Control panel designers can explore their creations in detail without waiting for them to be built, thanks to the virtual reality support facilities in EPLAN Pro Panel –CAE software for the design and construction of control cabinets, switchboards and flexible power distribution systems in 3D. The latest versions of the EPLAN software can export designs – including panel layouts and enclosure details – in the widely used VRML (virtual reality modelling language) format, which is compatible with most virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) visualisation systems.
The results obtained depend upon the system used, but with a typical VR system, users can “look around” the control panel in full 3D, which enables them to instantly see, for example, clearances between components and the amount of space available to accommodate wiring looms. The overall appearance of the panel can also be accurately assessed. This means that any potential problems, whether mechanical or aesthetic, can be spotted and corrected before work on the panel commences, thereby saving both time and money.
AR systems differ from VR in that they overlay computer-generated images on real-world views. The VRML output from EPLAN Pro Panel can be used in an AR environment as invaluable real-time aid to panel building and wiring. Typically, the AR system will overlay an image of one component at a time on the real-world view of the partly assembled control panel, showing exactly where and how the component should be mounted. This can be repeated for all components, and even for the connections and wiring runs, which cuts the time needed for assembly and wiring, as well as virtually eliminating the risk of errors.
At the Rittal Innovation Centre in Haiger, Germany, the presentation of EPLAN Smart Wiring also includes a glimpse into the future using augmented reality. Users receive support with wiring by way of virtual instructions and are shown the terminal points and wiring information as overlays, all in combination with virtual prototypes.
VRML export is now a standard feature of EPLAN Pro Panel and technical information about how to interface the files produced with popular VR and AR visualisation software is available from the company on request. Go to www.eplan.co.uk to learn more.