Smarter planning

Following a highly successful preview at the Hannover Fair, Wieland Electric has launched wieplan 3.0, a powerful yet easy to use software tool for configuring DIN rail terminal block assemblies using Wieland components.
Initially it seems to be a fairly simple means of planning and creating control panels and because this type of task has been fairly laborious in the past it begs the question, what is the catch? But seemingly there isn’t one – wieplan is actually designed to make the job easier.
How does it work?
For those of you not already familiar with wieplan, this is the third version of the software, (the first having been launched over three years ago) and it is used for planning and creating control panels. The main difference with wieplan 3.0 is that it can now be linked to the CAE engineering tool Eplan 5 and its successor system Electric P8 from Eplan Software and Service and thus control cabinet configurations can be completed much faster.
Eplan is the global market leading Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) software, for the design of electrical control and automation systems. It is a stand-alone product on a Microsoft operating system and boasts over 15,000 customers with over 54,000 licence installations worldwide.
It has proved to be a longterm design engineering automation partner in the controls industry, which provides support from concept through to implementation and from basic interface and collaboration to complete integration in the entire engineering process.
Eplan has also adopted the philosophy of continuous improvement focused on creating tools that significantly enhance accuracy, efficiency, workflow, and documentation for electrical controls and automation. That philosophy has generated an extraordinarily capable suite of design automation software, which, when interfaced with wieplan 3.0 provides the user with an unrivalled software package capable of saving both time and money.
The process of control cabinet planning starts with a definition of a termination point in Eplan Electric P8. At that time the terminal block functions must be defined and afterwards they are exported to wieplan, the relevant data is assigned and the part numbers and accessories required are added. This results in a completely defined terminal block assembly shown in wieplan, the finished data for which can now be transferred to the CAE tools. Following the termination of the planning phase, wieplan generates an order request for Wieland Electric and marking data can be exported to wiemarc or other marking systems.
Ian Langeveld, AT Sales Manager UK & Ireland for Wieland Electric says: “We have made a huge breakthrough with this version of wieplan because in the past by just using Eplan there was no automatic assignment of product codes and therefore customers could not ensure that they had the correct product parts. The interface with wieplan 3.0 now means that the product codes are automatically entered into the technical drawing ensuring that the correct parts are used every time.
“In addition wieplan 3.0 closes a gap that has existed in the engineering flow so far, enabling direct data exchange and thus quicker project editing.”
Overcoming the issues
The main problem with many new software packages is that it takes so long to come to grips with what they actually do and how they work that you have given up on them long before they have served any useful purpose. Thankfully that cannot be said for wieplan 3.0 and that’s one reason why it is proving to be such a success in the industry.
Firstly it is very easy to understand and the distinctive computer animation effects which are used to produce drawings, parts lists and ordering information for both individual terminals and fully assembled terminal rails mean that it is always both obvious and easy to decide whether what you are creating is correct for your application.
Secondly the software is very easy to navigate and the userfriendly menu guidance is just one of the outstanding features that support the user in planning terminal block assemblies. A good example of this is the ‘favourites’ function which saves basic terminal block configurations and makes them available for use with other designs in the future – something which can save you a huge amount of time as you will not have to build the project from scratch every time.
Using experience
You could be forgiven for thinking that version 3.0 is not so different to version 2.0 (because sadly this does happen quite a lot in this industry), but like with updated versions of Windows, it is the additional functionality which makes wieplan 3.0 so much better.
I particularly like the permanent plausibility check which is basically like having a member of the Wieland technical team sitting next to you every time you design a terminal block assembly. I doubt that Wieland Electric has enough staff to go around all of us but this is the next best thing and means that all of the terminal block assemblies which you create are automatically checked to ensure that they meet all technical requirements. In addition wieplan 3.0 automatically informs you about all of the accessories required, avoiding errors in the terminal block assemblies and ensuring that you get the optimal results every time
Ian says: “We have built up a great deal of experience at Wieland and are keen to share this with the industry. By introducing the permanent plausibility check we can ensure that users have access to our experience and can use it on a daily basis.
“This ultimately provides a better service for everyone because the user can be confident that their design will meet their requirements and we can be sure that our customers will be happy with the products which we supply because they will be the right products for the application.”
New customers
The introduction of wieplan 3.0 will undoubtedly simplify the way in which control panels are planned and created but there is an additional benefit in that it opens up the market for new customers.
Eplan is currently used in many large manufacturing plants and in particular the food and drink market where it has served well for many years. The fact that Eplan now has a direct interface with wieplan 3.0 means that many more industries will be able to take advantage of the extensive product range offered by Wieland which comprises more than 20,000 different components for automation technology and building installation.
And finally
It isn’t often that a genuinely new software package is launched which actually makes our life easier – and before everyone starts to pen a suitable email to our editorial office, what I mean to say is that it is not often that a software package is launched which makes our life easier – straight away.
I have spent many hours marvelling at how difficult it is to fire up a simple software programme and then use it without the initial battle between computer, user and new software – none of which seem to want to work together.
Wieplan 3.0 was therefore something of a novelty in that it appears to be easy to use and it does exactly what it is supposed to. My advice would be to try it out sooner rather than later because there is no point in struggling with the laborious task of control panel planning when there is a useful piece of software which will do it for you. In addition, to go back to what we said at the beginning, there isn’t a catch – and while you may be thinking that I haven’t yet mentioned the cost then this will also come as a pleasant surprise because it is available free of charge.
To get your free copy of wieplan 3.0 contact the Wieland Electric sales team on 01483 456262 – online updates are then available via the