Next Generation Electrical Engineering

By Engelbert Blumenthal

The analogy is justified: like production technologies, electrical engineering has also evolved, quite disruptively. Engelbert Blumenthal has traced the path of electrical engineering tools – from drawing-oriented electrical schematic creation to electrical engineering as an integrated domain in mechatronic engineering: Next Generation E-CAD.

With NX Industrial Electrical Design, Siemens completes its digital twin for machines and production lines with the detailed data of electrical engineering


The tool-supported electrical engineering started with purely drawing-oriented electrical schematic creation. Characteristic was the placement of symbols on electrical schematics – more was not possible at that time. All ‚intelligent‘ reports were manually maintained in separate lists. Even today, this is how electrical schematics will be created.

In the next step, the symbols became intelligent. However, it still remained a drawing-oriented electrical schematic creation. Advantage of the intelligent E-CAD symbols: All reports were generated automatically. The corresponding E-CAD tools already had routines for this as well as consistency and error checks.

Object orientation characterizes the 3rd generation E-CAD tools. The basis of these systems is a data model for electrical engineering. It is no longer a pure drawing-oriented electrical schematic creation; the electrical engineer can also work in parallel in the data model. The system keeps the data model and the electrical schematic consistent.

History of electrical engineering tools: from drawing board to mechatronic engineering with integrated 2D/3D E-CAD Siemens

Mechatronics requires a data model for all disciplines

In the meantime, engineering tools are developing into mechatronics. This makes electrical engineering an integrated domain in mechatronic engineering. The basis for this is necessarily a mechatronic data model. NX Industrial Electrical Design as a module of Automation Designer is such a next generation E-CAD tool.

All these technological developments still have the requirement to integrate the three core disciplines – mechanical, electrical and software – more closely together in engineering. Until now, E-CAD has been a separate domain that only connects to the neighbouring disciplines via interfaces – there can be no question of interlocking.

NX Industrial Electrical Design

Automation Designer breaks down boundaries between disciplines

Automation Designer is an engineering software for mechanical and plant engineering and there a central application for the electrical engineering and the creation of PLC software, all with a functional, mechatronic approach. Automation Designer integrates the data of electrical and automation technology with the data of the mechanical design – a complete digital twin is created.

The functions of Automation Designer and the Digital Twin reduce the engineering time to move from concept to (virtual) commissioning in the shortest possible time. With the Digital Twin, processes can be simulated and validated in advance. This leads to lower operating costs.

NX Industrial Electrical Design – 2D-Features

Manual electrical schematic creation

  • Standard IEC compliant symbols
  • Handling of electrical devices with sub-functions (e.g. contactors)
  • Show cross-references

Select catalog parts

  • Product library management
  • Standard eCl@ss product import
  • Product selection dialog for easy selection of products from the library

Managing Connections

  • Automatic creation of connections between connectors „on one page“
  • Managing terminal strips with terminals
  • Manage cables with wires, bundles and shields

Creation of reports

  • BOM
  • Terminal strip diagram
  • Query functionality for individual reports

Next generation electrical engineering – NX Industrial Electrical Design

Mechatronic engineering needs integrated electrical engineering

Automation Designer enables simultaneous, parallel engineering of all participating disciplines, as a common data model for mechanics, electrics and automation technology is based. This results in consistent data between system planning, mechanical CAD, electrical schematics, PLC hardware configuration, signals and PLC software.

The mechatronic data model included with Automation Designer ensures consistency throughout engineering. Automation Designer is the mechatronic control center and now has a fully integrated, full-fledged E-CAD module with NX Industrial Electrical Design, whose data is synchronized with mechanics and automation. NX Industrial Electrical Design includes the functionalities for creating electrical schematics and 3D cabinet design integrated in NX. This is an integrated data model. This means that the 2D electrical schematic symbols and the corresponding representation in the 3D cabinet are connected to each other. This means that the electrical engineer has consistent data at all times and the ability to navigate between the electrical schematic and the cabinet design.

NX Industrial Electrical Design – 3D cabinet design

Design cabinet layout

  • 3D geometry management in the product library
  • Placing electrical equipment in the cabinet design environment
  • Electrical devices are automatically snapped onto rails
  • Support for products with variable geometry such as rails and ducts

Check cabinet design

  • Collision test in the cabinet design environment

Creation of cabinet views

  • Create views of a cabinet on one page

Engelbert Blumenthal, Senior Product Manager at Siemens Digital Industries Software

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