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In recent years, there has been a massive increase in the number of field-mountable input/output modules, sensor components and human-machine interfaces (HMI), so that ever larger parts of the overall control architecture can be mounted directly on the machine. The problem with this, however, is always the power supply, as this - until now at least - has had to come from a central, securely housed but often remote control cabinet. This in turn leads to problems when distributing low 24-volt supply voltages over long distances, since the consumers require particularly high currents for the required power. On the one hand, however, these require large cable cross-sections, and on the other, this results in high losses.

Low voltage on site with maximum monitoring

Thanks to field-mountable and IP65/IP67-certified 24-volt power supplies from the Essen-based electronics specialist ifm, it is now possible to decentralize the power supply. Large distances can thus be bridged with higher voltage, which requires lower currents for the same power, which in turn minimizes losses. The IO-Link-capable low-voltage power supplies on site also enable computer-supported monitoring, configuration and diagnostics. This means that faults that need to be rectified can be eliminated quickly and from a central location. This increases production time, and the overall efficiency of the plant increases.

The sum of all advantages

In addition to the advantages of the robust IP65/IP67 housings for cabinet-free installation, the intelligent power supplies have a lot more to offer. For example, the power supply via a single cable enables low-loss, separately fused power distribution for both sensors (Us) and actuators (Ua), or simply the division of two supplies using T-distributors. A twelve-segment LED bargraph also displays the current consumption of the overall system as well as the current consumption of the individual channels as a percentage of the configured fuse protection for each individual output circuit. Furthermore, for each of the output circuits, the integrated output fuse can be set in real time with pre-alarm and usage diagnostics. The integrated fuses can be independently configured between one and twelve amps per channel, protecting the system from overloads and short circuits. Finally, cable resistance can be factored into the system configuration to ensure sufficient voltage arrives at the desired location. The operating voltage of the system can be set between 24 and 28 volts in the configuration menu, and ifm specifically recommends calculating the voltage drop for an installed system.

The usual suspects - possible application scenarios

ifm sees areas of application for its decentralised power supply units, for example, in robotics, as the robotics industry in particular relies on independent control systems on site, which either do not need their own control cabinet at all, or - if they do have one - it usually does not offer much space. Reliable, industrial-grade power supply using decentralized power supply units ensures that the robot cells operate at maximum efficiency and improves the weight and balance of the entire control system. Flexibility in the configuration of electronic fuses and loads also enables standardization of equipment, reducing the total cost of ownership.

Product tracking and logistics

The success of an intralogistics or logistics tracking system depends in part on its ease of configuration and setup. Due to the elimination of control cabinets, tracking systems can now be installed anywhere in the plant without the need for complex integration. Whether it's mounting a single UHF reader for the purpose of controlling access to restricted areas on forklifts, loading dock solutions for perimeter control and tracking of returnable items, or outdoor tracking in agriculture or mining, in each of these cases quick and easy installation is an advantage, and remote diagnostics or control is even a necessity.

Real Time Maintenance

More and more frequently, vibration and temperature sensors are being retrofitted for early detection of defects and wear, even on simple machines. These sensors and the components required to transmit the data do not usually need their own control cabinet - but they do need a supply voltage. Where this comes from is also now easily answered with the field mountable power supplies from ifm.

Mounting cells

Assembly cells are mainly used for the cost-effective automation of routine activities. Their optimisation in terms of size and performance is increasingly leading to the elimination of control cabinets, which on the one hand saves resources and at the same time noticeably increases productivity over the entire service life of the cell. The new, decentralized power supply units from ifm now also contribute to this improvement. Their integrated electronic fuses enable load feedback in real time and rapid fault diagnosis - even without a control cabinet. The two separate output circuits in a single cable enable de facto independent operation as well as the separation of sensor (Us) and actuators (Ua) with a single cable harness.