Eplan, Rittal and Phoenix Contact: Standards set for industrialising panel building

The starting gun was sounded five years ago: Eplan, Rittal and Phoenix Contact founded a technology cooperation for panel building and switchgear manufacturing – “Smart Engineering and Production 4.0”. Its goal was the integrated digitisation of engineering and production processes. Today, this vision has become tried and tested solutions that open a path to industrialisation for companies. These solutions are used day after day and ensure an efficient value creation process, underscoring one thing that runs through engineering to manufacturing to sales and service: absolute, end-to-end data continuity based on a single source of truth.

The goals were ambitious when Eplan, Rittal and Phoenix Contact joined forces to form a technology networked called “Smart Engineering and Production 4.0” in 2015. The objective: to explore end-to-end digitisation in panel building and switchgear manufacturing. It was about ideas, trends and visions for the future. Today – five years later – the ideas from Smart Engineering and Production 4.0 have been transformed into concrete product innovations. Configurators, engineering platforms, automation solutions for manufacturing, and digital assistance systems work as a network. Data are used from the start to the finish, from engineering to manufacturing through to operations and even service.

The bottom line is that the systems interact perfectly! Device data has been standardised and is available continuously in engineering, in materials management and in the manufacturing processes for panel building and switchgear manufacturing and makes an end-to-end contribution to completely digitised processes based on a single source of truth.

Helping Shape the Data

Eplan, Rittal and Phoenix Contact all threw their support behind further developing standards, including ECLASS for the digital description of devices and device data. ECLASS has become established meanwhile, and in combination with AutomationML makes an important contribution to providing data across all systems in engineering, configuration and manufacturing. As Eplan CEO Sebastian Seitz sees it, the entire panel building and switchgear manufacturing sector benefits: “Automation and digitisation of panel building and switchgear manufacturing can now be achieved. The basic prerequisites for it were standardised, quality device data and interface standards, which we successfully developed.”

Panel Building Gets Industrialised

Engineering data from an integrated, virtual product description flow into the manufacturing process via standardised data exchange formats such as AutomationML. Rittal Managing Director Research and Development Dr Thomas Steffen explains: “As a result, conventional automation technology such as drilling and milling centres and wire assembly machines can be integrated into the digitally supported production processes for panel building and switchgear manufacturing.”

Summing up the joint work, Phoenix Contact CTO Roland Bent says: “We have transformed our ideas into specific products to support highly automated manufacturing, including mass customisation. We looked at the entire process and always kept an eye on the big picture: digitised product development in panel building and switchgear manufacturing that paves the way for industrialising the field.”

More information about the technology cooperation “Smart Engineering and Production – Efficiency in Control Cabinet Engineering” is available at: www.smartengineeringandproduction.com


Rittal, headquartered in Herborn, Germany, is a leading global provider of solutions for industrial enclosures, power distribution, climate control and IT infrastructure, as well as software and services. Systems made by Rittal are deployed in over 90 per cent of all industries across the world, including machine building and plant engineering, food and beverages, and IT and telecommunications.

The international market leader’s product portfolio includes configurable enclosures, with data available across the entire production process. Smart Rittal cooling systems, with up to 75 per cent lower power consumption and a great carbon dioxide advantage can communicate with the production landscape, enabling predictive maintenance and servicing. The offering also includes innovative IT products, from IT racks and modular data centres, to edge and hyperscale computing solutions.

Leading software providers Eplan and Cideon support the value chain, providing interdisciplinary engineering solutions, while Rittal Automation Systems offers solutions for switchgear. Within Germany, Rittal can supply products on demand within 24 hours – with precision, flexibility and efficiency.

Founded in 1961, Rittal is the largest company in the owner-operated Friedhelm Loh Group. The Friedhelm Loh Group is active worldwide, with 12 production sites and 96 international subsidiaries. It has approximately 12,100 employees and posted revenues of €2.6 billion in fiscal 2019. In 2020, the family-run business was named one of Germany’s leading employers by the Top Employers Institute, for the twelfth year running. Within the scope of a Germany-wide survey, Focus Money magazine identified the Friedhelm Loh Group as one of the nation’s best providers of vocational training for the fifth time in 2020.

For more information, visit www.rittal.com and www.friedhelm-loh-group.com.

Phoenix Contact

Phoenix Contact is a worldwide market leader for components, systems, and solutions in the fields of electrical engineering, electronics, and automation. Today, the family-owned company employs around 17,600 people worldwide, and had a turnover of € 2.48 billion in 2019. The company manufactures products with a high level of production depth in 11 countries throughout the world The company headquarters are in Blomberg, Germany. The Phoenix Contact Group is made up of 18 German and four international companies, as well as sales subsidiaries throughout the world. Internationally, Phoenix Contact is represented in more than 100 countries.

Phoenix Contact supports the digital transformation with products, systems, and solutions. Thanks to the experience gained from in-house machine building, the company is familiar with the requirements of digitalization and continuous data flow, from engineering, through production, all the way to installation and maintenance, throughout the entire product life cycle.

Product innovations and specific solutions for individual customer requirements are created in the development facilities at our sites in Germany, China, and the USA. Numerous patents emphasize the fact that many developments from Phoenix Contact are unique. Working closely with universities and scientific institutes, technologies of the future such as e-mobility and digitalization are researched and transformed into marketable products, systems, and solutions.

More information: www.phoenixcontact.com

Über die EPLAN Software & Service GmbH & Co. KG

EPLAN provides software and service solutions in the fields of electrical, automation and mechatronic engineering. The company develops one of the world’s leading design software solutions for machine and panel builders. EPLAN is also the ideal partner to streamline challenging engineering processes.

Both standardised as well as customised interfaces to ERP and PLM/PDM systems ensure data consistency along the whole value chain. Working with EPLAN means boundless communication across all engineering disciplines. No matter whether small or large enterprises: Customers can apply their expertise more efficiently. EPLAN wants to grow further with customers and partners and pushes integration and automation in engineering forward. Worldwide, EPLAN supports over 58,000 customers. "Efficient engineering" is the focus.

EPLAN was founded in 1984 and is part of the owner-operated Friedhelm Loh Group. The Friedhelm Loh Group operates worldwide with 12 production sites and 96 international subsidiaries. The entire group employs 12.100 people and generated revenues of around €2,6 billion in 2019. For the twelfth time in succession, the family business has won the accolade "Top German Employer" in 2020. In addition Friedhelm Loh Group was recognized as "Top vocational trainer" according to a study of Deutschland Test and Focus Money.

For more information visit:
www.eplan.de and www.friedhelm-loh-group.com

Firmenkontakt und Herausgeber der Meldung:

EPLAN Software & Service GmbH & Co. KG
An der alten Ziegelei 2
40789 Monheim
Telefon: +49 (2173) 3964-0
Telefax: +49 (2173) 3964-25

Dr Carola Hilbrand
Rittal GmbH & Co. KG
Telefon: +49 (2772) 505-2527
E-Mail: hilbrand.c@rittal.de
Angela Josephs
Phoenix Contact GmbH & Co KG
Telefon: +49 (5235) 341512
E-Mail: ajosephs@phoenixcontact.com
Birgit Hagelschuer
Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Telefon: +49 (2173) 3964-180
Fax: +49 (2173) 3964-163
E-Mail: hagelschuer.b@eplan.de
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