German software developer Eplan has developed a standardised data specification to simplify the development of control and switchgear equipment in digital twin simulations.
The specification increases the quality of article and device data in Eplan Data Portal, a web service offering product catalogues from numerous component manufacturers. Several thousand data sets – for instance from sister company Rittal, a provider of enclosure systems and IT infrastructure – are already available and additional well-known component manufacturers are working on providing data that adopts the specification. These include ABB, IFM, LAPP, Phoenix Contact, Puls, SEW-Eurodrive, Siemens, Schneider Electric, Wago, Weidmüller and Wieland.
The need for better data is essential when control cabinets or switchgear systems are being designed in 3D. This allows wire lengths to be automatically calculated, or mounting panels processed by machines, all using standardised component data. This data is also the foundation for the digital twin, which is becoming increasingly indispensable in the product life cycle.
Around five hundred connections must be laid for the control technology in an average control cabinet – all with different colours, cross-sections and wire processing. Preparing and wiring all of the connections manually requires an average of four minutes per wire, which takes too long to keep up with the competition.
Modern production methods get prefabricated wires from machines, saving the effort and time required for manually cutting to length and assembly. A digital twin of the control cabinet uses all the components that were selected in engineering, presented with their characteristics in the schematics and subsequently assembled in the control cabinet in 3D. The connection points and designations for the components are already described in the 3D layout. Using this component data, the electrical designer can output the colours, lengths and wiring targets for the connections with a mouse click and transfer them to the processing machine.
Building a digital twin
The Eplan Data Standard defines the type of component data required to automate and simplify processes in (pre)planning, engineering, manufacturing and maintenance. The Eplan Data Portal has more than 239,000 users and offers data of more than 91,300 products from 286 manufacturers.
All of the software embedded in the Eplan Platform can access this web service. The simple transfer of the available component data into Eplan documentation is via drag and drop, which reduces the effort required in design and increases the quality of machine and plant documentation. Manufacturers are also being optimally supported – the Data Creation Tool based on eCl@ss Advanced offers them an import option that significantly simplifies data provision.
Several thousand updated component data, with a focus on manufacturing integration, are already available in the new Eplan Data Standard. This includes, for instance, a schematic macro, a 3D file and connection diagrams for typical electrical components. Rittal, which is a sister company of Eplan in the Friedhelm Loh Group, has already integrated initial data for control and switchgear systems.
The optimised, standardised data sets can be used to create complete bills of materials or to reliably calculate the weight of the control cabinet using defined weight specifications as just two examples.
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