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SmartWire Significantly Reduces Commissioning of New Production Line

Todd Huber
Posted by Todd Huber on Nov 30, 2020 2:10:59 PM

Airline’s customer, a manufacturer and supplier of water and gas meters, was embarking on a large-scale effort to upgrade their meter production and testing line. The new line was needed to facilitate the testing of every meter produced. The customer selected a Bosch Rexroth TS Plus palletizing conveyor with multiple transfer stations and interlinking connections to handle the conveyance of the gas meters. Having a well-established relationship with Bosch Rexroth and the customer, Airline was asked to help provide a control system to meet the project’s requirements.

Application Challenges

Accommodating an expedited delivery and commissioning schedule for the new line was the most critical factor associated with the project. The elaborate conveyor system was an electric motor and drives intensive, which was likely to impact the ability to meet the aggressive delivery schedule if conventional control and device wiring methods were used. The customer wanted to control the cost of the project and stay within budget, preferring to perform most of the work in-house. They needed every advantage to reduce manpower and labor hours, due to a limited supply of both. A control system enabling the customer to use their PLC product of choice was another project mandate.

Airline's Solution

After a thorough review of the project specifications and several additional meetings to completely understand the customer’s desires and critical needs, Airline proposed a control and wiring system based upon the Eaton SmartWire-DT platform. SmartWire-DT is an innovative machine-wiring solution for lean automation projects that significantly reduces wiring complexities by consolidating control circuit wiring into a single cable. The use of Eaton SmartWire-DT allowed Airline to not just meet, but to exceed the project delivery requirements since it eliminated the mundane and labor-intensive tasks— cutting wires to length, stripping insulation, applying markers, and ferruling ends—associated with a conventional hardwired control system. This resulted in a significant reduction in labor hours and a completed control panel in half the time, which translated into a much lower-cost solution for the customer. Improperly wired connections and aggravating troubleshooting efforts to identify “offending” connections were not an issue with the use of the SmartWire-DT system, expediting the control system debugging, testing, and commissioning processes. The customer realized additional savings because Eaton SmartWire-DT reduced or eliminated the need for wiring, wire duct, raceways, harnesses, terminal blocks, and din rail. The result was a highly efficient and compact control panel design. The customer was able to enjoy the many benefits of the SmartWire-DT lean automation platform and stay within their programming comfort zone by using an Allen Bradley PLC with an Ethernet/IP network to orchestrate the overall conveyor system control. Eaton’s SmartWire-DT system was perfect for this application since it integrates seamlessly with all major PLC product lines and industry standard networks and fieldbus protocols. Airline also utilized SmartWire-DT’s SWD-Assist configuration software to create a custom EDS file for the customer to use in their PLC program software, eliminating the need for them to manually create I/O tables.

The Outcome

The customer was extremely satisfied with the new production/testing line. The conveyor system was operational within the aggressive time frame required by the customer at the onset of the project. Production has increased significantly and every meter coming off the production line is now fully tested. The customer appreciated Airline’s decision to use Eaton SmartWire-DT, which proved to be a very cost-effective solution. Although the SmartWire-DT system connected approximately eighty devices on the control loop, the amount of time required for system design, engineering, assembly, testing, and commissioning was reduced by more than fifty percent. The control system was greatly simplified and the customer found the SmartWire-DT system to be quick and easy to incorporate into his PLC program. The customer’s addition of several devices to the system in the field was nearly effortless, and the system has been extremely reliable and easy to maintain.

A Continuing Partnership

Airline gained the customer’s confidence in being the right partner for the project and was entrusted to specify and supply the required components. Included in the system design were Eaton DE1 series variable frequency drives, Eaton XT combination motor controllers, SMC pneumatic SY Series valve manifold assemblies with EX600 Ethernet/IP fieldbus modules, Omron proximity sensors, Rittal TS8 enclosures and Phoenix Contact cord sets.

Eaton SmartWire-DT Advantages:

  • Cuts design time: Engineering and design personnel no longer need to create elaborate, tedious wiring schematics and diagrams, reducing the hours and expense attributed to engineering and design activities.
  • Quick & easy wiring: Expedites the entire control panel wiring and assembly process, requiring far fewer labor hours when compared to conventional hardwiring efforts.
  • Error-free installation: Improper wiring connections are completely eliminated resulting in a significant reduction in the time required to debug, test, and commission the system.
  • Modifiable & extensible: Easily accommodates last-minute changes to the control system or additions to the system after commissioning.
  • Seamless integration: Works with all major PLC product lines and communication protocols.
  • Reduces panel complexity: Fewer wire-related components and accessories are needed, requiring less panel space, and resulting in a smaller, less-expensive control enclosure. These savings become more significant for applications requiring a stainless steel enclosure.


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Topics: Application/Success Stories, Electrical, Eaton

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