Industrial power supplies have always had to fulfil certain basic requirements, such as high energy efficiency and durability. These are the areas in which devices developed for industrial use particularly excel. With levels of efficiency above 95%, they are gradually approaching the limits of what is physically achievable and there are now new challenges. In the modern era of Industry 4.0 systems and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), all the components of a production environment are connected via a digital infrastructure. The strict master/slave architecture of the last wave of automation is giving way to a fully-fledged intelligent organisation. This means, of course, that all integrated components need to be 'smart', including the power supplies working in the background. This is why Weidmüller has developed a system comprising a power supply, electronic circuit breakers and a communication interface that can be adapted to any application. The system is based on the PROtop series of power supplies.

PROtop power supplies for digitisation

PROtop power supplies provide power, energy efficiency and communication capabilities in equal measure. Higher efficiency levels of up to 95.3% – depending on the version – enable around 50 kWh per day to be saved in a medium-sized production plant using approximately 100 960W PROtop power supplies in a three-shift operation. This amounts to over 15,000 kWh a year. With MTBF values ​​of over one million hours, they also offer a high level of operational reliability. They also take up 30% less space and so provide higher functional density in the control cabinet. However, there are many other features that make them ideal for the most demanding applications.

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DCL technology ensures peak load reserves

An efficient power supply needs to have high pulse energy reserves to enable powerful motor starts, for example. With their cutting-edge DCL (Dynamic Current Limiting) technology, PROtop power supplies are able to guarantee this. This is important in materials handling applications, which often employ 24 V DC motors. The power supply provides the reserves needed to start a motor under load. The high dynamic range of PROtop devices also ensures the reliable triggering of circuit breakers. Conventional switched-mode power supplies inherently limit the output current which means that protective elements may not necessarily react in the event of a short circuit. A fault can thus remain undetected and possibly result in damage. With power reserves of 600% for 15 ms, PROtop power supplies are able to safely trigger each circuit breaker.

Easy to implement redundant solution

Especially critical applications often have a redundant power supply. But short circuits can also occur in the power supply itself. Conventional redundancy concepts provide redundancy or diode modules, which decouple the power supply units in the event of a fault. These separate components, however, result in additional installation and space requirements. PROtop power supplies have an integrated decoupling module based on an ORing MOSFET. This allows the power supplies to work in parallel without additional protective measures. System costs are thus reduced, and more than 30% space can be saved in the control cabinet.

Communication: key technology for Industry 4.0

In industrial IoT, all the components of a production environment are interconnected via a digital infrastructure and must therefore be capable of communicating with each other – the power supplies included. Weidmüller's PROtop devices feature the topGUARD load monitoring system and a plug-in communication interface. topGUARD is a modular electronic load output system comprising a feed-in module and several connected output modules. The output modules are available with both fixed and freely adjustable fuse ratings up to 12 A per module. In the event of an overload or a short circuit, topGUARD will shut down the affected channel. The highlight of the system is the communication module, which can be used to retrofit both the PROtop power supply as well as the topGUARD load monitoring system. The standardised IO-Link technology (IEC 61131-9) allows users to transmit data while also ensuring data transparency and providing remote-controlled operation of the topGUARD load monitoring. The communication module, for example, allows each module to be monitored for voltage and current output, as well as switching the individual channels on and off and resetting them in the event of a fault.

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Transparency in the power supply

This intelligent networking between machine, control cabinet and IT system opens up completely new control, monitoring and analysis solutions. With its communication-enabled load monitoring system topGUARD, Weidmüller is giving machine and system operators the ability to develop new services for diagnosing and optimising their processes for the first time. Simply put, the system generates added value from machine data. The power supply or load monitoring system can be controlled remotely and integrated into the condition monitoring system, thereby reducing power consumption and the planning of maintenance work. This significantly increases the functional reliability and profitability of a wide range of systems – such as food and packaging systems in 24/7 operation as well as hard-to-reach offshore wind farms.

From the power supply to the smart grid

The infrastructure of the modern equipment field is made up of intelligent networks for data, power and sometimes materials. To provide reliable protection against dirt or moisture in the field, components such as PROtop or topGUARD can simply be integrated into a robust IP65 housing. This makes it possible to implement supply systems in line, ring or even grid structures, including fused load output circuits, and to monitor them via fieldbus connections. It goes without saying that Weidmüller also offers more cost-effective power supplies, which do not have the communication capabilities, but otherwise fully meet the typical requirements for industrial use. With many other components available, such as uninterruptible power supplies or capacity modules, exactly the right DC supply can be implemented for each application. Weidmüller is thus able to offer the most suitable power supply for every application from a single source.

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