Semiconductors and Components

The role of electrical CAD in machine manufacturing

16 November 2021
Electrical CAD programs can speed up the creation of schematics immensely, saving significant time and money.

In the automation and electrical engineering fields, design engineering that is fully automated sounds like a thing of dreams, but with specific technology and the right amount (a lot) of integration, a company’s efficiency can rise, and their expenses can drop. This can be achieved through systematic knowledge management.

Information exchange and accessibility are the two main foundations of increasing the productivity of any company. However, even though there are so many options available on the market in terms of software programs, most companies are not utilizing them. This is because such an undertaking needs long term planning and a lot of effort. Several methods are used to collect information in isolated solutions, which tend to be overlooked on most platforms.

Integrated information management is the secret to improving productivity within a company, and an example of this is a packaging machine manufacturer called Athapack. They ensure that their electrical engineering department rationalize their workflow and use all of the available sources of information. Due to these changes, they ended up cutting their timeline for creating control schematics by 80%. Athapack use a specific type of software called cofaso, which is an electrical CAD software. It is just one example of the main electrical CAD programs that are available to increase productivity. These programs can be used to improve documentation, increase the quality of work, and the savings through reducing the time and cost of projects can contribute to the company’s bottom line.

Fully automatic schematic creation

Many companies that have focused on improving their productivity have aimed toward combining electrical CAD programs with their mechanical design team or department. This is done in order to standardize the design of circuits, develop a knowledge database, and configure schematics in a way that they do not need to be drawn from scratch repeatedly. Typically, the main parts of a control system are derived from the specifications of the peripheral electrical devices.

Electrical CAD programs will continuously learn as they are used for more and more projects. With every new project and new components/features, the database is learning and growing to become more and more comprehensive. Designers need not even call macros anymore; all they need to do is specify the properties of the circuit and the CAD program will do the rest.

As the circuit is created automatically, the voltage and other necessary values are also calculated for the whole circuit, and the appropriate parts will also be chosen by an automatic part selector. Sounds like the designers aren’t needed much for this part, right? That’s the point! As an example, if a user entered into their electrical CAD program of choice that a star-delta circuit is specified as 45 kW, then the program will calculate all of the average values of the other parts in the circuit and will then make the necessary selection from the respective component manufacturers. Formulas can also be defined, and the values of the main, delta, or star connector are also calculated.

In most program libraries, the automatic part selectors can search through millions of possible parts and select the right part in under a second. Just think, imagine how long it would take a person to go to a warehouse and search through just a thousand parts. Also, using the part selection feature also allows the user to search for a part using all of the characteristics of the device, ensuring the correct match and saving invaluable time for the company.

Documentation

When the design of the schematic is fully completed, the designations are normalized and distributed to control characters. The characters then allow for documentation and flexible report (cable plans, wiring lists, bill of materials, terminal plans, purchase order lists, device lists, terminal-connection plans, etc.) including labeling, printout, and customer documentation. This is also where the translation programs come in, customer specific modifications and translation to other languages can happen. All of the export/import operations are control by the program and are run by the XML interface to make sure that they are optimized.

Another feature of electrical CAD programs is that they can also process graphics files. “Graphics” are what the different system layouts are called, and they are provided in .DWG form by mechanical design programs. The layout of these system will already have been examined and analyzed with regard to their electrical engineering requirements before they are imported into the relevant electrical CAD program as free graphics pages. The components designation and position can then be inserted directly, and the completed graphics can be included in the overall project documentation.

Panel design

With electrical CAD programs, the design process of electrical panels can pretty much be standardized. Libraries of symbols are provided to the design engineers while they are designing, which makes constructing the overall panel significantly easier. The engineers can also create their own symbols for each project and create their own libraries in which to store them, they will then be imported into the program in .DWG format.

Summary

It is clear to see how advancements in CAD technology, in this case electrical CAD, are making the job of design engineers much easier. Automation and standardization are also speeding up the timeline of a project, therefore saving time and money for the company. cofaso is mentioned in this article, but there are many different electrical CAD programs that will give the same functionality and may end up being a vital part of a company’s design workflow. The principle here is to let the technology do the work, and by controlling the information management within a company, and making sure that information is integrated into their CAD programs as much as possible, it will without a doubt have a positive impact on their profitability.



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