Safe cable routing for an automated production plant

Pre-assembled component assemblies enable more efficient plant engineering

When it came to the cable routing in its new robotic production plant, MJ-Gerüst opted for PFLITSCH trunking services: customised cable trunking was supplied punctually by the manufacturer to the new production shop in the form of ready-to-install component assemblies.

Since the beginning of the 1970s, MJ-Gerüst GmbH of Plettenberg in the Sauerland region of Germany east of Düsseldorf has specialised in the production of scaffolding and has constantly expanded its product range. The firm’s founder started out producing scaffolding components for established scaffolding manufacturers. Since 1985, MJ-Gerüst has developed its own, system-compatible scaffolding systems which can be easily combined with components from other manufacturers. This family business employs more than 500 people and is one of the top three scaffolding manufacturers in Germany, with customers throughout Europe.

Production takes place at the headquarters in Plettenberg as well as, since 2019, on a nearby industrial estate in Osterloh, where a 14,000 m² production hall is located. MJ-Gerüst built a second, 2,400 m² hall on this large site only last year to house a fully automated production line featuring state-of-the-art KUKA robot technology. The input material has a length of up to 9 m.

Trunking for power, data and pneumatic cables

Jörg Brauhardt is Design, Equipment and Customised Machinery Manager at MJ-Gerüst. A seasoned mechanical engineer, he has worked at the scaffolding manufacturer for eleven years now and was responsible for building the new production line. “It took a year to complete the planning and design, and we combined high-quality bought-in parts to form a functional whole,” he recalls. In order for the automated production line to live up to expectations, Brauhardt had to lay quite a few kilometres of power, data and pneumatic cables around the plant. “We decided in favour of floor mounting, which meant a stable trunking system was vital.” He admits with a twinkle that with several decades of experience behind him, he can tell at a glance whether a solution will work and is sufficiently robust. “That’s why PFLITSCH Industrial-Trunking was the only feasible option for us: it convinced us with its different sizes and accessories such as the anti-slip, aluminium channelled sheet coverings.”

Punctual delivery to the assembly shop

The PFLITSCH system also has another advantage: “Instead of adapting these trunking systems to the machine environment themselves and assembling them by hand, more and more customers are now ordering our cable trunking pre-assembled,” explains Ralf Paulus, Product Manager Trunking Systems at PFLITSCH. That way, production sequences can be better planned and human and material resources freed up. Stockpiling of cable trunking becomes unnecessary too because PFLITSCH delivers the customised trunking component assemblies right on time. And since each pre-assembled cable, including all required fastenings, can be ordered under one number, the ordering process in Purchasing is minimised.

“In our case, that meant we provided PFLITSCH with our layout plan and the cable volumes to be installed, and their experts then designed the cable trunking into it with all dimensions,” says Brauhardt. The actual configuration of the cable trunking takes place using the easyRoute planning tool. This system stores all PFLITSCH cable trunking components in an intelligent database. A 3D image of the necessary trunking sections is put together in the CAD system to create the desired layout. The CAD data generated forms the basis for parts and order lists as well as for production planning and manufacturing at PFLITSCH. After approval by the customer, the trunking system was precision-manufactured. Brauhardt: “PFLITSCH supplied us with the component assemblies exactly when they were needed at each stage of the plant’s construction.”

All in all, the benefits for customers like MJ-Gerüst are obvious: transparent costs, clean assembly, better planning, high quality, less effort for storage and optimal deployment of personnel.

Trunking component assemblies manufactured under constant conditions

PFLITSCH manufactures standard Industrial-Trunking components at its Trunking Competence Centre using flexible, state-of-the-art machinery. The individual components are then pre-assembled into ready-to-install assemblies, including all essential cut-outs, edge protectors and separating walls. Other parts such as cable glands are pre-installed at the customer’s request. Even special components, for example for connecting the trunking to the control cabinet, or the customised surface coating, can be realised here cost-effectively.

“We carry out 100% inspections to make sure each trunking component assembly fits perfectly into the customer’s machine environment,” Paulus declares. The inspected trunking components are pre-assembled to create easy-to-handle assemblies that fit inside standard transport containers and boxes or onto pallets. In this way, PFLITSCH makes shipping the assemblies to the customer, as well as storing and organising them at the customer’s, as simple as possible. The component assemblies are delivered as scheduled – including comprehensive documentation. The complete shipment of all necessary parts also comprises the fastenings. “Since the components are numbered, assembling them was both simple and safe,” Brauhardt adds. The customer’s employees managed to keep track of around 100 metres of trunking in total plus several hundred individual components. One trunking installation measures a good 32 m x 13 m per production line.

Up to 20% cost saving

“Our component assembly service helps machine manufacturers achieve optimum, high-quality cable routing through their machines and plants every time,” Paulus comments proudly. “Experience on projects so far indicates that customers can expect throughput times for cable trunking to fall by more than half. The overall cost is reduced by up to 20%. At the same time, the installation result is better than if it’s done by hand.” Once planned, each component assembly can be reordered again at any time at a fixed price under one order number and modified easily in the event of changes to the customer’s system.