Text Ulrich Kläsener ––– Photography
Industry has long known about the benefits of the cloud – at least as far as the theory is concerned. Now the focus is on the practical aspects. With the Store Share View cloud-to-cloud connection, Eplan and Lenze SE are showing what creates new added value. The name Store Share View says it all. The solution enables Eplan engineering projects to be stored in the cloud, where they can be viewed and commented on by those involved using any end device. This is reminiscent of the basic principles of logistics, which specify that the right information needs to be available in the right state in the right place at the right time.
Who benefits from smart access to data that is always the same, regardless of time or location? Besides the various departments of companies with in-house product development operations, this also naturally includes customers and users, who are keen to have their say right from the product creation process. Other beneficiaries are suppliers, partners, users and maintenance engineers, some of whom are located in far-flung parts of the world. “These are genuinely necessary collaboration scenarios, some of which are still costly today,” says Eplan Product Manager Claas Schreibmüller. After all, he explains, if there is a lack of connectivity, exceeding timeframes, overstretched budgets, loss of quality and frustrated customers would become a serious problem.
The new alternative is taking shape in a pilot project, where Eplan and Lenze SE – a manufacturer and developer in the fields of drive technology and automation – have taken things to their limits. Two of their clouds – the Lenze Asset Management System and the Eplan Data Portal – dock with each other using Store Share View from Eplan and continuously share information. The Lenze Asset Management cloud solution notifies the maintenance engineer about all the relevant components of a machine (asset). The Eplan Data Portal is a cloud-based online database comprising hundreds of thousands of equipment and component data records, including those of Lenze. Eplan users can drag and drop this data into their Eplan project. Once the component is designed, manufactured, delivered and taken into operation, the maintenance engineer comes into play. They can log into the Lenze cloud at any time and check items such as wiring schematics and parts lists during servicing. In this process, the maintenance engineer automatically accesses the Eplan Data Portal and thus the original documentation stored in the Eplan project via Store Share View. “The customer therefore has an overview of all equipment installed in the system,” says André Luhmann, Product Manager Digital Services at Lenze. “This significantly reduces the incorporation time for assets.”
It’s never been so easy to move into the cloud. Store Share View from Eplan enables users to log in via their web browser, view a project, make comments using the redlining function and highlight progress without having to install anything. The solution, developed on the basis of Microsoft Azure, acts as a hub for all relevant engineering information and as a meeting point for everyone involved in a project. A defining characteristic of the Eplan cloud is communication at the highest level based on the company’s clear security and compliance models, both for the workflow and in terms of the security architecture. Engineering know-how is protected against unauthorised access by managing access options. Assignment of rights itself is the responsibility of the customer’s relevant department.
With the appropriate authorisation, users can access up-to-the-minute data at any time, anywhere in the world, via a PC, tablet, etc. The design team performs the first step by uploading the generated engineering data from the Eplan project into the cloud. This may include circuit diagram information that downstream departments need. Thousands of pages of printouts are eliminated, with the paperless workflow cutting costs and improving communication processes. This becomes even more important as the number of people involved in a project rises. Who relies on the information? Enclosure construction, commissioning and maintenance teams, for example. This includes in-house staff, customers, third-party suppliers and subcontractors. They can read the original documentation and use redlining to add comments, which ensures the product history is consistent and clear for everyone throughout a product’s lifetime. Ideally, the commissioning and/or maintenance teams introduce a feedback function by making suggestions for optimisation to the design engineers via Eplan Store Share View.