EPLAN enables Saint-Gobain’s machines to talk more easily

EPLAN CAE software has been used to increase the efficiency and accuracy of design processes in many of the Saint-Gobain manufacturing facilities in the UK. It has most recently been adopted by Bristol-based Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, High Performance Bearings Group to help with the interconnection of individual machines to form integrated production lines.

This part of Saint-Gobain is a global division supplying high-volume international OEMs in markets that include automotive, leisure and industrial. The company delivers standard and custom solutions featuring RENCOL tolerance rings that provide a simple, reliable and inexpensive way of mechanically connecting many types of rotating components, and NORGLIDE plain bearings.

“This Saint-Gobain division buys machines from various manufacturers, which it then needs to integrate into an effective and efficient production line”, explained Deep Nandhray, Regional Sales Manager at EPLAN. “With the help of Electric P8, the company is able to interconnect the machines with much less engineering effort. In addition, the datasheets and documentation are now much easier to maintain”.

Kyle Tansill, Automation and Control Project Engineer at Saint-Gobain, needed a software package to identify and formulate modifications and changes to the machines purchased by the company, so that they will work together efficiently when integrated into a production line. It was, therefore, essential that the CAE software should be able to import schematic diagrams and other engineering information provided by the machine suppliers.

He found that EPLAN Electric P8 met this requirement perfectly and as a professional software package, also offered great functionality combined with ease of use. The EPLAN Data Portal, a global online component library, which is integrated into the software was another major benefit. It meant Kyle could quickly access accurate and comprehensive information for almost all of the components used in the machines Saint-Gobain Bristol had purchased, even though these machines came from multiple suppliers. Using information from the Data Portal also ensured that the documentation generated for the project was based on the most up-to-date data for the components.

EPLAN Electric P8 also offers users auto-referencing for component location within a project, automatic wire numbering, generation of reports – including terminal reports – and intelligent generation of PDF documents. This saves a large amount of costly engineering time, as well as minimising the risk of errors. In addition, users can always access precisely the information they need quickly and easily.

Based on HTML 5, EPLAN Electric P8 benefits from a help system that makes it even easier to work with. This includes text search (with a synonym function) and clearly structured help files containing basics, how-to and reference sections.

“With our EPLAN software, we can quickly import data from our machine suppliers, review it, and then work with it to devise the modifications needed so that the individual machines can communicate and work with each other,” said Kyle Tansill. “This is much easier and faster than trying to sort out the modifications with our old manual processes, and another really big benefit is that we end up with comprehensive and accurate documentation.”

In addition to supplying the software, EPLAN installed and set it up at the Saint-Gobain offices in Bristol. As part of this process, the EPLAN technical consultant configured the software to suit Saint-Gobain’s specific needs. This involved, for example, creating drawing templates and a numbering schemes for the wire schematics.

An eight-day training course, delivered in two sessions (five days and then three days), was also provided to complement the software. The training sessions are carefully designed to provide an indication of the capabilities of the software, and to explain additional features and facilities that can be added with cost-effective upgrades.

“Initially we didn’t know how to make the most of the software, but after just a few days’ training it became clear that it is easy to use and intuitive. After creating macros with the help of our EPLAN trainer, the automatic wire numbering feature was a particular benefit, saving us lots of time and effort! What’s more, the terminal schedules and the visual reports are invaluable, helping us to cut down the time spent commissioning.”

After the implementation and training days, EPLAN has continued to support Saint Gobain, as it does with all of its customers. A dedicated helpline is available for troubleshooting and advice whenever needed.

“We found the EPLAN employees to be very supportive and friendly – they always get back to you as quickly as possible”, said Kyle Tansill. “Another important aspect that we value greatly when working with EPLAN is that the company’s sales and support people take the time to listen to our challenges and assess our real needs. Their aim is not simply to sell us software, but to support us and to help us thrive through coherent and effective use of technology.”