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Customer application 16 June 2021
Automating Sawing Equipment
with the I/O system in IP67

Burkhardt-Löffler, located in Franconia, manufactures systems for stone working, and relies on consistent automation from WAGO. The WAGO I/O System Field ensures the necessary connectivity in their newly developed saw. The solution scores points with its easy cabling, free parameterization of the inputs and outputs, IP67 protection class, and fast implementation, among others.

Limestone from Jura in Franconia has long been valued: from the Romans to the builders of Medieval churches and palaces, up to the present. Its warm hue provides buildings with a particularly prized appearance. The region that lies between Nuremberg and Ingolstadt has brought forth more than just a globally desirable building material. It is also the birthplace of an international leader in the manufacture of systems for processing this and other types of stone: Löffler from Langenaltheim near Eichstätt, merged in 2017 with Burkhardt-Hensel from Bayreuth to form Burkhardt-Löffler.

With its large base of customers, primarily in central Europe, North America and Australia, Burkhardt-Löffler is currently represented in several countries around the world. Customers use the systems to produce, for example, kitchen counters from natural and artificial stone and ceramics. These projects require high precision as cutouts for sinks or cooking surfaces must be milled to within fractions of millimeters. Manufacturing panels for building facades, another application field for these systems, also demands great care.

  • The IP67 I/O System Field offers high connectivity for the field level.

  • Customers profit from the high degree of flexibility incorporated into the system with its individually and variably parameterizable inputs and outputs.

  • Installation and implementation of the solution are easily carried out.

Securely Networked Components

The manufacturing processes can be consistently automated using the systems and machines from Burkhardt-Löffler: from delivery of raw plates through cataloging up to cutting and finishing. “Few, if any other manufacturers in the world can offer this format,” states Dieter Löffler, an expert in sales.

The systems are always developed and implemented in close collaboration with the customer. This includes integrated software solutions and interfaces to ERP systems. “By using automation, we can substantially lower costs for our customers, as hardly any manual interventions are necessary,” he explains. Customers also profit from the quality of the finished products due to the consistent automation. And, not least, their process safety also increases, according to Löffler.

Automating the processes requires comprehensive networking and digitization of the machinery. In their newest development, a multi blade bridge saw with a rotary head that is the size of a garage, Burkhardt-Löffler ensures high connectivity by using an I/O solution from WAGO: the WAGO I/O System Field establishes the prerequisites for secure interaction of individual components. “When searching for an I/O product, we have the same requirements as our customers: we want a solution that guarantees the highest levels of quality and safety – that simultaneously provides us with maximum flexibility. WAGO and its Field product perfectly satisfied these specifications,” says Patrick Gempel, who is responsible for electrical designs at Burkhardt-Löffler.

Satisfied with the results of their joint automation project: Patrick Gempel from Burkhardt-Löffler (left) and Daniel Ringer from WAGO (right).

Connect Sensors without Cabling Expenses

What specific benefits does the WAGO I/O System Field offer the company? Gempel lists cabling as the first point. “We can use standard system cables, that are easily connected using plugs. The manual expense is therefore quite low,” he says, which is also the case for maintenance and repairs. “If, for example, you need to replace a light barrier, you just unplug the connection cable and pull it back. Insert the new light barrier, replug the cable – and it’s done,” says Gempel. This easy cabling is also beneficial for Burkhardt-Löffler because the company incorporated three of the WAGO I/O solutions in the sawing equipment. “We can connect multiple sensors without significantly increasing cable costs. This is ultimately important for us, because we don’t have a lot of space in the systems,” explains the electrical designer. For example, the sensors detect the position of the vacuum suction plate, or the status of values that control water supply to the saw.

Sensors, like light barriers, can be easily connected using the WAGO I/O System Field.

Harness Flexibility through Free Parameterization

Gempel especially values the flexibility created by the individually and variably parameterizable inputs and outputs of the WAGO solution. “In products from other manufacturers, the interfaces are inherently either inputs or outputs. In contrast, the WAGO I/O System Field provides us with the ability to freely determine which are inputs and which are outputs – and the potential to alter these decisions,” he explains. This also benefits the customers. “If they later need another output, then they can simply convert an input to an output.”

While this is theoretically also possible with other I/O solutions or other terminal boxes, it requires substantial expense, according to Gempel, because the wiring has to be redone and reprogramming is also needed. Most customers would not have that expertise in house, which means they would have to turn to external experts, which costs both time and money. “With WAGO, however, we can access the I/O product via remote maintenance and reparameterize it with a few clicks of a mouse. That is much more efficient,” he explains.

The ability to process large, massive stone blocks and plates demands a lot from systems and machines. They work in a rough environment – the water used for cooling turns the stone dust, emitted by the saws, into so-called stone sludge. “That can become as hard as cement when it dries,” states Gempel. He continues that many component manufacturers like to tout how well their product deal with these harsh conditions. This often looks different in practical applications. “In contrast, the environment causes no difficulties for the WAGO I/O solution, because it satisfies the requirements for the IP67 protection class,” he explains.

Inputs and outputs can be variably parameterized using the WAGO I/O System Field.

» When searching for an I/O product, we have the same requirements as our customers: we want a solution that guarantees the highest levels of quality and safety – that simultaneously provides us with maximum flexibility. WAGO and its Field product perfectly satisfied these specifications. «

Patrick Gempel, electrical design manager at Burkhardt-Löffler

Carry Out Implementation Easily and Independently

Patrick Gempel carried out the electrical implementation himself, and required no outside support at all. “Everything was so fast and easy. The drawings were completed in EPLAN in the shortest possible time. Even the wiring installation was no problem due to the use of standard cables and plugs.” The connection to the controller, which operates in the Siemens World, was carried out using a GDSML file, which WAGO provided. According to Gempel, the implementation was so seamless and smooth due to the good documentation provided by WAGO. “That company is an absolute model for this.”

Following all of these good experiences, Burkhardt-Löffler plans to use the WAGO I/O System Field in other systems in the future, like in the 5 axis, CNC bridge saw, one of the company’s ‘bread and butter machines’, as sales expert Löffler likes to describe them. At the moment, the first multi blade, rotary head bridge saw is on its way across the pond – a customer from the USA has ordered it. Other purchases of these machines are already under discussion, according to Löffler. The WAGO I/O System Field will also be on board.

Text: Ralph Diermann
Photo: Ralph Diermann and Stefan Winterstetter vor-ort-foto.de
WAGO Contact: Daniel Ringer

Compatible Products


Decentralization with extended connectivity – the I/O System Field for IP67-rated cabinet-free automation features an impressive range of functions.

Your Benefits:

  • Integrated load management
  • Extended network connectivity
  • Functionality and Aesthetics in One System
  • All-in-one solution via IO-Link
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