24 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

Robot wires panels `four times faster than humans`

A Belgian panel-builder, P&V Elektrotechniek, has developed an automated system for wiring control panels which, it says, operates four times faster than human workers and is more accurate. The robot, which made its public debut at the recent Hannover Fair, cuts, strips and lays cables following circuit designs configured online by customers using a drag-and-drop procedure.

The 15-axis Averex robot (above), which has cost more than €500,000 to develop, is the result of a collaboration between P&V and several other Belgian and German organisations, including the machine-builder Atos Engineering and the electrical design software developer, Eplan.

Customers will use Web-based software to configure their enclosures in ratings up to 630A. Eplan’s Engineering Centre (EEC) will perform the necessary calculations and feed the order into P&V’s ERP system. In parallel, the EEC will prepare data for the wiring robot, and for CNC machining of the enclosure.

“Using the data from the Eplan Engineering Center, like wiring schematics, terminal lists and device lists, the robot can not only plan the routing, it can automatically take care of the wiring,” explains P&V chairman, Ghislain Vanherle. “The robot independently carries out the production-relevant steps.”

Initially, the robot selects the right tool to terminate the conductors, which it then labels and connects automatically to the panel components. According to Vanherle, the system can produce small enclosures economically in batches of one. And the quality is the same for single panels or for serial production runs.

Vanherle believes that the robot, which can operate around the clock, will help European panel-builders to compete with rivals in countries with lower labour costs.

The wiring robot is expected to be commercialised within a year. Although the price has not been decided, there has already been interest from potential purchasers. Vanherle estimates that there could be a global market for 1,000–2,000 of the robots within five to ten years. As well as panel-builders, another target market is sign-makers. A Web site dedicated to the robotic assembly system is due to go live in July.

P&V Electrical, founded in 1986, is a major player in the Belgian panel-building market and has 160 employees.