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Electrical CAD program targets existing users
Published:  01 February, 2005

Electrical CAD program targets existing users

The CAD (computer-aided design) giant Autodesk believes that it has created a new market with the electrical version of its AutoCAD software, announced a year ago. AutoCAD Electrical integrates AutoCAD with the VIA Wiring Diagram products that AutoDesk bought in 2003.

The two packages have now been completely integrated so that AutoCAD Electrical is a fully-fledged member of the AutoCAD family with the same look and feel as other members, and full compatibility with the DWG file format. These aspects are important because AutoDesk is targeting users of its other products, such as mechanical engineers who sometimes do some electrical layout and design work, or need to collaborate with electrical engineering colleagues and customers.

The software is said to cut costs and shorten development times by offering features such as: automatic wire numbering and component tagging; automatic drawing of PLC I/O drawings from spreadsheets; automatic coil and contact cross-referencing; smart panel layouts; automatic project reports; a toolbar for integrating pneumatic motion; and the ability to publish designs on the Web.

The object-oriented software uses "intelligent symbols" so, for example, it "recognises" a motor and makes the appropriate connections. It can also produce three-dimensional harness designs from schematics.

Steve Mayer, sales director of Aceri, the specialist distributor for AutoCAD Electrical in the UK, estimates that that potential market for the product in this country is about 30,000 licences. He says that he has sold more than 200 of the packages already and is on target to sell 300 in the product`s first year.

By targeting existing AutoCAD users who need an electrical design capability, the new product is "exactly filling a hole in the market," Mayer suggests. It will also save time for electrical design engineers who, he says, "spend much of their lives making changes, such as wiring numbers, by typing text into PCs".

Although there are already third-party products available that add electrical functions to standard AutoCAD standard, Mayer argues that AutoCAD electrical is different. "It`s not an add-on," he stresses. "It`s a dedicated version of AutoCAD."

But, he concedes, the package does have some limitations. "It doesn`t do simulation," he admits, "but then nobody does simulation for AC circuits".

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