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Smart: no control cabinets

Smart: no control cabinets
Marginal Column

November 2015


For decades, Bosch Rexroth’s intelligent drive solutions have been making a contribution toward innovative machine concepts. New modular concepts for drive technology can be achieved using the IndraDrive Mi – entirely without any need for control cabinets.

Machine manufacturers and endusers are focusing more than ever before on the productivity of individual machines and the plant as a whole. While well into the 1990s sophisticated sequences of motions in packing machinery were achieved through complicated mechanisms such as cams and gears, this is handled today with individual servo drives and intelligent software functions. These make machines more productive because they can be switched to other product formats more quickly and flexibly. However, this flexibility demands a greater number of drives and inevitably more switch cabinet space to house the power and control electronics. In addition, the wiring and cooling expenditures for these cabinets have, over the years, increased as well.

Decades of experience

This development was initiated back in 1979 when Bosch Rexroth presented the world’s first maintenance-free servo motor that could be used for industrial applications. DIAX and EcoDrive resulted from consistent further development until such time as digital drive technology arrived at the start of the 1990s.

In the course of time increasing numbers of functions were integrated into these drives, such as comprehensive certified safety technology to protect people, machines and workpieces. The company’s engineers continuously developed decentralized intelligence for electrical drives, culminating in 2003 with the marketing of the IndraDrive series. This solution made it possible for mechanical engineers to continue expanding the flexibility of their machinery.

The piggyback solution

In 2007 engineers succeeded in achieving a breakthrough – with IndraDrive Mi, the first servo drive integrated into the motor. The concept: each motor carries its drive electronics directly on its “back”, thus freeing space in the control cabinet. A single cable is sufficient for both communications and the power supply. The first generation of this series shrank control cabinets by up to 90 percent.

Ready for the future

In 2012 the second generation provided users with even greater flexibility. Thanks to the new Ethernet communication feature, servo drives can be easily incorporated into individual automation environments. Since then, IndraDrive Mi has been the most communication-friendly drive on the market. In addition, Bosch Rexroth also integrated its certified safety technology into this decentralized drive technology.

2014 saw the demise of control cabinets. Once a power supply conforming to safety class IP65 had been developed, it was ready for tough applications directly at the machine. This means that drive system components have been eliminated completely from the control cabinet. The design of the machines can now be self-sufficient and completely modular. Later expansion is also simple. This is by no means the end of the road for the potentials in this drive solution. An extensive range of software functions as well as easy integration into a wide variety of automation environments make the drive a natural for forward-looking Industry 4.0 applications.

Conventional system Magnifier

Conventional system

Cabinet-free system Magnifier

Cabinet-free system