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Luc Morin

Any users of Eplan P8 ?

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Hello all, I've just registered onto this forum, and I'd like to know if there are other Eplan P8 enthusiasts hangning out in here. Regards,

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Enthusists? Is that a joke? HA. I took the GM basics class, played with it a bit, but haven't been tested with a project yet. I am dreading it completely. I'm sure it will take 3 times longer than with AutoCAD. I'm sure that if I did alot of the same designs it would be great........probably not.

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I took the GM CCRW classes last winter, and it does look like a pretty good package. Like everyone else, I'm quite used to Autocad, but I can see how a program like EPlan would be better suited to controls design. It makes sense, I suppose, for GM to impose this upon their supplier base. Unfortunately I never did land a GM-related job though, so I was never able to put it into practice!

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In the days before EPlan, GM made us use an AutoCAD add-on called EC CAD. EC CAD was similar to running AutoCAD Electrical. It had a lot of auto LISP routines, blocks and pull down menus specific to electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic design. Bud

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...another friendly European software? (maybe i am just not enthusiastic enough... ) (can't move project -> http://www.plctalk.net/qanda/showthread.php?t=40115 )

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Hi ElecPneuGuy, Not wishing to start a flame war, but I've been using EPlan for the past 6 years. In those years I've used the software, trained people to use it and developped custom solutions with the API. I think I can say I know the software. When I see comments like yours, I can't help but getting goosebumps. How can you possibly think that you can be any faster with a software where EVERYTHING has to be done manually, as opposed to a software that automates a lot of menial tasks ? As a concrete example, how much time do you spend on a project just updating component cross-references (such as coil/contact xref) ? And I'm not talking 2 pages projects. If that's your case, then by all mean EPlan is not for you. I'm talking hundreds of pages projects. Just try renumbering the pages and then make sure all the xrefs are good. Then what about updates to usual reports such as BOM ? Customer calls and says he wants to switch PLC supplier. You know the feeling if you've ever had to deal with fair sized projects. As with any software of this magnitude, there is of course a learning curve and a commissioning phase that requires time and commitment. After all, how much time did you spend customizing AutoCAD to the point where you have it today ? Same goes for any other software. Then you mention taking some form of training with GM. My understanding is that GM only offered those trainings to experienced EPlan users cause they wanted to train people on how to use the GM setup. This has nothing to do with basic EPlan training. If you went to this training without any previous EPlan exposure, then of course you will feel lost and overwhelmed. I hope you will eventually take the time to give the software a real test drive. Regards

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GM has established EPlan as the standard, internally and externally, for electrical drawings. If you're a machine tool supplier to GM, you are expected to have EPlan P8 and someone on staff that is qualified to use it. GM-employed engineers have to get the certification, too. They put on a 4 day "crash course" on the basics of EPlan to try to get everyone up to speed. Of course, you can only get your feet wet in 4 days, it takes much longer than that to master it. I took the course, and I can understand why they consider it good business to make everyone use a tool like EPlan. Does it make sense for everyone to stop using autocad though? probably not. Yeah, I know, autocad was meant for mechanical drawings, and us electrical guys are forcing it to do something it wasn't meant to do. But by the same token, spreadsheets were only supposed to be for accountants and we make pretty good use of those, too.

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Yes of course AutoCAD has its place in the Electrical Engineering department. What I was arguing is some other poster's assertion that he could probably work 3 times faster with AutoCAD versus a software such as EPlan. My experience, both as a user and trainer, shows differently. Anyway, I just wanted to know if other people on this forum were using Eplan. I didn't want to start an endless argument on AutoCAD vs. Eplan. My best regards.

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He was probably saying that HE, with HIS present skillset, could work faster in autocad. I know I could. Now, if I were to get the opportunity to work extensively with EPlan and master it, I'm sure the reverse would be true. Especially for GM or another company that is fully committed to it, because they have a fully customized version specifically geared to their standards.

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I find AutoCAD faster as well - at least right now, for me, for project size we usualy do and for variety of hardware we encounter on a day to day basis. integrated project is nice thing to have, specially when large. on a large scale project automatic referencing wins hands down, just like using same hardware over and over. Unfortunately this doesn't apply to everyone (us for example) where most projects are 60-100 pages and hardware is diffrent making constant upgrades of the parts library very time consuming. In fact when I was first introduced to ePlan, it only had products from handfull of European companies (I hope this has changed). Things that seamed slow in AutoCAD are numbering of wire lables etc. - when done manually. This is long obsolete and I hope nobody is doing it one line at a time. one can dramatically cut this time down using basic copy and paste, small tools like DDNUMB, blocks with references or embeded variables etc. another thing is BOM. it's tedious to do by hand but who likes that? we have created small utility that reads project data from our purchasing database and generates BOM pages in AutoCAD files which is a snap. on small projects (25 pages or less) 1h/page seam to work just fine, less time per page on larger ones thanks to copy and paste and few little things we use. Doing cad is only relatively small fraction of the time spent of project (just like programming). biggest part is research.

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Hi Panic, A few points to be noted here. You mention a host of in-house tools that you (or someone else) developped to get things done right, ie the way EPlan (or other similar software) does it. Everyone knows that those tools are costly to develop and maintain. Be honest, and add up the cost of all those in-house tools. Not to mention what happens when the guy who wrote them goes to work somewhere else. Second, you say you find it hard to maintain the part database, but then you mention the purchasing database. Well, in case you didn't know, EPlan is quite happy using such a 3rd party database. All you have to do is map the fields once, and there you go. You are right that CAD is only a small part of the design process, and that's precisely where specialized tools come in handy. On the other hand, documentation is not a small part of the design process, and when you have an integrated tool that allows you to cut down on time and errors, well, why not use it ? I can understand people resisting change. That's part of human experience. What I have more problem understanding is people insisting on using a screwdriver to drive a nail I've used AutoCAD for many years to do my electrical CAD, and I've also used other software packages, such as Xelec, Promis-e and of course EPlan (both EPlan 21 and EPlan P8), and I never want to go back to using AutoCAD for that purpose. I've tried AutoCAD electrical a little bit, and it seems like a decent product also. I wish I had time to try it more, but I'm keeping busy with other projects. I guess I just want to conclude with this: what I like about those solutions is the fact that they are integrated, and save you from a lot of errors. Regards

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hi Luc, don't take me wrong, i know very well what advantages I would expect from such product: we have heard about and tried just about everything out there (EC Cad, Via, See2000/4000, promise, you name it) and i don't mean trialware or test ride for two-three weeks. we have sent guys for training, got full versions of the product etc. the products have been used for considerable time by several designers and on number of projects. yet we have always came back to plain AutoCAD because all advantages those other tools offered, were not nearly enough to offset problems they introduced. I didn't try AutoCAD Electrical yet but i've just lost interest after so many dissapointments and spent time and hard cash. it's what i don't know (or don't know enough) that concerns me. perhaps you can explain why we should consider it. and I hope I'm wrong but possible downsides could be that it's German so there could be lot's of things in common with other German software products (Siemens for example): - there is more than one edition of the product and they charge for every feature (just like in German cars) - poor translation, menus, messages and pop-ups showing in German, - big and slow, - invasive (runs tons of unwanted services all the time, installs itself into root of the drive instead of "?:\Program Files" etc.) - horrible website, - parts library contains only European brands (or just one or two non-European) - non intuitive interface (requires long training - was already mentioned one week to start, another week just to use alternate enviroment etc.) - poor documentation - based on "German common knowledge" which is put into heads of unwilling suspects ("enthusiasts") by force on week long training sessions - unstable, interferes with other products - huge footprint, - uses DRM and/or dongle - the actual file format or project size is NEVER even mentioned. i suspect that one project will be not one, but bunch of files (perhaps with folders and subfolders as well) and not selfcontained (will be linked to resources in library so moving to another PC with ePlan will not be easy?) etc. maybe great product but if only two of those are true, don't mind if I pass... ok, i was just curious so I tried to check the ePlan website. in fact i visited both canadian and US (www.eplancanada.com and www.eplan.us). although trial version downloads are right on the home page on both of them - not a single download link works (tried from two different computers). one can only browse webpages but cannot download trial version, can't download PDF with training schedule, can't download anything. i decided to look some more and came accross several European websites (each country seam to have one). this is where i could finally get at least something downloaded and I've found PDF with introduction and system requirements. as suspected several things already turned out to be true: horrible websites, poor webpresence (even wiki doesn't know about ePlan), software nests intself into root of the C: drive instead of Program Files folder,min HDD space 30-60Gb, recommended 60-160Gb (why is it that German programmers think that shuffling such volume of data, making backups, etc is going to be a snap and that users will enjoy the massive monster on their machines? do they get paid by megabyte they or their products produce?), this definitely doesn't look like something you are going to put on a USB key and take home or email to your other computer. also there is indeed DRM - as well as dongle (just what mobile user needs) and there are several product versions, each of them still has/needs many pluggins and addons. even single line seam to be addon (probably single line drawing format). actual file format is never mentioned, but who cares since your hard work is encrypted anyway (DRM) by someone in europe so if they ever want to squeeze some more money out (they changed owners few times already), they will ones having all bargaining chips (helps nothing that you have backup). the manufacturers that support ePlan seam to be all from Europe, except for Rockwell and Omron. Good luck with cataloging all your products from sagginaw, hoffmann, mitsubishi, banner, Baldor, Amphenol etc. In fact i don't see many European products, specially outside Germany: Sick, Alphagear, Pepperl & Fuchs, Baumer, Stegmann, Balluff, Atlas Copco, Kuka, etc. making block in AutoCAD doesn't take much time. making new product for product like this is much more involved (one has to fill out many fields like manufacturer, part number, description, category etc., define symbol, connections, terminals, shape and size etc.). i can see someone spending months just to build library before actual drafting can start. am i wrong?

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Completely. Like I already mentioned, I've been using EPlan for more than 6 years now, and am very happy with it. All the excuses that you brought up are the same that we keep getting over and over from people using AutoCAD. Let me ask you a simple question. You critic the "lack" of parts database for EPlan. Can I please ask you where such parts databases are available for AutoCAD ? Or are you refering to blocks ? If you are indeed talking about parts data (part number, electrical characteristics, dimensions etc.), then where are those databases for AutoCAD ? How do they integrate with AutoCAD ? How do you extract a BOM from AutoCAD drawings ? The answer is that there are NO parts database whatsoever designed for AutoCAD use. You have to build your own. How is that any different than with EPlan, which at least has the advantage of offering an out of the box parts management interface + database ? Also, how is DRM a bad thing ? I'll tell you. In my experience, almost every business in north america use pirate copies of AutoCAD. The fact that EPlan is harder to crack seems to be a negative side only to those people who would actually ENJOY being able to use a cracked version and not have to pay for it. Of course you won't admit to it, but is your copy of AutoCAD legit ? You speak of more than one edition of the software as being a bad thing. Ever heard of AutoCAD LT ? Then you go on talking about the quality of the corporate web site as a decisive factor. Come on. And you are 100% wrong about EPlan installing in root of C: drive. Get your facts straight. I could keep replying to all your affirmations, but I feel it's a waste of time. I see that you'll never be convinced no matter what I say. Live long and prosper.

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hi luc, i am not trying to put the product down, just trying to learn more. i expressed my opinion, concerns and explained what turns me off in a software product. C:\EPLAN was shown in brochures i found on ePlan's website since i could not try software myself. keep in mind i'm not the only one who reads this or could use some convincing, avoiding answers is not going to help creating warm feeling about any product. judging by absence of comments from more users, this product could use some promoting.

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Ok, Let's try to backtrack a bit. You have been throwing a lot of dirt at a product that you have never tried. Thus my strong reaction. Let me now try to answer your concerns. I really wish you take the time to read this through, as I've taken some of my precious sleep time to write it. First of all, I've been in the automation business for some 15 years now. I've been using CAD software since then, and of course AutoCAD was the first one I learned in technical college. Along the way, I got to try Xelec and Promis-e in production enviroments. I haven't liked them. Then, in 2002, we started to look for a more complete package, and we tried Eplan 21. We ended up buying it, as it really saved us a lot of time and errors. In 2005, I started on my own, and got a license of Eplan P8 this time. Newer version, more functionalities etc. As a freelancer, I also gave training for both Eplan 21 and Eplan P8. So I'm both a user and trainer, but mostly a user, as training is not really my cup of tea. During that time as a trainer, I was introduced to a lot of people in a lot of companies. Needless to say that I've had to put up with a lot of noise from people unhappy to have to learn a new software. It's understandable. The one thing that really hit the spot though were all these false claims about Eplan being slow, bloated, expensive, hard to comission, you name it. What I've noticed is that the vast majority of those resisting change was the AutoCAD crowd. This is where the bad taste in my mouth came from. Eplan really revolves around 2 key concepts (to resume very roughly). The symbol libraries, and the parts libraries. Out of the box, Eplan comes with a full set of NFPA and IEC symbols, so you really have nothing to do to start editing the schematic other than learn the interface, which is very customizable. I used to say during training that whatever you can do in AutoCAD schematic wise, you can do in Eplan just as easily. And to top it all, you get Autoconnect wires between symbols. No more trim/extend to move things around. The real power comes from the "intelligence" behind the symbols once they have been inserted into the schematic. They become objects to which properties can be attached. I say "can" because you don't really have to fill them if you don't need to. But it's always nice to assign a Device Tag, Function Text and other common properties. By the way, these properties are very easily accessed through dialogs. Even assigning parts to those objects is a piece of cake. Of course, the parts database needs to be filled, but you'd still have to do that with any other system, wouldn't you ? On the other hand, as I alreay mentionned in an earlier post, if you don't want to bother using the built-in Eplan parts management interface, you can easily configure Eplan to use an existing database, such as an MRP/ERP or whatever you happen to have in-house. Now, all these properties and parts information can then be extracted to create reports such as BOM, wire lists, cable lists etc. On top of all this, you benefit from automated wire numbering, automated device numbering, online cross-reference between components (by online I mean real time) and a whole lot of other functionalities that would be too long to list here. All this out of the box, meaning that you don't have to rely on in-house tools anymore. Now, if you really need to customize more, then Eplan offers an API module that you can use to write add-ins in any .NET compliant language. I myself have written a lot of those to automate Eplan further more, for example automated dumping of a BOM into an MRP system. No more copy/paste of endless lists. You see, the driving principle behind Eplan is that "The schematic drives the show". If your schematic is done right, and all proper information entered, then everything else becomes a report of some kind. I know that for most people it's a radical switch in mentality, but I can honestly assure you that once you've understood it and embraced it, you can really start flying. It is true that the learning curve is steep, and that there's going to be a transition time where you will feel the need to go back, and by all means, there's nothing wrong in doing so. But the thing is, in just a few weeks of using the software, you can already produce fully documented projects, and not months as you suggested. I can't really answer all your concerns. I hope I have put things in their proper perspective. Again, I can only hope you'll give it a try some day. Regards. Edited by Luc Morin

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I'm getting started with EPLAN P8. I like what I see so far. I've been able to change part numbers across an entire project (hundreds of pages) with a few clicks. The interface seems very logical and I havent had any crashes at all. That may seem like an odd observation, but dont get me started on the troubles I've had with Autocad Electrical. Ouch! Anyway, I hope to be able to converse with other P8 users and learn more.

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Hello Designer. I'm sure glad to hear that you are satisfied with Eplan. Let me know if you need some tips & tricks. Regards

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Thanks Luc, I may not be ready for anything fancy yet, but I'm learning my way around pretty quickly. One of the great things is that everything is so organized. It seems like I have ultimate control over my current project (over 1000 sheets), and the interface is very forgiving. It almost "knows" what I'm trying to do sometimes. I'm really impressed. I also wanted to point out that to this day I've still had no crashes. That's unparalelled! I deliberately tried to create an error message by putting a terminal point on top of another terminal point. I was informed that such action is not allowed. Haha! Duh! Apparently it is watching to prevent me from doing something stupid. Whats all for now from this P8 newbie.

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Sorry for the kick and the bad englisssh My boss decided to buy eplan and he let some unexperienced outside people work with it. With shitty results of course. Now I want to do some things myself but he want let me go to the eplan courses (to expensive!) So I want to learn it by myself. So I Googled "eplan tutorials" with bad results. If I google "autocad electrical tutorial" well try yourself.... If I had the choice i would go for AC electrical but I dont, so if somebody can offer me some help on this, I would gladly accept I also can't find a decent forum for eplan

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Hi Kolonel, Take a look on the EPLAN site, and look for the Getting Started guide. If you have trouble finding it, just give them a call. I've always found the people there to be very nice and responsive. The guide is translated from German, so it has some minor issues. They may have fixed that by now. My copy of the guide is a few months old. I was scheduled for official EPLAN training, but my company put a freeze on business travel for now. I've taught myself how to use it well enough by using the Getting Started guide. But, I've also been asking questions of tech support at EPLAN when I run into trouble. Good luck and have fun! Designer71

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Thank you The getting started guide comes with the software so I've already been there. If you want to go deeper- like changing plotframes or symbols- One can search in the help files but this takes al lot of time and you're not sure you're doing the right thing. ( I already had to redraw some stuff for working wrong) The online help is also quite expensive so my boss want pay for this either and learning it all trough the phone: I think it would be better, eplan includes some education stuff in the price (books or a 3-day course) Like for autocad of which you can find loads of books in the local library I think it would be a good marketing strategy to make such available. but probably the target group is to small? If only someone would setup a decent forum...

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Kolonel, Quite frankly, if your employer is not willing to pay the very small training fee to get you up to speed, then you are right, you should use AutoCAD Electrical (and live with its limitations). We get to see that over and over. Companies, who will benefit from using a great tool, are reluctant to invest time and money to get there. Why do you think AutoCAD is so popular ? Because it was easy to pirate, and I'll say it again, a LOT of companies use those pirate versions. I think AutoCAD will see a decline in popularity as the new versions seem to implement a better protection scheme. Funny isn't it that AutoCAD will finally do what Eplan has been doing all along. As for AutoCAD Electrical, it is not such a bad product, but it has its limitations, and quite frankly, for the difference in pricing between AE and Eplan, one would be ill advised not to go with Eplan. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the number of people/companies who think that they'll be able to pick up a highly specialized tool like Eplan, and teach themselves. When is the last time that you heard of a radiology technician who had to train himself on how to use an MRI scanner ? Would you accept passing the MRI test if it was handled by such a person ? Why do people think it's different with software ? As for a better forum for Eplan discussions, there is one if you have the maintenance agreement. Ask you local Eplan representative about it. Regards.

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I agree. Looking at the money that's been spent so far on training for AutoCAD electrical and comparing it to the rusults we have seen, it's pretty sad. We are struggling to make it work. Specifically, we are struggling to get the functionality from AutoCAD electrical that already exists in EPLAN P8, right out of the box. BTW: I go for official EPLAN training soon. My internal customers (and boss) are liking what they see.

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Hi We already have an P8 license zo autocad is not an option. As my boss won't pay for education, he also has stopped the maintenance module so I can't go to the official forum. The last time I checked this forum, it was very lame anyway I've been using eplan P8 for a few weeks now and it seems to work out well. went trough the beginner guide and found some stuff on my own. But this takes a lot of time and I will never become the time reducing tips and tricks. free tutorials are unfindable. If somebody..... Can I ask you guys occasionally some practical questions about eplan use? I could do this trough this forum (moderator?) or private (click my name) Thank you in advance Edited by kolonelvonklink

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Certainly, I'm not an expert yet, but I am hoping for official training soon, and have learned a fair amount on my own. Ask away! Travis

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