A Safe Take-Off – Rittal Blue e+ chillers used in aircraft manufacturing

Aircraft manufacturing. Before a brand-new A320 can be put to work ferrying holiday­makers to sunnier climes, the aircraft has to pass some serious testing at Airbus. However, it isn’t just the aircraft that needs overheating protection to make sure it runs like a dream – the testing hardware needs proper protection, too. Airbus uses Blue e+ cooling units from Rittal to keep its testing facilities in top condition.

The two Airbus workers sit on stools in the cockpit of the Airbus A320, as the pilot seats have yet to be installed. Through the cockpit windows they see not clouds, but 4 monitors displaying the “ground test instructions” they need to work through.

However, the first tests start much earlier. As soon as the fuselage sections of a new aircraft have been assembled, the cables are laid there – and tested. All along the various assembly stations, all newly installed components and systems are immediately tested to ensure they are fully functional. Depending on the configuration of the aircraft in question, the full set of tests for an A320 can take around 400 hours to complete. The majority of these are carried out in Jacobs’ department. Fuelling, taxiing, take-off and landing together with various flight manoeuvres are all simulated on the final assembly line. “Our engineers could fly the aircraft, even though they’re not pilots,” the Head of Ground Testing points out. All functions that are essential to flight safety on the Airbus must be 100 per cent reliable. Only when an A320 has passed all these tests with flying colours can it be sent for delivery and take off from the runway at the Airbus plant in Finkenwerder on its maiden flight.

Simulating Operation

The tasks carried out on the final assembly line include the complete fit-out of the cabin. “Once again, we check everything – from the headphone sockets and in-flight entertainment screens on each individual passenger seat right through to the coffee machine in the galley,” says Jacobs. Testing all the onboard functions requires high-performance hardware that is connected up to the sensors and actuators of the aircraft and used to run complex simulation programs. A total of three computers are needed for the simulations. Each computer is equipped with additional hardware that links up to the components in the aircraft. Lengths of cable as thick as a human arm reach from enclosures containing the simulation computers to the insides of the aircraft. This makes it possible to simulate parameters such as engine speed and the signals from the speed measurement devices. The computers also capture output signals, primarily voltages and volume resistance.

Left: An ice-cold marathon – Cooling units in the Blue e+ range run continuously and stop hardware from overheating. Right: Digital view – No stunning aerial vista for the engineers: Monitors are mounted in front of the cockpit to display the ground test instructions.

Airbus developed the simulation computers, which are installed in a Rittal enclosure on the test bench, in-house. The hardware generates a lot of heat when in use and therefore needs to be cooled – the voltage transformers in particular, which are needed for the connection to the components in the aircraft, can get very hot. “In the past, before we started using active cooling systems for the computers, they often crashed during the summer,” Jacobs recalls. Given how tightly and carefully coordinated the production schedule is at Airbus, that simply could not continue. The enclosures were fitted out with active climate control systems in 2006 to avoid precisely such downtime. Today, there are 28 of these test stations in the Airbus plant, all similarly configured. What’s more, all are fitted with Blue e+ cooling units from Rittal to protect the sensitive hardware from overheating. The reliability of the Blue e+ units is particularly important to Airbus. “If the cooling systems for the simulation computers were to fail, we wouldn’t be able to conduct our tests,” Jacobs points out. The test bench is in use at least five days a week in double-shift operation. “We switch on the cooling units in the morning and they run with absolute reliability,” he says. The cooling systems at the test benches are monitored and, should a unit still somehow fail, a warning light comes on to alert staff.

Guaranteed Energy Efficiency

The idea to upgrade to the energy-efficient Blue e+ cooling units came about while working on energy management for the ISO-14001 certification. Rittal Support gave Airbus crucial assistance during this process, as Jacobs explains: “Thanks to the energy efficiency calculator, we were able to work out in advance how much energy we would save by upgrading to the new cooling technology.”

Well-timed maintenance is crucial to ensuring the cooling units run reliably and efficiently. The main causes of failures are critical component statuses and external influencing factors. Networking the units with the IoT interface ensures the condition of all cooling units is reported to overarching systems. Maintenance teams can then promptly plan the necessary measures and carry out the work at the most appropriate time. These benefits can be taken to the next level in the future by linking up to Rittal’s Smart Service Portal. The networking between the devices and continuous status monitoring ensure critical operating statuses can be identified early on.

The senior managers at Airbus were also impressed by how user-friendly the cooling units are. All parameters can be adjusted easily, using the two buttons on the control panel, and the display depicts status and error messages in clear language. “The quality is right and the customer service we get from Rittal is excellent,” Jacobs concludes. Based on this positive experience, the test benches at the Airbus sites in the USA and China, which are configured in exactly the same way, are also being retrofitted with the new Blue e+ cooling units.

German Innovation Award For The Rittal VX25 Large Enclosure System

The VX25 large enclosure system from Rittal has won the 2019 German Innovation Award. The German Design Council honoured the innovative large enclosure system on May 28 as the winner in the “Excellence in Business to Business/Machines & Engineering” category.

Fit for Industry 4.0 and award-winning: With the VX25, Rittal has launched the first enclosure system specifically designed to boost productivity in panel building, switchgear manufacturing and in Industry 4.0 value chains.

The Award Recognises User-Centric Innovation

With the German Innovation Award, the German Design Council (set up by Germany’s Parliament, the Bundestag) honours pioneering innovations that are having a lasting impact and offering users added value. Nearly 700 international submissions were received. The winners were chosen by a world-class jury of physicists, patent consultants, computer scientists, financing specialists, product designers, technology historians and marketeers.

“User-centricity represents the key to the evaluation of the innovations submitted. It is the distinguishing feature of the German Innovation Award,” explained Andrej Kupetz, the German Design Council’s General Manager. “It is particularly successful when future users are involved in product and design development at an early stage.”

The Award Winner: Enclosure System For Digital Process Chains

“We are delighted that such a renowned institution as the German Design Council has honoured the innovative power of our own VX25 with this award. Specifically, the main focus of the jury on user centricity coincides precisely with Rittal’s approach to product development. The success of the system, the feedback from our customers and honours such as this award also prove that we are on the right track”, added Dr Thomas Steffen, Managing Director Research and Development at Rittal.

Intensive dialogue with customers was crucial in developing this large enclosure system. Developers and analysts conducted a large-scale scientific usability study that tracked day-to-day operations at panel building and switchgear manufacturing companies. The VX25 ‘ticks’ like enclosure manufacturers think – in functions and processes”, added Dr Steffen.

The VX25 offers the highest possible quality and consistency of data, reduced complexity and savings in time, as well as safe assembly. More than 25 registered property rights demonstrate the high level of innovation involved.

“The launch of the award-winning large enclosure system was a milestone that was then followed with the brand new AX.KX compact and small enclosure series. With the Blue e+ cooling unit range that had previously been presented, our core product portfolio has now been updated and is fit for Industry 4.0. Together with our sister company Eplan, we are thinking deeply about the entire value chain of panel building and switchgear manufacturing and we are supporting our customers with optimisation and digitalisation”, Dr Steffen concluded.

Special Mention: Blue e+ Cooling Units

The Blue e+ cooling unit series was also nominated for the award in the same category as the VX25. It was given a “Special Mention” at the awards ceremony. Blue e+ has been the most efficient commercially available industrial cooling system since 2015. It works with a new combination of heat pipe and compressor. Application data shows average energy savings of 75 percent compared to conventional systems. The lower temperature deviations within the enclosure increase the service life of the components installed. The IoT interface is predestined for a variety of Industry 4.0 applications, up to and including predictive maintenance.

The Organiser: The German Design Council

The German Design Council (Rat für Formgebung) was established on the initiative of the German Bundestag (the German parliament) in 1953 and promoted by the Federation of German Industries (BDI). For 66 years now, the foundation has been pursuing the goal of promoting the competitiveness of German companies. The German Design Council, with its competitions, exhibitions, conferences, seminars and publications, is making a decisive contribution to the dissemination of knowledge about design, innovation and brands. More than 300 German and foreign companies currently belong to the circle of patrons.



For further information on the Rittal VX25 Series Enclosures 
see the Rittal range on our website or call LC Automation
on 01254 685900.

In Times Of Uncertainty, Make the Most of your Assets

It’s safe to say that there is a great deal of uncertainty at the moment; something which is being felt not just in the UK but in many countries across the world.

In these circumstances, the best thing that businesses can do is protect their existing assets. It’s fundamentally important to ensure that all assets perform at an optimum level during their entire service life, and for an organisation to continue its journey towards increased efficiency and reliability so that it can remain competitive in a changing marketplace.

In the industrial space, a company’s lifeblood is its machinery and all machinery has critical components such as its electrical drives, motors etc. without which any very expensive robotic arm is nothing but a very elaborate statue, collecting dust. So it’s imperative that electrical equipment is housed within a protective environment, to ensure it operates to it’s full potential. 

A protective environment takes the form of both high quality enclosures and correctly prescribed climate control equipment. The two items work together to safeguard your equipment from the following:

High Temperatures Impact the Lifespan of Equipment

Prolonged high internal temperatures reduce the lifespan of your equipment. This will mean an increased chance of unplanned breakdowns, increased costs and reduced production output.

Furthermore, your equipment cannot work at 100% output once its maximum operating temperature has been exceeded, which means you will experience an overall reduction in your machine’s efficiency and reduced manufacturing output.

To prevent high temperatures being reached within the enclosure, correctly sized enclosure cooling products should be installed. This could be fans and filters, cooling units or air-to-water heat exchangers, dependant on both the amount of heat produced by the electrical equipment and the ambient temperature in the surrounding environment.

Rittal Blue e+ Roof Mounted Cooling Unit

Low Temperatures Can Also Damage Equipment

Equipment needs protecting from low temperatures as much as high ones. In winter, when ambient temperatures drop, any equipment that has been idle over the weekend can be damaged as soon as it’s turned on from cold.

In addition, motors or compressors can experience problems when oil contained within sealed systems begins to increase in viscosity. This can damage the seals/components, again causing failures.

To prevent this happening, you should fit a correctly sized enclosure heater inside the enclosure.  When connected to a thermostat, the heater will maintain an acceptable minimum temperature preventing any damage to electrical equipment caused when the low temperature minimum is exceeded.

Condensate Poses Safety Risk

Condensate can be a real issue when it forms within the enclosure and on critical equipment in high humidity environments. Condensate poses a real safety risk to the electrical devices and can cause catastrophic failure if left unchecked.

You can combat this problem by using a high quality industrial enclosure with a minimum of an IP54 seal to prevent humid air from constantly entering the enclosure. This can be combined with a cooling unit featuring an integrated condensate evaporator; the cooling unit acts as a de-humidifier and removes excess condensate from the pocket of air within the sealed enclosure.

Dust, Dirt and Corrosive Substances

Many industries suffer from dusty or dirty environments, which can impact on electrical equipment and its optimum performance. For example:

  • Carbon dust in the steel or manufacturing industry
  • Yeast or vinegar extract in the food and beverage industry
  • Salt water vapour in the air in a marine or coastal application

The above contaminants will attack the wires and electrical connections within your enclosure. In time, this can corrode or (worse) short connections, which in turn can cause excess heat and/or a panel fire.

In highly contaminated environments, the best advice is to use a cooling product which does not allow dirty ambient air to constantly enter the enclosure, so fans and filters are a no-no. Air-to-air or air-to-water heat exchangers and cooling units are best solutions, dependant on the heat load as they will only treat the small pocket of air within the enclosure, but they will also reduce the level of contaminants entering the space.

Summary

Any change or upheaval that impacts on a company’s trading environment brings with it challenges, but also opportunities. The trick is always to optimise your business for success, reducing costs wherever possible, while maximising productivity and efficiency.

Rittal can provide you with a free inspection of your current cooling equipment regardless of manufacturer, age or condition. This will then allow us to advise you of any recommended improvements and (critically) confirm whether you are using the correct equipment.

The long term benefits of maintaining a protective environment and allowing your equipment to perform to its optimum will help your business to flourish.


Written by Karl Lycett, Rittal UK’s Product Manager for Climate Control. For further information see the Rittal range on our website or call
01254 685900.

Generation X Was Here – Rittal Launch New AX and KX Enclosures at LC Automation

Rittal brought their brand new demo bus to LC Automation’s head office in Blackburn last Thursday. Titled ‘Generation X is here’ it was the first chance to see the new AX and KX enclosures which were recently launched at Hannover Messe. We are excited to share our partnership with Rittal and can’t wait to supply the new enclosures later in the year.

Neil Battery demonstrates the latest new developments from Rittal

Over 35 Million Units Sold

Rittal has rethought and redesigned the new AX compact and KX small enclosures, providing simpler, faster assembly and component installation, greater flexibility and enhanced safety. This launch marks the digital transformation of a standardised product that has been made by Rittal for more than 50 years: Over 35 million units of the AE have been manufactured, making it the most popular compact enclosure in the world.

Rittal Alliance Partner

We have been a Rittal Alliance Partner for many years, so it was a big deal to get the brand new AX and KX enclosures to our Blackburn head office before (almost) anyone else. It was a great opportunity for our staff and customers to see some of the main features such as; more space, easier installation and modular design, for themselves. They are going to be incredibly popular when we get them in stock.

The brand new Rittal AX and KX enclosures

The AX and KX enclosures won’t be available till the autumn but as Rittal Alliance Partners we can be sure that LC Automation can supply Rittal enclosures for any industrial application. If you’re looking for a high quality enclosure for your project, give us a call on 01254 685 900 or take a look at our website
https://www.lcautomation.com/Page/Our_Suppliers/Rittal.aspx