Fluid power engineers today can improve the efficiency of their hydraulic, pneumatic, lubrication and cooling designs with a complete engineering automation solution created specifically for fluid power. EPLAN UK director, Ken Christie, explains
For many years, generic CAD tools were the fluid power engineer’s only choice. Today, however, there is an alternative. EPLAN Fluid – developed by EPLAN Software and Service – features intelligent functions and automatic features that allow users to complete projects much faster and produce higher quality documentation than they can by using conventional CAD tools.
Such CAE software offers a comprehensive range of logic functions which are designed to make project planning easier and to relieve fluid engineers from repetitive tasks whilst also helping to avoid errors.
EPLAN Fluid represents the latest generation of fluid engineering design software, which can be integrated in the MCAD workflow, and combines tried and tested fluid system planning and new 3D technology. This means that components that have been placed in the fluid circuit diagram, such as valves or cylinders, can be assembled in 3D and put onto pasteboards using a simple method that is similar to the LEGO principle. Users don’t need in-depth 3D knowledge, and the 2D derivations and manufacturing drawings are created automatically as part of the documentation. Valuable manufacturing information such as the amount of installation space required, number of drill holes or hose lengths is therefore available at an early stage.
Fostering design standardisation, this modern software solution lets fluid engineers save and re-use frequently used subsystems in the form of macros directly in the planning. This means that specialist knowledge is retained, and can be retrieved at any time. It also speeds up planning and safeguards quality throughout all disciplines.
Fluid engineering design software provides an opportunity to avoid errors, particularly in view of the increasing complexity of mechatronic components such as valve islands. In addition, the know-how of the fluid engineer is used where it is needed – during the selection and dimensioning of components, the fluid system connections thereof and their correct positioning.
The software solution available to fluid engineers today also offers powerful parts management and customisable reports specific to fluid engineering. Documentation – such as parts, spare parts, wearing parts, hose, tube, and piping lists – are created automatically. Furthermore, various criteria such as pneumatics, hydraulics, cooling or lubrication can easily be configured, and separate reports for each discipline can be created.
In addition, with auto-connecting and smart-connecting features fluid engineers are able to automatically generate and retain connections between positioned symbols. These connections may be furnished with logical properties and evaluated. Additionally, the symbols may be combined into functional units and saved as macros. The bill of materials is also generated at the same time as the drawing, thus ensuring that a uniform database is always available.
These functions show that fluid design has evolved from drawing to engineering, following in the footsteps of electrical design, which has long since completed the same evolutionary development.”
Although fluid engineering design software offers significant benefits as a stand-alone solution, efficient design requires that all disciplines involved be networked, which means that the benefits are multiplied if the software is combined with the equivalent tool for electrical design.
The exchange facility between the two CAE systems for fluid and electrical design is beneficial for both serial and parallel handling of projects. With serial project handling, for example, the workflow may be structured in such a way that the fluid engineer first positions the symbols, then project-plans the components, which he assigns to the symbols. If the positioned symbols contain minor electrical elements, a cross-disciplinary system message is emitted. The electrical engineer can then see exactly which fluid engineering components require electrical planning.
The benefits for fluid engineers are obvious: fast, automatic and intelligent connections of all components even when changes are made; powerful parts management and customisable reports specific to fluid engineering; automatic creation of documentation such as parts, spare parts, wearing parts, hose, tube, and piping lists; easy configurability for pneumatics, hydraulics, cooling or lubrication, with separate reports for each discipline; and improved workflow due to optional connection to electrical and mechanical engineering.
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