Digitally Guided Cabinet Assembly

Reducing costs, increasing productivity and ensuring quality – this is the wisdom that every management consultant in the manufacturing industry has in their briefcase today. In fact, over the past two decades, the industry has allocated significant budgets to achieve these goals. At the same time, companies often overlook money that is literally lying on the shop floor in the form of obsolete paper-based transitions to manufacturing – in particular in the areas of electrical engineering and assembly.

Cable planning and switch cabinet assembly 

The manufacturing industry has made substantial investments in the digitization and automation of processes along the product lifecycle (also known as PLM). But so far, these efforts were mainly focused on mechanical and vehicle engineering, while the planning, documentation and manufacturing preparation of electrotechnical equipment is often carried out in drawing formats. 

Quite often, the transfer of these drawings into parts lists, cable lists, and connection tables results in considerable effort in terms of time and cost. Moreover, it represents a substantial risk for errors. Industry leaders are therefore embracing the possibilities of modern E-CAD technology to carry out electrical engineering planning. The basic criteria are to use tools that have access to comprehensive libraries and can augment design decisions.

As this discussion continues in board rooms and shop floors, the most common questions that come up are these . . .

  1. Can an electrical design to the manufacturing process be completely digital? 
  2. Is it feasible and cost-effective to drive the time-consuming parts of the process towards a digital flow of information? 

The short answer is YES! The Zuken and Komax collaboration to expedite design to manufacturing is simply outright amazing. The process is opening new avenues by automating the underlying challenges without losing control over the nuances. 

Komax/Zuken interface for digital cabinet assembly.
The data from electrotechnical engineering – provided they are created with development tools with “electrical intelligence” – contains valuable information that can be leveraged to fix process interruptions, increase quality, and reduce costs.

Digitization enables reliable processes

Latest generation tools rely on a library that stores the electrical characteristics of components in a standardized form. This enables the use of design rule checks during the design. In addition, the library establishes a reliable source for parameters and data needed for the digitization of the manufacturing process. Parts and connection lists compiled automatically reduce the laborious and error-prone process of manual list compilation. 

With the help of fast, accurate and reliable data, commissioning cable harness suppliers drastically improves. A simple digital representation on the shop floor helps improve the communication of engineering information to the manufacturing floor. A great example is a use of a tablet, or even an augmented reality device to guide the workers through the wiring, checking, and documentation procedures before startup.

The following video, produced in collaboration with our partner, Komax, a pioneer and market leader in the field of automated wire processing, shows an example of an end-to-end digital production and assembly process starting with E3.series design software from Zuken and ending with a Komax Zeta 630. The result: efficient and robust management of customer-specific variants and a significant reduction in time and effort for cabinet production and assembly. (Please follow this link for E3.series Europe).

Written by

I have been in the PLM industry for more than 25 years (time flies), in various companies and in a variety of roles and functions - from regional marketing to program marketing; with a stint as a technical journalist and editor in between. At Zuken I’m responsible for marketing programmes and content development.