The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

Alexander Bürkle
Experience – Information technology

Ensure digital consistency

There are plenty of “enablers” supporting industrial transformation. However, few are as decisive as the Eplan system landscape in panel building and switchgear.

Text Ulrich Kläsener and Hans-Robert Koch ––– Photography

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.”

Project meeting

Digital consistency: At Alexander Bürkle GmbH, the 3D digital twin built in Eplan Pro Panel forms the basis for all subsequent process steps.


with Klemens Isenmann, Managing Director Alexander Bürkle GmbH & Co. KG

To be specific, what is the difference between earlier CAE applications and their modern versions? The consistency of data. In principle, I can tell my CNC machine what to do at the touch of a button these days – right from the electrical engineering stage. In the past, E-CAD/CAE would just produce a plan that would be used as a basis for the manual programming of the CNC machine.

Why do you use Eplan? Because it is one of the most intelligent systems on the market, because it is the industry standard and because the software landscape is integrated into the portfolio from Rittal, a specialist in enclosures and accessories.

Where do you think there is room for improvement? It is still difficult to achieve digital consistency because it requires standardisation across all the manufacturers and suppliers involved. This is where our development department – in close collaboration with Eplan – is doing pioneering work in enclosure manufacturing.

back Factor 3: Think digitally  

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