Text Ulrich Kläsener ––– Photography
Rittal plant in Haiger, December 2017. A firm handshake and a friendly word – the presentation of the new VX25 in the brightly lit Rittal Innovation Center started well. “Come with me.” Did those words reveal just a tinge of pride in the company’s achievements? Matthias Müller, host and Director Product Management Enclosures is clearly confident in what Rittal can offer. However, the tour through the halls of Industry 4.0 processes for control and switchgear engineering would have to wait for now. It was time to unveil the star attraction – the new VX25 large enclosure from Rittal.
Behind the door
A pretty unremarkable light grey door separated the visitors from the object of their attention. Were it not for the security team scrutinising visitors’ accreditation, you could be forgiven for thinking it was just a door to the warehouse. However, that’s only partly true. Behind it was indeed a storeroom, but one charged with an atmosphere of anticipation. There it was, in the centre of the room, draped in a covering – the VX25. Surely though, it’s just an enclosure with a door and a base. It’s a good example of industrial design, you can tell it’s new, but it’s pretty unimportant, right? “Not at all,” smiles Müller. Eyes automatically flick from the freshly printed posters on the wall that showcase the new features and functions of the VX25 to the new enclosure itself. OK, the tried-and-tested two-level approach has been retained, the mounting plate is still there and all the key functional and connection dimensions are the same. “We very deliberately only reworked areas where it would benefit customers. We largely left well-established, proven elements alone so that it’s easier for our customers to make the switch.” A look at the brochure confirms all that. So what exactly is new about it then? Müller explains: “What’s new is that the enclosure ‘ticks’ the way the customer thinks and works – in functions and processes. Those are the big levers.”
One example is the fact the VX25 can be accessed from all four sides: “Components can now be fitted to the outer mounting level from the outside, which is a huge practical advantage. That easily affects 40 percent of our customers.” This one change saves 30 minutes compared to conventional assembly procedures. The same applies to the new feature that allows users to install mounting plates from the rear. That’s an argument that wins over switchgear engineers around the world, particularly when it comes to installing very heavy weights. Talking about the rear, an extra 20 mm of installation depth (through accessories) delivers more space. That is important when it comes to meeting the ever-rising demand for higher packing densities.
To optimise our customers’ value chain, the flat parts of the VX25 feature a “unique” QR code that ensures the components can be matched up with the relevant items on bills of materials in the customer’s ERP system. The flat parts can now be tracked throughout the entire workflow and allocated to the correct machining programs, machining times can also be recorded and much more besides. Far more straightforward and easier to engineer and install – for Müller, these benefits are primarily down to the reduced complexity in the range of parts, which Rittal achieves by using multifunctional components. “In the case of the VX25, we were able to deliver all the functions of the TS 8 with far fewer accessory parts and also create new functions and added value.” The new “automatic potential equalisation” is impressive evidence of the system platform credentials that the VX25 boasts. As on the TS 8, the fixings for the roof, rear panel, side panels and gland plates ensure reliable contacts. Another new development means that, in future, customers won’t need to use earth straps when fitting live Rittal components such as fan-and-filter units and climate control units to these flat parts.
Returning metaphorically to the customer’s shop floor, Müller points out the new door handles. Thanks to the snap-on system, the handles can be changed twice as fast as before: “Just take hold, press on and job done. In the past, the handle had to be fitted with screws.” Adhesive also had to be used, specifically for the baying seal, but now it just pushes into place. What’s more, thanks to the new screw connection that runs on the direction of baying, it’s even easier to create any combinations on all sides. Back to the door: In future, customers won’t have to machine the door for an 180° hinge installation. “Drilling eight holes, deburring, painting – until now you needed about 30 minutes per door to move them 180°.” Now door installation is child’s play: “It can be taken off its hinges and put back on easily, like a door in the home, and when it’s shut it is automatically secured.”
A solid base
A glance at the clock reveals that the product presentation should have finished 30 minutes ago. “But I still have to show you the new base, which fits anywhere.” The new base combines all the functions from the TS base and the Flex-Block base/plinth system in one solution and can do much more than before. Even enclosure accessories can be built into the base. For example, baying brackets and cable clamp rails can be installed there, and cables can be simply and efficiently retained and secured via the punched sections. Not only does that save time and money, it also boosts safety. The integrated centring aid in the corner piece and the option of fixing the base in place directly from above “put an end to tricky building and tweaking work. Rapid installation, rapid use – that’s what it’s all about.”