Phoenix Contact Opens Customer and Technology Center

July 9, 2012
Ann Arbor, Mich. site of new Customer and Technology Center, while the company releases several new products.

Phoenix Contact (Middletown, Pa.) celebrated the grand opening of its new Customer and Technology Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. on June 20, 2012 as it completed a busy month by unveiling a number of new products. Jack Nehlig, president of Phoenix Contact USA, stated, "Our new Ann Arbor Customer and Technology Center brings Phoenix Contact closer to our customers in the Midwest.  It creates an open-interaction environment where our customers can come and discuss their needs, and see how Phoenix Contact products and solutions can help them."

The centerpiece of the facility is a demonstration room highlighting the ways Phoenix Contact products can meet customer needs in five specific industries: automotive, power generation, oil and gas, transportation and water/wastewater.

“Our investment in this Customer and Technology Center in Ann Arbor is a clear commitment towards the American market and our future strategies,” said Roland Bent, senior vice president for marketing and development, Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co. KG. “We increasingly focus on a high local technological competence and the ability to offer our customers comprehensive engineering services and solutions for their future tasks, in addition to excellent products."

Bent added, “These ‘solutions for the future,’ as we want to offer them to our customers, increasingly rely on software — which is the central core competence of this new technology location. With strategies and investments like those we’ve made in this Customer and Technology Center, we consider ourselves well prepared to continue to grow with the same dynamics as demonstrated in the past decade, which boosted our turnover from 600 million euros to 1.5 billion euros.”

Volker Bibelhausen, head of the Division Control and Industry Solutions and a member of the executive board, said, “The recent creation of the Control and Industry Solutions group prepares us for future growth. We are especially proud that the Ann Arbor office is part of our division. It is the head office of Phoenix Contact’s newly formed U.S. automotive global industry management team, which is an integral part of our global solutions strategy. Ann Arbor is also the U.S. home of our Software Competence Center, which created our PC Worx Soft-PLC RT and is an innovation leader for software for our industrial PC and Web technology.”

To mark the grand opening, company officials from the United States and Germany welcomed customers, industry representatives and local and trade press for presentations and a dinner at the Customer and Technology Center, located at 500 Avis Drive. Approximately 40 employees work in the 27,000-square-foot building, which Phoenix Contact purchased in 2010 and extensively rennovated to turn it into a modern training, demonstration and software development facility.

“These facilities give us a launching pad for the next phase of our software development and industry activities here in Michigan and the U.S.,” said Dave Skelton, vice president of Phoenix Contact Development and Manufacturing. “The Ann Arbor software personnel, along with the Detroit-based automotive group, were part of the initial organization when we first expanded development activities into the United States in 2005. Combining and keeping these individuals close to our customers has resulted in clear success in the implementation of new technologies and creation of products. Together with our Harrisburg organization, 11 new global product lines have been launched into the Phoenix Contact Group since this time.”

New products include network portal software, industrial PCs and software-based PLCs.

Portico software enables users to deploy a network portal for remote visualization, interaction and control of other computers on the factory floor. By using Ethernet and RFB (remote frame buffering) technology, Portico extends the transmission of video signals far beyond the traditional limits of VGA or DVI and without the need to for expensive repeater hardware and cables.Portico’s client/server architecture provides the ability to establish either a single point-to-point connection between a single computer and a single remote client, or to provide a connection between a single computer and many remotely connected clients. This flexibility allows the user to create an architecture that fits the needs of the particular application. Portico also does not need a lot of CPU processing power and therefore can be deployed on lower cost hardware.

The VL BPC 1000 is the latest addition to Phoenix Contact’s Valueline family of configurable industrial PCs. The heart of the VL BPC 1000 is the energy-efficient Intel Atom N455 1.6 GHz CPU. Powered with 24 V DC, it is fanless, DIN rail-mountable and comes in a compact form factor that saves valuable panel space. Four USB ports, two gigabit LAN ports and three serial ports make it easy to connect to the enterprise and other devices. A  VGA port provides the ability to connect a display for visualization, such as the Phoenix Contact flat panel monitors.

Using the new software PLC, an industrial PC can handle any control task in real time via Profinet, Interbus or Modbus TCP. Combining PC Worx RT Basic with Phoenix Contact’s Valueline industrial PC equipped with Intel Core 2 Duo processor, the user can configure a high-performance control system with processing times of 0.7 µs for 1K-bit instructions. In this configuration, one core is dedicated to real-time control tasks programmed using the PC Worx automation software in all five IEC languages.  The remaining core runs existing programs written in a high-level language or other software and hardware running under Windows. Therefore, programming, visualization, communications and control can be combined in just one device. This can reduce wiring costs, control cabinet sizes and the installation footprint in the plant or system.

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