# Electrical drafting software...

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#### Dan

We're shopping for electrical drafting software such as Via, Promis*e and RSWire. If anyone can provide feedback on a specific product, please do. Specifically, info such as learning curves, ease of use, reliability, etc. would be useful. We'll be doing electrical distribution, motor control and control circuits including PLCs and
other control components. Any opinions based on actual experiences will be appreciated, as would links to magazine articles, product ratings, etc.
Thanks.

T

#### T. Connolly

RSWire is Promis-e rolled up and repackaged as a Rockwell product. I've never used it but I've seen it demonstrated and I've seen its output. Pretty nice stuff. One thing about Promise/RSWire is that it uses an additional database above the ACAD database. This is where the drawing's "intelligence" is at, such as which lines are wires, etc. As long as you always edit the drawing with Promise/RSWire your OK, but if you or anyone else edits the drawing with straight ACAD, and you want to come back to it again with Promise/RSWire, you'll have a few do-overs. I personally like the Via packages. Via Lite is dirt cheap, easy to use, and very functional and it runs in ACAD and ACAD-LT. Its a good fit for a small shop or for a manufacturing
company that wants to maintain its own electrical drawings but is not into full blown automation engineering. VIA-Wd is a really great full blown package that incorporates a great deal of intelligence into the drawings but uses ACAD's own
datatbase to do so. It has a parametric build feature for generating PLC io drawings form a spreadsheet, or CSV files. That is a major work saver. I prefer using it over VIA-LT, but its a bit more expensive. I think you can download a demo of it from VIA, or at least you used to be able to. If you have a need to do IEC drawings, go with the Promise/RSWire. I haven't been too impressed with the VIA IEC drawings. So much so that the last time I did an IEC drawing, I just built my own symbol library and did it the hard way. In hindsight, it would have been cheaper to
buy RSWire detailer, given the time it took to crank out a 22 page drawing set. I could have used that time programming instead of drawing, bought the software, and still come out ahead. But maybe VIA has improved the IEC in the last couple of years though.

T

#### T. Connolly

RSWire is Promis-e rolled up and repackaged as a Rockwell product. I've never used it but I've seen it demonstrated and I've seen its output. Pretty nice stuff. One thing about Promise/RSWire is that it uses an additional database above the ACAD database. This is where the drawing's "intelligence" is at, such as which lines are wires, etc. As long as you always edit the drawing with Promise/RSWire your OK, but if you or anyone else edits the drawing with straight ACAD, and you want to come back to it again with Promise/RSWire, you'll have a few do-overs. I personally like the Via packages. Via Lite is dirt cheap, easy to use, and very functional and it runs in ACAD and ACAD-LT. Its a good fit for a small shop or for a manufacturing
company that wants to maintain its own electrical drawings but is not into full blown automation engineering. VIA-Wd is a really great full blown package that incorporates a great deal of intelligence into the drawings but uses ACAD's own
datatbase to do so. It has a parametric build feature for generating PLC io drawings form a spreadsheet, or CSV files. That is a major work saver. I prefer using it over VIA-LT, but its a bit more expensive. I think you can download a demo of it from VIA, or at least you used to be able to. If you have a need to do IEC drawings, go with the Promise/RSWire. I haven't been too impressed with the VIA IEC drawings. So much so that the last time I did an IEC drawing, I just built my own symbol library and did it the hard way. In hindsight, it would have been cheaper to
buy RSWire detailer, given the time it took to crank out a 22 page drawing set. I could have used that time programming instead of drawing, bought the software, and still come out ahead. But maybe VIA has improved the IEC in the last couple of years though.

B

#### bearwires

When I decide I was tired of the eraser and the redraws and was ready for the cad world, I invested in Autocad Lite. Then started my file of "bearblocks". When I drew a device it was added to the file, now around 300 blocks named in such a manner to be easy to identify by maker and description. The first blocks were copying the
old basic templates, needed items and good practice. The advantage of ACLT is the free blocks available on the internet.

B

#### Bruce Axtell

I have had exposure to Promis-e and Cimlogic's WD Toolbox. I know more than one company that has dropped Promis-e, and I personally do not like
it. Others on the List have already mentioned that RSWire is Promis-e, repackaged. WD Toolbox is similar to VIA, but about half the cost, as I
recall, and fairly intuitive to use. I've had no exposure to Via, but the Cimlogix package is good. I think you might find a comparison in some of the CAD magazines.

I think your best bet is to call the salesman for each, and have them demo it to you. Learn enough to sort out the hype, and good luck.

Bruce Axtell
[email protected]

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#### Jim May

Hey try "www.Cmhsoftware.org":http://www.Cmhsoftware.org the COnstructor ver. 4.02
I have been using it in school and it is great for writing and testing logic. There are no B.O.M.s in it but covers wiring controls and plcs.

Jim May

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#### Stephen Wright

I worked with Promis-e for 3 years at a couple of large engineering firms. I was impressed with its capabilities. Ultimately the systems were not successfully implemented. Such drafting and design software, to be used fully, requires a re-examination of existing design and drafting practices. I only realized how difficult this was and how resistant people can be to the changes it requires after my projects were abandoned. My opinion is that Promis-e is an excellent package. To make real use of the database capabilities requires considerable effort and some real committment to change.

B

#### Bob Peterson

I am aware of a number of companies who have looked at these type of packages. A few even tried to implement them. However, they all
discovered that the amount of time it took to set them up and load the data far exceeded the little bit of time savings that was generated.

A major issue for engineering companies, OEMs, and SIs is that the packages want to do things their way. Often end users have their own ideas on how drawings should look and its very difficult to deal with this issue on a job by job basis, so it ends up being simpler to just draw it by hand.

A secondary issue is that the complexity of the product makes it a poor choice to put on the backs of most drafters. They are just not prepared for it in most cases. It may even turn out that because of the way these products work, you will end up having your engineers run these

If you want to do this, I would suggest you look at the following issues:

1. Can you afford to put several thousands of manhours into the project before getting much in the way of usable drawings out of it?

2. Do the majority of your drawings have to be customised to the way your customer wants them?

3. Are you willing to take your most experienced engineer and put him on this full time for a year or more just to get it going? Realistically,
thats probably in the neighbourhood of the time and talent committment you are looking at.

4. Are you willing to expend thousands of manhours per year to maintain it once it is running? EVERY part you want to use has to be put into the database before you can use it in your drawing. It may well take more time to add new parts for a new project then it does to actually do the drafting work. And you cannot afford to have people waiting around for the parts to be added.

5. Do you have engineering talent available to run these products? Are they willing to do so?

6. What do you do with your existing drafters, who may well end up being out of a job?

7. What about the training costs? My guess is that you are looking at 2-4 weeks of formal training per operator and an additional period of
3-6 months of reduced productivity as they learn how to use the system.

I suspect that with well thought out drawing and BOM templates, you can reap most of the benefits of these systems without the overhead unless
you are large enough to be able to afford the overhead. My gut feeling is that unless you have a half dozen or so full time drafters, you are
probably not going to gain anything and the disruption involved could be a huge problem for your department/company.

Bob Peterson

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#### Thufail.E.A

Dear Sir,
With reference to your interest in electrical drafting software, I would suggest you a package called PCSchematicEL-Automation from Dps CAD Centre,Denmark. It has a very enhanced drafting and automatic listing/router utilities. It has additional utilities to support PLC oriented circuit designs. I have personally convinced about the product. Please check the web site "www.dps.dk":http://www.dps.dk or "www.pcschematic.com":http://www.pcschematic.com

Regards,
Thufail.E.A

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#### Sekar

I do not know if you already bought the software, For IEC standard, the leader is EPLAN by rittal and next best is caddy++ both from germany.
Caddy is cheaper and easy to use than eplan.
Both create electrical schematics as a project which can be imported / exported to DWG/DXF formats. You can down load a demo of caddy and try.
Hope this helps
Sekar

B

We invested in E-PLAN 21 when it was intoduced into the US about 5/6 years ago. Looked impressive.......and it is - if you are willing to (as one other author stated about Promise-e) spend time and \$ to load parts into a database.

Too hard to understand (even with 1 week training).
Too long of a learning curve.
Much fuctionality that never gets used.
Poor choice for an OEM who builds custom machines. (if we were building cars or radios or cd players by the gazzilions - then we would pick it up again in a sec.).

Long and short - returned to the mechanical platform - Cadkey (much less expensive than AutoCad and very comparable).

Regards.

J

#### Jim Baker

No more pencils,
As you can see by the posts, there are a lot of things to consider.

Mainly, if you projects are less than 5 pages, youprobably don't need a full blown ECAD package but, if your projects are 100+, you will need a higher end ECAD package capable of tracking all of the information. These high end packages, Promis-e, RSWire, VIA-WD, and Eplan all have a relational database in addition to the actual DWG files. This database is needed to allow for error checking across all pages. To analyze and update all of the drawings would otherwise require each page to be opened and closed one at a time. This takes too much time therefore, true ECAD packages use this type of database. With the exception of Eplan 21, that does not use AutoCAD for a drawing format. They use a "save as" to export the file.
Others in theis forum are also correct in that it does take time to impliment these packages. What time you put in is directly related to the quality put out.

ECAD in not drafting. ECAD is more of CAE than CAD. We in North America are spoiled by having draftsmen do the pencil work for us. This is not the case in most other countries. Although the times are changing. ECAD is the way of the future and has been around for 20 years. The longer you wait, the farther behind you will be.
IEC packages are the ones designed in Europe. Promis-e, RSWire and Eplan 21 are developed in Europe and therefore have a distinct advantage over VIA-WD (U.S. developement JIC) in that respect.

Good hunting and I am glad you are investigating before jumping in.

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#### Mike Galenkamp

One other package to add to the fold is SEE4000 or SEE Professional. It originates in France from Group IGE+XAO and is definately competition for EPLAN. We are beginning to use it successfully after the above mentioned set up time, highly due to us having our own proprietary computer control systems. More info is at "www.ige-xao.com":http://www.ige-xao.com .

I wonder if anyone else has tried this software and would like to share experiences with it. I would also recommend it and could tell you about it if you wish.

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#### Panduit

Lot of specialised dedicated electrical CAD packages are available. It is important to analyse them as per the project requirement.
What is important is more the intelligence in the package more costly it is, and more time it takes to learn and master it.
In the begining one can take help of outsoucing agencies to complete the drawings. One such agency email is: [email protected]
Also unlike autocad, these dedicated packages require thatthe operator is aware of electrical parameter, as lot of logic combined with technicalaties is involved.

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#### Michael Galenkamp

Many, if not all of your problems can be solved by temporarily hiring a third party to implement the software for you. You just have to find them. My company is an example of an Electrical CAD Specialist that has years of experience setting up companies in Electrical CAD, and can do this much more efficiently than someone struggling through it on their own.

For the company actually using the software, user software training is 3 or 6 days, depending on the level of proficiency desired.

See http://www.id3solutions.ca for more details.