When it comes to controlling panel manufacturing, times have never been more challenging – nor have the planning and implementation of corresponding systems been more complex. With the increasing level of automation and digitalization in industry and infrastructure, the need for machine manufacturers and operators for customized and preferably communication-capable solutions is rising. Besides, there are even stricter security, availability, and energy efficiency requirements – and the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is compounding cost pressure even further, is added. How can control panel manufacturers overcome these challenges?

The Key is their workflows’ consistent digitalization. To strengthen their long-term competitiveness, control panel manufacturers need to drastically cut their design-to-market time to save costs and make the value creation process faster as a whole and more economical and flexible. The potential for digitalization and optimization is nowhere greater than in electrical design.

Electrical engineering as a cost factor

Today, engineering, design, and documentation account for nearly half of control panel manufacturing costs. While the mechanical design and automation of machines are largely software-driven, much of electrical planning is still done manually. The time needed and the likelihood of errors are equally high because the growing complexity in control panel manufacturing requires increasing knowledge. The need for relevant expertise on industry-specific energy efficiency and communication standards, automation and digitalization proficiency, and solid knowledge of the growing number of standards worldwide is especially high.

Greater efficiency through digitalization

Manufacturers urgently need support in creating adequate, future-proof control panel solutions. This support will come in digital form, especially in electrical design. Various studies substantiate the benefits of software-based engineering. In a survey conducted by the University of Stuttgart, the companies surveyed reported an increase in more than 40 percent efficiency when using integrated software solutions.

Functional and fully integrated mechanical engineering will unlock even greater potential in the future. The “Digital Twin” is the idea behind it: Individual machine functions are engineered in a modular fashion – and mechanical, electrical, and automation data is stored only once on a central platform. Therefore, machine and control panel manufacturers benefit from substantially more efficient development processes and faster throughput times.

Knowledge “as a service.”

The new Control Panel Design software is a critical first step toward end-to-end digital engineering in control panel manufacturing. It has been integrated into the TIA Selection Tool, Siemens’ configuration and ordering software, and maps the digital machine twin’s electrotechnical portion. This gives control panel manufacturers everything they need to efficiently design a machine’s electrical system, including the entire knowledge of worldwide standards – for the first time available digitally and at the press of a button. The software allows electrical designers to design and dimension the main electronics of a machine easily and conformance to IEC and UL standards.

So, what’s your take on the potential of digital engineering? From my perspective, machine and control panel manufacturers clearly benefit from this development as it can make their value creation processes much more efficient, save costs, permanently strengthen their competitiveness – and ultimately better master challenging times.

Disclaimer: I am the author at PLM ECOSYSTEM, focusing on developing digital-thread platforms with capabilities across CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM, ERP, and IT systems to manage the product data lifecycle and connect various industry networks. My opinions may be biased. Articles and thoughts on PLMES represent solely the author's views and not necessarily those of the company. Reviews and mentions do not imply endorsement or recommendations for purchase.

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