Collaboration between mechanical and electrical designers – Part 1: Background


MagiCAD Group

MagiCAD for AutoCAD
MagiCAD for Revit
MEP Design

MagiCAD Discipline Manager for Electrical Samuli Mattila explains the need for better collaboration tools between electrical and mechanical engineers and presents the Connections to Mechanical feature in MagiCAD that enables easy and effective cooperation between these disciplines.

In Part 1 we examine the need for collaborative tools between electrical and mechanical engineers and look at the development of the Connections to Mechanical function in MagiCAD. Part 2 (14.12.) will present how the tool works in practice and Part 3 (16.12.) will explain how you can ensure that models include the necessary connectors in order to get the most out of the tool.

Consider how often there has been a need for better information sharing between mechanical and electrical engineers in a project that you have been a part of? I’d be willing to guess this has happened quite often, because the different disciplines still commonly work independently of each other, which can easily produce coordination issues.

This is why we have focused on enabling better coordination between mechanical and electrical designers with multiple recent additions to MagiCAD, all with the end goal of helping designers succeed in their projects.

The need for collaboration

Collaboration between disciplines has been a hot topic among designers for as long as I have been involved with design software. People have come up with many different ways to manage or work around these demands, but missing or changed information continues to create unnecessary difficulties and costs. A simple change can lead to another one and soon designers of different disciplines, and possibly even the contractors, find themselves in trouble. As we know, the later an issue is discovered, the more it usually costs to correct.

At MagiCAD we have always closely listened to our customers in order to provide them with helpful tools for these kinds of situations. However, sometimes our customers are even more ahead of the game than us, and develop their own tools to address specific painpoints in the design process. This is exactly what happened with the Connections to Mechanical function that was introduced in MagiCAD 2020 UR-1 and has since been developed further on multiple occasions.

The story of Connections to Mechanical

Several years back, our highly advanced customers in Norway developed a dynamo tool for adding specific symbols to certain types of mechanical objects. The idea was brilliant, but a lot of the functionality was hard-coded which limited users’ possibilities to affect the outcome. We, of course, listened to their experiences and collected their valuable feedback, opinions and ideas. This helped us to then implement a similar function, called Connections to Mechanical, into both MagiCAD for AutoCAD and MagiCAD for Revit.

Developing the tool was a slightly longer process than expected, due to several considerations. First, we had to make the function suitable for all market areas in which are active. This meant that the we needed to have customisable symbols for the power and ELV connectors in mechanical objects. Also, we needed to create mapping rules between certain types of symbols and mechanical objects, as well as some intelligent background operations for different editing cases. Finally, the tool required a user interface with which users could manage the needed connections and access relevant information about them and their host objects on the mechanical side.

The result of this work, or part of it, looks like the dialogue above. Now, at first glance it looks like a normal dialogue listing the various MagiCAD connection nodes found in or to be added to the model, but there is a lot of extremely useful functionality embedded in it.

In Part 2 (14.12.) we will take a closer look at how the Connections to Mechanical tool works in practice and how it enables easy and efficient collaboration between mechanical and electrical engineers.