACK EXPO East is the Northeast region’s most comprehensive event for packaging innovation, education and inspiration. Covering a wide range of industries including food and beverage, pharmaceutical and medical device, chemical and personal care, the event will feature 400 suppliers in 100,000 square net feet of exhibit space. The event will also feature the Healthcare Packaging and Processing Conference.

About PMMI

PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, represents the voice of more than 750 North American manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, components and materials as well as providers of related equipment and services to the packaging and processing industry. 

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