The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The new Eplan Platform 2023
Innovation

More room for manoeuvre

Frustrated! That’s how mechanical and plant engineers often report feeling when supply chain issues, missing parts and staffing bottlenecks interfere with their time-to-market. If everything could run smoothly right from the planning stage for a machine/plant, that would make a big difference. The new Eplan Platform 2023 is now ramping up the pace in engineering, boosting opportunities for collaboration and thus freeing up time to deal with any problems that may arise further down the line.

Text Birgit Hagelschuer ––– Photography

It’s 8 a.m. on Monday. The week has just begun, but there’s already one thing all mechanical and plant engineers know only too well: They have to work fast – to finish that project planning, to wire that enclosure, to deliver that machine. It might be a cliché, but it’s still true for engineering – time is money.

Thomas Weichsel, Vice President Software Portfolio at Eplan, sums it all up: “In Engineering – particularly during the current supply bottlenecks – you need to start the planning process as early as possible and drive it forward fast. That gives businesses the best chance of compensating for supply chain problems, or at least mitigating them. If you monitor your time-tomarket early on and make your engineering highly automated, you can ‘buy’ yourself some room for manoeuvre in engineering so you can take action if components end up being unavailable in production.”

Thomas Weichsel

“Thanks to the new 3D graphics engine, our users benefit from faster speeds and more convenience for 3D enclosure models. In addition, the new multi-standard support helps Eplan Platform 2023 users avoid the previously laborious task of managing article data – particularly for international projects.”


Thomas Weichsel, Vice President Software Portfolio at Eplan

COMPLEX DATA MODELS

However, engineering is not just being shaped by high levels of automation – the digital twin is also sweeping through panel building and switchgear, bringing with it greater complexity and higher demands on 3D enclosure models. As many parts as possible need to be sensibly planned to fit a tight space and have to be depicted in detail.

Another trend is that panel and switchgear parts are being described in ever greater detail by manufacturers. The level of detail for components is growing continuously and the 3D models of enclosures and switchgear are becoming increasingly complex as a result. This means the volume of data or information that needs to managed is also rising. 3D models of extensive bays usually require a great deal of patience.

A new 3D graphics engine ensures users can also zoom and pan faster and more easily.

3D ENGINE BOOSTS PERFORMANCE

Eplan has come up with a clear solution to these challenges – the Eplan Platform 2023.

Although it clearly can’t fix resource shortages, it can simplify and speed up the engineering process and, in an ideal scenario, thereby create that all-important room for manoeuvre. It has a practical tool for this purpose – a new 3D graphics engine that offers considerably better performance for 3D enclosure models.

“Creating virtual prototypes in 3D is an important part of the process in enclosure and switchgear production,” explains Weichsel. In fact, the requirements for 3D enclosure models that will serve as a basis for digitising downstream processes are becoming ever more complex. “To meet these requirements, we have optimised the performance of our 3D graphics.

Our users thus benefit from faster speeds and added convenience when building enclosures. It is not just the 3D rendering that is faster – users can also zoom and pan much more easily. As a result, we’re offering our customers the kind of 3D performance that they need for efficient engineering.”

Company-specific standards, regional directives, national standards such as NFPA and IEC, and of course the variation in measurement units on the global market – all these factors require an ever-growing variety of device variants on the wiring plan. Previously, it has only been possible to allocate one macro to each article. However, the new article management system of the Eplan Platform 2023 now allows users to allocate up to 20 different wiring plan macros to each article and link them to the corresponding standards and directives.

The benefit for users is that once the relevant standard has been selected for a specific device, the software automatically allocates the relevant macro to that device. This makes it easier to manage articles, provides a better overview of the project and cuts down on administrative outlay. Component manufacturers who provide article data for the Eplan Data Portal in the data standard also benefit. For example, a drive can now be saved and updated in the Eplan Data Portal as a data set that incorporates different wiring plan macros. This drastically cuts manufacturers’ outlay on providing and updating data.

WIRING MACHINES VIRTUALLY

The Eplan Platform 2023 also simplifies the field cabling of enclosures that are spread across a plant in a decentralised arrangement. For instance, the new cable editor makes it easier to manage and visualise a cable on the Eplan Platform, regardless of the number of wires. Article and type numbers, source and destination, and shielding and connection are all depicted clearly in a single dialogue. The new cable editor thus lays the groundwork for virtual machine cabling, ensuring the lengths of the cables can be easily determined in Eplan Harness proD. The end result is that all cable information can be seen at a glance – from source to destination. Moreover, Eplan eStock, the new cloud-based article management system for the Eplan Platform 2023, provides a means to maintain article data centrally, in the Eplan cloud.

COLLABORATION IN THE CLOUD

This simplifies collaboration, speeds up coordination processes and reduces breaks in continuity. Project teams can access article data on Eplan eStock from anywhere by simply (and securely) logging into the Eplan cloud, whether they’re in their home office, at a business premises somewhere or sharing data with business partners. Autewe GmbH in Überlingen has already put eStock through its paces as a beta tester. Markus Beirer, Head of Electrical Engineering, describes how things used to work: “Before, our staff working from home used local copies of article databases because accessing the central article database through a VPN was too slow. The articles they had saved locally were not regularly updated to match the databases on our server.” In the future, all staff will be working with the same database, thanks to Eplan eStock. “We expect to see an improvement in productivity because we won’t have to create article data over and over again any more. It will be much easier to work as a team, too,” points out Beirer.

CENTRAL ARTICLE MANAGEMENT = CONSISTENT DATA

Data sovereignty is always retained by the company or user and that company or user determines the quality of the data and access to it. Standards can be easily implemented across the board by issuing rights. Companies benefit from centralised access to the cloud in a number of ways. They can make better use of their personnel resources because they no longer have to spend valuable time building up and maintaining their own IT infrastructure.

This also delivers cost savings, since bespoke solutions based on SQL servers or a virtual desktop infrastructure are complex. The quality of projects also reflects the fact that data is more consistent and of a better quality because it is not being entered several times over. What’s more, everything is in line with the necessary standards.

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