Digital Twins for Machine Cabling

April 26, 2023
Eplan’s Harness proD software can apply a digital twin as a 3D module in the mechanical construction file or be transferred into the electro-technical project with the added cabling information.

If you are responsible for finding the right cables, as well as planning, designing and plotting their routing in machine building assembly, you know how laborious this process can be. To help ease this process, Eplan—a supplier of software and services for electrical, automation and mechatronic engineering—has expanded its 3D software Eplan Harness proD to cover the practical requirements for machine field cabling.

According to Eplan, this development moves what’s long been standard in mechanical engineering into electrical engineering by creating a digital twin of the cabling. As depicted in Eplan Harness proD, this cable data source is usable in manufacturing, assembly as well as service and maintenance by combining electrical and mechanical engineering. One clear advantage to this approach is that every designer can work in their own way, each with their own view of the machine in question: mechanical engineering continues working with assemblies and electrical engineering with functions.

Eplan says that, with this software, it doesn’t matter if the mechanical engineer, rather than the electrical engineer, designs the cable routings because the electrical engineer will be able to know if the cables will fit through the intended pathways and the exact lengths required.

System-supported designing and routing

The process for cable planning involves an engineer planning for the necessary cables in the schematics using Eplan Electric P8. Next, the engineer defines the required devices for the cabling designs in Eplan Harness prod, which is where the common device databank for all the Eplan systems resides to provide for a consistent, uniform source of data. The engineer can then link the electrotechnical project with Harness proD and import the 3D geometry from mechanical engineering into the cabling tool.

Data from all devices such as motors, connectors and cables are available to form an exact starting point for field cabling. 

Using this information, the external equipment can be placed into the 3D environment, with cabling pathways defined for routing. Once all devices and cables have been introduced, the user receives a digital twin of all the cabling.

This twin can now be provided to the mechanical design team as a 3D assembly or transferred to the electrical engineering team with the added cabling information.

Prototyping

Using this digital twin prototype means that changes to cabling routing can be handled with a few mouse clicks in the program. An actual physical prototype from manufacturing isn’t required. The digital twin is the medium for collaboration in engineering or for starting dialogues with clients during the specification phase, the development phase for design reviews, or even for marketing purposes.

This is possible because the Eplan project serves as the single source of truth for data related to the project.

From the initial electrical engineering design, the digital twin can be transferred to mechanical engineering as it includes complete bills of materials including cable lengths and cable assembly drawings for special cables that must be produced to spec. A 3D HTML viewer can also be accessed for assembly and servicing.

With this new 2023 version of Eplan Harness proD, users have access to all devices in the electrical engineering category as part of device management in the Eplan platform. Data from all devices such as motors, connectors and cables are available to form an exact starting point for field cabling. This updated version also allows for cable ducts, energy chains and cable trays to be used for cable routing.

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