Decentralised power supplies for smart manufacturing


As the demand for decentralised, flexible modular systems grows, more system components are being relocated directly into the field. Maximilian Hülsebusch, from PULS Power, looks at how power supplies are meeting the needs of this evolution. 


In the context of decentralisation, the power supply products available today essentially follow three different strategies:

1 – No decentralisation of the power supply

The power supply is not included in the decentralisation process and remains in the central cabinets. To supply power to the remote peripheral devices in the field, long cable harnesses have to be installed using costly large cross-section wire to minimise losses and the system power supply has to be oversized to compensate for the resulting loss of performance.

2 – Power supply in a decentralised on-site cabinet 

The power supply, together with other standard components such as electronic fuses or switches, is taken out of the central cabinet and placed directly onto the machine in smaller, decentralised IP67 cabinets. System builders often handle the planning and assembly of these cabinets themselves.

3 – Customer-specific solution

A customer-specific, decentralised solution is developed especially for the power supply. The size and mechanics are also specifically tailored to the individual system along with the electrical specifications.

Benefits of a decentralised power supply

Many systems integrators have already taken action after recognising the benefits of a decentralised power supply. There are many applications, such as conveyor belts or production lines, that can be supplied with energy much more efficiently and flexibly on a decentralised basis. The power supply no longer has to be oversized, and the individual system parts can be put together on a modular basis, allowing them to be extended, maintained, and converted more easily. By making the cabinets smaller, or even doing away with them entirely, the newly gained space can also be used to expand added-value system components.

Past obstacles 

The cost of implementing a decentralised power supply does, however, remain high using currently available solutions. Even straightforward, decentralised on-site cabinets, for example, often comprise more than ten components. All of these must be purchased, stored, and ultimately combined into a system by a technician. As for developing customer-specific solutions, this is even more time consuming, expensive, and only worthwhile in larger volumes.

Until now, there has not been a decentralised standard power supply that is available to order ex stock, is easy to install, and flexible enough to offer a viable alternative in all three of the above scenarios.

Straight from the cabinet to the field

Relocating the power supply from the control cabinet directly into the field provides an all-in-one power supply system for decentralised systems engineering. It is then possible to use shorter cables and smaller cable cross-sections. This not only saves on the costs of copper but also on the installation work for the cabling. Local on-board set up and diagnostics makes system commissioning, troubleshooting and maintenance simpler.

PULS is closing this gap in the decentralisation market with the development of its FIEPOS power supply product family. This opens up new worlds of possibilities for systems designers by providing cabinet-free planning of their systems and machines.

The FIEPOS range is based on 1-phase and 3-phase IP54–IP67 power supplies with 300 or 500W output power ratings. It also features an IO-Link or output OK signal as a communication interface. The various versions are based on this platform with numerous connector configurations as well as optional safety and redundancy functions.

PULS classifies the devices into two FIEPOS product series – of Basic and eFused. The devices in the Basic series have a single output, for which the various plug connectors such as M12-L/-T/-A, 7/8”, or the HAN-Q series are available. In addition, the Basic version is also available with an integrated decoupling MOSFET on the output side and a soft output regulation characteristic. These two functions make the devices particularly useful for assembling reliable, redundant systems outside of the cabinet and help to increase performance by establishing parallel connections.

The FIEPOS eFused series comes complete with up to four internally protected outputs. Thanks to the built-in current limit, these devices can easily be used for selective current distribution and protection. The outputs are configured and monitored via IO-Link or via the practical human-machine interface located directly on the front panel of the device.


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