The First Thing You Should Know about Phoenix Contact (but Probably Don’t)

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Think you know a lot about Phoenix Contact?  Maybe you do, or maybe you don’t. Here I would like to shed some light on the first thing you should know about Phoenix Contact.

The birth of Terminal Blocks

Phoenix Contact was founded in 1923 in Essen, Germany.

The world’s first modular terminal block was developed by Phoenix Contact in 1928.

The birth of the terminal block occurred while working with the Rhine-Westphalia Electricity Works (RWE). This led to the development of today’s align-able terminal blocks mounted onto din rails.

As terminal block innovation is the soul of our company, Phoenix Contact never fails our customers with new terminal block innovations until today.

Evolution of Phoenix Contact Terminal blocks

In the early 1950s, our company went into re-engineering and upgrading the RWE terminals. A new generation of Phoenix Terminal series was born, and this proved to be an all-time game changer for us.

1956 was the year that Feedthrough & Disconnect Terminal blocks were developed along with the pioneer of Clipline Complete.

Phoenix Contact never stops developing innovative ideas and solutions for the market.

From the 1970’s onwards, we once again relooked into developing the different connection methodologies for Terminal blocks.

In the year 1978, we developed the ST “Spring Push-in” technology into modular terminal blocks. We created the first modular terminal block with a direct plug-in spring connection, designed to offer installation engineers an easy and safe conductor connection method.

Nearing the late 1980’s, QTC fast connection terminal blocks were developed and added into the Clipline Complete range. This design of connection can save up to 60 percent of the time required for wiring, and it is no longer necessary to strip the wire protection.

2009 is the year we proudly introduced our new PT – Push-in terminal block in a new series with a new design: the integrated push button. PT terminal blocks not only increased the safety standards required; it also allows easy conductor removal with no special tools required.

As a pioneer in electrical connection technology, Phoenix Contact offers Clipline Complete – a comprehensive terminal block system with an extensive range of accessories for industrial control cabinet wiring.

In spite of our universal range of applications, there are regional limitations to consider where acceptance is concerned. With this in mind, Phoenix Contact has closely studied the requirements of current and potential customers in Southeast Asian markets.

In the year 2015, BT Barrier Terminal blocks were developed and integrated into our Clipline complete. This is where a cultural aspect comes into play – and not just in Japan but also across much of Asia, most particularly Southeast Asia: the importance of tradition, customs, and the approach to decision making.

With our ever growing Clipline Complete range of Terminal blocks, we have the different connection technologies available for each application and the answers to all your market requests.

There are many more things to find out about Phoenix Contact and if you are interested to know more, please feel free to contact us!

 

 

 

Safe and Reliable Power

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Upon mentioning PCB connection or PCB connectors, one of the first things that usually come to mind is an Electronics board for various applications. When electronics are involved, most manufacturers of connectors cater their designs to digital applications for modern devices such Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops, LED TVs, Set-Top Box and simple remote controllers.

For the above mentioned, design engineers, electronics designers, field application engineers, sales engineers and module designers often overlook the challenges or requirements needed for Industrial Electronics.

Most PCB or Industrial Control boards in Industrial Electronics are required to take-in high levels of in raw current, for the heavy duty tasks of operating motors, sensors and measuring equipment needed on modern devices.

New generation versions of Vision Inspection, Test System, Pick & Place, Bonding, Dicing, Conveyors and Ovens, utilizes loads that go up to 60A and 80A AC Voltage.

Typically, such high current capacity demands stringent safety features and equipment to be rigorously tested in high temperatures to ensure reliability and safety, in order to prevent catastrophic breakdowns of such systems.

From Phoenix Contact’s vast array of devices, Combicon Power is tried and tested to be the most suitable and reliable High Power Connector available in the market. Phoenix Contact’s Combicon Power are certified in UL, VDE and EAC, to ensure standards are in place giving customers ease of mind when adopting Combicon Power.

Combicon Power

Phoenix Contact’s MKDS 10, MKDSP 10HV, IPC 16, PC 16, PC 4, PC 5, HDFK and UW, were all adopted and used in two of the most notable Test and Management MNCs in Malaysia, in the Test and Measurement Systems produced by these MNC.

When your applications, products or modules are Power Hungry, and yet you need a safe, proven and reliable Power Connectors, Combicon Power is the answer to your needs and concerns.

Feel free to contact us via the form below to find out more!

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Remote Monitoring of Recloser in Rural Areas

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In the electric power distribution network, a recloser is a circuit breaker that can be closed automatically after it has opened due to an electrical fault. It is common to find reclosers in overhead transmission/distribution lines to clear commonly occurring electrical faults. Thus, a recloser is able to restore the power automatically to the line without human intervention.

Recloser

Recloser

The status of the reclosers is critical to utility companies. In large country like Vietnam, there are thousands of reclosers installed throughout the country, many of which are found in rural areas. Maintenance engineers have to travel hundreds of kilometres periodically to check the status of individual reclosers.

The utility company in Vietnam had rolled out a project to upgrade their control system to centralize the monitoring of the recloser in a common location so as to reduce manpower cost and time as well as to improve productivity and efficiency. We recognized that laying hundreds of kilometres of copper or fibre optics cables to gather all the information from the various installed reclosers will cost a lot of time and money. The best solution to this problem: wireless applications. There are several wireless solutions available in the industry; however, using mobile connection is the only solution due to the large territorial distances and areas. We decided to propose our new TC Router.

TC Router

TC Router

We presented and tested our TC Router with the system integrator highlighting the following points:

  1. Extended temperature range, -40 °C to +70 °C (Ensures reliable operation even in the most extreme temperatures)
  2. VPN connection and integrated firewall (Ensures secure connection)
  3. Fallback to 2G (Ensures reliable connection)

Our customer was very pleased with our solution and had gained approval from the end user. Subsequently, we were awarded with the first batch of orders for 100 units of TC Router. Beside the energy industry, our TC Router can also be implemented in other industries such as Process, Water and Waste Water treatment as well.

If you are interested in learning more about our TC Router, feel free to fill up the form below and we will get back to you!

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HCS Handheld Housing

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The housing for portable devices

HCS is one of the devices from Phoenix Contact’s housing series. The ergonomic and lightweight design is suited for mobile operations such as real-time measuring of data, inspection and scanning devices.

Membrane keypads and display screens can be easily integrated into the HCS housing for ease of operating. HCS comes in many shapes and sizes, so customers can choose a suitable design, depending on the intended function and PCS sizes.

Technical Information

Temperature range ( C) -20 to +80
Protection degree IP54
Material ABS
Flammability rating UL 94 – V0
HCS Handheld Housing Devices

Straight and graduated designs

Market applications

  • Logistics
  • Distribution
  • Process technology
  • Building automation

Advantages at a glance:

Perfect membrane keypad fit available

Easy integration of displays

Standard variants for different device interfaces

Interested to find out more? Contact us via the form below and we’ll be in touch!

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Cable Entry System – CES

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Have you ever left your earphones in your pocket and when you wanted to use them again, they emerge as a tangled ball of mess? Annoying, isn’t it?

Well, the wiring of current and conventional electrical panels brings about a similar problem. The above picture shows its set up and at a glance, three words pop up in my mind: Complex; Costly; Time-consuming.

So why is this so?

Firstly, in the current system, multiple holes of different sizes need to be drilled in accordance with the cable sizes. Imagine the hassle having to drill ten holes of different diameter just to see messy wires intertwined together.

Next, a common occurrence to such wiring systems is the need to add additional cables. If you are lucky, there will be enough space on the flange plate to drill the extra holes. However, if the space is insufficient, or if you need larger holes for new cables, you would most likely have to replace the entire electrical panel and redo the entire wiring system from scratch. Not only does this add on to the hassle, it also adds on to labour and cost.

Lastly, conventional wiring systems require more time to rectify problems in communication. This is due to the difficulty in identifying specific cables especially when they are bundled together. The troubleshooting process thus leads to longer downtime which means financial losses for the company.

The Solution

Phoenix Contact has thus come up with a solution to eliminate this problem. Our Cable Entry System (CES) comes with specific features to tackle the hassle of the conventional system.

Firstly, only one or two holes would have to be cut to enable installation of up to ten cables in the system, greatly reducing the set up time. Furthermore, the CES can cater to different cable diameters ranging from 2mm-24mm. All these can be easily installed by mounting the sleeves of varying sizes on to the robust metal reinforced frame.

Next, additional cables can be installed by removing the blind sleeves from the extra cable holes provided by the CES. In the event that the existing cable configuration has to be amended, the CES allows for easy reassembly just by replacing the sleeves with those of different cable diameters. This eliminates the trouble of cutting out new holes on the flange plate.

Lastly, the CES allows cables to be easily identified as the rectangular frame organizes the sleeves holding the cables in an orderly manner that is easy on the eyes.

Besides tackling the inconveniences of the conventional electrical panel wiring, the CES offers protection class of IP54, making it suitable for harsh environment conditions.

If your current electrical wiring system reminds you of your ball of tangled earphones, it‘s about time you switch to Phoenix Contact’s Cable Entry System. Our CES will be the solution to increasing your productivity and cost saving to your electrical panels wiring.

Interested to find out more? Contact us via the form below!

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System Cabling Solution for Process Industry

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One of the challenges which panel builders in the process industry face would be space saving on control cabinets. Many Process retrofitting jobs require panel builders to ensure the quantity of cabinets remain even though additional I/O’s are added. System cabling is one of the best solutions to save space in control cabinets.  One of our panel builders solved their problems by replacing terminal blocks with our VARIOFACE Interface Module for the project.

Problems:

  • Additional 150 I/O’s on current system
  • Additional Controller Module
  • Cabinet Quantities need to be remained

After going through the product technical information, panel builder engineers decided to replace most of the signals with our VIP Interface Module due to space constraints. There are a total of 115 units of VIP-3/SC/D37SUB/F installed in this project. Photos of the panel are shown below.

Control Cabinet

Fig 1: Control Cabinet

VIP Interface Board

Fig 2: VIP Interface Board

Features of Interface Module:

  • Compact design of control cabinet space
  • I/O marking for field wiring clearly identified
  • Flexible marking of modules
  • Metal mounting foot allows for easy installation and removal on din-rail
  • Allows flexible module mounting positions

In addition to the space saving advantage, the site engineer shared that it is also time saving and fault free during the wiring termination. When the panels are delivered, the end user saves valuable time when installing and troubleshooting

If you need any technical advice on your current project, feel free to contact us or drop us feedback below. I believe we can be your trusted partner to provide suitable solution to fit your application!

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LV Compartment for MV Switchgear

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Box by box towards Smart Grid 1: LV Compartment for MV Switchgear

The gradual shift towards the much vaunted Smart Grid structure has been gathering steam in the last few years. While much of the excitement has been generated from the immense potential of what a fully completed Smart Grid system can bring (for example, higher reliability at reduced cost), Grid operators, independent power producers and their team of engineers are facing real difficulties in implementing such systems today. It is easy to talk about wanting to implement technologically advanced systems, but when it comes to actually executing the projects to implement such solutions, the complexity surrounding such implementations comes to the fore.

Much of this complexity arises because of the vast variety of applications within the industry. It is particularly difficult to find the right set of products that are suitable for the application, reliable, fast to set up and easy to manage. For example in Transmission and Distribution substations, there will minimally be systems for transformers, shunt reactors, switchboards, intrusion detection monitoring systems and each of these systems can consist of smaller sub systems. For example, in monitoring a switchboard, we can monitor downstream load current for energy balancing; micro current fluctuations for signs of partial discharge or even for predictive maintenance; door contact monitoring for physical security and the list goes on. Each of these systems will require the right set of products and will have to be linked in this web of madness. Imagine the chaos!

At Phoenix Contact, we recognise this difficulty. While we have many solutions for Energy Industry that we are always sharing with the various stakeholders, in this series of blog articles, we will be examining how we help to simplify the implementation of Smart Grid. We will do so by examining the building blocks of a system – the individual panels which form up a system; and we will do so box by box. This first article will be about LV Compartment of MV Switchgear and we will delve straight into the 3 problems switchgear builders and grid operators are facing!

Problem 1: How do I collect signals from my switchgears and transform it into IEC61850?

The completed substation topology will involve decentralised controls where IEDs are placed at high voltage equipment (on transformers and switchgears) itself. Even when it is not completed, communications from the bay control cabinets and protection devices to the substation control system are being converted to IEC61850 as IEC61850 has proved to be a superior communication protocol and standard to reduce downtime and increase reliability of the grid. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before all switchgears are converting signals from the circuit breakers and all other auxiliary signals into IEC61850 data. However, examining the LV compartment of switchgears today, the signals are still being passed out with many copper wires or connected to numerical relays. These present two clear drawbacks:

  1. There are a lot of copper wires going out of the panel or into numerical relays. The associated cost includes requiring marshalling or pilot cabinets and related components and regular maintenance to check if the connections are good. In addition, it is difficult to isolate where the fault is when there is a loss of signal. In the worst case scenario, there might even be accidental shorting resulting in severe downtime!
  2. Numerical relay and its I/O cards are expensive.

These result in higher initial cost and higher eventual maintenance cost with downtime not necessarily minimized, especially in the event of loss of signal.

Using of a Bus coupler capable of communicating via GOOSE and MMS will solve both of these problems. Using Phoenix Contact bus coupler as an example, the signals can be easily inserted and aggregated as IEC61850 data. It certainly reduces the number of cables leaving the cabinet and with the light indicators, you can see clearly which connections are good without requiring extra tests. It is also of lower cost compared to numerical relays’ IOs while communicating perfectly with them.

Problem 2: There are too many wires, how can we manage them better?

Being the founder of the original ceramic terminal block, it is already tempting to say that Phoenix Contact is the best at solving this! But in the last few years, we have developed more data connectors to put us in a better position to solve this for switchgear builders!

We have an extremely wide range of terminal blocks for every applications and needs. We have demonstrated to be able to meet each and every customers’ unique demands, be it requiring pluggable solutions, fastest connection technology, space saving, you name it, we’ve done it!

In this article, we would just like to highlight how a commonly used connector for switchgears has developed to adapt to Smart Grid. In the past, our Heavycon (heavy duty connector) was often sold to connect the LCC and Bay cabinets. This enabled quick connection on site.

 

However, these connectors are usually for loose copper wires only. Although you can strip an Ethernet/serial connector to use such connectors, these connectors does not cater very well for the shielding required for data connector. Therefore, Phoenix Contact has developed a modular connector, allowing you to use your data connectors directly! This modular connector even allows you to have connectors which allow for high power!

Problem 3: With more signals being collected, there will be more testing to be done. How can we ensure we are safely doing the testing all the time!

Every so often, testing needs to be done on the current transformers and voltage transformers regularly. For current transformer especially, if not done right, explosions can happen. Currently, the shorting and breaking of circuits are done manually by hand (yes you read that right) and as you can imagine, explosions lead to death.

To solve this, Phoenix Contact has developed our test disconnect system (FAME) where shorting is done automatically and it is fool-proof!

 

Instead of using terminal blocks that are switched manually, you can replace it entirely with FAME and from then on, every testing procedure will be done how it is meant to be done: SAFELY.

We have assembled this product into a demo box along with other products that Phoenix Contact offers for LV Compartment for MV Switchgear. If you will like to have a look at the demo box up close, do contact us using the form below and we will get in touch!

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CUTFOX 10 Automated Cutting Device

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Are you still using cutters to manually cut wires? Of course it would be practical if the job scale is small, involving less than 480 pieces of wire of length 0.5m daily.

What happens when you have a bigger job, where you are required to cut more than 1000 pieces of wire of length 0.5m every day?

One possible solution would be to buy another cutter to fulfil this requirement.

However, in doing so, you have an increased the labour cost to that of 2 well-trained operators.

Also, this does not account for human errors as well as quality issues. Are humans capable of repeatedly cutting wires of fixed length with an acceptable precision? Are they capable of running non-stop without tiring, constantly producing an output of virtually identical wires for extended periods of time? All of this would lead to increased costs and wasted materials.

With that in mind, what could cut wires with a consistent precision and can operate for long durations on end without rest? The answer is simple – a machine. Introducing Phoenix Contact’s CutFox 10.

Compared to the same range of automatic wire cutting tools in the market, our CutFox 10 has 2 additional functions with regards to its Speed & Software:

  • SPEED – Maximum Throughput of wire is 8mm with 0.5m/s max. feed rate.
  • SOFTWARE – CUTSOFT allows the CUTFOX 10 to read Microsoft Excel files, which can be exported to the machine. You can create a table of data with records of cutting jobs, containing information on the number of wires and length desired. These data records are then processed sequentially by the CUTFOX 10.

The Cutfox 10 not only cuts your labour costs, it also removes the costly element of human error and fatigue. In doing so, quality output is assured. In addition, it is also safe to use, compared to a manual cutter in the hands of a tired and weary operator, minimizing the risk of an accident.

This piece of automation ensures Return of Investment (ROI) in less than 6 months of constant usage, in addition to solving your manpower, quality and safety issues. If you are sick of cutting many, many wires, then this device is perfect for you!

If you are interested to find out more about our automatic cutting and crimping tools, feel free to contact me via the form below!

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CT Testing with FAME

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Test disconnect terminal block might not be an alien term to you, especially if you are in the power industry and dealing with switchgears. This is the most common component you will see in a control relay panel, which allows you to do testing and short circuiting of current transformers. At Phoenix Contact, we incorporate different connection technology into our test disconnect terminal block series, namely the screw connection, spring cage connection and push-in connection. Of course, the changes to our test disconnect product series do not end there.

Figure 1: (From left to right) Screw connection, spring-cage connection and push-in connection

While test disconnect terminal blocks offer flexibility to the user, as well as the benefit of saving space because of its modular design, it still has a slight disadvantage when it comes to testing. During function testing of current transformers and voltage transducers, performing combine switching operations across several points is often a requirement, and thus there will be limitations when it comes to such situations when modular terminal blocks are used. With all the constraints and limitations that comes with using a modular test disconnect terminal block, it opens up greater possibilities for the product development team to explore creative designs to solve the problem while maintaining the benefits of the modular terminal block. With that, ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you FAMEFast And Modular Energy System, a solution specifically designed to cater to the need for performing complex switching operations, all at once.

Figure 2: FAME Plug and terminal strip

Figure 2: FAME Plug and terminal strip

If you find any of the above foreign to you, no worries! I have got you covered with quality posts by our product specialist. In this post, you will learn the fundamentals behind the make-before-break principle of a CT testing, as well as the reason for using test disconnect terminal blocks in such applications. Next, we look at FAME in detail from its basic operation to the difference between FAME 1, 2 and 3. These few posts will lay down the foundation for your understanding of the field of test disconnect systems.

While FAME is created for CT testing, and several versions of FAME have been developed for the different requirements of relay testing in different countries, we came to realize that there is room for other applications that FAME is able to offer. One specific example that best illustrates this is our recent product approval in Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Malaysia’s national grid operator. It all started with a product presentation of FAME 1 to the product approval committee members of the Protection Department of Transmission Division, with the purpose of having Phoenix Contact to be specified in as the test plug. However, things started to side track from our original plan when FAME 1 was proposed to be adopted as a secondary safety check in their Control Relay Panel. This is part of the initiative of TNB in the implementation of live maintenance. In this new add-on design, our FAME 1 will be sitting in between the first isolation (terminal block) and the trip coil.

Figure 3: Diagram of group isolation link in protection panel

This secondary isolation, also known as the group isolation link is used to isolate trip contact in a group.

  • It consists of two components, the power plug and the terminal strip.
  • During normal operation, the power plug is inserted into the terminal strip, forming a closed contact between the terminal block and the trip coil
  • When live maintenance is carried out, the power plug will be disconnected from the terminal strip, leaving an open contact.

 

Figure 4: (From left to right) Power Plug and Terminal Strip

This application in Malaysia is a good example and reference of how FAME can be adapted to serve different applications from its original design purpose. If you have a bright idea of how you can use FAME while reading this post, we welcome you to contact us using the form below. Who knows, your idea could be the next new application of our FAME!

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Back to Basics – basicline Series

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Phoenix Contact is well known for its terminal blocks and connectors. Phoenix Contact’s success was also partially attributed to its Back to Basics campaign, which aimed to drive the business to meet all market requirements.

One particular Back to Basics product series worth mentioning is the basicline series – great quality connectors and terminal blocks that are also cost competitive.

The basicline series had helped many Phoenix Contact customers to have reliable and robust connectors at affordable pricing. This enabled customers to produce devices that are both cost competitive and reliable.

Many customers that have faced challenges in producing cost competitive devices for building automation, door access, security etc. are satisfied with what basicline has to offer.

In addition, basicline has helped to solve problems arising from using Asian-branded connectors with lower quality and reliablity issues.

Below is an example of a basicline series product.

Advantages

  • Tin plated surface contact prevents rust overtime and provides consistent current rating
  • Non-frisky plastic housing and strong PA 66 provide robust and reliable usage
  • Strong price to performance ratio
  • Available in 3.50mm, 3.81mm, 5.00mm and 5.08mm pitch
  • Pluggable connectors and terminal block
  • Comes in green, black and grey. For other colours, kindly contact our salesperson
  • Optional marking and profiling
  • Available in 2 – 16 poles
  • Pluggable header available in horizontal and vertical positions

Interested to find out more? Contact me via the form below!

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