What are critical E-CAD features?

Readers offer up advice on how to evaluate the worth of an electrical CAD program, including how to judge databases, training requirements, upgrades and support, in The Answer to Your Problems.

The Answer to Your ProblemsQUESTION:

WE'RE expanding out of panel building into more complex machine control builds. With fresh ownership, we’ve been encouraged to upgrade from really old and basic electrical schematic software to a more integrated toolset. I don’t want a bunch of vendor product noise right now, but I’d like to hear from users about the important functions to look for in a good electrical CAD program, including how to judge databases, training requirements, upgrades and support.

--from November 2005 CONTROL DESIGN


Meat and Potatoes First
Most customers we work with are facing many of the same challenges. They need to implement a more effective electrical CAD design solution that allows them to design more complex projects, increase the productivity of their current staff, eliminate costly design errors before they hit the shop floor, and more effectively communicate and share their design data with customers and suppliers.

As for important features in an electrical CAD package, almost everyone needs a solution that provides a comprehensive set of industry standard symbols, automatic wire numbering and component tagging, automatic reports generated directly from the design (i.e. bill of materials from/to wire list), as well as the ability to create intelligent panel layout drawings that link to the original schematic to ensure all components are placed correctly. Most important is that the application is compatible with AutoCAD software and the DWG file format so you can easily share your designs.

If you’re interested in recommendations from your peers who read CONTROL DESIGN, look at the 2005 Readers’ Choice Awards

Scott Reese, Product Manager, Autodesk Inc.

Think Big
If a company expands from panel work, it might need to look for a system that reflects a plant model, where the designer can structure the plant hierarchically to always have an optimum overview and orientation in his project work. Depending on the business, the tool should provide single-line representation, which defines remote devices and cables before starting the detail engineering. Then, when using the cores of those predefined cables, the tool should check if they match the cable destinations. If you’re designing something like a motor control center, the capability of copying complete motor controls including the drawings and device information is very helpful. If you re-number those freshly copied sheets, the devices shown on them should automatically be renumbered according to their new rung numbers.

The more data you have to manage, the more important it is to have the support of an alphanumeric approach using real-time updated worksheets for fast manipulation.

Reinhard Knapp, Product Manager, Aucotec

April’s Problem

Does Dual-core Processing Have Advantages?

Over the years, our machine control and HMI solution has evolved from proprietary processors, to using two separate PCs, to using windows NT and XP with real-time extensions to achieve below 50 ms scam rates.
Now that dual-core processors are available from AMD and Intel, does anyone think there could be task management performance advantages using a dual-core solution that might lead to being able to eliminate the third-party kernel? Has anyone tried it?
Send us your comments, suggestions, or solutions for this problem. We’ll include it in the April 2006 issue and post it on ControlDesign.com. Send visuals, too—a sketch is fine. E-mail us at CDTheAnswer@putman.net. Please include your company, location and title in the response.
Have a problem you’d like to pose to the readers? Send it along, too.