Today the same software can be used to make electrical engineering designs, to make 3D models in order to rapidly understand necessary factors in surroundings, to draw up electrical/pneumatic installation designs, to make process designs (PID schematics)…
A change on any device is reflected in all the areas that it appears, eliminating the need to make modifications to this feature in all of the different plans. In this way we save time and reduce errors when it comes to making any changes to the design.
All of these programmes can import and export files in different formats to facilitate interconnection between systems and thus improve an engineer’s productivity and the quality of designs. Database creation enables processes to be reused.
The whole design and digitisation process/cycle can be concluded using CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) tools. Everything that would be asked of operators of conventional machine tools is amenable to CNC machine programming through interaction with engineering tools that act as a bridge between the design and the tools.
The main goal is to create faster and more versatile production processes, with more precise tools and components. CAM is a computer-assisted process subsequent to CAD and it sometimes happens after CAE, since a model generated in CAD and verified in CAE can be introduced into a CAM programme which controls the machine tools.
CAM provides step by step instructions for the machine tools to complete the manufacturing of the product. Before CAM, an operator had to introduce a series of instructions in the code before running the programme. This manual introduction could be very laborious, depending on the complexity of the final product. With CAM, the geometry of the piece is fundamental to establishing the paths and cuts of the machine tool.
These processes are already widely implemented in today’s industry, enabling the automation of product manufacturing from the design phase up to automatic manufacturing with tools that are controlled by CAM systems.
This process can also be used in the manufacture of electrical panels, as can be seen in this video, which is worth watching. It follows the process from the initial design phase, through the subsequent processing of the information in order to send it to the CAM tool for the mechanisation of the cabinets, and right up to the actual wiring of the elements it consists of.
Here the engineering process has to be 100% debugged, as the tiniest error will cause a defect in the manufacturing. For this reason, and due to the cost and complexity involved in these systems, these processes are only used in the processing of standard, mass-produced goods with thousands and thousands of identical copies. They cannot be considered for bespoke projects such as Sothis carries out for a multitude of diverse clients.
Although this is not viable in day-to-day operations due to the time and cost involved in the projects, the high level of interconnection between the different phases of engineering and the high level of technology available for the automation of any production process is impressive.
We will have to wait and see how the technology evolves and what it will imply for electrical design and the development of engineering. Maybe in 30 years’ time the way we do things currently will also seem antiquated!