Electrical design as part of the (machine) design

 

 

A part of the machines that NTS develops and produces for its customers are the electrical and electronic components and subsystems, such as PC- or PLC-based control cabinets, power supplies, motion controllers, cable harnesses, sensors and actuators. The electrical and electronic system of these machines is developed simultaneously with the rest of the machine in order to achieve the best possible time-to-market. Together with the mechanical designers, the required 3D volumes for wiring harnesses and control boxes are therefore reserved very early on in the process, and components with long delivery times are identified and ordered in time.

Electric and electronic engineers involved in early phase

The machine specifications relating to accuracy, speed, dimensions, modularity, future extensibility, costs, etc., but also the legal requirements, have a direct influence on the choice of components and building blocks.  If the customer's roadmap also incorporates future versions of the machine that offer improved or other desired specifications, these are taken into account in the design, for example by ensuring there is spare space available in a control cabinet, or by opting for a data bus that can easily be expanded. When choosing components and building blocks, the legal requirements and industry standards are automatically taken into account, for instance in relation to CE, UL and SEMI.

Standardization to shorten time to market & reduce risk and cost

Standardised components and subsystems are used where possible in order to increase time to market and reduce risks and costs. An example of reuse at subsystem level is a PLC-based machine safety system that incorporates rapidly configurable hardware and firmware building blocks.  It isn't always possible to create a design entirely with standard components or building blocks. Reasons may be due to cost, form factor, or desired functionality. In such situations, we design specific electronics.

 

"A fully integrated electrical design of a machine prevents the need for redesign, extra costs and loss of time to market"

- Coen Verkuyl, Discipline Architect Electronics Design at NTS

 

 

What do we offer in the area of electrical design?

The electrical design of a machine often includes an electrical part (control cabinets, power supplies, wiring harnesses) and an electronic part (mainly printed circuit boards).

Electrical design

In order to avoid design iterations as much as possible, the electrical design process is fully integrated with the mechanical 3D CAD-based design process and the ERP software that is used to control the future production process. Components and building blocks are selected from libraries, so that aspects such as dimensions and interfaces are automatically included as attributes, and errors are prevented.  Below are the benefits of our work procedures for the various deliverables of the design process:

  • Schematic design: the complete device is shown clearly in one diagram with all necessary details, including any pneumatic/hydraulic circuits. Relevant guidelines for CE and UL, for example, are incorporated directly in the design. This enables early verification of the design and ensures that all information is available prior to and while building the prototypes.
  • Wiring design: the details of the wiring are retrieved from the electrical schematic design and, where necessary, 3D and 2D wiring harness drawings are generated for our suppliers. The wiring is also included in the mechanical 3D CAD model to determine the required construction volumes. Elimination of manual work avoids errors and reduces the number of design iterations.
  • Panel design: A 3D panel design is designed in the scheme based on 3D models. This immediately makes volumes, wiring, interfaces and manufacturability clearly visible. By integrating this into the mechanical 3D CAD environment, the panel is automatically also included in the total machine design. It makes it possible to review the overall design at an early stage.
  • Bill of Materials (BoM): All parts are automatically placed in the correct order and location in the bill of materials structure, so that the parts are guaranteed to be where they should be in the ERP system after the bill of materials is released. This prevents having to manually convert the BoM with a design view to the manufacturing view required for production.

Electronics design

NTS develops specific electronics when standard components or building blocks cannot be used. There are times that more functionality is required, or that standard solutions are too expensive, or the form factor of the standard solution simply doesn't fit into the available construction space in the machine. The benefits of our working procedures for the various deliverables of the design process are listed below:

  • Schematic design: our electronics designers have extensive experience in motion control, sensor systems with corresponding signal processing, such as ink drop control in printers, or controlling the optical columns with active optical elements. They therefore understand how to apply the electronics in the customer's machine, and already think during the specification phase about the functionality of the electronics that need to be developed.
  • Printed circuit board layout design: Design rules are built into the CAD package as conditions, ensuring to a large extent that the quality of the design is already guaranteed. EMC rules and any safety circuits are included in the design. 
  • 3D design: the printed circuit designs are imported into the mechanical 3D CAD system to verify specifications such as construction volumes and the connections, in order to avoid volume conflicts and thus design iterations.
  • Prototypes/Series products: The complete design including the production files are placed in the correct location in the Bill-of-Materials structure, so that it is also correctly entered in the ERP system. This prevents the need for manual conversion of the bills of materials with a design view to the manufacturing view that is needed for the production phase.

What can you expect?

  • A team of hardware and electronics engineers with broad knowledge and experience;
  • Product compliance with CE and UL (e.g. safety and EMC) as part of our development process;
  • Delivery of a design with a construction file that enables customers to issue a CE declaration of conformity on their products;
  • Support and supervision of production from the NTS development organisation;
  • EMC measurements can partly be done in-house. Where this isn't possible, or is not permitted based on the applicable standards, NTS has direct access to a number of external laboratories
  • Highly automated design processes that use standard libraries, integration of electrical and mechanical design, and direct link to the ERP system whereby the parts list is automatically generated instead of having to be created manually

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