ECAD Tools For Beginners: A Guide To Getting Started
If you’re reading this, then you’re already intrigued by how ECAD best practices can help you design a wire harness more efficiently and accurately. Transitioning from manual wire harness design to using electronic CAD software is a rewarding journey, but that doesn’t mean you’re not nervous about it. Even if you know it will improve the quality of your wire harnesses – while lowering your operating costs – you might worry about the learning curve involved.
Relax. It’ll be the best move you can make, and it’s easier than you think. First, don’t run out and buy anything without first testing it. Any reliable company will give you a demo and a free trial.
But before you get to that point, where do you even start? That’s what we’re here for, so let’s get started.
ECAD beginner tips
1. Start with a schematic tool
Schematic ECADs are your foundation for your wire harness design. They provide – or should provide – a clear, structured representation of your connections and components, and their functions. By starting here, you can identify electrical errors and fixing issues early in the design process, vs. further down the road in the process. The right electrical drawing software lets you ensure proper connections, avoid short circuits, and validate the correctness of component placements. If you’re working with a cloud-based tool, you can even share your schematics with key team members to look over.
We’re going to use Arcadia Schematic as an example. It’s intuitive, which means it has a user-friendly interface. The menus, toolbars, and panels are designed to be easily navigated, ensuring that you can quickly access the tools and functions you need. In other words, it’s approachable for users transitioning from manual methods.
Simulate your design
The advanced simulation engine lets you accurately simulate your design in a virtual environment. You can see behaviour and check for voltage drops in real-time. For beginners to ECADs, the ability to experiment with your schematics helps you understand circuit behaviour better. You can observe how different components and connections affect your design.
You can correct errors, test design ideas, and know how a circuit will work under different conditions.
Select and insert symbols
You’ll find it incredibly helpful if your schematic ECAD provides a library of commonly used electrical symbols. You want to easily select and insert symbols, reducing the need for manual drawing. With Arcadia Schematic, you can also create your own symbols and store them in the library.
2. Prevent errors with design rule checks and validation
This really belongs under our first point, as it’s part of Arcadia Schematic. But it’s so important for beginners – for every wire-harness designer, really – that we’re giving it its own space.
Arcadia components database powers the design rule checks and validation features. These are automated processes within the software. The integrity of your schematic is automatically checked against a set of predefined design rules and standards. A traffic light system acts as a visual indicator to let you know you’re good to go, caution you, or warn you of any problems with wire route, schematic sync and Design rule check.
It’s a nice way to streamline your workflow, making it more efficient and accessible. It saves you from having to manually research and apply standards. Perhaps most importantly, it enables you to address errors and violations then and there, instead of allowing them to become critical issues later on.
3. Use an ECAD tool specifically tailored for wire-harness design
Now you’re ready to create your harness from your schematic.
Arcadia Harness integrates with the Schematic module. And like Arcadia Schematic, this is an ideal ECAD for beginners. It offers intuitive interfaces and streamlines workflows, all focussed on wire-harness design. This makes it easier to grasp the essential concepts and start creating designs quickly.
Look at cloud-based ECAD software with features that include the functionalities that make your job easier. Like Arcadia Schematic, Arcadia Harness also provides an integrated components database, which stores your part information. This includes parametric information, such as linked terminals, their wire range, and linked parts for your connectors. Automated checks and validation ensure that your design meets safety, performance, and compliance criteria before you proceed to the physical harness.
Automate the selection of terminals seals, plugs
The database serves as a centralized repository. You can store all your component information, such as parametric details like associated terminals, their wire specifications, and interconnected components for your connectors. This database plays a pivotal role in automating the selection of terminals, seals, plugs within your drawings.
Automate the selection of bundle coverings
Working manually, you’re used to searching through physical catalogs or websites for the components you need. With the click of a button, Arcadia Harness’s Component Database can automatically select coverings such as conduit, heat-shrink sleeve and tube for the correct fit of your wire bundles.
Automate the selection of splices and heat-shrinks
Another feature to look for: automatic and manual splice balancing functions with comprehensive splice diagram generation. This feature provides clear guidance on how to construct splices correctly by illustrating the process. The automated functions allows the user to configure the splice technologies and thereby fetching the right splice PN and a suitable heatshrink.
4. Think ahead: features that will make life easier
The right ECAD design tool that comes with the features in point 3 can also save you an enormous amount of time at various stages.
Automatically create BOMs, wire lists, and reports
In an ideal world, your design ECAD provides comprehensive documentation to communicate design specifications effectively. This is what Arcadia Harness offers, It’s essential for the entire design and manufacturing process, and will save you time while removing human errors. You can focus more on design and less on manual data entry and report formatting.
Whatever design ECAD you use, it should offer automatic wire cut-list generation. This will eliminate the need to make manual calculations to determine your wire lengths. This feature is invaluable if your experience is limited in calculating wire lengths, but it’s also helpful if you are experienced. Not having to enter data manually removes the risk of errors – and it’s also an incredible time saver.
Build accurate quotes
Wire harnesses often involve intricate designs with numerous components, connectors, wires, and specifications. Manually calculating the quantities of each component, estimating labor hours, and considering material costs can be time-consuming and challenging.
You can add Arcadia quoteBuilder software to Arcadia Harness and generate instant, accurate quotes for your customers. It ensures that no BOM or component is missed out – it’s errors like these that contribute to revenue leakage. But Arcadia quoteBuilder captures parts, labor, and performance metrics for you. You can even see the cost impact of engineering changes instantly.
You can also streamline processes in testing and manufacturing. But our purpose here is not to overload you with other software features and their advantages. For now, you have an idea of what you need to get started.
7-day free trial, always free demo
Arcadia’s suite of cloud-based ECAD software can streamline your wire harness design processes. To see how you can improve your efficiency and productivity, just ask for a free demonstration. We can even offer a seven-day free trial too – it’s easy to give our solutions a spin because they work in the cloud. If you have any questions, we’re always happy to help.