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Ceratec: Realising the Industry 4.0 vision with 3D engineering

Working with EPLAN Pro Panel means investing more time in engineering and enclosure design but we make up for it in terms of machining the enclosures in preparation for internal components.

Everyone is talking about Industry 4.0 and the way it will revolutionise manufacturing. At Belgian mid-size enterprise Ceratec, too, the management team has embraced digital transformation. With this in mind, the electrical engineering and control systems departments considered a variety of possible changes and improvements. Diégo Gekiere, Manager of the Electrical Design Engineering department at Ceratec, mentions one of the first steps to be taken: “We converted our project engineering tasks for enclosures to EPLAN Pro Panel.” This entailed extending the entire library of 3D designs to allow almost all enclosures to be developed directly in 3D. “Working with EPLAN Pro Panel means investing more time in engineering and enclosure design but we make up for it in terms of machining the enclosures in preparation for internal components,” emphasises Gekiere.

The transition to 3D has made Ceratec more aware of the importance of the quality of engineering design data. If all the details for fans or cooling units are already entered into the system before installation work begins, they can be directly integrated into 3D planning activities. “It’s great,” says Gekiere, “to now be in a position to verify the design in advance in 3D on-screen.” This is performed in collaboration with colleagues from the engineering department and the electrical workshop.

“3D planning gives us significant time savings and minimises potential errors.”

Diégo Gekiere, Manager Electrical Design Engineering, Ceratec

Pro Panel data for manufacturing

All enclosures made at Ceratec are now designed using EPLAN Pro Panel. A further advantage is that the company has invested in a Perforex machining centre from the Rittal Automation Systems portfolio. This is used to process the enclosure and the mounting plates. The centre can be controlled by means of data taken directly from EPLAN Pro Panel Pro Panel. Once the design work has been completed in EPLAN Pro Panel, the data are immediately available for Perforex, allowing it to make the necessary slots and holes. The same applies to information on bore holes and threads on the mounting plate. Perforex completes drilling, milling and thread-making entirely automatically. The result is enclosures that are fully prepared for the installation of all components. “We are able to machine the enclosures efficiently and ergonomically,” explains Gekiere. The investment has not only streamlined machining operations. It has also freed up skilled workshop employees for other tasks.

Calculating climate-control needs

Digital transformation has also brought many other benefits. For example, Eplan Pro Panel can harness data from the Eplan Data Portal to forecast temperature patterns and climate-control requirements in enclosures. If this is computed by means of Rittal Therm software, the fan or cooling unit can be imported into EPLAN Pro Panel and immediately put in the required enclosure position. Ceratec is also implementing further Industry 4.0 steps. By means of its autorouting function, Pro Panel delivers the data needed to plan wire processing. Consequently, it is possible to automatically cut cables to length, insulate, crimp and mark them. “It saves us a lot of time when it comes to cabling,” notes Gekiere.