The Future of Control Cabinet Manufacturing: 4.0 in Small Steps

3 April 2020
“No Need to Fear Digitization”

Industry 4.0., the Internet of Things, smart factories, cloud computing: Digital buzzwords are making the rounds in the industrial sector – everything will be faster, more agile and more efficient. It is not always easy for control cabinet manufacturers to follow this development, however.

WAGO Kontakttechnik is an experienced partner for control cabinet manufacturers – a partner that sees digitization not as an and in itself, but rather as a useful complement to existing processes. The goal: Improved product quality, satisfied customers and higher sales/revenue figures, which have a positive effect on companies’ operating numbers. But control cabinet manufacturers continue to find it difficult to follow this digital trend: A large number of current orders conceals the fact that systems that, as systems become more and more networked and integrated, this continues to increase the pressure to implement digital processes. Instead of exploiting the practical opportunities offered, companies are beset by reservations and fear that hinder their digital development.

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No Need to Fear Digitization!

Many medium-sized companies view digitization as an insurmountable hurdle – too expensive, too complex and unnecessary. “Many myths have arisen about this in recent years,” says Nicole Kreie, director of the International Project Service division of WAGO Kontakttechnik GmbH & Co. KG. For years now, the digital transformation has not only helped shape the development of products at WAGO, but has also driven in-house processes, whose complexity has not always made them easy to penetrate.

But there should be no reason to be frightened off by abstract digital concepts. “We support medium-sized companies that manufacture control cabinets in developing a digital strategy and offer them simple solutions for taking the first steps,” explains Kreie. You don’t have to switch everything to “new” all at once to align your company to the future: “It’s much more about taking small steps and looking at the details of your processes so you can identify points at which processes can be further streamlined.”

» We support medium-sized companies that manufacture control cabinets in developing a digital strategy and offer them simple solutions for taking the first steps. «

Nicole Kreie, Director of the International Project Service Division

Taking a Holistic View of Digitization

“The digital transformation goes hand in hand with a ‘new work transformation,’ which entails changes in how we collaborate and introduces new ways of working. As we define it, this transformation consists of the following four pillars: people, processes, technologies and business models.” These four are tightly intermeshed and must be viewed together in order to fully exploit the opportunities offered by digital technologies. However, a new technology can only exploit your full value-creation potential when the people involved, i.e. your employees, are transparently integrated into the processes and are willing to accept changes.

Digitization versus the Skilled Labor Shortage

“It’s a fact that the working world will undergo a change. It’s vital that control cabinet manufacturers start digitizing certain areas today in which there already is, or soon will be, a shortage of qualified specialists”, stresses Kreie. Digitization does not pose a threat to jobs – it merely transforms them. Experienced engineers and technicians will retire in the meantime due to age, taking valuable knowledge and expertise with them. On the other hand, young employees will be hired who, although they have not yet achieved this level of knowledge, are, already tech savvy in the digital world. “We must transform the knowledge and expertise that is at risk of being lost and safeguard it for the future – and the only way to do this is through people”, concludes Kreie.

WAGO doesn’t just talk digitization – it offers concrete solutions.

» For the extended workbench to work, we’ve digitized all of the engineering, from project design to installation! «

More Efficient Data Transfer through Digital Engineering

This makes it possible for customers to put parts of the process, or even the entire assembly of rails, in WAGO’s hands. Steffen Winther of WAGO’s Market Management Engineering Services points to innovative products by this tech company from Minden: “For the extended workbench to work, we’ve digitized all of the engineering, from project design to installation. Projects are planned with CAE software, and the data, which is based on the eCl@ss Advanced classification standard, is loaded directly into the WAGO Smart Designer configurator. Data can be built up easily in this software, and a plausibility check also takes place.

“We have also integrated WAGO offer pricing into Smart Designer to make it even easier for customers. The customer is provided automatically with the associated price for pre-assembly of the rail”, explains Winther. Finally, the digitization process is initiated by automatically starting the ordering process: Customers receive the rails from WAGO directly at their workshop within five days.

Save Time with Modular Circuit Diagrams

WAGO also offers control cabinet manufacturers a further time- and cost-saving solution with the new modular Pro 2 Power Supply, which provides data communication from the process and provides a constant power supply at all times – for everything from simple applications to automation with high power requirements. For data collection and read-out of status information, a dedicated communication module can be connected at any time, allowing selection of the desired protocol for coupling to the automation and control level.

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