Software with built-in prototype functionality speeds time
to market for control panel builders, system integrators, and original
equipment manufacturers through its ability to handle design, setup and testing
of control panel components prior to assembly. As a result, this capability enables
users of the software to improve quality, reduce risk, ease integration,
streamline commissioning, and better manage product lifecycles compared to
paper-based project documentation, which has a tendency to be difficult to find
when needed the most.
By running diagnostics prior to assembly, digital prototyping
functionality allows for easier control panel upgrades, lowering costs over the
lifecycle of the control cabinet or panel, and can be used to connect
components beyond the control panel. Multiple entrants in Control Engineering's Control Panel Design Contest over the past
two years cite the value of such software tools.
While software cannot do everything, and no software
package provides all of the following functionality, control panel designers
may use software for:
3-D prototyping for
component selection and layout;
compliance regulations, such as UL 508A, the Standard of Safety for Industrial
Control Panels, ANSI/UL 347,
"High Voltage Industrial Control Equipment," and ANSI/UL 508C, "Power Conversion Equipment,"
among other standards.
design, analysis and testing, and integration with human-machine interface and
3-D motion simulations
for motion-related devices connected to the panel.
During control panel design, software can be used to caution
the user about incompatibilities during design development. Product images and
dimensions can be imported from libraries of components, and the software can
suggest placeholders, links and missing components. Bills of material,
incorporating and checking for compatibilities from multiple manufacturers, may
be automatically generated. Built-in guides and wizards can also be used to automate
many design steps, transferring input/output tags from design to runtime
software, saving time and eliminating a source for errors.
Knowledge gained from prior projects, as well as other
areas of an organization can be incorporated into design software, thereby
allowing for on-the-fly collaboration over multiple locations on an ongoing,
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.