As we continue our path of digitalisation and automation across the business, we have found some elements of manufacturing which are hesitant to move into the 21st century.

We have embraced 3D modelling across the design phase, for example for control panels and motor control centers (MCC’s), but we found that when we printed the designs out onto paper schematics the manufacturing team weren’t always able to visualise the end result. We also had instances where changes were required to the design during the assembly process – this led to the paper schematics going back and forth between teams and multiple print runs being required, plus the inevitable time and effort required to manage revision control – critical in the QA process.

After discussing how we could improve the whole process, we decided to enlist the help of EPLAN’s online sharing platform eVIEW.

We are now able to design our schematics in EPLAN Pro Panel, software which our design team have been trained to use, and these are uploaded to eVIEW – a cloud based solution which anyone involved in the project can access through a browser – even without a license. Team members can annotate the plans with comments or make changes and this is automatically updated to all involved.

At LCA we decided to display the schematics on large screens in our ‘Smart Hub’ area of the manufacturing facility – this enables the teams to host briefings and discussions whilst looking at the 3D model. For the craftspeople who work at LCA we have found this beneficial as they tend to be more visually led or kinesthetic learners. By allowing the teams who are going to assemble and build the control panels an opportunity to ‘fly around’ and ‘look inside’ they can gain real insights into how they will build it in the real world.

The result of this digitalisation will be that we can identify issues early, have improved engagement and ultimately, we will be able to deliver our customers an efficient service and higher quality product.

The photo shows Matthew Jones, one of our manufacturing engineers, leading the team through a small panel build.