The wide range of options found in the Beckhoff range of standard panels with multi-touch functionality as well as the ability to map features in software, streamline the implementation of numerous required functions and electromechanical operator control elements. The demand for customised panel solutions is strong, particularly in the machine building industry. The concept of milling panel housings from solid aluminium, which Beckhoff introduced with their first Control Panel generation as early as 1998, is an ideal basis for individualised housing design. It enables flexible response to customer enquiries, even for small production runs, from simple add-on options right up to fully-customised housing designs.
Although standard, “off the shelf” devices are, as a rule, more economically priced, the additional costs for customised Beckhoff products are modest, as well as offering short development times. Thanks to the wide range of standard devices and components as well as the company’s profound manufacturing expertise, development costs and delivery times remain low. Custom models can also include new components based on customer specifications; however, these are first subjected to stringent fit-for-purpose tests. Moreover, sophisticated additional functions can be integrated in the factory, providing obvious benefits for the customer during installation on-site. Adding to the high quality is the comprehensive hardware expertise that covers all facets of the production at Beckhoff, including in-house development, design, and assembly of the mainboards.
Individualised manufacturing – from simple logos to complete housing designs
The first step in creating a customised application is a modified appearance, starting with the customer’s logo, which can be easily integrated as a part of the manufacturing process. Depending on the device type, it may also include a modified finish for the whole panel. Close cooperation between the customer and Beckhoff experts offers an excellent route for obtaining an application-specific operator interface in the fastest way possible.
Additional customisations are based on the extensive and modular range of Beckhoff panel components. This enables needs-based integration of various buttons, switches, and circuit boards into an existing standard housing with unchanged dimensions. For example, push-button circuit boards in different shapes can be designed individually, but integrated into several customer-specific devices. This enables a highly modular design for a robust device without error-prone electrical and mechanical interfaces. The market insight of the experts at Beckhoff demonstrates deep understanding that the alternative of extending operator panels by connecting push-button modules in a reactive and arbitrary fashion is not industry best-practice. It is far better when users can define the scope of the required operator control elements right from the start so that the Control Panel solution perfectly fits the application.
The ultimate level of customised panel development involves a new housing design, often as a means of implementing a customer's own design or special ergonomic adaptations. Virtually no limits are imposed on the housing design, colour, or choice of materials. With this popular option, the underlying standard Beckhoff device is often no longer recognisable, although it usually provides the technological foundation for the new device. In addition to the long-standing experience of Beckhoff in Control Panel design, such devices often also benefit from the expertise of industrial designers on the customer’s side, providing an unmatched synergy and, thereby, a vastly superior product.