Tuesday 24 May 2011

Eliminate control cabinets!

Festo’s new CAFC protective valve terminal hood provides a highly cost-effective and elegant alternative to large and cumbersome control cabinets.
Festo has dramatically reduced the cost of installing its valve terminals by launching a protective hood that can eliminate the need for a control cabinet in many applications. The new CAFC hood fits directly over the valve terminal and occupies minimal space, making it a highly cost-effective and elegant alternative to unnecessarily large and cumbersome cabinets.

Most automation designers currently elect to house the system’s valve terminal and constituent control modules in some form of protective cabinet. However, conventional cabinets often take up far more space than is actually required by their functional content. By creating a small, self-contained protective hood for its valve terminals, Festo has overcome this problem. Fabricated from low cost aluminium and designed for minimal material usage, the hood can help system installers and machine builders save up to 50% of the space and 70% of the cost of a standard control cabinet.

The CAFC hood is suitable for use with any Festo valve terminal, including the company’s highly popular CPX multifunctional automation platform. It provides a high degree of protection against the ingress of contaminants such as dust, water droplets, foreign particles, etc, as well as guarding against impact damage and helping to prevent anyone tampering with connections or settings. Typical applications include assembly and packaging machines, and process control systems.

The hood is also ideal for automation designers seeking compliance with European ATEX directives stipulating that some form of protective cabinet must be used for switchgear and controllers located in potentially explosive work environments. The CAFC is suitable for use in ATEX Zone 2 and Zone 22 environments, which are defined as areas where combustible gas, vapours or dust are not normally present in the air, but if they do occur they might, for a short period, form a potentially explosive atmosphere.

The CAFC comprises a hinged aluminium cover running the full length of the valve terminal, with retaining clips at either end of its bottom edge which accept socket-head securing screws. In its open state, the hood offers completely unrestricted access to the valve terminal’s electrical and pneumatic connections. Once closed, it has a visually unobtrusive appearance, with all pneumatic and electrical connections exiting neatly from a slot on the lower edge of the unit.

A further advantage of dispensing with a control cabinet is that the valve terminal can be located very close to the process or machine that it is controlling, reducing tubing and cable lengths, improving the response time of pneumatic actuators and helping to minimise compressed air consumption.

The hood is available with a numerous choice of lengths, to suit the customer’s particular valve terminal configuration. When ordered at the same time as a CPX valve terminal, Festo will ensure that the appropriate size of hood is shipped. Festo can also supply any configuration of CPX valve terminal and its associated hood as a complete ready-to-install solution, comprising both units pre-assembled on a backing plate.

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