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Smart wiring system brings host of benefits to machine builder

13 November 2015

Eaton’s novel panel and field wiring system is helping a manufacturer of custom parts washing machines deliver equipment that is not just easier to build, but also to use and maintain.

The increasing complexity of US-based Renegade Cleaning Systems' high performance industrial parts washers, prompted the company to look for ways to simplify its manufacturing processes - particularly the assembly of machine control systems. The answer lay in Eaton’s SmartWire-DT communication system, which helped cut wiring time, improved flexibility and supported the Renegade machines' advanced diagnostic features. 

Renegade’s industrial parts washers use safe water-based cleaning detergents. The company has over 50 years of experience in the design, development and manufacture of these machines and has supplied thousands of them to customers throughout the world.

Typical applications for the washers, many of which are custom-designed to meet specific end user requirements, include the removal of cutting-oil residue and swarf from metal parts after machining, and the degreasing of components during repair or refurbishment. Machines produced by the company range from simple washers, which are loaded and operated manually, to sophisticated, fully automated systems capable of carrying out the complete cleaning and drying process with minimal manual intervention. 

As Renegade has enhanced its machine designs over the years to meet ever more demanding end-user requirements, the machine control systems - especially for customised products - have become increasingly complex. The latest machines, for example, require precise yet flexible control over wash temperature, wash cycle duration, detergent dosing and the drying process, as well as productivity-enhancing features such as wash chamber doors that open and close automatically to assist with machine loading and unloading.

Until recently, Renegade had been using control systems with conventional panel and field wiring. While these operated satisfactorily, the wiring time needed for each machine mounted as they became more complex. The systems had also become harder to modify when accommodating machine upgrades and enhancements; providing any form of sophisticated diagnostics was almost impossible.

These limitations led Renegade’s engineers to look for a new approach that would not just cut panel wiring time, but also improve flexibility and support the advanced diagnostic features increasingly being integrated within its machines. 

They discovered Eaton’s SmartWire-DT, a sytem that eliminates the need for conventional wiring within control panels and which instead, uses pre-assembled plug-in cables to connect all internal components and streamline both the design and final assembly of the control panel. As well as a reduction in wiring and the need for trunking and other cable management hardware, the time required to complete a wiring job is cut significantly. Moreover, as SmartWire-DT uses plug-in connections, the risk of wiring errors is virtually eliminated, which simplifies and speeds testing and commissioning.

For Renegade, SmartWire-DT offered an additional advantage: it can be extended up to 600m outside the control panel to allow the connection of sensors and other machine-mounted devices. This means that all of the key automation components used on the parts washers can be interconnected with just one system without the added complexity and cost of using a separate fieldbus system.

Regenade has seen a significant reduction in the time it takes to wire control panels since it began using SmartWire-DT. A panel that had previously taken four hours to wire can now be completed in just 40 minutes. The design process for the control system was also simplified as the component interconnections are standardised, and because components both inside and outside the control panel can be connected using the same system.

In addition, since SmartWire-DT automatically reconfigures itself when components are added or removed at any location on the installation, it is much easier to upgrade or change the functionality of the machines or to replace any component that might be damaged or become faulty during the life of the machine. The system also allows the machine’s central controller to access data from individual components, providing a useful diagnostic facility.

Renegade made further use of the information available via the SmartWire-DT system to provide comprehensive machine monitoring and logging functions. This means that users can instantly check, for example, how many cleaning cycles have been carried out over a given period, how often the filters have needed cleaning and other important operational data. Dave Barney, owner of Renegade Cleaning Systems concludes:

“It’s no exaggeration to say that SmartWire-DT has transformed our control systems. It has allowed us to cut our wiring times while improving the flexibility of our systems and adding advanced diagnostic facilities that are a big selling point when we talk to our customers. We’ll certainly be using SmartWire-DT on all of the automated machines we build in the future.”

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