Designing for the stage with help from EPLAN’s CAE tools

Published 14 October 2014

Posted by Tanya Weaver

Article tagged with: cae, automation, eplan, electrical engineering

Stage Technologies used EPLAN tools to design 80 axes of automation - including Willie Wonka’s glass elevator - for the West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

As anyone who has been to a West End production recently will vouch - the set up on stage is pretty impressive in its complexity. The motorised rigging offers fast changeover, not to mention the highest levels of safety.

Stage Technologies is a global engineering company that supplies just such complex stage automation projects to the live entertainment industry.

It makes use of EPLAN’s CAE tools to design control cabinet layouts, which in turn control the electrical equipment that interfaces with the control software. The scale of designs can be huge, requiring numerous control cabinets for one project.

“Designing 100 graphical panel layouts at a time has become a much simpler process using EPLAN. It also enables us to provide faster, more accurate project summaries for customers, to standardise recurrent content, and to generate documentation faster,” explains Stage Technologies’ electrical design engineer, Carl Hayday.

Since starting out with EPLAN 5 the company now utilises EPLAN Electric P8 and the EPLAN Data Portal. These tools are primarily used to design the control cabinets.

However, Stage Technologies has also seen a significant improvement in its ability to deliver timely and accurate project schematics and to transfer project information seamlessly between departments, thus avoiding costly errors and delays.

For big stage productions, the control cabinet layouts can be highly complex

According to Stage Technologies, one of the greatest advantages of EPLAN are the ‘smart PDFs’. This tool provides an interactive representation of an EPLAN project, even when the user does not have an EPLAN licence. This is not only used by customers, to provide feedback on project progression, but also engineering teams carrying out any maintenance to the system.

“The sheer size of our projects means that they may contain tens of cabinets and hundreds of winches”, explains Hayday.

“With the intelligent PDF we are able to locate where one particular winch is connected and the PDF effectively enables us to ‘jump’ through from the main cabinet view to the details of each component in a document that might be hundreds of pages long”.

Stage Technologies is continuing to enhance its solutions by using additional EPLAN CAE features. EPLAN Pro Panel is likely to be the next addition – a switchgear solution for the 3D engineering of control cabinets and switchgear systems.

EPLAN will be exhibiting at next week’s Design Engineering Show, which is taking place at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry from 22nd to 23rd October. Pop by its stand to discover its variety of electrical CAD solutions.

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