A clean affair

A clean affair

Contactless charging in cleanroom applications

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Plug-in connections inevitably cause particulate contamination in cleanroom applications. Contactless power transmission provides an alternative. FreeCon Contactless from Weidmüller creates clean connections – even through a glass wall if necessary. Two current application examples demonstrate the advantages of the system.

The term “cleanroom” is at the heart of the requirements: it is a matter of keeping products and processes perfectly clean and protecting them against contamination in typical applications such as in medical technology, in electronic manufacturing or in the food industry. Neither dust nor dirt may enter, hence conventional plug-in connectors represent a potential source of contamination. So, where manual plug-in connectors reach their limits, contactless transmission technology opens up new perspectives in automation.

FreeCon Contactless transmits power by means of inductive resonance coupling across an air gap – wearfree, reliable and particularly efficient. Additional added value for the user is provided by the remarkable power density – which is twice as high as comparable solutions on the market – plus significantly higher efficiency and lower maintenance outlay.

Fresh power for loading robots

Smart automation solution: the loading robot batteries in freeze-dryers of Martin Christ Gefriertrocknungsanlagen GmbH use contactless charging in the park position
Smart automation solution: the loading robot batteries in freeze-dryers of Martin Christ Gefriertrocknungsanlagen GmbH use contactless charging in the park position

The resulting advantages for Smart Factories are illustrated by the application example of Martin Christ Gefriertrocknungsanlagen GmbH. The company based in Osterode in the Harz region of Germany is a world leader in manufacturing of freeze-dryers. It has developed the LyoShuttle Drive, a new automatic loading and unloading system for which it has filed a patent registration. The freeze-dryer is loaded by a robot that can be moved horizontally along a toothed belt. The stepper motors of the robot drive are supplied with electrical power via rechargeable batteries. For charging these, FreeCon Contactless comes into play.

In its park position in front of the freeze-dryer, the loading device picks up fresh contactless power. Communication with the control is wireless. The compact design that results makes the LyoShuttle Drive an ideal solution for freeze-dryers in production under cleanroom conditions – an application that would hardly be conceivable without contactless charging. Alternatives such as far larger batteries taking up more space or sliding contacts that cause continuous wear are impractical in this case.

Compact trolley with autonomous power supply

Thanks to FreeCon Contactless, the inductive charging process for trolleys of Systec & Solutions does not require cables and plug contacts
Thanks to FreeCon Contactless, the inductive charging process for trolleys of Systec & Solutions does not require cables and plug contacts

Low space requirements, high flexibility and modularity were of great importance during development of the TROLLEY LIGHT INDUCTIVE. Systec & Solutions GmbH from Karlsruhe, Germany has created a solution for mobile use in cleanrooms and environments with demanding hygiene requirements. The autonomous power supply combined with WiFi data connectivity provides the TROLLEY systems with maximum mobility – enabled by FreeCon Contactless. Power is transmitted via induction through a magnet approach system and the charging process starts automatically on positioning.

The main advantage of the solution: the compact TROLLEY continuously fulfils the requirements of protection class IP65. In a classical plug-in connector, a protective cap, that would often have to be plugged and unplugged, is necessary – a potential source of contamination in the cleanroom, which is avoided due to contactless charging. “The user benefits from uninterrupted use of the integrated WAVE industrial PC,” explains Patrick Kühle, Head of Sales at Systec & Solutions. “This enables all-day flexible working without tedious mobility downtimes.”

No rough edges

Both application examples show: contactless charging is safe, clean and easy to maintain. Another advantage is apparent in both the loader robot for freeze-drying and the induction-charging TROLLEY: both applications require freedom of corners and edges on which dirt particles could accumulate. This requirement too is perfectly fulfilled by FreeCon Contactless.

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