When you manufacture power supply systems, there's no avoiding the barrage of functional and safety testing to ensure that they are fit for use. To futureproof its testing performance, power supply maker Gustav Klein has developed an innovative new test bay. With its modular safety solution from B&R, Gustav Klein is able to manage many different test bay configurations in a single software project.
"Each system we produce is tested exhaustively before delivery," explains Jörg Umbreit, Head of R&D at Gustav Klein. "In response to rapidly growing demand and increasing performance requirements, in 2019 we upped our testing capacity from four to eleven stations and increased the connection power of the test bay. We've also planned in extra reserves to handle projected growth over the years to come." The 500 square-meter test bay at Gustav Klein now has a total of 13 testing stations for large devices and additional stations for small devices.
The company worked with B&R to develop a safety solution that encompasses all of the testing stations, additional reserves and power distribution equipment. This was made possible by the exceptionally modular hardware and software of B&R's safety solution. The safety functions for the specific testing stations used in a given configuration can easily be selected or deselected via the user interface. Authorized employees can select and confirm the configuration on the HMI screen. The machine can be completely reconfigured without having to use a separate programming tool to adapt the safety application. This makes it exceptionally easy to modify the test bay, perform maintenance or put one of the reserve stations into service.
The key to B&R's approach is that you only program a single safety application – one that comprises all the equipment and features that could possibly be included in the line. From that you can arrange any conceivable combination of machine modules. This approach substantially reduces maintenance costs, as well as the amount of testing that needs to be done when commissioning modular plants and machinery.
Gustav Klein recognized the benefits of the approach early, and has been benefiting for some time with its infeed testing systems I-TS MI-TS, both fully automated with B&R. "With the SafeDESIGNER tool integrated in B&R's Automation Studio engineering environment, we're able to maintain a single software solution that covers 90 percent of our projects with no new programming," says Umbreit.
All the more impressive when one considers the wide variety of configurations, applications and environments that the I-TS and MI-TS testing and simulation systems will need to adapt to. They can be found simulating charging and discharging cycles during development of electric vehicles, for example, or testing power supply components in the production of batteries and vehicles.
"The experience accumulated through these projects certainly played a role in our ability to implement the safety application for the test bay in only a few days," reports Roland Bayr, the Gustav Klein software developer who created the safety solution for the infeed tester and test bay. "Our work was also accelerated by how easy it is to connect the safety and non-safety parts of the system, and by the fact B&R's safety solution allows you to create modular software without specialist training. Modularization is a built-in feature with no added cost or effort." That was not an insignificant factor for Gustav Klein. Since development and construction of the test bay would not yield any immediate revenue, the safety application was to be implemented without interrupting daily business.
Gustav Klein's test bay planners selected a variety of B&R X20 components. Safe digital input, output and mixed modules were installed in the test bay and the connector units. As the safety controller, they selected an X20SL8101 device from the X20 system. The controller is able to manage up to 280 safe nodes, as well as all the optional safety equipment and all the possible test bay configurations. The safe modules are connected to the safety controller via POWERLINK and a standard cable. openSAFETY is used for data communication.
To give employees a quick overview of the test bay's safety status and the state of its switches, Gustav Klein incorporated a 24" Automation Panel 900 HMI screen in the door of the control cabinet in the technical room. Mounted on the back of the HMI is a space-saving Panel PC 2100 running the HMI application that provides workers in the test bay with the information they need. "The large display lets us show the states of all the test bay's central switches in a single view," says Bayr. "That helps ensure no events go overlooked simply because the operator is somewhere in a sub-menu." The layout of the switches on the screen also matches the test bay, making it even faster to localize a problem in an emergency." In the near future, Gustav Klein plans to add additional B&R displays in the test bay, so that inspectors can have an eye on the relevant content at all times.
The power supply system specialist's test bay is now equipped to test UPS units and inverters with a system capacity of up to 1.5 MVA. It is also possible to conduct high-voltage testing and run simulation systems rated up to 1,000 VAC or VDC, or intelligent power electronics for high-voltage energy storage with a system capacity of up to 4 MW. Through elegantly designed power electronics, the engineers succeeded in minimizing power consumption and the resulting thermal losses during test runs and the required mains connection power. Gustav Klein has created one of the most technologically advanced, full-featured testing facilities of its kind. With in-factory high-voltage testing, the company now saves its customers valuable time during on-site commissioning. The modular safety solution from B&R makes it much easier for the plant builder to adapt the safety technology to the needs of the test bay and react to dynamic changes in market requirements.
Head of R&D, Gustav Klein GmbH & Co. KG
"With the SafeDESIGNER tool integrated in B&R's Automation Studio engineering environment, we're able to use the same safety software in 90 percent of our projects with no new programming."