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Rittal redesigned its AX compact and KX small enclosures optimizing for Industry 4.0

Photo by RITTAL GmbH

Rittal showcased its new AX compact and KX small enclosures at the Hanover Trade Fair (Hannover Messe). The new AX and KX are embedded within digital processes, making for simpler, faster assembly and component installation, greater flexibility and enhanced safety. Rittal has therefore rethought and redesigned this offering in line with the imperatives of Industry 4.0. Digital transformation brings new challenges in terms of the product itself, its operating environment and its availability. This launch marks the digital transformation of a standardised product that has been made by Rittal for more than 50 years: Over 35 million units of the AE have been manufactured, making it the most popular compact enclosure in the world.

Digitalization and automation in the era of Industry 4.0 are creating new enclosure challenges. “We have understood the new imperatives of digitalized industry, and developed a new generation of compact and small enclosures in response. In conjunction with the introduction of our Blue e+ range and the VX25 large enclosure system, this means all our core products have been entirely redesigned, and are fit for Industry 4.0,” explains Uwe Scharf, states Uwe Scharf, Managing Director at Rittal with responsibility for the IT and Industry Business Units and Marketing.

As the quantity of sensors and actuators installed in machines increases, so, too, does the number of components and cables to be accommodated within control systems and switchgear. Moreover, the digital age is increasingly making its presence felt in switchgear workshops – with a growing need for automation, greater flexibility and product availability.

Digital chain “from customer to customer”

Rittal provides effective support for the entire value chain for the production of panels and switchgear, from engineering to ordering to automation. Its digital product twin delivers high-quality data for the entire design, configuration and manufacturing process. QR codes allow all parts to be precisely identified and assigned. With the launch of the AX and KX, the new compact and small enclosures are now an integral part of this approach.

The Rittal Configuration System (RiCS), for example, allows the fast and simple configuration of enclosures, accessories and modifications. Moreover, an automatic plausibility check helps prevent erroneous choices. The result can be transferred directly to Rittal’s online shop, with immediate provision of information on price and delivery date. The configuration data can also be uploaded to EPLAN software engineering software, and therefore used for downstream tasks, complete with any modifications. This cuts the time and effort needed for the engineering process considerably.

The order submitted by the customer is received by the Rittal Global Distribution Centre (GDC), and once completed is shipped directly to the customer from the same facility. The orders are sent directly from the GDC. The GDC is seamlessly integrated with the nearby, highly automated manufacturing plant, ensuring the timely and reliable provision of the required items. As a result, all standard products can, where required, be shipped to customers based in Germany within 24 hours.

Highly automated manufacturing

The AX and KX are made in Haiger at the world’s most advanced manufacturing plant for compact and small enclosures, recently established in line with Industry 4.0 principles. The highly automated manufacturing processes, in conjunction with the neighbouring distribution centre (GDC), enable seamless order fulfilment, guaranteeing ongoing availability of standard products and accessories.

Simple, fast, flexible and safe

The two latest additions to the Rittal enclosure portfolio offer customers improved features, and new opportunities for value creation. The time savings begin with delivery to the customer: panels can be removed individually; there is no need for the usual disassembly work. It is also easier to install doors and cam locks, and typically without the need for tools. The wall mounting bracket can now be quickly screwed into place from the outside of the compact or small enclosure – and without impacting the protection rating. This also substantially reduces the risk of damage during transit as the brackets, which protrude beyond the sides of the enclosure, can be attached on-site at the final destination.

A further advantage is the more ample space available in the AX and KX compared to their predecessors, the AE, CM, KL, EB and BG. The increasing number of sensors and actuators being deployed in the switchgear industry is, in turn, raising the quantity of cables to be housed. The new enclosures’ modular design, improved cut-outs, and larger gland plates, create on average a third more space for cables. In addition, integrated locators in the side panels enable simple, precise and time-saving incorporation of the interior installation rails. As the rails also make use of 25 mm spacing (pitch pattern), it is possible to use accessories, such as lights or terminal blocks, from the VX25 portfolio. This allows a smaller parts inventory, and there is no need for machining, such drilling, etc.

Safety is a high priority with all Rittal enclosures. When components are installed in the AX and KX, their protection category is maintained without any restrictions. This also applies to UL certification, which is essential for deployment on the North American market. Overall, the new design features make the compact enclosures more robust, and ensure greater resistance in particular to dynamic loads.

Suitable for many requirements

The new product lines provide answers to many and varied needs. KX small enclosures from 150 mm x 150 mm x 80 mm are suitable if only a few components are to be housed in terminal boxes and bus enclosures. AX compact enclosures are available with depths between 120 mm and 400 mm, and in a maximum size of 1,000 mm x 1,400 mm. For all models, there is a choice of spray-finished sheet steel or stainless steel. Despite the greater number of potential use cases, the total number of components and accessories, and as a result complexity, has been markedly reduced.

For more information, please visit http://www.rittal.com.