B&R's Automation Studio integrates with EPLAN Electric P8

  • May 03, 2012
  • B&R Industrial Automation Corp.
  • Case Study

May 2012

Traditionally, mechanical, electrical and software elements have been strictly separated and developed in a rigid sequence. Today, these disciplines are merging into a more integrated mechatronic approach. This not only paves the way for more efficient parallel development, but also simplifies coordination between mechanical, electrical and software engineers. This is why B&R integrates existing expert tools into the Automation Studio development platform via interfaces that ensure full transparency and functionality.

Automation Studio provides all the functions needed to develop and configure an automation solution – such as those for creating control and HMI applications, linking motion control components, safety technology and much more. Expert tools are integrated via open, transparent interfaces to provide specialized functionality – such as EPLAN Electric P8 for electrical planning.

The seamless interaction between EPLAN Electric P8 and Automation Studio allows development to occur in parallel processes. "Our users can easily carry over hardware configurations and I/O mapping tables from B&R Automation Studio, reducing the time and cost of development by avoiding unnecessary input repetitions and redundant workflow," explains Rainer Burgard, key account manager at EPLAN. For the engineers involved, working with these two tools couldn't be easier. In the past, the hardware configuration had to be set up manually in the automation environment even though it already existed in its entirety in the ECAD tool. With Automation Studio and EPLAN Electric P8, engineers can generate both the hardware tree and the I/O mapping table at the push of a button. The corresponding process variables are automatically aligned and merged with existing variables directly in Automation Studio. An intelligent comparison feature provides a clear overview of which components were configured in the Automation Studio hardware tree and which B&R components are used in the electrical plan. The user can then synchronize the projects with only a few clicks of the mouse. B&R provides all the EPLAN macros needed to accommodate the various hardware components.

Intelligent import and export mechanisms streamline day-to-day workflow when using multiple software tools. However, B&R and EPLAN go a step further using round-trip engineering features to fully synchronize the electrical plan and automation project and ensure that both projects are always kept up-to-date. The advantage is clear: "Automated data exchange prevents errors that might otherwise occur in the course of interdisciplinary communication, thereby improving the quality of the end product. This contributes to reduced maintenance costs later in a system's life cycle," explains Heinz Fürnschuss, the technical manager at B&R in charge of developing the EPLAN interface. "Modifications can be made quicker, easier and less expensive since the system documentation and software are always current and synchronized."

The fields of mechanical, electrical and software engineering are becoming intertwined in the pursuit of optimal efficiency. As a result, there is an urgent need to rethink conventional approaches to development tools. While tools of the past stood alone, with no means of communicating with each other but through simple import/export functions, future generations will interact transparently across open interfaces using intelligent synchronization mechanisms. This is the key step for machine manufacturers toward mastering interdisciplinary development and significantly reducing time and costs. In the fields of electrical design and automation, B&R and EPLAN have set an impressive example of how two development tools can work together harmoniously – something made possible by a well thought-out concept and close cooperation between the two companies.


  • Hardware configurations imported directly from EPLAN Electric P8
  • Automatic alignment of I/O mapping data
  • Consistent project synchronization provided by round-trip engineering

 EPLAN Software & Service

 EPLAN Software & Service develops engineering solutions, which accelerate the product development process. Interdisciplinary expert systems assure the highest degree of productivity and data integration. The solution provider develops customer-specific and tailor-made PDM and PLM concepts and provides comprehensive services such as customizing, consulting and training. Innovative development competence, a consistently practical approach, and international presence are the resulting success factors. EPLAN is part of Rittal International and thus of the Friedhelm Loh Group with 11,500 employees around the world and forecast sales of 4 billion USD in 2011. EPLAN is therefore synonymous with continuity and investment security. Four offices in North America and presence in 50 countries support 25,000 customers with 80,000 installations worldwide. The corporate motto - 'Efficient Engineering' - underlines the proficiency of optimized, efficient processes, which keep companies competitive in the long term.


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