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Panel building for the future

07 October 2016

Starting your own panel building company from scratch can be a terrifying experience for any engineer, no matter how experienced.

But for Min Dabasinskas, Senior Design Engineer, building his start-up firm 81346 ELAB Ltd was made easier thanks to his experience of using a combination of EPLAN CAE packages, including EPLAN Electric P8, EPLAN Pro Panel and the constantly expanding EPLAN Data Portal. 

Min explains that his experience of the panel types used across many industry sectors has given the company expertise to achieve results that are optimally suited to customers’ requirements. EPLAN Electric P8 and EPLAN Pro Panel are the main tools used and the company decided from the onset to make EPLAN a key business partner. The EPLAN licences are, without doubt, a major investment, but nevertheless good value for money, not least because Min understands that working with EPLAN software will give them a valuable competitive advantage.

81346 ELAB collaborate closely with clients from the very beginning of the development phase, through the whole project lifecycle, to the creation of complete automation concepts that are cost and time effective and EPLAN is at the core of this.

Since its introduction, EPLAN Electric P8 has become the market standard and its use is frequently cited as a requirement by control panel specifiers. By using EPLAN Electric P8, panel builders benefit from higher quality professional electrical documentation, which thanks to the software’s automated functions will further reduce time-consuming work.

Complementing EPLAN Electric P8, EPLAN Pro Panel - an engineering solution for virtual control cabinet engineering in 3D – which is also used by 81346 ELAB enables businesses to achieve savings of up to 75 percent on wiring time, as well as 50 percent on layout and mounting time, leading to large increase in overall productivity. 

With EPLAN Pro Panel, engineers can design and construct three-dimensional control cabinets and switchgear systems that are easy to review with the EPLAN software, or they can be exported and viewed with Adobe Acrobat. This eliminates the errors that lead to expensive rework. The software features include 3D mounting layout, virtual wiring, modification and adjustment of copper busbars. 

Designed with flexibility in mind, EPLAN Pro Panel allows the user to choose their preferred approach whether it is based on equipment lists or circuit diagrams. All necessary components can be easily entered and positioned on the 3D layout, thanks to the innovative eTouch technology. 

Min finds that the virtual 3D model of the control cabinet switchgear system helps him make best use of the valuable control panel space, and that integrated planning aids such as collision testing, adherence to manufacturer installation guidelines, minimum clearances and bending radii, allow quick and optimum positioning of components. 

Early involvement in the development stage of a project has positive impact on overall effectiveness; notes Min. 81346 ELAB believe that standards and directives, correctly applied, eliminate the necessity for time-consuming, minute-by-minute project management. It is important to get things right before you start your project, and EPLAN is ideal for helping with compliance and standardisation requirements.

EPLAN supports all customers in order for the company to become more efficient in their engineering. By making engineering practices more efficient, companies will gain a clear competitive advantage and one way of doing so is by incorporating codes and standards into specific designs. EPLAN users can develop their own company-specific standards, based on optimal templates and the use of high quality design and master data.

A key benefit for 81346 ELAB of using EPLAN is that it helps to create a consistent basis for reusability and standardisation. It offers correct settings and templates for the creation of cross-disciplinary schematics and lays down the fundamentals for future macro-projects. Another major benefit is that high quality design for the basic projects is guaranteed. The predefined master data and settings, the pre-set report templates make compliance easier and far less time consuming.

In addition, by incorporating codes and standards into its designs, 81346 ELAB complies with global standards for documentation and production, such as the new IEC 81346, IEC 61082 and IEC 61355, which help to satisfy the requirements applicable to documentation set out in IEC 60204 – a harmonised standard to the machinery directive.

The Machinery Directive (2006/42/EC) covers the supply of new machinery and other equipment including safety components. The law states that it is an offence to supply machinery unless it complies with the Directive, so panel builders like 81346 ELAB must take this into account from the very beginning. The designer must be able to show evidence that proves conformity to the Directive and the best way to do it is to comply with the harmonised standards.

81346 ELAB also routinely access the EPLAN Data Portal, which is a vast database of electrical, mechanical, fluidic and pneumatic components that is built into the EPLAN platform. The platform provides online access to accurate and up-to-date device data for more than 1.2 million configuration variants of more than 600,000 devices from over 135 global manufacturers. 

Graphical data can be downloaded from the portal as a package or as stand-alone information. This data can be dragged and dropped into EPLAN documentation and by adding the components to the project; this reduces configuration work and increases the quality of the machine and system documentation.

Using EPLAN Data Portal in conjunction with EPLAN Electric P8 and EPLAN Pro Panel allow 81346 ELAB to locate the components needed and pull the required information into projects in an instant. This is much faster and more convenient than trying to create it from scratch, and also virtually eliminates the risk of errors. 

Min concludes that EPLAN products are reliable and easy to use and as an added benefit, EPLAN software and services are constantly evolving.

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