Optimize control cabinet construction with standards

Standards and standardization improve safety when it comes to control cabinet construction.

By Weidmüller August 26, 2022
In order to avoid quality losses, tools should be checked regularly. Courtesy: Weidmüller

Standardization Insights

  • Standardization is an essential part of the control cabinet manufacturing process for both the manufacturer and the end user. Standardization builds trust, generates benefits and can help reduce errors and costs. Utilizing a standardization system can ensure control cabinets are uniform and ensure workstation safety.
  • Cabinet controls rely on safe, clear designation and installation. Installation can be risky, but will ultimately benefit the manufacturer and customer when done correctly. Using a zero-error strategy, manufactures are able to reach safety standards and reap the potential benefits of standardization.

Standardization creates trust and generates benefits – both for the end user and for the manufacturer of control cabinets. By standardizing the equipment of workstations in control cabinet construction according to lean principles (lean management is an approach to continuous process optimization and includes the efficient design of the entire value chain), which also includes the corresponding tools, it is possible, for example, to increase work efficiency by around 10%. In addition, standardization reduces errors and avoids costly post-processing.

Standardization also can comprise entire process chains, even across departments. If the same systems are used throughout the company, it is also possible to ensure consistent quality. Standardized designation systems guarantee all components of a control cabinet are uniformly marked. It is important to ensure the lettering is wipe- and scratch-resistant in accordance with IEC 61439-1. Unambiguous designations such as International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 81346 (reference designations), 62491 (cables & conductors) and 60445 (connection and conductor) simplify wiring, but also reduce the time required for maintenance. Furthermore, they facilitate the increasingly important task of documentation, minimize the number of variants and simplify the training of new employees. In the ideal case, the respective data is retrieved from the CAE systems. This minimizes potential transmission errors.

Standards provide safety

Standards are recognized rules of technology that provide safety for customers and users. Which other standards are relevant for control cabinet construction and how can they be fulfilled?

Control cabinet construction does not only depend on a clear designation, but also on a safe connection of the installed hardware. If errors occur there, the entire operation of the installation is at risk. For this reason, control cabinet manufacturers must exercise the greatest possible care when creating homogeneous crimp connections.

An important part of a zero-error strategy requires a coordinated system of crimping tools and connectors, such as wire end ferrules or cable lugs, which guarantees consistently high quality on part of the manufacturer. This is specified in DIN EN 60352-2 and UL 508. A further requirement that must be met by the crimped conductor is to achieve a certain conductor extraction force in accordance with a defined test based on DIN 46228.

Suitable tools are a basic requirement

Therefore, having the right tools is very important if standards are to be met at all. If users choose tools and contacts matched to each other by the manufacturer and therefore create crimp connections that conform to standards, they benefit from a high level of safety during assembly. They can then pass this safety on to the end customer.

Depending on the production capacity, a hand tool or an automatic machine are all that is needed for stripping and crimping the contacts. Hand tools can be certified by the manufacturer if they meet the specified requirements in combination with the cables and contacts used. But even the best tools can wear out over time. If quality losses are to be avoided, the tools should be checked regularly. To this end, some manufacturers offer recertification services: The tool does not even have to be sent to the manufacturer. All that is required is sending a crimped conductor to the tool manufacturer in order for it to be tested in accordance with the applicable standards.

Lean management, consistent designation and documentation, coordinated systems for the creation of crimp connections and tool certifications: Standards and standardization help to increase efficiency and safety in control cabinet construction.

Author Bio: Weidmüller