«In The Right Groove»

We are pleased how organized and how tidy our switch cabinet now looks. However, more important is the fact that we can see how SmartWire-DT can help us to make savings in engineering, wiring and also maintenance
- Thomas Spitz'managing director at M.Kolb Steinbearbeitungsmaschinen GmbH

Stone such as marble or granite are increasingly being used in the home and in the garden. Several working steps are required in order for their beauty to be brought to their full potential in these environments. Firstly the raw material has to be cut into different plates, then the surfaces and edges must be accurately finished and ground to the correct size. Precision here is critical.

M.Kolb Steinbearbeitungsmaschinen GmbH is based on Bellenberg bei Ulm and has established itself as an expert in this field. For over 50 years, the name Kolb has been synonymous with clever and innovative solutions for stone processing and the construction of machines for processing glass, plastics, ceramics, concrete and other materials for the construction and building materials industry. When the company changed its legal status and became part of the Dr. Baumann Group, Kolb also decided to upgrade the automation for its machines.

“Our customers come from craft sector in particular,” says Thomas Spitz, managing director at Kolb. “These customers often come to us with the demanding expectation that: ‘It mustn’t cost anything but must do everything.’ Meeting both these requirements at the same time is often not so easy.” At the same time Kolb has made a name for itself on the market for producing high quality machines that are reliable and require little maintenance. For Kolb service has top priority. If problems occur with the machine, Kolb promises to supply spares by courier overnight or even on the same day.

In its search for a partner for modern and lean automation and electrical engineering Kolb also got in touch with Eaton. The company had already had a good experience with Eaton products, such as PLCs and components for switching, protecting and driving motors. For some time now the company already no longer uses conventional PLCs but Eaton’s proven control relays of the easy series for some standard machines such as the MKS edge polishing machines. These offer an inexpensive and at the same time powerful alternative for small to medium-sized control applications.

When the company was first introduced to the concept of SmartWire-DT, Eaton’s trendsetting communication system for industrial switchgear in the switch cabinet and in the periphery, they were initially somewhat cautious: “The benefits of the system sounded very promising, perhaps too promising,” Thomas Spitz recalled. “I therefore wanted to see for myself how the technology works in practice.” The machine builder’s curiosity and desire to innovate were large enough for him to decide to fit the next MKS edge polishing machine with SmartWire-DT.

The MKS is a belt grinding machine with a length of 4.5 m, that enables craft workshops to provide kitchen worktops or stairway steps with a chamfer. It has seven head grinders arranged in sequence and up to four chamfer grinders. The machine is provided with twelve motors which drive the head grinders, two chamfer grinders each at the top and at the bottom, and a diamond-headed tool for providing a water groove (against water drops).

This MKS is controlled by an easy802 which can communicate via the integrated SmartWire-DT master and the green cable directly with all twelve motor starter combinations as well as RMQ Titan control circuit devices. SmartWire-DT thus eliminates the need for any complex and error-prone pointto- point control wiring of components such as switching devices, sensors and actuators with the central controller. The I/O level is no longer necessary as it is integrated directly in the switching devices. All SmartWire-DT slaves are simply connected using device plugs. Kolb benefits also from the fact that the existing software program of the previous easy solution could be transferred easily to the new easy802.

The motor starter combination is a good example of how work has been simplified. Previously at Kolb each motor starter and each contactor had to be wired individually and connected separately, also partly via coupling relays, to the I/O modules of the controller. With the Eaton solution the SmartWire-DT module is simply fitted like an auxiliary contact to the DILM contactor. The contactors can then also be connected with the standard PKZ or PKE motor-protective circuit-breaker without any tools. This keeps mounting and wiring time down to a minimum. The design with two separate contact systems, including a visible isolating gap with a removable electrical connector keeps connections unambiguous and thus increases safety during repair and maintenance work. The functional design also enables noticeable space savings to be made in the switch cabinet and helps to prevent wiring errors.

Troubleshooting with SmartWire-DT is also considerably simpler. Each slave has its own address and self-diagnostic function. An LED on each individual component clearly indicates any problems on the device. In this case, the continuous green light starts to flash so that even untrained personnel in a craft workshop can immediately identify a faulty component on an MKS and in some cases can even exchange it themselves.

After the project with the MKS is successfully completed, Kolb plans to fit SmartWire-DT in future not only in its edge polishing machines but also for the control of other standard and non-standard machines.

“I am highly satisfied with how the project went,” Thomas Spitz sums up his experience. “We are pleased how organized and how tidy our switch cabinet now looks. However, more important is the fact that we can see how SmartWire-DT can help us make savings in engineering, wiring and also maintenance. We are already in the process of fitting the second machine with this concept.”