Rittal’s VX25 enclosure was recently put through its paces by technicians from the Schaper Group. Their observations include notably around improved operational efficiencies and increased productivity. These offer insights for other operators, and indeed anyone who has the final say on enclosure technology.
Sometimes, it’s the smallest things that make all the difference. For Eugen Franzen, team leader for mechanical installation at Controller Steuerungstechnik, part of the Schaper Group, it was an almost nondescript detail on Rital’s VX25 enclsoure that won him over. “The hole counting on the new frame sections means we can now pinpoint precisely where enclosure mounting parts should go,” he says. This tiny, time-saving addition means operators can mount support rails or cable clamp rails at identical heights across all their enclosures, easily and with confidence. “Previously, we often had to revisit such details, which always involved extra work that we no longer have to worry about.” he adds.
It’s a welcome productivity improvement for Schaper Group teams, who like many in the sector, juggle fit-to-burst order books and high time/cost pressures, with the ever-present lack of specialist workers. “All in all, we currently have seven vacancies in the manufacturing department alone and could hire trained applicants on the spot,” explains Nils Mentrup, technical manager at Schaper Steuerungstechnik. Automated solutions that deliver a higher output with fewer trained staff offer Mentrup some relief. But clearly new components and systems that save time during assembly also boost efficiency in manufacturing operations.
At the company’s cutting-edge manufacturing plant in Herford, Germany, everything is state of the art, meticulously planned and perfectly organised. The facility, which features numbered wiring areas, was built in 2009 more than doubled in size in the last year. Some 70 workers manufacture control and switchgear solutions of various sizes at the site. “Thanks to the facility’s expansion, we now have enough space to produce several large systems 30 to 40 metres in length at once,” explains Mentrup. They have just completed their first control systems using Rittal’s new VX25 enclosure. “Its predecessor, TS 8, was a flawless enclosure,” recalls Mentrup. “That’s why we were pleasantly surprised that Rittal had evidently put a lot of thought into many different potential improvements when it devised the VX25.”
His attention has been on the reduced number of mounting parts and the positive impact this has had in terms of storage: “You see it straight away because storage is less of an issue now – both in our central warehouse and the parts warehouses for the individual projects that we set up directly at our workstations.”
The stability of the VX25 also meets the team’s approval. “The enclosure itself is more stable now – that’s one of its major benefits,” say Franzen.
This is particularly apparent in the new gland plates. When fitters are expanding enclosures they have to repeatedly go inside them. “In the past, the gland plates were often somewhat bent as a result, meaning we had to carry out reworking,” remembers Franzen. This is now a thing of the past, which of course adds to the overall time saving. Added to which, there is the enclosure flooring’s design: “The frame is now designed so that there is no space between it and the gland plate. Back in the day, we often had problems with a screw falling down the gap,” he explains.
The new hinges allow the team to remove the enclosure doors without levering any hinge pins. Franzen advises: “Even if we don’t plan to carry out machining on one of our Perforex machining centres, we usually take the enclosure doors off because it makes wiring so much easier.” This particularly applies to larger switchgear, where wires need to be installed across multiple enclosures. “The time saved in assembly and dismantling can be anything up to one minute or more for each enclosure,” he adds.
“We also no longer have to wonder which rail goes where because with the VX25, the rails fit on both the vertical and horizontal frame parts and can be fitted from the side or the rear.” This means the team can now screw on a rail from the back, even if the mounting plate has already been fitted in the enclosure. “In the past, if we ever forgot about the rail – which is an absolute must for some switchgear built to UL – we had to take the mounting plate apart or at least tip it forwards.” This is no longer the case, making life a lot easier for the team, and extends to fitting mounting components or side/rear panels.
“During assembly work, we always used to have two cordless screwdrivers that were equipped with the appropriate screw bits – now we only need one,” says Franzen. The principle of one-person assembly has also won the team leader over. “I can simply attach the rear panel at the top and it stays securely in position until I’ve tightened the screws.”