Distribution centers and warehouses are becoming extremely complex as productivity demand rises and technology advances. There are thousands of sensors, belts, motors, and controls throughout the facility that contribute to operations and each of them need to be designed and managed. The automation and technology additions are producing more data daily that require tools to handle the influx of data. Additionally, solutions that accommodate the equipment need to be designed fast so that material handling facilities can be fully operational as quickly as possible.
Utilizing integrated Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) software will enable engineers to meet the demands of these facilities as they expand and implement new systems and processes.
Rapid Growth of Material Handling Facilities
Facilities are growing in both size and complexity making it more difficult for the company to conduct all work internally. As a result, they are turning to supply chain and engineering companies that have the capabilities to assist in designing and building systems that support operational needs. Thus, collaboration between multiple companies is encouraged to meet the changing demands.
To promote collaboration, it’s necessary to have easy communication between the distribution center’s conveyor system requirements for the design and build process across companies. New tools, such as the cloud, make data easily available in real time to the build engineering companies allowing them to provide their input quickly and accurately to the design team. The complete process and build are completed in a more efficient way that allows the company to get systems up and running faster.
Data Challenges with CAD
Many companies have not updated their design engineering process and are still using rudimentary tools such as CAD. The requirements for data and accurate representation of information remains relevant when using CAD. However, the data handling capabilities of CAD have not sustained the test of time. Increasingly, data driven processes are being used that require various systems to handle the growing data needs.
Previously there were limited sensors throughout a facility and now it’s commonplace to have hundreds or thousands of sensors throughout all areas of operations. Managing the high number of sensors in a spreadsheet is an outdated and inefficient way of completing the necessary task. Database technologies are better equipped to handle the large amount of data requirements and structure it into a usable format. These tools offer better quality data and enable communication across various systems.
A Better Solution Than CAD
Switching to a database driven technology solution designed to handle the high volume of data is ideal for engineering design. It will capture all information as data, instead of only showing it graphically, and share it across different environments, departments, and systems. Now working within the planning phase of the conveyor system, the data driven system identifies the types of drives needed, the quantity of motors required, and all information is shared with subsequent departments. The information can be pulled to identify the drives, the wiring process, and all components that control the drives. All departments or companies involved in the project are working in one system where everyone involved has access to information simultaneously instead of using multiple systems requiring the manual exchange of information.
Increase efficiency of the entire design manufacturing process and minimize engineering time to help operations stay nimble and allow for quicker innovation. EPLAN provides the tools needed to be an expert in the engineering design environment. The platform is provided so users can populate all needed data to design the warehouse system. It is an integrated solution that supports all areas from design to build and installation to maintenance.
Maximize the Design and Build Process
Maximizing design flexibility is key to helping ensure new systems are up and running quickly. Rittal offers modular enclosures that add to design flexibility and cooling systems created to fit in the limited enclosure and floor space. Utilizing EPLAN, designing the complete layout of components, controls, electrical equipment, and wire pathways is possible and can be displayed in a virtual 3D model, further helping to ensure accuracy before production. Additionally, identifying the cooling requirements prior to building the actual model will help to ensure equipment doesn’t overheat and reduces the risk of failure. Ultimately, all components needed from controls to wires to cooling will be established before building the actual model preventing errors and rework and helping to reduce associated costs. Furthermore, changes completed at one stage will be relayed in real time as everything is captured within one system, further reducing the overall completion time.
The value chain of EPLAN and Rittal combined provides material handling companies the benefit of minimizing the time needed to engineer and produce systems necessary for operations. Once the system is produced, all data is easily accessible to maintain and service the system. For example, there is a large conveyor system in the warehouse with thousands of sensors and one fails. Instead of spending hours trying to identify where the failure is and what part is needed or finding a replacement part, all needed data is available in real time allowing for quick repairs, reducing downtime.
EPLAN helps users solve the challenge of planning, engineering, and designing the layout of systems by creating a more accurate and efficient process resulting in better quality data and value added. Material handling companies benefit from Rittal where there is need to manufacture an enclosure as the necessary tools are available. Rittal Automation Systems are manufacturing tools that help drill the enclosure faster, cut wires to length, and all data is provided between EPLAN and Rittal to help generate the actual hardware quickly. EPLAN helps to reduce the time it takes to engineer the system and Rittal helps reduce the build time. Combined, results are realized faster with less errors and improved quality.
To learn more, watch the four-part Need for Speed podcast series today.