Harry Major Machine (HMM) UK, based in Bedfordshire, specialises in the design, manufacture and supply of automated parts handling systems, assembly machines, and special machines for a range of industries.
With an increasing demand for its products and services, particularly from automotive manufacturers, the company decided to reevaluate its electrical design package.
The main objectives were to work smarter, facilitate growth and improve communication with customers.
Following a recommendation from an automotive customer to consider EPLAN, a developer of electrical CAD software, HMM has since invested in EPLAN Electric P8, EPLAN Fluid and the EPLAN Data Portal.
Although adopting EPLAN was not an easy decision, due to HMM already using other systems and the learning curve it would mean for its team, benefits have been reaped.
Data re-use was the first benefit experienced by HMM. “Once one machine has been programmed, the other machines can be programmed in a similar way,” says Jon Pleshette, controls manager at HMM.
“Once you make the initial investment to create symbol libraries and build a database, significant design time can be saved.”
HMM has also gained time saving advantages from the use of EPLAN Fluid, an engineering tool for the automatic configuration of circuits for fluid systems.
As a typical project consists of 100 to150 pages, HMM allocated three months for implementation, however, once the first set of EPLAN drawings had been approved the results became almost immediately apparent.
“After we got the first drawings approved we flew from there. We could produce several sets of drawings in a week. All that needed to be changed was the odd motor here and there,” says Chris Clifford, engineering manager at HMM.
Another key advantage was access to the EPLAN Data Portal, which gives users access to the device data of over 375,000 components that are controlled and managed by over 57 high-end manufacturers such as Festo, ABB Siemens, Schneider and Rockwell Automation.
“The Data Portal does a lot of work for you, all you need to do is insert a part into the project via Drag and Drop,” says Pleshette.
HMM’s customers are also seeing benefits from the EPLAN implementation with the use of an intelligent PDF, which allows third parties to easily view and monitor project progress.
They can not only view device properties (cable type, technical characteristics, and cable length) and part properties (including order number and part designations) but also specify corrections and insert comments into the document.
This intelligent PDF is also proving useful when it comes to HMM assembling large machines at a customer’s facility, which is dissembled for transport and then reassembled.
“If someone used to ask a question to locate a multicore cable, it would have been present in several different sheets but now I simply press a button and it tells me port one goes here, port two goes here etc. which is very helpful for the electrician,” comments Clifford.
Planning for the future
In order to improve communication between company departments and enhance the level of automation within electrical design, HMM also plans to integrate EPLAN into its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
The company hopes to merge its two separate databases; one purchasing system and one for EPLAN.
The integration would enable the accounts department to compile a quote with an itemised list of components required; this list can then be dragged and dropped straight into the schematic.
This data can then be used to generate a bill of materials and enable the user to automatically create a purchase order, eliminating manual work and helping to reduce error.
Eighteen months down the line HMM has experienced significant time saving and productivity gains. “It was a major concern that we did not want to be running multiple packages however, EPLAN fulfils all our requirements so using the software for all our projects is not a problem,” says Pleshette. “I think the software is brilliant, we love it.”
Investment in EPLAN software pays off for Harry Major Machine