EPLAN - leading the way in electrical designSince their introduction over 25 years ago, computer aided design (CAD) tools have been well accepted by businesses worldwide, with each successive generation of electrical CAD software empowering the individual user to be much more productive. Today, legacy CAD systems continue to perform as advertised, but companies that rely on them risk falling behind those who utilise newer, more innovative systems; systems that have been proven to not only deliver cost savings of up to 80 per cent, but that also to significantly improve design integrity and project turnaround times.
Surprisingly, most electrical design in the UK is still performed using simple, two-dimensional CAD systems that produce flat drawings, where all accompanying lists and documents have to be researched and assembled separately. This is set to change as users are increasingly turning to EPLAN, a leader in Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) software, which allows these functions to be performed automatically and instantaneously, compiling schematics, wiring lists and reports from data, which only need to be entered once.
One of the benefits of using EPLAN software is the automatic error-checking features, which make it virtually impossible for errors to slip into project build packages, and which largely eliminate the time consuming error checks necessary with legacy systems.
For end-users who purchased equipment from various suppliers, EPLAN offers reference tools that compare and contrast incoming designs to make sure they adhere to established quality and technical standards. This ensures that new project planning does not set out on the wrong track and that errors are detected early on, before having potentially detrimental cost consequences in manufacturing and operation.
The feature that truly sets the EPLAN software apart from other electrical design packages, however, is that it is database driven. The scope of device data and components that can be accessed via EPLAN's database is extensive and includes macros of sub-circuits, assembly drawings, function templates for an intelligent device selection, international designations, preview images and entire manuals.
EPLAN currently has more than 40 industry partners and offers what is believed to be the most comprehensive list of components on any system of its kind. Integrating around 200,000 pieces of manufacturer created component and device data, the EPLAN database enables users to easily select and apply the data or components required during a project, reducing project drafting and documentation by between 50 to 80 per cent. The database contains every type of component from the IEC symbol library, from a simple fuse to information about a PLC. Intelligent macros can be created that allow common sub-assemblies like motor drives to be inserted into projects within seconds, generating all wire and terminal numbering and greatly simplifying production of product variants.
Schematics are built up using intelligent symbols and component representations containing all relevant technical information and, as a component is inserted into a schematic, all lists and documentation are updated and cross-linked. The ability to automate the creation of recurrent content effectively negates the need for the time-consuming creation of master data and provides integrated data for intelligent design, precisely fitting assemblies, virtual wiring and sustainably shortened product development and production cycles.
Thanks to the power of the database, EPLAN software can effortlessly convert project documentation in minutes to the language that customers, vendors and subcontractors require, and export it in one of many common file formats.
The EPLAN database can also be linked via a company's PLM, PDM, ERP or other enterprise systems to sales, purchasing, accounting, manufacturing, service and other departments. This high-level of integration functions like a digital highway, linking engineering disciplines not only with one another, but also with other vital business disciplines, as well as customers and suppliers. It is a main reason that advanced CAE products, such as EPLAN, are proving to be a catalyst in the in the relationship between engineering and other project stakeholders.
Ken Christie, EPLAN UK director, comments: "True value comes from the capabilities and flexibilities offered by our solution, as well as our wide partnership network, which enables us to provide EPLAN users with a central web-based database that can hold a large archive of up-to-date information ready for insertion into a project with a single keystroke. The biggest benefits are realised by companies that leverage the EPLAN software to change how design workflows are structured and to standardise product content to fully exploit the capability of the common platform to store and reuse data."
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