Visimation provides Siemens with ideal automation solution
Siemens, an established global leader in electrical engineering and electronics, offers wide-ranging solutions to problems facing the U.S. and international energy infrastructure. Siemens sales engineers and channel partners needed a way to visualize the power supply configurations and ensure that the required interconnectivity between the current EPM (Engineered Product Module) programming architecture and output were met.
Siemens was under tough time constraints to create shapes and automation code for electrical distribution equipment for their Engineered Product Module. Visimation assisted Siemens with developing their design application, Visio Switchboard Layout. Visimation provided Siemens with baseline architecture, shapes, automation code, custom Visio menus, toolbars, accelerators, and ongoing consulting.
The application includes three types of Visio pages: Layout, Drawing, and One Line Drawing. The layout page provides automated interactivity with switchboard configuration that enables the user to reorder sections and devices.
- Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) provides a thin architecture that enables Visio to communicate with the main application DLL. The Visio shapes contain custom actions that communicate through the VBA architecture to the main application DLL to perform the requested action. Custom menu and toolbar items in Visio also communicate with the main application DLL via the VBA architecture.
- Visual Basic was used to develop the main application DLL. VB was Siemens’ choice for developing this application because their internal developers were proficient in it and it allowed for rapid application development and reduced maintenance costs.
- XML provides the framework for communicating configuration data between applications. Once the engineer has configured a system with a design tool, XML is generated and passed through to the Visio application. The XML contains information about what shapes to use for the configuration, the layout, layout rules for the configuration, and other data specific to the system. The main application uses DLL to generate the necessary shapes and views in the Visio application from the XML data.
Siemens utilized Visimation’s knowledge of Visio to quickly and efficiently produce intelligent shapes and automation code for the Switchboard product. Visio’s shape technology and attractive licensing terms made Visio a viable option for Siemens’ deployment goals. Visimation’s code also served as a training base for Siemens developers and will be used for future releases as well.
When asked why Siemens switched to Visio for the Switchboard Design, a Siemens Sr. Switchboard Product Specialist said, “The solution used in the previous system was a Borland C application utilizing AutoCAD blocks converted to the Borland format. The programming to create the drawing was generated by an outside vendor embedded within our application. Visio provided all of the interconnectivity requirements between our current EPM programming architecture and the required output we were looking for. In addition, the shape technology coupled with the licensing fees made Visio a viable option for as many users as we were looking to deploy to. Our first version was distributed to 1200 users of which approximately 750 are Sales Engineers.”