Electro-mechanical design - challenges and solutions

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Siemens Genius

 

e3.series wire list2.jpg

Zuken is partnering with Solid Edge to help end the divide between electrical and mechanical design. This short article from Design World explores how electrical wire harness design and routing the harness around a mechanical assembly can be completed faster and with greater accuracy.

 

Because many of today’s products contain both mechanical and electrical components, for example a machine tool, a specialist vehicle, a kitchen blender or a smartphone, the jobs of electrical and mechanical engineers almost constantly overlap. That’s especially true as products and components become ever more sophisticated, smaller, and for use as part of the Internet of Things or the Industrial Internet of Things. Electro-mechanical parts and products can be challenging to design because engineers across different engineering disciplines don’t always understand the others’ needs. They look at a part or product through the lens of their discipline’s prime considerations and optimize with those considerations in mind. For example, electrical engineers may not necessarily take into account component placement, which can lead to mechanical interference or collisions. Mechanical engineers, for their part, may not consider thermal issues that could affect electrical wiring or electronic components.

 

To design a connected device, mechanical and electrical engineers must work closer together than ever before. But often they don’t. Companies need to find ways to better synchronize design data between mechanical and electrical engineering design. In the past, engineers exchanged emails to transmit and understand design intent. Designs were passed back and forth, from the mechanical to the electrical engineer, each of them optimizing their part of the design. Should an engineer make a revision, the cycle begins again to try and ensure that all design aspects function in harmony.

Electrical wires, cables and connectors are routed around a mechanical assemblyElectrical wires, cables and connectors are routed around a mechanical assembly

Even today, engineers of different disciplines often don’t have a way to communicate in a timely manner during product development. They can find themselves working on wrong versions or using out of date information. Sometimes mechanical designers make changes that can invalidate the electrical design. Other times, electrical engineers work ahead of mechanical designers and don’t communicate wiring changes to the mechanical engineer. 

 

Engineers sometimes refer to this back-and-forth as "throwing designs over the wall" (the wall that separates electrical and mechanical engineers, in this case). The wall slows production cycles and leads to misunderstandings over design intent. Designs may not be fully optimized, contain collisions, interference problems between printed circuit boards and enclosures, or can’t be manufactured at all, meaning the design cycle begins again. It’s time to tear down that wall!

 

To break down the wall between electrical and mechanical design Siemens and Zuken have been working together to link the Solid Edge wire harness design capabilities with the E3.series from Zuken. The E3.series is used to design wiring harnesses, electrical panels and control systems. The integration with Solid Edge, accomplished using the E3.Series Routing Bridge, streamlines the production of an integrated design and removes bottlenecks created by handoffs between departments. 

 

Data is exported from Zuken's E3.series to Solid Edge using the E3.series Routing BridgeData is exported from Zuken's E3.series to Solid Edge using the E3.series Routing Bridge

Paul Harvell from Zuken discusses electro-mechanical designPaul Harvell from Zuken discusses electro-mechanical design

The integrated solution allows electrical engineers to send wire, cable and connector information to Solid Edge so the harness they’ve designed can be laid out in the 3D world, says Paul Harvell, Zuken product director for the E3.series. “In an engineering environment, when someone comes up with an idea, the electrical schematic usually gets created first,” Harvell says. “With the program integration, electrical engineers can create that schematic and then send it to Solid Edge, where the designer can tackle the mechanical placement and routing. Zuken passes electrical connections, file information, and component information to mechanical engineers and they take that information and wire it around their physical unit,” he says “They then flatten that into a harness.”

 

Let’s take the example of a vehicle design engineer routing a wire harness from the power supply to an automotive headlight cluster. To begin, the electrical engineer would pass electrical information to the mechanical engineer, who would place the electrical wiring and component information within his or her 3-D model, Harvell says. If the wire harness needs to be modified, for example to route the cable away from a heat source, that information is fed back to the Zuken software at the click of a button and the electrical harness information is updated automatically.

 

In the Solid Edge Wire Harness module mechanical components can be moved and the cable routing updates automaticallyIn the Solid Edge Wire Harness module mechanical components can be moved and the cable routing updates automatically

Say goodbye to throwing designs over that proverbial wall! Instead, designers from both disciplines get to together, almost simultaneously, within in their own design systems.

 

You can access a free test drive of Zuken's E3.series and run through an online tutorial by yourself, and a 45 day free trial for Solid Edge is also available. The Solid Edge Wire Harness design module is included with Solid Edge Premium, or as an add-on for Solid Edge Classic and Foundation. 

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