Case Study

German Machine Builder Uses Belden I/O Modules to Improve Factory Efficiency

When looking for appropriate I/O modules that included fieldbus and sensor connections for the development of a robot cell used in the textile industry, Erhardt + Abt decided in favor of the high-performance Belden products recommended by their trusted partner


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Erhardt + Abt is a Kuchen-based German machine builder who has manufactured integrated automation solutions for nearly 20 years for a wide range of industries. With its 75 employees, Erhardt + Abt is part of the HEITEC enterprise group, a system supplier for industrial solutions with a total of 19 German locations.


The HEITEC subsidiary promises consistent and uncompromising quality at the highest level when it comes to its manufacturing processes. Thus Erhardt + Abt uses only selected components which meet, if not exceed, these requirements.


For this, the southern German machine builder counts on the competent and professional support of the Belden preferred partner, a system supplier for the machine building sector which has specialized in the industry-specific sales of electro technical components and has successfully guided machine building companies through their development processes for more than ten years.


When looking for appropriate I/O modules that included fieldbus and sensor connections for the development of a robot cell used in the textile industry, Erhardt + Abt decided in favor of the high-performance Belden products also preferred by


The fully-automated robot cell was developed for Saxonia Textile Parts GmbH, who wanted to realize not only improvements in their efficiency but also enhanced flexibility with the new machinery. The longstanding customer and manufacturer of assembly parts for knitting machines required a completely new robot system that could be moved to any site of operation without modifications.


The integrated adept robot system was to be used for the quality testing of circuit boards manufactured in a previous production step, which required utmost precision and accuracy.


The Challenge


For these intelligent processes to operate smoothly, a large number of control signals are necessary. Erhardt + Abt had the following requirements on the signal transmission solution from Belden:

  • Quick installation and fast start-up of all components
  • Reliable signal acquisition and output with maximum availability
  • Robust modules resistant to dust and vibrations
  • Modules with galvanic isolation and high IP protection class rating
  • Use of standardized cabling
  • Complete and integrated solution from a single source


In order to be picked up, the circuit boards are forwarded to the robot by means of bulk good feeds and a subsequent separation. The system checks their thickness and removes excess material by means of an integrated pneumatic press.


Components which do not pass this examination will be sorted out. Circuit boards meeting the qualitative requirements will be laid down onto a total of six mandrels in order to be processed. After being completely equipped, the mandrels will be removed by an operator.


The Belden Solution


The manufacturing environment prevailing in the production halls of the end customer places high demands on the wiring and network products from Belden. Vibrations and dust are not uncommon in the textile industry. Because of the integrated press, metal chips are part of the daily burden the modules have to withstand.


In order to meet these challenging requirements, decided to recommend the ruggedized modules of the LioN-R series from Belden, with vibration- and short-circuit-proof M12 connectors as well as galvanic isolation.


The fully encapsulated zinc die-cast housing guarantees a high level of mechanical stability as well as functional reliability for a temperature range of -10°C to +60° C with a maximum current carrying capacity of 9 ampere per module.


To offer the customer a fully integrated solution from a single source, also provided Erhardt + Abt with standardized actuator/sensor connecting cables equipped with ready-to-use connectors on both sides as well as with 7/8” power supply lines and matching M12- data cables also molded on both sides.


Altogether Erhardt + Abt installed three Belden LioN-R I/O modules on its robot plant. All components of this integrated solution comply with the requirements of the IP67 protection class and therefore offer excellent protection against external strains like the penetration of dirt, dust or moisture.


When choosing the appropriate I/O solution, Erhardt + Abt decided in favor of signal transmission via PROFINET. With the LioN-R modules, signals from connected sensors and actuators of the robot systems are bundled before being sent to the controller via one PROFINET data line.


The real-time capable open communication protocol is based on Industrial Ethernet and is especially characterized by its detailed and significant diagnostic functions. Thus the machine builder not only provides the customer with comprehensive LED status and diagnostic indications but also with the possibility to retrieve detailed information regarding addressing and diagnostics for each I/O channel via a standard web browser. A webserver integrated into the module enables this functionality.


If it should come to a fault despite of these early protection measures, the fail-safe function guarantees a safe switch-off. However, the behavior of each channel in case of faults can be determined individually. In such cases, the integrated plug-and-play principle plays a major role. This functionality enables a fast and simple installation and provides for a fast start-up after the system has been restarted.


Belden is aware of the limited space available in the machine building sector. Because of this, only eight M12-ports are needed to place a total of 16 digital channels on just one module. Erhardt + Abt can decide how to use these channels – either as inputs, as outputs or as a combination of the two. An additional galvanic isolation between the inputs and outputs provides for interference-free signals. This enables not only a fast and reliable transmission but also reduces the amount of wiring needed. This in turn leads to a reduction of installation and maintenance costs for Saxonia Textile GmbH. 


Why Belden


Belden supplied Erhardt + Abt with an integrated and flexible solution giving consideration to the limited space available in the machine building sector. This enabled the machine builder to exceed the expectations of their customers regarding the quality as well as the availability of their machines.


Beyond that, Erhardt + Abt values the close and longstanding cooperation with, which the automation specialist experienced as very professional both on a technical and commercial as well as on a human scale.