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May 24, 2017 - Building

Safe, fast, and space-saving

Spring Connection technology in Switchgear production.

Switchgear units are central components in machine and system engineering as well as in technical building equipment, and are important for smooth operations. Both sectors unite behind one central demand: as many components as possible must be accommodated in the least amount of space. For switchgear manufacturers, this is often the deciding factor in selecting the compact TOPJOB® S Rail-Mount Terminal Blocks from WAGO.

Switchgear manufacturing in Germany is populated by mid-sized companies. saveen GmbH, located in Franconia in the village of Weisendorf, currently employs 23 staff members. The young company has grown quickly in the past few years, as CEO Sebastian Wellein reports, “Five years ago, we started with six employees – now we are designing a new building, because our current location is bursting at the seams.” A large number of the tenders come from home- and building automation. The company also produces switchgear units for specialist machine engineering, for automotive suppliers, for example. Around 400 switch cabinets in total are manufactured by saveen each year.

Saving Space in the Switch Cabinet

Numerous components must be located in the switch cabinets, and space is as precious in switchgear design as it is in many other applications. Many outlets are necessary in home and building automation, and they also have to be wired from the switchgear unit. More than 100 outlets per switchgear unit is becoming standard. Various components are linked in – from the lights to the drives for the blinds and up to the fire protection valve. saveen relies on the rail-mount terminal blocks from the TOPJOB® S series from WAGO for wiring components. “When we are free to make the decision, and the customer does not specify another manufacturer, we always use WAGO components,” emphasizes Wellein. The rail-mount terminal blocks are available for conductors from 0.14 mm2 up to 25 mm2. Very large conductor sizes are used for energy supply, while signal conductors usually have small cross sections. If only larger conductor sizes are needed, the 285 series high-current rail-mount terminal blocks can be used. These enable connections of conductors up to 185 mm2.

TOPJOB® S Rail-Mount Terminal Blocks are particularly compact so that many connections can be accommodated on one DIN rail. For example, a through terminal block with a nominal cross section of 1.5 mm2 is only 4.2 mm wide. The rail-mount terminal blocks can each be wired with conductors one size over their rated cross section and can be loaded with the nominal current of the larger conductors – in this case with conductors with a cross section of 2.5 mm2. In home and building automation, increasingly more building systems are being controlled directly from the switchgear units. “However, no one is including more space for switch cabinets,” according to Wellein. “Consequently, we have to use the space particularly well.” In such cases, saveen uses double- and triple-deck terminal blocks from WAGO, which enable the connection of two or three times as many terminal connections in the same amount of space.

Fast and Safe Wiring

One of the main advantages of the rail-mount terminal blocks is the spring connection technology, according to the Wellein, “We have completely banned screw connection technology from our switch cabinets.” The easy spring connection technology of the TOPJOB® S Rail-Mount Terminal Blocks greatly facilitates assembly. Wiring requires only a few hand movements. According to the conductor type, they can also be directly inserted using the push-in connection technology. At saveen, all conductors up to 16 mm2 are provided with ferrules and can therefore be connected using the push-in connection technology.

Wellein explains, “The spring connection technology functions error-free in daily use. It not only saves time during wiring, but also helps to prevent errors during assembly.” The terminal blocks from WAGO offer an additional advantage: they are maintenance- free. “For this reason, many customers require this connection technology,” Wellein adds.

Efficiency in Engineering Design and in Assembly

High-value components are not, however, the only factor that contributes to the quality of the switchgear units. The processes, from electrical design up to wiring, must be optimally attuned to each other. “With our proprietary procedures and modern equipment, both in the design office and in assembly, we feel that we can outcompete larger companies from the switchgear manufacturing sector,” states Wellein confidently. saveen generally designs their own switchgear units for home and building automation in house. The four electrical engineers use the EPLAN Electric P8 CAE tool. In conjunction with their own electrical engineering, a 3D structural design is also implemented in the EPLAN Pro Panel. Wellein explains, “It is especially important for efficient engineering design that all components used are available as corresponding CAE and CAD data.” WAGO provides this data for all rail-mount terminal blocks from the TOPJOB®S series. They can be easily downloaded using an online platform. “That functions perfectly. With one click of a mouse, the 3D data are loaded, and the rail-mount terminal blocks can be easily placed on the top hat rail during design planning.” Wellein describes the process:

the data from electrical engineering design are used at various points in manufacturing and assembly. Initially, the 3D data for the switchgear unit are exported from the 3D design engineering in order to control an automatic CNC milling machine. Wellein explains, “This is a fully automated process for all flat components, like switch cabinet doors or mounting plates.” The machine provides the parts with through holes, threads, and cut outs. In contrast to manual processing, this runs significantly faster while maintaining uniformly high quality. After the DIN rails are screwed to the mounting plates, they are populated with TOPJOB® S Rail-Mount Terminal Blocks and other components.

Uncomplicating the Complex

It can be difficult to provide a clear identification of all clamping units, especially when there are many rail-mount terminal blocks in an installation, which can lead to mismating errors. The electrical engineering design tool directly provides the necessary data for marking: a connected smartPRINTER from WAGO can be directly controlled by the CAE tool to print continuous marking strips for the rail-mount terminal blocks. “The terminal block marking and the connection to the EPLAN system function quite well,” emphasizes Wellein, who is pleased about the high level of efficiency in this step.

The rail-mount terminal blocks, which saveen uses in almost every project, are always kept on hand by the switchgear unit manufacturer. On average, the number of terminal blocks high enough to suffice for one to two months at normal production capacity. The operations manager also views the service and delivery reliability from WAGO as anotherpositive point, “Whenever we desperately need materials, WAGO has a way of uncomplicating things.”

Text: Frank Sünkel I WAGO
Photo: Oliver Heinl I vor-ort-foto.de

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