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    Question Researching Design Tools - Electric Utility Controls

    Hello everyone!

    I work for a municipal elelctricity distributer. Specifically, I design substation control systems. We have been looking into some form of electrical CAD system for a while now. Presently drawings are done in AutoCAD and are non-intellighent drawings. I'd like to change that.

    We have looked at RSWire and even have one license of it sitting on the shelf. The problem I kept running into with them had to do with two areas. I'd appreciate any feedback on whether AutoCAD Electrical would address these issues.

    Issue 1 - We have a LOT of plant that would (at some point) need to be modified using the new tools. Is it required (or perhaps preferred) that the existing controls be re-documented in ACE before moving forward with changes? Or should this be seen as a "going forward" system and only do new substations in ACE? (Not exactly a great solution.) Basically, can the old and the new be integrated in some way so that as changes are made, the old unitelligent drawings are gradually replaced?

    Issue 2 - Changes. We quite frequently change things in our substations. Upgrading relays, new breakers, new comminucations equipment, etc. When these changes are made, how well can ACE track the changes from one revision to the next? And would we have to have complete near duplicate "projects" for each revision? Or can a few drawings be changed and the rest left as is? Some of our projects (substations) may have 300+ drawings. A change may mean editing anywhere from 10% to 50% of these. Depends on the changes needed.

    Semi Issue 3 - Symbol libraries. Other than the base IEC and JIC libraries, RSWire had few libraries available (even through 3rd party suppliers). Does ACE fare any better in that respect? We use a lot of high end solid state control relays that will probably have to be modeled in-house for any package we choose, but I would like to reduce the amount of that sort of thing as much as I can.

    Thanks for any help you can offer.

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    I could stop if I wanted to RenataP's Avatar
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    Default Re: Researching Design Tools - Electric Utility Controls

    Good afternoon J,

    I would be happy to share some information with you. Let me right off tell you that I enjoy working with in AutoCAD Electrical (ACADE). It has been very helpful with our specialty electrical design builds. Some of our designs are reused or used for a base with lots of changes. With that in mind, think of only the time saving on updating title blocks using ACADE. Today in a 37 sheet project I moved them all around. With about 10 minutes, I was able to update the order in the title block sheet number plus the ladder numbers along with retagging all the components that are attached to sheet number. Some of the little headaches go away by using this “intelligent” block (title block linked to a database).

    Since they are just blocks made with special linking ability, it would be ok to say to go forward instead of redraw all previous projects. When you do update add the new blocks and replace old text with the new tools. Some things may be able to cross over as far as replacing a “dumb” block with an “intelligent” block if they are indeed blocks instead of just lines and circles. ACADE comes with a tool for converting older drawings into this special smart linking method. Updates are the key for linking and would have to be implemented in order to see the results of ease of use. As far as revisions, there is a tool for mark and verify drawings to keep track of changes.

    Have you tested the software for a month with a free trial to see what might benefit your company? It is a great way to begin. The supplier should be able to come out and give a demonstration as well who might be able to share some specific ideas for your company,

    Along with your thoughts on the symbols, there are 11 libraries in 2008, inside the jic125 library, there are 1,531 blocks. Now some of those blocks are duplicates with different links for the database, yet a nice big number. With regards to relays, I have found that I make most of mine. Yet remember that once you make one that works best, the others are only a copy, change away. Not remake from scratch but copy and change the smaller items or make more generic by using more attributes. ACADE makes it easy to create new blocks with the “symbol builder” tool along with examples to follow.

    I hope this has been informative. Another source of reference is Autodesk Manufacturing Community Discussions for AutoCAD Electrical Groups.

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