Although everyone is talking about ‘wireless’ these days, the major technological challenges such as energy transition, high-speed Internet, Industry 4.0 and electric mobility will not take place without wires. Consequently, the Cables, Coils & Hybrids cluster was already one of the highlights of the trade fair at the last productronica. This year, Hall A5 will contain the framework, in which exhibitors and visitors can exchange information about the latest developments and production technologies in this area. productronica will take place on the grounds of Messe München from November 14 to 17, 2017.
According to the current business climate survey by the VDMA specialist department Productronic, German manufacturers of components, machinery and equipment for electronics production expect sales growth of 10.5 per cent for this year and an increase of 6.8 per cent for next year. In addition to the continued weak euro, this is thanks the growing demand from the automotive industry for electronics and the increasing digitalising and networking in production and the consumer sector.
The current outlook on global electronic market also looks promising. The German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association (ZVEI) expects a four per cent increase for the current year as well as for 2018. As a result, the growth rate of one of the largest industrial goods markets in the world remains stable. In other words, good news for cables & coils. Because they transmit or transform electric energy and electronic data, they are in demand from virtually all sectors of industry.
Cables: the direct line
For example, hidden cables form the circulatory system of every network. Wireless competition is often limited in terms of stability, data protection and speed in this respect. Therefore, conventional lines for communication and control can still not be replaced by ‘wireless’ in many areas.
The requirements for the cables are thereby as varied as the applications. They must not only work correctly, but also conduct high currents, tolerate heat, be immune to electromagnetic interference and biocompatible for medical purposes. In addition, they have to withstand extreme mechanical loads in industrial robotics.
The electrical systems of modern vehicles should also be more inexpensive and lighter in addition to optimum reliability and enhanced functionality. This means increased requirements on quality, automation and productivity for cable harness production. Moreover, faulty connections or cable breakage can have fatal consequences in assistance systems and autonomous vehicles. The still high manual share makes highly-efficient error prevention and software- controlled quality assurance imperative.
‘Universal’ Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) are no match for these requirements. This the reason why companies such Komax, exhibitor at productronica for 30 years, and DiLT have developed an MES that provides for continuous transparency in all production areas and is exactly tailored to the cable-processing industry.
Quality thanks to automation
Schleuniger, last year’s winner of the productronica Innovation Award, also provides quality with SmartDetect. The sensor-controlled system monitors the entire insulation process in real time and detects unwanted contact of the stripping blade with the conductor to prevent stripping failures automatically.
The demand is increasing in general for automated and flexible machining systems. For example, ShieldCut 8100 from Schleuniger cuts the braided shielding of cable shields semi-automatically and consequently makes processing precision independent of the respective operator.
A great deal of unsuspected rationalization potential is also contained in control cabinet construction. Komax realises this potential with the cable machine Zeta 630. It automatically assembles complete cable harnesses and reduces wiring time by 50 per cent already from a batch of one.
Plug-in connectors: disconnect and connect
No cable without the associated connection technique. This is closely connected with the cable technology and consequently dependent on the actual use. For example, the crimping method for plug-in connectors must be adapted with the replacement of copper by aluminium in automotive construction. For use in medical devices, intrusion of liquids of any kind is normally to be prevented. Other demands are made on flexible PCB connectors for the automotive and industrial sectors, such as SUMIDA flexible connections from Radeberg supplies, or on the plug-in connectors from TE connectivity, which make a home into a ‘connected home”.
Coil production: magnetic field design at the highest level
Regardless of whether electric motor, transformer or magnetic field sensor, applications of inductive components could not be more different. Each one is subject to different demands. However, the following applies to all electric machines: smaller, lighter and above all more efficient. After all, drive systems consume a sizable 70 per cent of industrial electricity, which increasingly results in international standards and national laws for the purpose of energy saving. This means that industry requires innovations in process technologies as well as in insulation materials. For example, this can be achieved using friction- optimised winding wires, which both improve the efficiency of electric motors as well as their production. Specialists in the field are Meteor and Marsilli, among others.
However, coils can also be found in actuators for dosing, moving or locking in the medical sector. A customised pinch valve can be “built” with the modular magnetic assemblies with high clamping force from Schlaeger M-Tech, for example.
Hybrid components: two in one
Smaller, lighter, more compact and less expensive: customised components from the combination of metal and plastic fulfil these requirements. They combine the advantages of the different materials and consequently can fulfil several functions at the same time. Customers are mainly from the automotive industry, communications industry and electronics. A good number of exhibitors at productronica will exhibit innovative methods of mixed-mode (hybrid) manufacturing for injection-molding plastic components in one step with metallic layers or plastic components joined in metal.