The Beckhoff MX-System is a flexible, space-optimized and intelligent system solution that can completely replace conventional control cabinets, thereby opening up entirely new possibilities in plant automation. Being a modular replacement for the control cabinet that can also be decentralized to the machine if required, the MX-System saves engineering, assembly and installation efforts as well as maintenance. This enables machine and plant manufacturers and operators to carry out highly efficient processes, from planning, configuring and installing the MX-System, to maintaining machines equipped with the MX-System.

The basic concept of the MX-System is to standardize the electrical and mechanical interfaces of all electronic and electromechanical components. The implementation of this idea gives rise to two interfaces:

– The data interface integrates each functional unit into an EtherCAT network and simultaneously supplies it with 24 V DC and, if required, also with 48 V DC.

– A second interface has been defined as standard for the low voltage range. These interfaces distribute the mains voltage of up to 530 V AC and a DC voltage of up to 848 V for the drive system.

This standardization allows all functionality, traditionally found in a control cabinet, to be mapped out as a backplane system. Analogous to the interfaces, there are two different types of backplanes, which have as their essential characteristics the interfaces described in the form of connectors. The later motherboards have robust aluminum casings. The backplane and case combination is called a motherboard. In addition, there is a complete range of functional modules from the areas of IPC, bus couplers, I/O, motion, relays and system power. They simply plug in and screw into the motherboard. The combination of a base plate and function modules results in an IP67-protected automation system that is optimized in terms of space utilization and can be mounted directly on the machine.

Advantages for engineering

The system architecture of a base plate combined with function modules results in a modular solution that can be used to solve a wide range of automation tasks. A special advantage is that the function modules of the MX-System integrate individual functions, such as line protection for the output lines. This facilitates project planning and considerably reduces the number of components. These benefits are manifested in the fact that the page count of circuit diagrams and parts lists is reduced by up to 80%. Even in the engineering phase, the low installation space requirement of the MX-System gives rise to other advantages, as it facilitates easier coordination between departments since it is not usually necessary to design special installation spaces and supports for the MX-System. System. Another important aspect is that the MX-System meets the requirements of the relevant control cabinet standards and, unlike conventional control cabinets, also meets IEC, UL and CSA standards, making it a standardized solution to world level.

Advantages for automation system configuration

The principle of plugging the function modules into a base plate and fixing them with screws not only revolutionizes control cabinet design, but completely replaces it in the currently known form. Mechanical assembly of the control cabinet and its mounting plate, as well as time-consuming manual wiring, are eliminated. Consequently, an MX-System can be up and running in as little as one hour, including the necessary tests and checks. For a comparable control cabinet, the total setup time would be at least 24 hours. As a result, the MX-System also solves the shortage of skilled workers, since different employees take much less time to complete a given task. In addition, wiring errors no longer occur. From a logistical point of view, there are also clear advantages to the design of the control cabinets, as the complete elimination of mechanical work steps means that assembly requires much less space. Processes such as external control cabinet design can be completely dispensed with.

Advantages in the installation of the machine

The MX-System can be integrated visually and functionally into the installation space of the machine thanks to its considerable compactness in contrast to conventional solutions. In this way, the space that the machine occupies is reduced much more. Modular machine concepts can be produced very easily thanks to the possibility of cascading the MX-System. In addition, the cable routes to the sensor or actuator level are much shorter. The use of pre-assembled cables reduces installation time and provides a high level of protection against errors during cable connection. The connections do not have to be made by specially trained electricians because the modules can be easily plugged in.

Advantages for the end user of the machine

For the end user of the machine, there are clear advantages in terms of service and maintenance: the MX-System consists of EtherCAT components that are networked, so that a complete system diagnosis is possible at any time. In addition to the classic status LEDs, each function module has a unique serial number in the form of a Data Matrix code. This code can be scanned via a smartphone app, which connects the smartphone to the control to retrieve diagnostic data from the corresponding function module. Changing modules is also very easy, as modules are hot-swappable and can be plugged and unplugged during operation. Like the machine builder, operators also benefit from the fact that the modular MX-System covers the full range of automation technology with considerably fewer parts and therefore fewer assemblies to stock as spare parts. . Thanks to their simple basic principle, the modules of the MX-System can also be very easily reused beyond the life cycle of the machine.