The future’s bright, the future’s CAE
08 August 2013
With increasing pressure to improve product quality and production flexibility whilst reducing costs and time-to-market, companies are investing in intelligent, innovative design tools to speed up design time and enhance the efficiency of electrical engineering processes. Ken Christie, director of EPLAN UK, explains how the latest computer aided engineering (CAE) solutions are being used by companies such as Bürkert Fluid Systems to offer quality assurance and gain a competitive advantage.
A modern CAE software package like EPLAN puts integration and automation at the heart of everything it does; providing a variety of end-users with all the core functions required of an electrical design package, and easily-integrated additional tools that can be adapted for industry-specific processes; from fluid and pneumatic engineering to enclosure design.
Leaving older systems behind, CAE continues to evolve, reducing the amount of manual data entry and error-checking to be done by engineers at each stage of a project.
Companies are sometimes a little reluctant to change their systems, believing their current methodology works and that the implementation of a new system will hamper them initially. However this is rarely the case, and the biggest turnarounds come when companies see the weaknesses in their existing system and processes and make the decision to upgrade to a CAE infrastructure, as was the case with Bürkert Fluid Control Systems.
A change for the better
When the time came for Bürkert to expand software licenses as part of the companies’ effort to remain at the top of their game, the Bürkert took the opportunity to re-evaluate its software and design needs. Consequently, the company invested in EPLAN Electric P8, supported by EPLAN Fluid and EPLAN Data Portal, through realising that EPLAN could help improve design efficiency, productivity and accuracy.
"We needed a new electrical design software suite that would allow us to become more efficient and EPLAN fitted the bill. In addition, our corporate standard is EPLAN – in fact, EPLAN is widely regarded as the industry standard today,” says Tom Carnell, Engineering Systems Applications Manager at Bürkert Fluid Control Systems.
Design automation boosts productivity
Since adopting EPLAN Electric P8 and the EPLAN Data Portal, the company has been able to reduce project design time significantly and eliminate common editing errors, leading to faster turnaround times. Many tedious tasks, like device wiring and numbering, have also been automated, saving time and improving accuracy.
"We have achieved dramatic improvements in engineering efficiency,” explains Carnell. "We have been able to cut our design time significantly, and design changes and additions are now easily managed.”
He continues; "We use EPLAN for our control panel projects and it has simplified the design of complex electrical circuits, the integration of PLCs and HMIs and the production of reports such as BOMs. We able to integrate other parts of the control panel project such as manuals, datasheets, and Solidworks designs into EPLAN, which are then sent to the customer as a PDF upon completion of the project.”
"Thanks to EPLAN we can effortlessly convert project documentation in minutes, the quality is outstanding. The EPLAN interface is also easier to use and the Data Portal offers a vast number of components, making it easier to access and integrate than with our previous software solution,” explains Carnell.
Data consistency with the EPLAN Data Portal
The EPLAN Data Portal, provides online device data of over 340,000 components that are controlled and managed by 51 manufacturers such as Festo, ABB, B&R and Phoenix contact. As a result, the data portal has delivered another productivity improvement opportunity due to the wealth of information that is immediately available. Order numbers, technical macros for creating schematics, location drawings, function templates and preview screens can be transferred simply and effectively by dragging and dropping from the EPLAN Data Portal into the project. This effectively does away with the time consuming creation of master data. The outcome is faster delivery due to more intelligent planning, more reliable mounting as well as better wiring. Moreover, storing and reusing data opens the way to standardising and modularising product content, accelerating design and manufacturing and enabling large economies of scale in purchasing components.
From implementation to standardisation
In order to support customers EPLAN also offers a first class complete computer aided engineering package from consultancy through installation, training and helpdesk support. Tom Carnell was pleased with the additional support offered by EPLAN; "EPLAN has not only supported us by providing an effective software suite, but also by assisting with the implementation and by offering training and advice. I consider them to be a fully-fledged partner in the project work we carry out for our customers.”
The newest and sophisticated CAE systems allow the manual and most time-consuming electrical engineering design functions to be performed automatically and instantaneously - with organisations subsequently benefiting from an increase in productivity, shorter project turnaround times and improvements in product quality and security. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, can you afford to miss out?
About EPLAN UK
A subsidiary of Rittal, within the Friedhelm Loh conglomerate, EPLAN UK is a world-leader in computer aided (CAE) software. For over 25 years the company has been developing innovative solutions for an array of engineering and industrial manufacturing disciplines. The company boasts 600 employees, 35,000 customers and nearly 95,000 license installations worldwide.