Engineering software continues to change the shape of electrical design, estimating, testing and other necessary tasks for contractors and engineers. Such applications can make life easier for those tasked with the cumbersome and occasionally
confusing responsibilities of planning electrical projects.
Many software offerings are cloud-based and don’t require on-premises installation, so users essentially plug and play and don’t have to manage updates or security protocols.
Such solutions can add many hours back into the day for electrical contractors. Once users get acquainted with the software’s nuances, they can use it to boost profits by pinpointing greater accuracy in material usage and availability of parts, and optimizing the mix of parts and material used. Such software solutions may also expedite the labor expended on a project, determining more optimal ways to achieve the electrical design objectives.
I looked at three companies that launched new software in the past year aimed at such objectives.
Toronto-based Augmenta offers an electrical design module as part of the Augmenta Construction Platform (ACP), a software platform that automates building design for the construction industry.
This module uses generative design, which repeats permutations and possibilities using algorithms and artificial intelligence to arrive at the best design solutions. The software helps electrical contractors and engineers by streamlining the estimating process and creating fully constructible, National Electrical Code-compliant electrical raceway designs. Such designs once took weeks or months to complete. ACP can generate detailed designs for entire projects within hours.
The module’s output includes accurate 3D raceway designs, complete with a bill of materials compliant with the NEC. Engineers claim the module helps reduce design time by up to 70%, eliminating double entry and allowing for evaluation of multiple design options based on cost, construction time and maintainability. It also enables more efficient designs with 20% less material and labor. They also claim that project estimation time can be cut by up to 50%.
Optimal cable routing and design
Pickering Interfaces Inc., Chelmsford, Mass., a supplier of modular signal switching and simulation used in electronic tests and verification, has developed a Cable Design Tool (CDT) that allows test engineers to select and create faster interconnect solutions for their test systems.
The primary purpose of the project manager feature is to organize designs in a project folder structure. These folders can be shared with other users, providing access to project communications, attachments, history and other functions. The project manager also controls access to shared designs and manages the custom design library, which is the user’s design collection.
Users can send messages within the tool, which helps with workflow and the approval process by providing traceability of changes and keeping all communication in one place. The design submission process is greatly simplified, and Pickering’s CDT is secure. Unauthorized users can view but not edit the design, thus minimizing errors. Designs can also be locked.
Expediting panel building
nVent, St Louis Park, Minn., which develops electrical connection and protection solutions, offers Design to Manufacturing Software, powered by Zuken’s E3.series. The software expedites the electrical engineering and panel building processes for designers and manufacturing personnel.
The software archives an intelligent central parts library that is updated in real time, which ensures accuracy of components specified. The optimized engineering process facilitates the creation of a digital twin with all necessary manufacturing details. A digital twin is a virtual digital replica of the real-life electrical configuration. It automates panel building and connects machines and workers for a “smoother transition to smart manufacturing,” according to nVent literature. The software also enhances visualization capabilities and provides immediate access to digital documentation, helping workers detect critical errors and expedite the panel building process.
These software offerings only scratch the surface of the solutions available. More software, however, is becoming very specific to a use case and is helping ease contractors’ burdens on projects.
Header image: shutterstock / Mmaxer
About The Author
ROMEO is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, Va. He focuses on business and technology topics. Find him at www.JimRomeo.net.