Beckhoff Previews Control Cabinet Replacement Technology

March 27, 2024
The modular MX-System is designed to replace control cabinets, reducing wiring requirements as well as installation and upgrade times.

In Beckhoff’s exhibit at Modex 2024, the company’s soon-to-be-released MX-System was on display. According to Beckhoff, its MX-System is an intelligent automation hardware system designed to replace conventional control cabinets and can be completed in an hour versus the more typical 24 hours or more to install a cabinet-based control system.

The basic concept of the MX-System is to standardize the electrical and mechanical interfaces for all electronic and electromechanical components via two interfaces:

  • The data interface integrates each functional module into an EtherCAT network and supplies it simultaneously with 24V DC and, if necessary, also with 48V DC.
  • A second interface has been defined as standard for the low-voltage range.  These interfaces distribute the mains voltage of up to 480V AC and a DC voltage of up to 600V for the drive system.

According to Beckhoff, the standardization delivered with the MX-System means all functionality traditionally found in a control cabinet can be mapped in a backplane system.  Like the interfaces described above, there are two different backplane types, which have the described interfaces in the form of connectors. The backplane is composed of aluminum housings for maximum durability. 

“With the MX-System, we're able to go from wiring a cabinet that can take up to a week down to a couple hours with the simple screwdriver to attach everything, tighten it and connect to your cables,” Eric Reiner, IPC product manager at Beckhoff. 

He added that the MX-System also helps reduce the related machine controls documentation because “we're able to reduce the wiring diagram from 24 pages down to 10.”

The MX-System also features function modules—which can be plugged in and screwed onto the baseplate—for industrial PCs, bus couplers, I/O, motion, relays and system power supply. Beckhoff says its combination of a baseplate and function modules results in an IP67-protected automation system for mounting directly on the machine.

Furthermore, the connections do not have to be completed by specially trained electricians due to the plug-and-produce nature of the modules.

The MX-System also meets the requirements of control cabinet standards and, in contrast to many conventional cabinets, it also complies with IEC, UL and CSA, making it a globally standardized system.

Because the MX-System consists of components that are networked via EtherCAT, Beckhoff says comprehensive system diagnostics are always available. In addition to classic status LEDs, each function module has a unique serial number in the form of a DataMatrix code. This code can be scanned via a smartphone app, which connects the smartphone to the controller to retrieve diagnostic data on the corresponding function module.  MX-System module modules are hot-swappable and can be plugged in or unplugged during operation. 

The video below features an explanation and demonstration of the MX-System assembly.

For more information:

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