High-tech components and innovation result in efficient and compact power supplies for automation applications
Automation is the key factor in improving manufacturing productivity. Machines and robots that do not tire, get sick or need vacations will be used in rapidly increasing numbers. But many industrial operations require humans and robots to work together. Often a work cell may include humans performing highly skilled operations while small-scale assembly robots perform repetitive tasks thousands of times without error.
These small-scale robots are complex amalgamations of mechanical, electronic, and firmware components and cost tens of thousands of dollars; yet without a reliable, clean power supply – the cornerstone of automation – these assets would just be expensive dust collectors.
Control and power equipment for small robots are housed in cabinets designed to secure and protect fragile elements. The cabinets are equipped with DIN rails to facilitate and facilitate the mounting and wiring of the kit. But since the factory space is limited, the cabinets are well packed. In addition, expensive forced ventilation is used sparingly, so cabinet temperatures can be high and the plant environment is often
polluted and humid.
Faced with these challenges, automation engineers are turning to OEMs for a new generation of smaller, efficient, and rugged DIN rail power supplies. These engineers also demand power supplies that are readily available, easy to install, and reliable for many years. And since many companies have manufacturing sites in multiple countries, it’s also important to customers that a single product line is capable of – and certified to – operate globally.
Price is also a prime consideration as automation engineers seek to complete their projects within budget. This does not mean that they are looking for the lowest purchase price, but rather the best “cost of ownership” solution where widespread availability and the expense of purchasing, operating, maintaining and disposing enters. at stake. Last but not least, customers are influenced by a supplier’s commitment to sustainability; questions such as “Is the power supply designed to facilitate end-of-life recycling?” are among the first that engineers ask.
The Importance of Power Density
The requirements of today’s customers are very different from those of the turn of the century. At the time, bigger was considered better for power supplies, as larger units were seen as able to handle more power while being sturdier. But these units were inefficient, bulky and heavy. And totally unsuitable for mounting in DIN rail cabinets.
The design constraints introduced by the cabinets encourage an increase in power density (W/cm3), which in turn has spurred innovation in power electronics and power supply topologies. A new generation of switched-mode power supplies, using high-frequency electronics to dramatically increase efficiency, saw power density increase rapidly along with efficiency. These advances have been made possible by a new generation of power components – such as power transistors, inductors and transformers – which have made it possible to increase power density while improving voltage regulation, reducing electromagnetic interference (EMI) and increasing reliability. The pace of progress over the last decade and a half has been such that cutting-edge products delivering 480W are now fitting into the space once occupied by 120W power supplies.
Altech, a Flemington, New Jersey, DIN rail power supply manufacturer with decades of experience, is at the forefront of the DIN rail power supply revolution. Over the past 20 years, the company has used its extensive engineering experience to expand the power supply design envelope and maximize the benefits offered by the latest component technology. As a result, the company has established itself as a world leader in the design and manufacture of state-of-the-art power density power supplies.
While the company has leveraged state-of-the-art power components, its products also benefit from the expertise and resources to perform the multiple design iterations needed to ensure the product is optimized for the target applications. These not only include factory automation, but also smart home automation, communications and LED signage. And while many power supply companies only target the top-selling sector of the total market, Altech is one of the very few companies in the world to offer a wide range of power supplies suitable for hundreds of different applications.
Renowned for its customer service, Altech can assist automation engineers at all stages of their installation or maintenance project. For example, the company has in-house engineering staff who can advise customers on any aspect of project design, installation and configuration. Once these issues are resolved, Altech promises readily available product supply from its warehouse in New Jersey, USA. Its DIN rail power supplies are pre-certified solutions that simply require snapping to the cabinet’s DIN rail and wiring.
Very compact power supplies on DIN rail
Building on its reputation and design expertise, Altech recently introduced a new range of highly compact and efficient switching power supplies for automation applications that perfectly meet the demands of today’s customers. The power supplies use the latest technology and components to achieve maximum power density. And the compact dimensions and DIN rail design allow for quick and easy installation. The 60W DIN-rail power supply, for example, has half the height profile of competitive products (Figure 1). And the new 240W power supply is only 40% the width of the previous model (Figure 2).
DIN rail power supplies are popular with engineers because the ease of installation and modularity of the system offer clear advantages over industrial automation power supply alternatives. This popularity has encouraged hundreds of vendors to offer power solutions suitable for DIN rail mounting.
When choosing the best solution, it is important to consider both the technical characteristics of the product and the commercial, customer and technical support offered by the supplier. Engineers should look for high power density to ensure their application’s power requirements are met by the most compact solution, and it’s also important to select a high-efficiency product to aid in thermal management. Engineers should also look to a vendor that has a good reputation in the market, offers a full product line, and provides globally certified products.
A manufacturer who can offer design and engineering support will help compress project schedules and simplify installation and configuration, while readily available supplies of all product types will ensure prompt delivery of new and replacement units. . Finally, it is important for the engineer to establish the supplier’s benchmarks for durability. Altech scores high on all of these product selection criteria. Visit their website for more information.