Electronics wholesaler, switchgear manufacturer or technology service provider? Since 2012, Freiburg-based German company Alexander Bürkle has been gradually moving away from the classic “either/or” model to a definite “both/and” approach – one that covers every link in the electronics value chain. Managing Director Klemens Isenmann takes a certain pride in presenting Bürkle’s current portfolio, which ranges “from goods delivery and cable assembly to the planning, engineering and manufacturing of controllers and robot systems, including their programming and commissioning.” Realigning a company with a workforce of 1,000 would be virtually inconceivable without the drivers for this kind of development – state-of-the-art software, clean data and a clearly communicated determination to digitalize.
New business areas and enhanced process efficiency are two sides of the same coin. According to Isenmann, both need “software – lots of software. This ensures processes run on a much more streamlined basis. That is exactly what software solutions from Eplan offer on a practical level. We use the full package to configure, document and manage electrical engineering automation projects.” The product creation process in Eplan starts with article creation and runs through preliminary planning (Eplan Preplanning), engineering (Eplan Electric P8), pneumatics (Eplan Fluid) and machining (Eplan Pro Panel) to tablet wiring (Eplan Smart Wiring). Little by little, the company builds up a virtual original model that is embellished with properties, process data and so on, until the industry’s favourite child can walk on its own – the digital twin. “The digital twin gives us the option to wire enclosures virtually. That means we can provide the corresponding custom wiring set – wire end preparation and labelling included – without any problems and for batch sizes starting from a single unit.”
As far as Isenmann is concerned, the digital twin is synonymous with digital consistency: “Digital consistency means that I use Eplan Pro Panel to design my enclosure virtually in 3D during engineering and then its digital twin provides the basis for all the following process stages.”