Beckhoff: The MX-System – a Pluggable System Solution for Control Cabinet-Free Automation

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November 23, 2022

For the first time in machine and system engineering, the MX-System enables completely control cabinet-free automation solutions. By consistently combining, applying and further developing Beckhoff’s expertise, a holistic, modular pluggable system has been created. The combination of MX-System baseplate and MX-System function modules resulting from the modular construction kit combines all tasks and features of a control cabinet: energy supply, fuse protection and distribution, generation and monitoring of auxiliary voltages, sequence control with the inputs and outputs, control of motors and actuators as well as the connection level for the field devices. The full system integration of all machine functionalities is achieved via freely selectable IPC, coupler, I/O, drive, relay and system modules, which can be configured and combined suitable for the specific application.

The certification of all components to international standards enables the standardization of control systems around the globe. The consistent systemic approach of the holistically coordinated modules reduces the effort required for planning, assembly, machine installation and maintenance enormously. Since considerably fewer components are required than in traditional control cabinet construction to implement the same requirements, the entire MX-System is significantly more compact than previous solutions. The system footprint is reduced, and system availability and flexibility are also increased. In each life cycle phase of a control system, the MX-System offers significant advantages over the classic control cabinet.

The MX-System: Control cabinet-free automation

The MX-System offers a custom-fit solution for every application, meeting all requirements and thus qualifying for use directly on the machine or system, even in demanding environments. The materials and workmanship of all MX-System components are designed for maximum durability. The robust, chrome-plated or painted metal housings are resistant to oil and cleaning agents, and protect against external influences. The electronics are protected against EMC interference. The tightness of the system is achieved by mounting the MX-System function modules on the MX-System baseplate. A double sealing principle in the interface between the MX-System baseplate and the MX-System function modules provides increased security against the ingress of moisture and dust.

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The Al/Zn metal housings in IP67 are resistant to oil and cleaning agents due to surface treatments

Advantages throughout the entire machine life cycle with the MX-System

The MX-System integrates benefits over the full machine life cycle – from the initial planning of the machine through to series production: all efforts are reduced significantly. As the usually required circuit diagram of approx. 300 pages is reduced by 90% to now approx. 30 pages, the MX-System can be installed within one hour – a task that would normally take about 24 hours for a normal control cabinet. The number of personnel required for installation is also significantly reduced: instead of approx. 5 people, one non-specialist is sufficient here, and cable lengths and production space are also reduced. During operation, the availability of the machine is increased: the simple and fast diagnosis shortens any troubleshooting, and individual modules can be replaced quickly and easily. The component count of the MX-System is cut by a factor of 10, thus reducing stock-keeping to a minimum.

  • •Engineering
  • The optimally coordinated product portfolio makes it possible to design the electrical equipment of machines and systems according to modular principles. Since significantly fewer components than in traditional control cabinet construction are needed to implement the same requirements, the entire MX-System is more compact. Decentralized control concepts become feasible. Users are given a solution for UL, CSA and IEC that integrates functions such as safety, diagnostics and electronic fusing directly into the MX-System function modules.
  • System set-up
  • In contrast to the classic control cabinet, neither housing nor manual wiring are necessary. The standardized interfaces of the MX-System enable an effortless plug-and-play principle, as all function modules easily plug onto the baseplate. The installation time for a classic control cabinet can be drastically reduced with the MX-System. Installation can be carried out in-house by non-electricians, eliminating the need for external cabinet assembly and associated logistics. Errors in the wiring of the control cabinet are excluded.
  • Electrical installation at the machine
  • The compact MX-System can be integrated directly into the machine installation space, thus reducing the machine footprint and shortening cable routes to the process level. Users benefit from the fast plug-and-play installation of all cables thanks to ECP/ENP cables and connectors, and avoid installation errors. Electrical installation work can be carried out by qualified mechanics as part of the mechanical installation; qualified electricians are not required for the installation work. The space required for electrical components and cables is significantly reduced.
  • Service and maintenance
  • The fully integrated, non-intrusive EtherCAT components enable comprehensive system diagnostics at any time. This can be performed by non-electricians – no need to open a control cabinet. Fault localization for module, cable or device is simplified. The modular system and the simple plug-and-play principle also enable a defective module to be replaced quickly and easily during operation, even by non-specialist personnel. This offers an enormous time advantage, especially for the end user/machine operator.


Features of the MX-System

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In addition to ultra-fast EtherCAT communication and IP67 protection, each module features passive cooling and chrome-plated and passivated surfaces with resistance to oil and cleaning agents. Housekeeping acquires data such as temperature, shock, vibration, barometric pressure and humidity, and enables dew point monitoring, among other features, enabling controlled operation even in more critical ambient conditions. Housekeeping data as well as module-specific and application-specific diagnostic data and parameters can be made available to the machine user directly on a smartphone via Bluetooth.

To learn more about the MX-System from Beckhoff, download the Product Brochure by clicking here or visit the Product Page by clikcing here 

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