The Digital Twin for Service and Assembly

How to create customised circuit diagrams

To each his own

A schematic diagram is the common representation of an electronic or electrical circuit in electrical engineering. It is commonly understood as a document, which is intended for internal stakeholders, e.g. in production planning. Electrical schematic diagrams are also used for customers, regulatory authorities, or maintenance technicians.

Individual requirements are diverse

Since the tasks of individual circuit diagram users are very different, they also require different representations and types of information. Ideally, system engineers need a representation of the logical connections, while the cable harness developer in the production preparation phase needs to see all the details of the physical implementation of the circuit. Any circuit diagram is therefore a compromise, which must satisfy the specific requirements of its user as best as possible.

If such a compromise cannot be achieved, a customised circuit diagram is required, tailored to the specific area of application. In this case, it is not unusual for a circuit diagram to be drawn several times within the design lifecycle. In the area of maintenance and field service, in particular, it is quite common that circuit diagrams are created and maintained independently from the engineering documents. This naturally entails additional effort and error potential.

Is there an alternative?

In the light of recent digitisation initiatives, circuit documentation has also come up for discussion. Specifically, the question arose as to whether or not a separation between circuit definition and visualization would make sense. In other words: wouldn’t it be a great idea to store electrical data as a digital model, and to display it in a way that is suitable for each target group?

circuit diagram visualisation
Digitalisation of circuit documentation: separation between circuit definition and visualisation

With this in mind, the idea is to keep electrical connection information as a purely digital data model and then process it according to the needs of the target group. The basis for the circuit diagram visualization would thereby no longer be a drawing.  Instead, it would be a digital connection model that contains “from-to-relations” plus the required metadata and attributes. The source and the format for this kind of connection information can be very flexible. In the simplest case, a net or wire list in an Excel format is sufficient.

Learning from other industries

The separation of circuit definition, data management, and modeling may seem revolutionary for “classical” electrical engineering disciplines in mechanical and vehicle engineering. In other industries, however, it has been an established practice for many years.

In the chip industry, circuit diagrams have not been used for many years. The connectivity within a chip is instead described as a digital model consisting of algorithms and non-graphical editing tools. Visualisations in the form of a circuit diagram are reserved for applications, in which parts of complex connectivity need to be represented as a circuit diagram.

Bringing circuit diagram visualisation to life with E3.ConnectivityBrowser

With its E3.ConnectivityBrowser technology, Zuken is now introducing an innovative solution for the electrical engineering communities. Especially in the automotive and mechanical engineering sectors. It enables a digital connectivity model to be visualised “on-the-fly” as a customized circuit diagram visualisation for individual users and applications.

To optimise the readability of the schematic, it is useful to hide or minimise the context that is not needed for the respective task

Based on connection data available in E3.series – or imported from any other authoring tool via a wire list – relevant circuit parts can be processed and displayed in a graphic form within fractions of a second. Additional details and attributes of components, connectors, pins, or wires can be visualized via info windows.

The E3.ConnectivityBrowser is available both as a Windows-based application, as well as a cloud solution. It can be seamlessly integrated into diagnostic systems and environments via an API. This way, the entire service sector can make a significant step towards the use of a digital twin. With a Smart Service solution of this kind, a paperless service organization will be able to reap substantial benefits such as instant access to up-to-date connection data. This enables a consequent increase in efficiency.

Learn more

Detailed information on this innovative technology for customised circuit diagram visualisation can be found here and in our new webinar. It is available to watch on-demand and will provide you with an overview of the most important functions. Additionally, it features valuable suggestions for the realisation of application scenarios in the development of vehicle electrical systems and control cabinets.

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Reinhold Blank
Reinhold Blank
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Reinhold Blank, born 1960, studied mechatronics at the Technische Hochschule Nuremberg. Since 1990 he is working in the domain of E-CAD, first in sales, then as support manager and head of product management at well-known German software houses. In 1997 he changed the allegiance and took the worldwide responsibility as CAD-Manage for LEONI – one of the leading harness suppliers. Later he changed to Intedis – a JV company of the LEONI and HELLA and as member of the executive management he supported more than 100 projects for OEM´s worldwide in the area of E/E Architecture development. Along with those project he had established also a software development team at Intedis developing the first tool for E/E Architecture in 2003. In the recent years he gained also international experience while he was serving as General Manager of Intedis Shanghai. Since May 2014 Reinhold Blank took the responsibility Business Director Automotive at ZUKEN´s E3 GmbH in Germany and is responsible for Zuken's solutions of today and tomorrow for the E/E systems in vehicles.