From engineering to marking
When assembling today's control cabinets and mechatronic systems, the marking of equipment, terminals, and conductors is an increasingly complex process.
If each component and conductor can be identified quickly and without confusion, start-up, operation, and maintenance becomes easier. High-quality, high-legibility labeling and a well-organized ID system are the hallmarks of system quality. Electrical engineering labels are increasingly more elaborate, indicating information about the plant, location, source/target, etc. A good marking system, for use in planning through to production, has three tiers: software, hardware, and label stock.
CAE systems provide the basis for all label data required for conductors, terminals, and equipment. No matter whether it's Eplan, Elcad, E3, Promise E, Ruplan, or AutoCAD electric, Phoenix Contact's "Clip Project advanced" labeling and planning software can import the identification data of all standard electrical engineering systems. When the data is imported, the most suitable label stock is suggested and sorted automatically.
If required, the user can also specify preferences, e.g., stock type.Manual input is no longer necessary, and any human error introduced by redundant input is prevented. Descriptive texts are available to help users assign the labeling items to plants and locations. The software automatically determines the size and number of characters for each label. With this system, the identification data that was entered during the planning/design stage applies all the way through to production. Excel or ASCII-formatted label data can also be imported, again with a mouse-click. The field data is positioned on the label stock via drag & drop, and a preview window displays the final format before the label is printed (see Fig. 1). The software enables pixel-accurate printing on thermal transfer printers, plotters, and Phoenix Contact's Bluemark X1 printer.
In today's industries, projects are increasingly worked on in multiple locations, often even in multiple countries. The software's Unicode capabilities address this, providing labeling in any required language. Label texts can even be printed in Chinese or Japanese. Even vector and pixel-based images can be positioned and printed without any problems. The technology behind the "Clip Project advanced" software is forward-compatible and designed to work with Microsoft's Vista operating system. Software updates are automatically issued via the Internet.
The specific demands placed on conductor, terminal and equipment labels often mean that different printers need to be used. Thermal transfer printers and plotters are frequently used for labels destined for production environments. Both the operating procedures and the stock vary for these, and the manual reloading of a plotter's cartridges can be time-consuming. If solvent-based inks are used, this may make the labels susceptible to environmental influences such as humidity and temperature; plotter pens, on the other hand, quickly dry up if used irregularly and if the plotter is situated in a low-humidity environment. Phoenix Contact's Bluemark X1 printer is a universal solution for industrial labeling requirements. Its main advantages are that it can print onto all types of labels, and that image files can be printed effortlessly at a mouse-click. The process reliability of the Bluemark X1 is almost completely unaffected by environmental conditions and ensures a consistently high print quality (see Fig. 2).
The demands placed on label stock are multifaceted. The stock should be fast and easy to process so that as little time as possible is spent on actual label production. Halogen and silicone-free stocks that comply with flammability class V2 (UL 94 regulation) will satisfy most industrial labeling demands. Phoenix Contact's "Universal Card" label strips are designed for marking conductors, terminals and equipment in a standardized format. In combination with the Bluemark X1 printer, these label strips will always produce a pixel-accurate label printout. Their standardized format furthermore simplifies labeling with existing plotter systems.
Phoenix Contact's "marking system" – ranging from the planning software to the printer to the label stock – integrates all the processes encountered in label creation into one smooth workflow. The engineering systems provide the identification data, while Phoenix Contact's "marking system" provides an integrated solution for the fast and uncomplicated production of terminal, conductor and equipment labels.
Georg Grunenberg, Phoenix Contact, marking systems product marketing ICT Division
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