The problem

When dealing with large automation systems, it is often required to provide the installation electricians with pull lists, also known as conduit schedules.

Thanks to EPLAN P8’s reporting facility, and its filtering capabilities, the task of creating those documents can be automated, with all the benefits that this brings: reduction in the time to generate and reduction in the number of errors. Basically, we’re automating a task that would have to be done manually when using a regular drafting software.

In the case of plant documentation, the number of wires and cables that have to be pulled between the different control enclosures can literally explode and become unmanageable. By providing installation electricians with accurate pull lists, we create a downward pressure on the overall cost of installation. Not only because of saved time, but also because the tendency to add a lot of spare wires to cover up for possible mistakes can force the electricians to beef up the conduit sizes, thus increasing the cost of material. Too many spare wires in a conduit is literally money “sleeping” there, as the cost of copper is non-negligeable for longer runs.

The solution

EPLAN P8 allows us to create what are know a “report templates”. They define all the properties required to generate a specific report, such as the report type, the form to be used, and also a filtering scheme to narrow down the list of results.

In order for this to work with minimal manual entry of properties, the project must at the very least define the Mounting location as structuring element. How to enable this is outside the scope for this article and will be covered in a future one. The idea is that each cabinet/junction box is assigned an identifier shortcode, and this is what we’ll be using as the basis for our filtering of the pull lists.

In this post, I will not concentrate on all the report template settings, but rather only on the filtering aspect. If you need help with setting up your custom report templates, we at STLM can provide you with the necessary consulting.

Creating the report template

Report templates are created from the Utilities > Reports > Generate menu. In the dialog that opens up, make sure to select the Templates tab. Then click on the New button, and select Connection list from the offered report types:

You can set the typical properties on your report template, such as the form to be used, the destination page where the report should be generated and so on.

The one setting that imports us for now is the Filter setting. Clicking in the value cell, you get the small button with the three dots, which means there is a sub-dialog accessible.

The Filter dialog allows you to create a named filter, and assign criterias to only get the objects that you want, in this case connections between a Panel +P1, and a Panel +P2:

My example today is to create a pull list between panels +P1 and +P2, so here’s how the filter MUST be like (click on image for larger view):

How it works

The above filter definition is quite interesting to analyse.

The first line says “Give me all connections whose Source OR Target are NOT within P1 or P2”, and then negates that criteria. What this basically does is bring you all the connections between +P1 and +P2, but at the same time any internal connections to +P1 and +P2, which we don’t want as part of the final result.

This is why we have to add the (…) condition, which is basically a “grouping” of conditions.

Within this grouping, we say that we want connections whose source AND target are within P1, OR connections whose source and target are within P2. But then, we negate the whole group, so in effect, we remove any connection whose source and target are completely within P1, or completely within P2.

This is for sure some wicked boolean logic hocus pocus, but it works, and this is what matters. Taking time to analyze how these boolean conditions work together is a nice exercise left to the reader.

Final words

The above example shows how to create a single pull list between two cabinets. If multiple pull lists are needed, it is possible to create multiple report templates, each with its own filter, in order to generate them individually.

For sure this may require some manual work, especially in the case of large projects. My goal is to come up with a script that will automate the creation of those report templates, complete with the filter settings. The user would simply call the script, select the Source and Target mounting locations from dropdown lists, and the corresponding report template and filter would automatically be created and imported in EPLAN.

I don’t have a clear time frame for the development of that script, so stay tuned,