Author: CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne

Five reasons why electromechanical cylinders are shaping and helping to improve automation.

Author: Sebastian Unsleber, Senior Manager Product Management System Assembly, Bosch Rexroth AG

It is hard to imagine production without electromechanical cylinders (EMCs). They position, swivel, lift, press, join, punch, crimp and rivet things. And they do all of this in a particular energy efficient manner as they convert the motor torque directly into movement.

1. A tool for electrification and standardization

Less complex solutions mean lower overall costs. With this in mind, electromechanical cylinders EMC make a significant contribution towards standardization and electrification. Thanks to continuous further developments, the fields of application now include pneumatic and fluid-driven solutions. The cylinders come in ten different sizes from 32 to 160 and can be used in a range of areas from semiconductor production and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to battery manufacturing applications.

Electromechanical cylinders
Insight into electromechanical cylinders

2. Better performance in each power class

Regardless of how the actuator is used: Power and economy must be right. As the key to efficiency, all standard EMCs have a ball screw assembly in the selected force range from 0.1 to 30 kN. Designed for heavy-duty applications, the “high power” EMC-HP variant uses Bosch Rexroth’s proven PLSA planetary screw assembly, which allows high continuous performance with speeds of up to 0.83 m/s and forces of up to 100 kN, even in harsh environmental conditions.

3. Long service life without relubrication

Maintenance means downtimes and these need to be avoided. The standard EMCs are therefore fitted with a ball circulation screw which ensures long lubrication intervals even with high load capacities. Standard EMCs achieve up to 200 million revolutions with the basic factory lubrication. The balls in the screw drive cover a distance of around 12,800 kilometers on the screw – roughly the same distance as Germany to Hawaii.

And it gets better: With the “Lubricated For Life” option, the nominal service life is increased to up to 15,000 kilometers. If relubrication is included, this equates to a distance of over 50,000 kilometers. This means optimum conditions for minimizing not only operating costs but also damage to the environment. After all, the longer the lubrication interval, the more resources the solution saves.

Electromechanical cylinders: lubricated for life
Selector for electromechanical cylinders

4. An individual actuator in just a few minutes

If all variants are added up, the product portfolio for Linear Technology includes around 3,000 cylinder configurations. Thanks to the intuitively designed EMC Selector, selecting the right product from the huge range on offer is very easy and engineering projects that used to take hours now take just a few minutes.

With the help of the EMC Selector, the complete process can be shown on a single HTML page: From selection to ordering including design and functionality. As soon as the first few details are entered, the selector recommends suitable products that are updated on an ongoing basis. If one of them is clicked on, the technical specifications and a configuration overview are shown immediately. A real-time result visualizes the current project status along with a live 3D model using the real CAD data.

5. Smart subsystems for automation

Time is money. Because this also applies when preparing for production, EMCs that are configured and supplied together with a motor parameterize themselves automatically. The data for the drive controller which are stored for this purpose in the motor data memory are loaded immediately after connection.

The Smart Function Kits for pressing and joining applications which expand an EMC or EMC-HP into a flexible subsystem delivered ready for use represent another step towards the Factory of the Future.

Smart Function Kit for pressing and joining applications

Conclusion: The right solution for all requirements

Due to their simplistic design, electromechanical cylinders have a lot to offer the Factory of the Future. They allow greater standardization, finely regulated processes and, last but not least, energy-efficient, resource-saving operation.

New digital engineering tools and convenient selectors make selection even easier, while ongoing improvements to the service life reduce the overall costs. Intelligent subsystems based on EMC point the way towards the factory of the future and further strengthen the advantages for automation.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

What is “smart mechatronics” and how can it support fastener manufacturing?


Brad Klippstein, Product Management – Mechatronics Bosch Rexroth

Assembly operations that use handling, joining, and pressing tools for a range of production applications — including fastener manufacturing — continually seek to improve the versatility, ease of use, production time, and quality of such operations.

In today’s digital world, this means adding smarter, Industry 4.0 capabilities to production platforms. For efficiency, this must entail data tracking of a machine’s production and performance with real-time sharing capabilities.

As manufacturers begin to incorporate the benefits of Industry 4.0 technology, a new concept called “smart mechatronics” has evolved, offering more intelligence and functionality in handling and joining. Mechatronic systems are devices that have fully integrated mechanical and electrical components, thanks to the combination of sensors, circuits, and motion-control applications.

In some ways, mechatronic systems could be considered a forerunner of Industry 4.0 technology. They combine disparate mechanical and electronic components into solutions for specific product assembly and transport tasks, such as Cartesian robots (capable of moving in multiple linear directions) and forming and crimping tools.

Meeting industry needs at one time, mechatronic solutions were integrated with components from multiple suppliers. That’s no longer the case. Mechatronics suppliers are replacing that time-consuming acquisition and integration step with complete solutions that are “plug and produce.” This includes the software necessary, which is preprogrammed and delivered as a single production tool. Manufacturers should know that all of the components for a complete mechatronic solution — a Cartesian robot or a pressing or joining tool — can now be specified.

Assembly operations are shifting away from individual products toward complete system kits for manufacturing equipment that produces fast solutions for handling, joining, and pressing tools — along with real-time data.

Users can enter parameters such as stroke, workpiece weight, and cycle time, which generates an output that can be verified in the CAD environment.

It’s clear end users require precise control and execution of motion sequences, but also automated tracking of production data and easy connectivity with machine-level and plantwide production management systems.

Additionally, there’s a demand for easier and faster changeovers. Many production lines or mid-sized shops seek tools that make it easier to produce a range of batch sizes — from the low end of only a few thousand parts up to hundreds of thousands — without extensive effort to reprogram tools for a new part.

The price point also matters. End users require cost-effective measures that meet budgets and readily support manufacturing orders. Kitted solutions that provide flexibility in a space-saving envelope with minimal integration time are highly desired.

Easier, faster commissioning is one significant advance provided by newer, smarter mechatronic systems and the technology that supports them. Equally valuable are the improved efficiency, flexibility, and productivity it provides end users looking for easy-to-automate solutions.

For those wanting to integrate mechatronics and update production lines, consider systems that:

  • Combine all the hardware and software into a single solution to support a broader range of applications, including pressing and joining, logistics, packaging, pick-and-place, palletizing, assembly operations, and more
  • Feature an easy-to-use graphical user interface that lets operators build production sequences simply and intuitively
  • Require no special motion-control or programming skills
  • Monitor systematic data such as position, velocity, and acceleration
  • Include kitted solutions that offer simple integration, flexibility, and tracking options, providing users with the ability to set conditions for automated quality control
  • Provide real-time updates and recordings as requested
  • Offer a multi-axis system that can interface with individual peripheral tools such as gripping devices, nozzles, and actuators

Times are changing, and so are industry requirements and processes. To keep up, fastener manufacturers are wise to digitalize their operations with Industry 4.0 technology.

Smart mechatronics solutions leverage easy to-use tools, such as drag and-drop functionality and simple programming. Bosch Rexroth’s Smart MechatroniX system for pressing and joining applications is one example that demonstrates this intuitive model.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

What Design Features to Look for in a Standard Modular Enclosure

May 8 2023 by Rittal North America LLC

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) identified the need to create growth and expand facilities as one of the top trends for manufacturers in 2023. However, the ability to create long-term, sustainable growth hinges on the efficiency and adaptability of your automation infrastructure.

When it comes to large enclosures, the choice usually comes down to unibody construction versus a more modular approach. Designing around standard modular enclosures has a much higher ceiling in terms of unlocking new growth opportunities, in part because a more modular approach to enclosure design can help manufacturers maximize production floor space while still maintaining high levels of strength and security — particularly in the automotive or material handling space. 

The challenge with spec’ing modular enclosures? Understanding which design and engineering components can help manufacturers build an automation system that is more versatile and agile. Here, let’s examine which design features to look for in choosing standard modular enclosures for your manufacturing facility. 

Flexible — and simple — enclosure configurations

One of the hallmark design features of standard modular enclosures is configuration flexibility to help manufacturers reduce their automation footprint or adapt to space constraints on the factory floor. Design elements such as interchangeable panels, removable and reversible doors, variable mounting plate positions, and compatibility with wall partitions inside the enclosure make it easy to customize or tailor individual enclosures based on any number of application needs. 

What’s more, innovative modular frame structures create both inner and outer mounting levels inside the cabinet, which allows for more electronics within the enclosure. Plus, modular enclosures also create increased opportunities for baying on all sides in just minutes using a simple parts list of brackets, clamps, and other standardized tools. This allows for integration into spaces with size limitations, and it also provides a variety of connection configurations that make for easy cabinet wiring regardless of the application.

Faster, more efficient configurations and simplified installations also help optimize efficiency by streamlining tedious, time-wasting manual processes that once required high degrees of human intervention. Standard modular enclosures like Rittal’s TS 8 can also be configured without the need for specialized tooling, which helps reduce operational costs and maximizes production uptime. 

Strength and protection in uncontrolled manufacturing environments

One of the more pervasive myths about standard modular enclosures is that they lack the strength and security of more traditional unibody enclosures. The truth, however, is that modular enclosures are just as strong and durable even in the harshest manufacturing environments, and the modular design principle actually enhances the capacity to protect interior components. 

For example, the ease of plinth assembly and installation and simplified floor mounting process makes standard modular enclosures ideal for harsh, uncontrolled manufacturing environments. Additionally, a carbon steel base and enclosure frame and zinc-plated carbon steel mounting panels allow for superior rigidity and support. This frame-based design also provides 30% more stability with 15% less frame weight without sacrificing protection or reliability.

In terms of increased strength and security, Rittal’s line of standard modular enclosures are NEMA 4 and IP 66 rated to provide superior protection against the intrusion of potentially damaging particles, and four-point latches and seals prevent the entry of corrosive materials that could increase maintenance intervals and reduce the service life of the enclosure.

Our modular approach to enclosure design can also help protect your automation infrastructure by reducing the likelihood of electrical fault or arc flash. Rittal’s TS 8 flange mount disconnect enclosure utilizes mechanical interlocking doors to prevent entry while the enclosure is energized. In addition, the TS 8 flange mount disconnect modular enclosure can house adapter plates for high or low amperage disconnect handles to help reduce the risk of arc flash events.

Compatibility with the digital transformation in modern manufacturing

The variety of design configurations with standard modular enclosures means automation designers and engineers need the utmost visibility into each step of the engineering process. Such high levels of transparency are only achievable via a complete digital transformation of this process, and this is where combining modular enclosure systems with digital CAE platforms can help automation architects design smarter and better.  

For example, Rittal’s TS 8 standard modular enclosure is compatible with Eplan’s suite of design solutions to help engineers streamline workflows for installing electrical controls and panel assembly and wiring. 

In addition, pairing Rittal’s standard modular enclosures with Eplan’s powerful design platforms can help manufacturers overcome a variety of challenges in modern manufacturing, including: 

  • Increasing pricing pressures to be able to provide the right product at the right time within the right budget, especially as competition breeds a race to the bottom line
  • Skilled labor shortages that can result in increases in scrapped materials and revisions/alterations
  • Delivery pressures due to the rapidly changing and real-time demands to which manufacturers must respond 
  • Inefficient workflows via antiquated data capture, storage, and communication systems

Plus, the increased visibility and insight into your panel assembly and wiring processes also helps create a more connected ecosystem, and this is important in helping manufacturers better identify areas to increase their overall efficiency and productivity.

Curious about the other design features that make standard modular enclosures the ideal solution for manufacturers who are looking to grow and expand? Download our interactive modular enclosures guide to learn more. 

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Rittal distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

4 Reasons Why Machine Builders Use IO-Link

Corey Shepherd, CMAFH Brain Products Team

So, why might a machine builder use IO-Link? Here are a few reasons:

1.      Flexibility

IO-Link provides a flexible and easy-to-use interface that allows for the seamless integration of sensors and actuators from different manufacturers. This makes it easier to customize and upgrade automation systems as needed.

Machine builders can use IO-Link to connect a wide range of sensors and actuators, such as pressure sensors, temperature sensors, flow meters, solenoid valves, and even motors.

2.      Cost savings

IO-Link can help reduce installation and maintenance costs by simplifying wiring and reducing the need for specialized cabling.

With IO-Link, machine builders can use standard unshielded three-conductor cables for all connections, reducing the number of cables required and simplifying the wiring process. Instead of individually wiring devices back to a terminal strip or IO modules, IO Link allows machine builders to land devices to IP67 or IP69K machine mount M12 IO Link masters or hubs.  

3.      Increased functionality

Additionally, IO-Link sensors and actuators can provide diagnostic information that can help reduce downtime and increase overall system efficiency.

IO-Link can provide advanced features such as parameterization, identification, and diagnostic capabilities. With parameterization, machine builders can configure and adjust sensor and actuator settings, such as sensing range and output type, to meet specific application requirements. Identification enables automatic identification and configuration of IO-Link devices when they are connected to the system. And with diagnostic capabilities, machine builders can monitor and diagnose issues with sensors and actuators in real-time, helping to reduce downtime and increase system efficiency.

4.      Simplifying Safety

It is also possible to integrate safety devices with a PLE/SIL 3 rating in to your IO Link system if the correct hardware is used. Safety IO Link enables communication between safety devices, such as light curtains, E-Stop buttons, safety door switches, and a safety PLC.

Safety IO Link allows for more effective monitoring and control in industrial applications because each safety device can communicate its status and diagnostic information to the safety controller. This allows for simple and quick identification of safety fault issues. This is all accomplished with quick M12 connections between safety devices and a Safety IO Link module.

About Us

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is a leader in the IO Link space by helping customers with full machine layouts using Balluff IO Link Masters, hubs, and devices. We would love an opportunity to show you how we can help optimize the right IO Link system for your machine!

Corey Shepherd.
CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne Brain Products Team

Contact me at:
Office: 630-563-3710
Mobile: 847-899-2390

Improving speed to market: Navigating EV assembly challenges

The electric vehicle (EV) revolution gains more momentum every day, driving change to automotive manufacturing in unprecedented ways. With rapidly growing demand comes the need to rapidly scale assembly operations — and that can create significant challenges. 

Vehicle manufacturers constantly seek new, more productive automation technologies to boost their quality and productivity. Along with many common assembly workflows, they face new challenges associated with scaling up battery pack and e-axle production. They need automation solutions to help integrate electric battery and powertrain production seamlessly into overall assembly processes. 

Bosch Rexroth has an industry-leading portfolio of automation technology to satisfy these needs, with decades of experience providing manufacturing and automation solutions to leading automotive OEMs, as well as Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers. 

Broad range of assembly challenges

Electric vehicles have replaced engines, gas tanks and transmissions with electric motors, regenerative braking technology and advanced battery packs. Assembling these new components presents unique challenges; at the same time, there are assembly processes common to both EV and internal combustion (IC) vehicle assembly lines.

For example, EVs have body parts that are welded using high-speed six-axis robots with advanced welding controls. Extremely precise control of weld quality is critical to the long-term performance of the vehicle; poor welds can lead to separation and vibration in body parts over time.

To solve these complex welding challenges with maximum speed and absolute quality control, Bosch Rexroth has introduced the PRC7000 welding controller platform. 

The PRC7000 expands the number of heat blocks available, so plant operations can customize welding to specific throughput and material characteristics — a major advantage over older-generation systems. Also, it can store up to 10,000 welding programs that can be easily built via a drag-and-drop interface to incorporate more sophisticated welding sequences.

Improving manual assembly

Even though EV plants are highly automated, they also use the latest manual assembly methods to install a wide range of components and systems. Assemblers install headlights, windshields, retractable sunroofs, seats and door and window controls, often also connecting them to the vehicle’s control module. Exact precision in this process is critical to deliver vehicles that operate as flawlessly as possible.

Bosch Rexroth offers an advanced portfolio of intelligent tightening tools to provide the productivity and quality control needed for these manual processes. They provide the precise, repeatable performance crucial to high-volume assembly lines. The portfolio includes the EXACT ION series of cordless screwdrivers, offering industry-leading accuracy, durability and energy efficiency, as well as ergonomic design and lower weight to enhance worker comfort.

Wider use of these kinds of i4.0-ready tools helps assembly lines increase throughput and operate with greater flexibility as different vehicle models move through the line, while at the same time generating critical data that plant operators can use to improve training, adjust workflows and apply lean manufacturing principles. 

Multiple technologies to boost battery pack production

There are four major steps in battery pack production common to most operations: electrode production, cell assembly, module assembly and pack construction, which also typically includes end-of-line battery testing. 

Each stage uses a complex array of automation technologies to go from raw materials to completed packs. Given the critical role of the battery in the long-term performance and value of EVs, battery production requires high throughput rates combined with extremely tight assembly tolerances and quality control systems. 

In electrode production, raw materials move through multiple automated processing steps. Maximizing control over these processes requires technologies that ensure cells are created with desired electrochemical properties, lifecycle and energy density.

Bosch Rexroth’s ctrlX AUTOMATION platform features advanced controller and drive systems designed precisely for these high-throughput production processes. The ctrlX CORE controller provides advanced closed-loop sag and loop control to eliminate breakage and minimize waste. It also supports high-speed multi-axis synchronization for web speed and position alignment.

In cell production, individual batteries — cylindrical, pouch or other format — are combined into cells. Many manufacturers are working to optimize the stacking process in this step because streamlining stacking can improve the throughput of the entire line. 

High-speed robotic handling systems, either delta robots or linear robots, are essential tools in this stacking process. The Smart Function Kit for Handling is a highly efficient linear robot option well-suited to this process step. It is truly plug-and-produce: modern online tools support quick and intuitive component selection and configuration, and the pre-installed software allows for easier commissioning, supporting faster production start and helping speed to market.

Modular movement and transport solutions

Going from raw materials to a tested and installed battery pack presents a major automation transport challenge. With each assembly step, weight and component size increases, so a range of material transport conveyors and other systems is necessary. 

From transfer systems for rapidly moving products weighing a few grams to linear motor-driven systems that can precisely transport up to over 400 kg, state-of-the-art conveyors and linear motor transport systems maximize efficient use of factory floor space and enable smoothly flowing, intelligently connected production.

VarioFlow plus plastic chain conveyors are proven systems that rapidly move cell assemblies horizontally, vertically, around obstacles or integrated with other process flows. These also support workpiece pallets to convey cell components where positioning or higher stopping precision is needed.

Further down the line, Bosch Rexroth offers the linear motor-based Flexible Transport System (FTS). It supports pallet-based transport and allows for individual carrier control for more complex movement at faster throughput rates. Combined with our intralogistics autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), Bosch Rexroth is uniquely equipped to address virtually every battery production transport challenge.

Successful assembly lines design conveyor and material transport solutions early in the development process, not as a final step once all the production machines and cells have been defined. This helps ensure productive movement of products and materials through every process step and prevents building in non-value-added transport time. Bosch Rexroth has deep experience helping select and connect different transport systems so the right material flow is established — and can be easily modified as production requirements evolve.

Automation insight to improve EV assembly productivity

As EV manufacturers are under pressure to expand production, they run risks by simply throwing technology at their throughput challenges, rather than considering how well their technology and component choices work together. All this assembly technology should be engineered and harmonized to maximize throughput without sacrificing the quality of the end product.

Bosch Rexroth can leverage its industry-leading automation portfolio and deep automotive manufacturing expertise to help prevent this risk. We have productive partnerships with leading factory automation specialists. They work with our experienced automation technology experts, following a unique, concurrent engineering approach. 

Using this approach, we partner to conduct system design, programming and component acquisition and integration in tight, overlapping time frames to deploy complete automation solutions more rapidly. 

Our solutions encompass virtually every major step in EV manufacturing, with specialized expertise in EV battery pack production. Our concurrent engineering methodology succeeds because we back it, and all our complete automation solutions, with global engineering, service and technical support resources.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Bosch Rexroth breaks new ground with the planar system ctrlX FLOW6D

Greater freedom and precision in the area of contactless high-performance transport and positioning

  • 6D planar system added to the ctrlX AUTOMATION portfolio
  • Movers move in six degrees of freedom, even where space is very limited
  • Control system ctrlX CORE with apps for planar systems

Planar systems offer enormous potential for a variety of industry segments. With ctrlX FLOW6D, Bosch Rexroth has raised contactless high-performance transport and positioning to a new level. Free-floating transport platforms, so-called movers, are moved on a horizontal, vertical or overhead working surface. Each mover acts in six degrees of freedom at high speed and with great precision – without any friction or pollution. Integration into the automation toolkit ctrlX AUTOMATION results in an overall solution with a compact control system and apps to increase the range of functions.

A planar system serves as a contactless levitation system for the efficient and safe transport, positioning and handling of loads. On a working surface which can be adapted in a modular fashion, a number of differently shaped and sized movers can be controlled in six dimensions. Strong, specially arranged permanent magnets make this possible. Given their modularity and easily adaptable nature, planar systems can be used in numerous industrial sectors, for example in the semiconductor industry, the food sector, the pharmaceuticals industry or in assembly systems.

The ctrlX FLOW6D planar system allows contactless high-performance transport and positioning in six dimensions.

New planar system takes off

ctrlX FLOW6D offers new room for maneuver and innovative concepts for production systems. Bosch Rexroth has given the system numerous properties to make it stand out from other well-known technologies. Much larger movement ranges, for example a floating height of 20 mm, a 10° tilting angle and endless rotation in any location set new standards. The six degrees of freedom of each mover can be combined with each other as required. For example, rotation and tilting are possible during travel. Vertical or overhead system operation is also possible.

The movers are connected: Power and data are available to users on the floating platform. A mover can be converted into an active agent by adding actuators, sensors and handling components.

This and other properties allow entirely new system concepts and workflows. For example, movers can be operated in a process chamber, transport and process tasks can be combined seamlessly and transport systems can be standardized. The additional degrees of freedom mean that fewer peripheral devices are needed. As a result, the system becomes more compact and cheaper.

“ctrlX FLOW6D forms the backbone of a flexible and efficient production facility. As an open system, it can interact seamlessly with various other systems. Software-controlled production allows it to be adapted to changing products or processes quickly,” explained Steffen Winkler, Vice President Sales, Business Unit Automation & Electrification Solutions at Bosch Rexroth.

By incorporating ctrlX FLOW6D into its automation world, Bosch Rexroth has created an integrated, agile system. “ctrlX AUTOMATION provides the software platform for design, simulation, engineering, operation and service. With ctrlX CORE, we offer a compact, high-performance control system which allows users to make optimum use of the new planar system technology. New functions can easily be added as apps available from the ctrlX Store. As a result, full use of the potential of levitation can be made,” said Steffen Winkler.

To learn more, please visit

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Expert Advice: Retrofitting a Facility for Warehouse Automation

Guest Contributor:  Rittal North America LLC

The material handling industry has experienced some massive changes during the last few years: the acceleration of e-commerce, expansion into new and emerging markets, emphasis on rapid delivery, and increased importance of speed to market, to name a few.

As a result, material handlers are faced with the choice of expanding their operations either through new parcel processing facilities or retrofitting existing warehouses with state-of-the-art automation equipment. 

While the challenges of building a new automated warehouse are fairly cut and dry — location, resources, cost, and construction time — the hurdles that arise when retrofitting an existing facility for automation are more complicated. To help engineers in the material handling industry understand what they need to know when retrofitting a warehouse for a modern automation infrastructure, we’re giving the floor to a couple of our industrial automation experts:


Sal Falzone, Rittal Vertical Marketing Manager, Retail & Logistics


Semih Kocahasan, Account Manager

In this blog, Sal and Semih will discuss in their own words what material handlers should consider when retrofitting a facility for warehouse automation.

The importance of working around a smaller automation footprint

The first thing engineers and designers need to consider when retrofitting for automated material handling is the square footage of the space and the automation footprint necessary to facilitate the vast number of parcels that will be processed in the facility. 

Sal Falzone: Those looking to retrofit old facilities or those that were not used in this way will have to use different technologies. For example, overhead conveyor systems are one way to get creative with the lack of physical floor space in some of these facilities. 

Overhead conveyor systems utilize the space above the warehouse floor and such systems will require a compact industrial enclosure with variable mounting options and wiring flexibility within the box itself. 

Rittal’s AX compact enclosure is a wall mounted enclosure that can be easily customized to suit the needs of specific industrial applications without sacrificing the protection and security of mission-critical electronic components.

Semih Kocahasan: We’re seeing more and more small enclosures like the AX being spec’d for retrofitted material handling facilities — in fact, we’re also seeing small enclosures being used in new warehouses as well. I think that speaks to the versatility of the product.

The need for speed in material handling

The material handling industry is perhaps one of the most competitive in today’s market. The sheer number of parcels in the pipeline and the variety of material handlers processing them means the need for speed has never been greater. Prolonged lead times, disruptions in productivity, or unplanned maintenance intervals can be significant stumbling blocks. That’s why material handlers need industrial enclosure solutions that can be delivered and deployed quickly and easily. 

While supply chain disruptions are a common culprit in bogging down productivity, customization of industrial enclosures for use in retrofitted warehouses plays a significant role in deployment and integration delays. 

Semih Kocahasan: Speed really is the top concern for those looking to retrofit right now, especially with material scarcities and labor shortages. Standard enclosures that can be flexible in how they’re configured on the floor can not only increase speed-to-market, but  also provide assemblers and integrators more options in configuring the enclosure based on the need or specific application. 

Rittal’s VX SE Freestanding Enclosure System is a standard product that combines durability, versatility, and reliability for use in any material handling facility. 

Sal Falzone: The VX SE is a really interesting combo of a traditional unibody enclosure and a modular enclosure. That combination of protection and flexibility opens a lot of doors for material handlers as they evaluate the challenges of retrofitting while also weighing how quickly their enclosures can land at their loading dock and then be installed on the factory floor. 

The VX SE can easily be scaled based on demand or space constraints. The VX SE offers a wide range of dimensions with widths up to 1800 mm to replace up to three baying enclosures and depths starting at 300 mm for confined production applications. In addition, IP 66 and NEMA 4/4X ratings provide superior protection against harsh environmental conditions. 

Semih Kocahasan: Shortening your lead times is really the biggest pain point in retrofitting a space for warehouse automation. Companies that can alleviate that by going with standard products will put themselves in the best position to succeed.

Learn more about our products and solutions designed specifically for use in the material handling industry.  

Categories: Retail and Logistics


CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Rittal distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Capacitive, the Other Proximity Sensor

Guest Contributor: Jack Moermond, Balluff

What is the first thing that comes to mind if someone says “proximity sensor?” My guess is the inductive sensor, and justly so because it is the most used sensor in automation today. There are other technologies that use the term proximity in describing the sensing mode, including diffuse or proximity photoelectric sensors that use the reflectivity of the object to change states and proximity mode of ultrasonic sensors that use high-frequency sound waves to detect objects. All these sensors detect objects that are in close proximity to the sensor without making physical contact. One of the most overlooked or forgotten proximity sensors on the market today is the capacitive sensor.

Capacitive sensors are suitable for solving numerous applications. These sensors can be used to detect objects, such as glass, wood, paper, plastic, or ceramic, regardless of material color, texture, or finish. The list goes on and on. Since capacitive sensors can detect virtually anything, they can detect levels of liquids including water, oil, glue, and so forth, and they can detect levels of solids like plastic granules, soap powder, sand, and just about anything else. Levels can be detected either directly, when the sensor touches the medium, or indirectly when it senses the medium through a non-metallic container wall.

Capacitive sensors overview

Like any other sensor, there are certain considerations to account for when applying capacitive, multipurpose sensors, including:

1 – Target

  • Capacitive sensors can detect virtually any material.
  • The target material’s dielectric constant determines the reduction factor of the sensor. Metal / Water > Wood > Plastic > Paper.
  • The target size must be equal to or larger than the sensor face.

2 – Sensing distance

  • The rated sensing distance, or what you see in a catalog, is based on a mild steel target that is the same size as the sensor face.
  • The effective sensing distance considers mounting, supply voltage, and temperature. It is adjusted by the integral potentiometer or other means.
  • Additional influences that affect the sensing distance are the sensor housing shape, sensor face size, and the mounting style of the sensor (flush, non-flush).

3 – Environment

  • Temperatures from 160 to 180°F require special considerations. The high-temperature version sensors should be used in applications above this value.
  • Wet or very humid applications can cause false positives if the dielectric strength of the target is low.
  • In most instances, dust or material buildup can be tuned out if the target dielectric is higher than the dust contamination.

4 – Mounting

  • Installing capacitive sensors is very similar to installing inductive sensors. Flush sensors can be installed flush to the surrounding material. The distance between the sensors is two times the diameter of the sensing distance.
  • Non-flush sensors must have a free area around the sensor at least one diameter of the sensor or the sensing distance.

5 – Connector

  • Quick disconnect – M8 or M12.
  • Potted cable.

6 – Sensor

  • The sensor sensing area or face must be smaller or equal to the target material.
  • Maximum sensing distance is measured on metal – reduction factor will influence all sensing distances.
  • Use flush versions to reduce the effects of the surrounding material. Some plastic sensors will have a reduced sensing range when embedded in metal. Use a flush stainless-steel body to get the full sensing range.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when applying capacitive sensors. There is not “a” capacitive sensor application – but there are many which can be solved cost-effectively and reliably with these sensors.


CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Why automation needs digital twins

Karsten Kreusch. Game Changer

Whether in relation to components, machinery or complete production processes, these days digital twins play an important role in product lifecycles. As digital replicas of products or processes, they depict their properties, status and behavior and hence connect the real world with a virtual one. As such, they ensure reliable processes throughout the development stage, commissioning and operations and can be used for optimization purposes and to improve quality and increase efficiency. The potential that digital twins possess can also be leveraged for ctrlX AUTOMATION.

Digital twins usually depict various different aspects, e.g. they often combine simulation models with data. Firstly, they can be used to provide a virtual mock-up of products, machinery or plants for simulation purposes. Secondly, they can be used to clearly visualize real-life procedures and processes and hence better understand them as well as test and optimize them virtually and automatically – without having to intervene in reality.

Digital twins can not only improve development and production processes thanks to prognoses but can also improve understanding, contribute to transparency and enhance the performance of the real-life operations of systems or plants. Digital twins make product development simpler, more reliable and more efficient. In addition to the optimization of product features by means of simulation processes, the interplay between hardware and software can, for example, also be tested virtually early on and any errors can be identified and rectified prior to commissioning with zero risks involved. Engineering or production processes can therefore be made more efficient – benefiting not only component and machine manufacturers but end users too.

The so-called asset administration shell (AAS) is becoming the standard for the implementation of digital twins in Industry 4.0 systems and has been standardized in IEC63278. Accordingly, each I4.0 component is represented by an AAS, which forms an information shell for an asset or a hierarchy of assets. It describes all contained sub-models, which depict aspects such as sensor data or positioning mode, as well as available functions. In production, the AAS is used to ensure interoperability and IT security in manufacturing and IT systems by means of a set of standardized interfaces, such as OPC UA, TSN, DetNet, REST, JSON and XML, etc. Bosch Rexroth also aligns itself with this industry standard for the implementation of digital twins, thus continuing the pursuit of its strategy of openness.

Replicating and testing Bosch Rexroth products virtually

ctrlX AUTOMATION provides users with various different ways of using digital twins. Firstly, all sorts of different virtual replicas of Bosch Rexroth’s automation products can be created. Secondly, corresponding partner apps from the ctrlX World can be used for various digital twin applications.

One or more virtual controls can be created on a PC with the software and engineering toolbox ctrlX WORKS and operated via a web-based interface. ctrlX COREvirtual is the virtual version of the real-life control and is based on identical software. The virtual replica can be used to conduct tests and carry out commissioning without any control hardware – with full functionality. The simulation model is, for example, used to test PLC and motion programs. It is also used for communications tests between a control and the I/O level of a system.

Digital twins can also be used to virtually commission, parameterize and optimize products from Bosch Rexroth’s drive and motor range, including as part of considerations concerning mechatronic systems or complete machines. This also applies for the most compact drive system on the market, ctrlX DRIVE. Drive models are available to users for different application scenarios and various simulation systems available on the market, for example for MATLAB/Simulink, Modelica-based systems and ISG Virtuos.

Scalable simulation solutions for different use cases

In addition to the digital twins of ctrlX AUTOMATION products, the openness and expandability of the system offer a wealth of further possibilities. As such, IoT functionalities can, for example, be implemented for acquiring data and thus for generating digital twins of complete production processes. Users can use Bosch Rexroth’s IoT apps or those of partners from the ctrlX World for this. They can even develop their own apps with the Software Development Kit.

Bosch Rexroth offers scalable simulation solutions to suit any requirements through which simulations can be carried out for peripherals, kinematics, dynamics and physics in various topologies. The solutions thus enable an extremely broad range of applications, from kinematic simulation with 3D geometries right through to the connection of high-level simulation systems.

Digital twins are much more than visual reproductions of reality and accompany products as digital shadows all the way through to operations and service. Digital twins are, for example, ideal in mechanical and plant engineering for the real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance of machinery and plants. Digital information can be seamlessly orchestrated in real time.

The possible applications are therefore practically endless. Bosch Rexroth customers therefore have numerous options for easily optimizing processes, improving the quality of their products and achieving safety through transparency – right from the development stage all the way through to ongoing operations.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Step into a more productive factory

Web Editorial Team | Editor

Six practical steps to greater productivity for manufacturers.

Bosch Rexroth

Finding ways to increase productivity has always been an important part of manufacturing. But against the current backdrop of demand volatility, inflation, a shortage of skilled workers and the requirement for smaller batch sizes, increasing productivity is now essential to a business’s competitiveness. Discover our six practical steps to greater productivity and find out about a new initiative that’s helping to boost productivity in factories.

Connecting machines by building an edge platform

Edge devices are important in the factory of the future because the connection of machines to the internet or the cloud dramatically increases the range of functions and the performance of machines.

The solution: An edge device can take over the activities around the machine. It receives orders from the MES, for example, and controls the machine via an integrated PLC, or it can be linked to the existing control system. By linking the MES and ERP system, edge devices can also enable the commissioning of maintenance and procurement of spare parts.

The result: Productivity is increased by 10 percent. Because edge devices enable data to be captured and processed closer to the source, rather than sending it to servers, the data can be gathered and analyzed on the factory floor in real time. This has enormous benefits in terms of predictive maintenance, improving product quality and increasing throughput.

Implementing a digital twin

A digital twin is a virtual model designed to accurately reflect a physical object. There are various types, and the biggest difference between these is in the area of application. This ranges from a basic component to assets to a complete system or unit. Process twins reveal how systems work together to create an entire production facility.

The solution: Our digital twin solution is a virtual representation or model of physical assets in a real factory. We use harmonized and standardized information models and interfaces (APIs) to create an interoperable environment of interconnected components. It provides a solution set to model and execute production processes. In Industry 4.0 systems, each I4.0 component is represented by a standardized AAS (asset administration shell), which forms an information shell for an asset or hierarchy of assets. So, our digital twin solution offers a ready-to-use implementation of a smart manufacturing platform based on AASs. Once installed, it provides complete transparency and shows how the different components in a production process work together. This enables you to validate concepts and test processes and procedures before implementing them – resulting in fast adoption and integration of applications.

The result: Our digital twin solution makes the integration and commissioning process at least 35 percent faster. Complex simulation, analysis and monitoring of systems can be carried out in real time, and problems can be detected and dealt with before they occur. New products and processes can be tested and perfected virtually first, saving time and effort.

Digital Twin

Resource optimization through targeted energy management

Energy management plays a major role for companies that want to save money. However, it’s important to get reliable, tangible data from the process when making decisions about reducing energy usage.

The solution: One option is to implement an electrical energy management system, which gives you transparency in your energy consumption and enables you to avoid peak loads, shut down plant components or put devices into sleep mode. Reactive power has an additional cost, because unusable reactive power that exceeds the threshold is often charged to the manufacturing company.

The result: Up to a 20 percent reduction in electrical energy costs can be achieved from using our solutions. There are also environmental benefits from the associated reduction in CO₂ emissions. By implementing management systems that help you monitor and reduce energy usage across these areas, considerable cost saving can be made.

Detecting and evaluating faults in processes and plants

Downtime, particularly unplanned downtime, can result in huge revenue losses and disappointed customers, not to mention the inconvenience and man-hours required to fix the problem.

The solution: By connecting and monitoring your machinery in real-time and having the data in a format that’s clear and transparent, production processes can be continually improved, and technical errors can be diagnosed and resolved before they lead to a breakdown. Our ActiveCockpit provides real-time information and enables the exchange of information between people, machines and the production process on the shop floor.

The result: This leads to an improvement in the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) – in some cases of at least 8 percent. By identifying technical errors and malfunctions before they happen, you can minimize downtime and disruption, while also improving the quality of your products and service.

Active cockpit

Automatic order confirmation and recording of delivered components

Global networks are steadily replacing self-contained value chains, as manufacturers try to maximize efficiency throughout the entire production and distribution process by means of seamless data transparency.

The solution: RFID technology enables logistics processes to be sped-up and recording processes to be automated. The state of the art option is a camera-based system that automatically captures the DMC, QR code or barcode, so no scanners are needed. The image is then processed and digitally recorded.

The result: These solutions reduce manual work steps by up to 25 percent, saving time in production and logistics. The process becomes more transparent, with parts being tracked and processes confirmed as they happen. Data and malfunctions can be visualized, even on mobile devices. Supply chain management can be expanded, for example, to include traceability of components, material availability and inventory transparency.

Controlled supply, mixing and process monitoring of liquids

Whether you’re mixing gases or liquids, eliminating irregularities and reducing manual effort are essential to more effective and cost-efficient production.

The solution: Productivity can be maximized with an inline measuring method that determines the volume flow, and a system for measuring the current mixing ratio. Actuators and a smart control unit can be implemented. We provide software solutions and can also install a user interface, so you can view and monitor information.

The result: We’ve found that costs can be cut by up to 12 percent by reducing manual effort and saving resources with these solutions. Manual work steps are reduced and the re-ordering process can be automated. The process becomes more reliable, while more efficient use of raw materials and less waste means lower recycling costs and greater sustainability.

Productivity boosters

The Productivity Boosters

We’re working on an initiative to help boost customers’ productivity. We spoke to Juliane Hess, a member of The Productivity Boosters team, to find out about this European initiative.

Can you tell us about this initiative?

Our Productivity Boosters initiative is a brownfield, shop floor-oriented approach, which addresses the pain points of our manufacturing customers. We combine our smart products with add-ons, services, and, where suitable, partnering. It’s scalable and can be tailored to the customer’s individual needs, type of production and conditions – for example, their existing IT infrastructure.

By bundling our manufacturing and digitalization expertise – on the shop floor and the edge – along with our experienced production and IT specialists, we can harness our customers’ full productivity potential and improve their production figures. It’s this added value approach that makes our offering stand out.

What made you decide to set up this initiative?

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms are beginning to replace MES functions and related applications, including production, maintenance, quality, and inventory management, which are a mix of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT).

Process-oriented digitalization with the right data is essential in today’s factories because digital technology can collect data, identify trends and help make better business decisions. A lot of the data and information that’s collected still isn’t used productively. Professionals who are skilled in control engineering and OT-IT – two areas where there’s currently a shortage of experts – are needed. This is what the Productivity Boosters provide.

What type of business is it suitable for?

Manufacturing companies with heterogeneous production equipment and IT infrastructure or systems, that want to improve productivity and reduce costs.

We’ve already put this method into practice in several projects in Europe. Despite them being across diverse industry sectors, we see clear parallels in the solutions they need, but with different parameters and data. So, we scale the solution according to the customer.

What are the most important findings from your work?

Manufacturers want solutions to solve their production problems. So, increasingly, they’re looking for experienced manufacturing technology partners for the long-term. They want solutions rather than individual components.

We’ve also found that customers go to OEMs and integrators with their requirements for solutions and products. We’re feeding back these requirements to our development departments to improve our products.

Are you working on any partner projects in this area?

We’re working with SAP on a plug and play solution to implement intelligent device onboarding. This will enable machines to be more easily connected to IT via an edge device and interfaced with the IoT maintenance services of SAP. This solution will give customers the health score of a product, energy optimization, predictive maintenance and OEE improvement.

What advice would you give to SMEs that want to improve their productivity, but don’t have big budgets?

Our customers are end customers and SME’s driven by their economic environment that want to make use of new technologies, but without heavy and binding investment. Even the smallest improvements can make all the difference. Together with our customers, we use our analysis to define the main measures to work on – the ones that will bring about the most improvement in productivity.

That’s why we also provide small and cost-effective solutions that suit the prerequisites of the customer. Sometimes it’s advantageous to start small and still think big.

Juliane Hess

Juliane Hess

If you’d like to know more about our solutions that boost productivity, visit your local Bosch Rexroth site or speak to your local Bosch Rexroth support team.

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.