Ingela GmbH, from Bisingen in Germany, evolved from being solely a manufacturer of enclosures to a provider of engineering services for mechanical engineering thanks to Eplan. Since establishing its first Eplan workplace in 2013, the company has followed a straightforward policy: “We want to exploit the potential of automation fully” says Ingo Straub, Managing Partner of Ingela. This has set the stage for further stages of automation. Secondly, Ingela introduced EPLAN Pro Panel for its 3D enclosure configuration and routing. As a specialist in wiring pre-assembly and wire printing, the company thus expanded a core expertise even further. In 2015, the company purchased a Perforex machine from Rittal Automation Systems to machine the enclosures and link the device to Eplan.
This integration step immediately shortened the lead time in production. It works particularly well with Rittal enclosures, which Ingela will always use unless the customer explicitly wants something else. The same applies for climate calculations: As the heat loss can be specified for every item listed in Eplan, it is very easy to determine the ideally dimensioned climate control unit, which is also available from the Rittal range.
In engineering, Ingela’s aim is to use the latest components and functions. The company frequently uses EPLAN Data Portal when selecting articles. Ingo Straub says: “The portal has grown considerably over the last three years. It is well stocked, the manufacturers provide 3D macros, and we can search for items and solutions very specifically.”
One example of Ingela’s current approach as an engineering service provider is this: A manufacturer of machines for producing wire mesh, which had previously purchased its enclosures in the USA, was looking for a European source of supply and at the same time for a new control concept. The main drives were controlled by four frequency inverters with a controller and a central PLC. This caused vibrations and errors. Ingela proposed using servo drives with an axis controller and then tried this out. The customer was amazed: The drives could be controlled with a very high degree of precision and there were no more oscillations. Ingela has been working precisely on tasks like these over the past five years, deploying the Eplan software intensively and consistently.
The division of labour between mechanics and electricians
Another benefit of end-to-end and automated processes is worth mentioning because the issue of a skilled labour shortage is highly topical and not just in the part of south Germany where the company is based. The mechanical part of production is performed beforehand by mechanics at Ingela. This includes, for example, the pre-assembly of the enclosure with an isolator switch, handle, axle, DIN rails, wiring ducts, earthing and displays. Qualified electronics technicians can then get down to concentrating on the electrical aspect of enclosure assembly and wiring, which also cuts processing times.
In just five years, the company’s workforce has grown from ten to 30, while the number of core customers has increased from eight to over 30. The main reason for this rise is the consistent transformation from being an enclosure constructor to an engineering service provider. The Eplan platform has been a key driver of this process.