FieldPower is being described by Weidmüller as a new connection concept for decentralised power distribution in mechanical and systems engineering, airports, automotive industry – or anywhere there is a need to distribute power across extended distances. The product family comprises PowerBox distributor boxes rated to IP65, maintenance switches, plug-in connectors – optionally available with fuse function – cables, prefabricated cables harnesses, tools and an extensive range of accessories.
Power is distributed via a continuous, uncut round or flat cable. Utilising the PowerBox and IDC (insulation displacement connection) contact technology, pick-off is made at any point close to the consumer load. Pluggable or fixed junctions and outgoing feeders to starters and frequency converters are optionally possible. That reduces both the lengths of the cables to be routed and installation times. FieldPower can reduce the total costs of the project and increase flexibility when extending plant or rethinking plans at a later date.
Weidmüller has designed the FieldPower concept to be multifunctional, with users able to integrate their individual developments. As well as numerous industrial users, a partner in the form of MSF – Vathauer Antriebstechnik GmbH & Co KG has been gained for drives. The drives technology specialist has developed a new IP65-rated family of products on the basis of FieldPower.
Decentralised automation concepts are increasingly becoming established in production and materials handling plant of all kinds. This plant needs to be planned and brought to fruition as efficiently and flexibly as possible – a point that also applies to decentralised power distribution. This is where the economic and versatile FieldPower concept comes into its own, and in the process is more than pushing back the boundaries of Weidmüller’s core competence of connection technology. And that is exactly what the engineers thought at the drives specialists MSF – Vathauer Antriebstechnik, who then decided to enter a technology-based co-operation. The benefits for both companies are that each company contributes its own specific core competence. In addition, their respective energies are combined – to the benefit of customers.
For their latest product developments, Vathauer's engineers utilised the PowerBox XL housing. They integrated three-phase frequency converters with performance ratings up to 1.5kW. In addition to the 400V cable, a bus cable can optionally be included. Furthermore, with four sensors, the new family of frequency converters is technically well equipped.
The FieldPower product concept is based on the PowerBox, which is used to connect five-pole power cables ranging from 2.5-6mm2. The PowerBox integrates the following functions in a single module: power supply, extension, outgoing motor feeder and distribution. The PowerBox is mounted at any point within the plant with the continuous, uncut cable placed inside. Thanks to colour coding this is done quickly and without errors. Round and/or flat cables can be utilised. Indeed, both types of cables can be used at the same time in a single PowerBox – a fact that adds flexibility to plant planning.
Using the sheath stripping tool AM 16 (for round cables) or AMF 6/10 (for flat cables), the cable is partially stripped and the individual cores placed into the base module of the connection block. The contact unit is then snapped shut and, using a screwdriver, the contact element is simply closed downwards in a 90degree movement. This creates a safe and reliable contact for distributing 400V of power.
Junctions and outgoing circuits to consumer loads such as starters or frequency converters can be implemented as fixed or pluggable variants with a current carrying capacity of up to 41A. All that is required is to directly insert the insulation-stripped cores of the corresponding cable into the Push In connection of the contact block or plug-in connector. The plug-in connectors (32A/4mm2) are equipped with rapid and reliable Push-In connectivity, the direct insertion technology for conductor termination. The connector is simply plugged onto the contact block. Twin connectors are also available to implement two single-feeder spur lines. One or two starters/frequency converters or other loads can be connected to the contact block. The PowerBox Fuse for 1/4inch x 1.25inch fuses (cartridge fuse links) are utilised to protect loads, outgoing feeders and junctions – and reductions in cable cross-sections in particular. Visual control of the fuses is provided by a red LED that indicates failure. Conductor cross-sections ranging from 0.5-4mm2 can be connected to the fuse connector.
The FieldPower concept is designed for flexibility. Users have the freedom to chose between prefabricated cables or manual installation on the spot. The seals of the PowerBox housing can accept 7-17mm diameter round cables and flat cables from 8 x 27mm. FieldPower enables mounting to be carried out without cable ducts and requires no special tools for on-site installation work.
Weidmüller says it will rigorously expand the FieldPower product family. A housing with integrated maintenance switch is presently being developed. It will be possible to reliably shut down motor feeders or complete sub-circuits for drives and secure these against unintentional restarting in accordance with the relevant standards and regulations.