On their mission to empower customers, EPLAN recognized an opportunity to differentiate their electrical offerings, bridging the abstract and reality in real-world environments.
Change is constant in the world of engineering. That’s why EPLAN is dedicated to helping customers embrace digital transformation, maximize efficiency, and offer differentiated products and services. Leveraging PTC Customer Success services and the PTC partner ecosystem, EPLAN created an innovative augmented reality solution called EPLAN eVIEW with Vuforia Studio. Now, EPLAN’s engineering customers can build a bridge from the page to reality by placing 3D electrical cabinets in real-world environments.
EPLAN prepares customers for the engineering of tomorrow
By connecting engineers, systems, data, and disciplines, EPLAN is a cutting-edge company shaping the future of engineering. Headquartered in Monheim, Germany and part of the Friedhelm Loh Group, EPLAN provides software and service solutions for the electrical, automation, and mechatronic engineering fields. They’re focused on empowering engineers all over the world to maximize efficiency with leading machine, plant, and panel building software solutions.
EPLAN is a global business with more than 1,100 employees and over 58,000 customers. EPLAN’s customers—typically machine builders—sell their products to manufacturers and operators, often in the food and beverage and automotive industries. EPLAN is dedicated to supporting their customers throughout the entire product lifecycle, from engineering, design, and manufacturing, to service and maintenance. One way they do this is with EPLAN eVIEW, an application in the EPLAN ePULSE cloud-environment. eVIEW enables customers to easily view, share, and comment on electrical schematics in the cloud, fueling collaboration and efficiency throughout the product lifecycle.
EPLAN recognized an opportunity to improve the customer experience and help customers differentiate their products
On their mission to empower customers, EPLAN recognized an opportunity to differentiate their electrical offerings. While traditional, 2D schematics have always been a critical aspect of designing and maintaining electrical equipment, they can present several challenges. First, searching through hundreds of pages of 2D schematics to find the correct parts and information is time consuming, and as a result, costly. Furthermore, it’s often difficult to communicate information to non-technical partners through complex schematics and diagrams.
EPLAN knew there was a better way. They envisioned an augmented reality (AR) solution that would bring their customers’ schematics to life—bridging the abstract and reality by placing 3D cabinets in real-world environments. Those 3D cabinets would then be linked to 2D schematics, enabling users to click into them with the tap of their finger.
These unique capabilities would enable EPLAN’s customers to differentiate their products and services to the end user. The AR solution would also empower the end user to improve efficiency and collaboration by reducing assembly time and errors, decreasing design review time and costs, and leveraging an easy-to-use and reliable digital collaboration platform.
“We wanted to build a bridge from the page to the shop floor. That's huge because most of our customers are using PDFs to review their schematics. But AR provides a simple way to talk about the real thing, not just lines and symbols,” says Arnd Paulfeuerborn, Director of the PLM Competence Center and Customer Solutions at EPLAN.
EPLAN leveraged PTC’s Customer Success services to implement their AR solution using Vuforia Studio
To make their vision a reality, EPLAN decided to use PTC’s Customer Success services. This enabled EPLAN to accelerate time to market, ensure success of the project, and gain valuable PTC expertise and support. Leveraging a PTC Customer Success Plan—a strategically packaged set of services, resources, and expert guidance—EPLAN saw a formula for success and an opportunity to move quickly. The PTC Customer Success team defined service outcomes in collaboration with EPLAN, provided training, and offered mentoring and advisory services—allowing EPLAN to focus on their core areas of expertise and deliver industry-leading engineering schematics in a 3D environment.
“The Customer Success team was absolutely critical to accelerating our digital transformation journey. We were able to control the change management and project flow, so that we successfully hit our milestones and delivered key outcomes,” says Paulfeuerborn.
Furthermore, having a Customer Success Manager acting as a single point of contact from inception to go live ensured a smooth and successful journey for EPLAN. “The whole Customer Success team enabled this to happen,” says Sebastian Koellmann, Senior Customer Success Manager at PTC. “We’re excited to be working with such an engaged customer to achieve their business goals. That’s what makes my job so rewarding.”
Transition Technologies PSC were also key partners in the initiative. Transition Technologies is a Global System Integrator with deep expertise in digital transformation, who have partnered with PTC for more than 15 years. They lent their PTC and AR expertise to help ensure a successful implementation that met EPLAN’s business requirements.
EPLAN used Vuforia Studio to bring customer data to life
In collaboration with PTC and Transition Technologies, EPLAN created eVIEW Free AR, an add-on to their eVIEW cloud application that provides interactive AR experiences using customer data. Before adding the AR capabilities, eVIEW allowed engineers to upload electrical schematics to the cloud and give access to all people involved in a project. Team members could mark their edits and comments directly in eVIEW, sharing it across the team.
Now, EPLAN leverages PTC’s Vuforia Studio to enhance eVIEW with free, dynamic AR experiences. Vuforia Studio is an efficient AR authoring and publishing solution that transforms existing 3D CAD models into immersive AR experiences. Rather than just viewing, sharing, and commenting on 2D and 3D electrical schematics in eVIEW, AR brings those schematics to life in real-world environments.
Customers simply log in to eVIEW Free AR with their EPLAN ePULSE account. Using a tablet or smart phone, they can access and view the 3D digital experience based on their CAD data that was created with Vuforia Studio. Customers can then place a virtual product wherever they need to, visualizing what it looks like and how it will fit in the room.
“When you need to locate a part or information without AR, you have to search through hundreds of pages that all look the same. But with AR, you have everything at the click of a button. You can use your finger on the iPad to do red lining. Or you can use the real-world environment to show people where equipment needs to be placed. Then, you can share that information with electrical engineers or other stakeholders,” says Tim Oerter, the Program Manager of Digitalization at EPLAN.
EPLAN improved the customer experience and are already planning next steps
EPLAN and the Customer Success team began the initiative in September 2019 and rolled out the application in March 2021. EPLAN began to see benefits across their customers’ businesses almost instantly. Notably, they successfully helped customers differentiate products, accelerate digital transformation, and create new business models.
“By helping customers view schematics in real-world environments, we are supporting their path to digital transformation. These visualizations improve collaboration with their own customers, and ultimately help them create new services,” says Paulfeuerborn.
And that’s not all: EPLAN empowered customers and end users to improve efficiency and collaboration. Ultimately, this is enabling end users to reduce reliance on manual processes, decrease assembly time and errors, and minimize design review time and costs. “AR puts information directly in the hands of those who need it, and makes it easier to share,” says Oerter.
EPLAN and PTC have successfully built on a longstanding partnership. Looking to the future, they’re already planning additional collaborations with the Customer Success team and innovations with Vuforia Studio. While the first application, the add-on to EPLAN eVIEW Free AR, is available for free, future developments might focus new market opportunities for EPLAN in the service and maintenance sector. Working with PTC, EPLAN is confident they’ll continue delivering innovation and value to their customers.
We wanted to build a bridge from the page to the shop floor. That's huge because most of our customers are using PDFs to review their schematics. But AR provides a simple way to talk about the real thing, not just lines and symbols.