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 decentralised terminal boxes, drives or, 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
With the new MX-System, Beckhoff Automation is 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 dustproof and waterproof complying with IP67 standard due to its high-quality workmanship, but also robust and resistant, which allows it to be placed directly at the machine.
When it comes to the automation of machines or plants, the company offers virtually all of the required components in a wide performance range, with TwinCAT control software, industrial PCs, embedded PC controllers, I/O terminal modules, drives, motors, power supplies, and cables laying the foundations for high-performance automation. MX-System channels a combination of the company’s knowhow of system and component technology along with its practical application experience.
The MX-System is a uniform modular automation component that can be used to completely replace traditional control cabinets with modules in many applications. The system consists of a robust aluminium baseplate in protection class IP67 with integrated module slots that feature EtherCAT for communication and an integrated power supply (safety extra-low voltages as well as 400 V AC and 600 V DC). The largest expansion stage can even accommodate a connected load of 400 V AC/63 A. Corresponding modules are available for the mains connection and all other control cabinet functions.
Connecting the field level, the modules use connection plugs that have been tried and tested for many years in the field of automation technology. A system combination of baseplate and modules has a protection class of IP67 and can be mounted directly on the machine. The system reduces the amount of effort involved for the manufacturer, especially during the planning and installation phases, while the integrated diagnostic functions reduce the complexity for the end user. This all results in a modular control cabinet system with a high protection class that can be mounted on the machine without the need for additional protective housings.
Machine & plant advantages
The mechanical and electrical modularisation of the system becomes the new engineering standard
Minimal engineering effort
Less components: no housing
No cable gland
Decentralisation and modularisation
One solution for UL, CSA and IEC
Integrated functions: safety, diagnostics, electronic fuse
System design advantages
Unlike a classic control cabinet, no time-consuming and error-prone installation in the form of individual wire connections is necessary. The standardised interfaces of the MX-System enable an effortless plug and play principle, as all function modules can be easily plugged onto the baseplate.
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
Electrical installation at the machine advantages
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 standardised 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 preassembled 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 technicians during assembly
Shorter assembly time, less space consumption for electrical components and cables
Service and maintenance advantages
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 localisation: 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.
Huge reduction of system complexity, space requirements and in construction, assembly, and installation time
Huge reduction in machine cabling length and complexity
Huge reduction in supply chain management
Compatibility to all major world standards (CE, UL, CSA, IEC, …)
Ruggedised metal housing with exceptional EMC stability
Easy maintenance 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
Courtesy: Beckhoff Automation