Panel Builder System Integrator

March 6, 2020

The digital age has transformed the face of almost every industry around the globe and manufacturing has been no exception. Modern industrial automation helps improve speed, efficiency, quality and safety. This gives manufacturers the tools to thrive in the face of increasing competition. The pace of innovation continues to grow exponentially with new technologies being released weekly by the world’s leading robot and automation suppliers. One of the challenges faced by manufacturers and OEM’s is how to select and design technologies that best suit their applications. The solution for many of the world’s leading manufacturers, distributors, utilities and OEM’s is to engage systems integrators to help answer these questions and design the right solution based on the specific needs of a project. One such company, RidgeTech Automation, is a control systems integrator based out of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.  RidgeTech supports a global list of clients in the automotive, food & beverage, pharmaceutical, energy and agri-business spaces with customized control system designs, software, panels and site commissioning services. The company has found tremendous success over the years by helping their clients achieve efficiencies and improve reliability which ultimately leads to protecting and increasing their bottom lines.

One of the challenges that an engineering and design firm like RidgeTech faces is developing and maintaining design templates and standards with such a wide variety of client needs and product offerings. Essentially, how does the automation company automate themselves?  For Leigh Spraggett, president of RidgeTech Automation, the answer is simple, they use EPLAN. There is a direct relationship between RidgeTech’s success and the benefits they enjoy from using the EPLAN Platform. “Other design platforms have great features and may suit other applications, but for our diverse list of requirements our designers prefer using EPLAN over anything else. Since implementing EPLAN back in 2014 we have seen a major reduction in errors, our workflow is much more efficient and the level of satisfaction from our clients is significantly higher,” says Spraggett.

RidgeTech has invested heavily in EPLAN over the past 5 years and has implemented modules such as Electric P8 and ProPanel for 2D and 3D design of electrical schematics and panels and EPLAN Fluid for power systems in hydraulics, pneumatics cooling and lubricants. The EPLAN platform and its various modules are tailor made for the type of work being done at RidgeTech. It allows for the configuration of integrated workflows with emphasis on standardized and intelligent processes, including cross referencing and error-free documentation for electrical controls and schematics. RidgeTech admits that it is a better system integrator because it utilizes tools like EPLAN. “Our clients love the 3D panel designs that we produce as they provide the luxury of allowing us to inspect each panel before they are built” says Spraggett. “We have spotted issues with components that looked like they fit in the 2D drawing but then overlapped and collided in 3D.  Catching these problems at the design stage saves time and money over finding the problem in the build shop.”

Spraggett has been using EPLAN for over 20 years and has implemented the software platform in every company he’s been a part of. With so much EPLAN experience under his belt and positive results to show, he is often solicited by customers and even competitors about EPLAN and how he manages to get so much productivity out of it. He always answers by taking the time to warn people about the importance of doing it right. “In our experience, designing with EPLAN is quicker than with most other platforms” explains Spraggett, “but it takes time to set it up properly because it is such a powerful tool.

There’s a lot of risk for a company that tries EPLAN and doesn’t get the proper training for its staff because they will try to replicate what they have always known from other software platforms and in doing so, will limit their opportunity to take full advantage of the software.”

Spraggett believes a properly trained workforce is essential. In fact, one of the company’s main challenges is making sure staff are knowledgeable about all the tools they use, including EPLAN. As new opportunities present themselves and demand for system integration support ramps up, RidgeTech is looking at increasing their number of EPLAN licenses and pursuing certification. Spraggett realizes without EPLAN, RidgeTech would have grown to be an entirely different company.

The success RidgeTech has experienced speaks for itself, as new opportunities don’t seem to be slowing down. “The growth curve for automation has increased significantly over the last 3-5 years. We’ve seen a steep increase in demand and we’re looking at a substantial increase next year as well,” explains Spraggett. “In the past it was primarily the automotive industry that was focused on modern automation and robotics but that has changed drastically over the last 10 years. Now, just about every manufacturer is relying on some form of automation to remain competitive. Just as our clients continue to look for innovative new ways to stay competitive in their markets, so too must RidgeTech continue to strive to remain at the top of our game. Our partnership with EPLAN is instrumental in helping us achieve success and compete confidently on the global stage.”

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