SOLIDWORKS, Electrical Design

Getting Organized: Electrical Components

By Tim Pulaski on September 29, 2021

In a recent poll of 2,000 Americans, the inquiry found that 8 out of 10 respondents said they had one place in their home that seemed impossible to keep clean. While I’d love to claim otherwise, I’m sorry to report I fall well within the bell curve on this one. With the introduction of our two children to our family, our storage room has devolved into chaos accumulating into an eclectic assortment of tools, clothes, computer parts, and banished toys. So what’s keeping me from rolling up my sleeves and sorting it out? Quite simply, it’s overwhelming. Where to even begin? And with such precious little time in each passing day and so many distractions, it’s easy to get pulled away compounding the problem further.

A lot of the same can be said about electrical design; how often have you made it partway through a project, looked back and thought, “Oh no, this is a bit of a mess. Where is that part again?” Today we are talking about how to get your electrical components better organized within SOLIDWORKS Electrical.

SOLIDWORKS Electrical Getting Organized by Todd Kent Unsplash

Start with Locations

SOLIDWORKS Electrical Locations In SOLIDWORKS Electrical, devices can be sorted into Locations to better relate devices by their physical proximity to one another in an assembly. Very often, the Location structure of an electrical project will closely match the hierarchal structure of their mechanical counterparts in SOLIDWORKS CAD. Components can be added to locations at the sheet level, by drawing a box around some devices on a print, and through simple drag and drop. Spending a couple of minutes organizing your devices in this way can save countless hours of hunting down your parts and where they’ve been used. Each item also carries with it a hyperlink to the symbols used to represent them.

However, grouping components together in this way will only get you so far. For more complex projects with potentially many thousands of parts, knowing a part is in a certain location may still require you to scan through hundreds of elements to find the one you are interested in modifying.

SOLIDWORKS Electrical Organization by Nana Smirnova Unsplash

>> Building Your Electrical Parts Library: Organization

Use the Search Tools

SOLIDWORKS Electrical features powerful search tools that allow you to locate and edit devices from an intuitive interface quickly and easily. Built-in previews allow you to verify the object of interest visually, and filters enable you to refine your search as necessary. Saving a few minutes of searching a day can really add up over the course of a project.

SOLIDWORKS Electrical Search Tools

>> Search Tools in SOLIDWORKS Electrical

Assign Symbols

Quite frequently, you’ll need to represent a single device using multiple symbols and sometimes across multiple sheets. This can be challenging for many applications to manage, requiring you to make associations that must be manually maintained over time and can easily break. In SOLIDWORKS Electrical, it’s as simple as assigning each symbol to the same device and allowing the system to take care of the rest. In addition, specific symbols can be identified as the parent, providing you with an associative, color-coded table of where various elements are used (or not used and thus available).

SOLIDWORKS Electrical Assigning Symbols

Using Sheets and Rows

Very often the sheet, row, and/or column will be used to help a reader interpret where a device can be found. Some designers take it a step further and incorporate this identifying characteristic into their labeling standards for devices, wires, and cables. That way if I’m looking for, say, contactor CR422, I know I can find it on Sheet 4, Row 22 just by its name. This approach typically requires more automated software features to be practical, such as those found in SOLIDWORKS Electrical’s mark formula manager.

SOLIDWORKS Electrical Sheets and Rows

Define Labeling

This powerful built-in function allows you to define labeling standards according to rules that are automatically managed for uniqueness across all project drawings. You can also propagate data calculated in this manner to connected objects allowing you to quickly match your terminal block labels to upstream/downstream wires or objects.

That’s all for today! If something like the formula manager gets you excited, definitely check out our next blog on reports to learn some tips on automatically generating wire run lists, BOMs, and other tables directly linked with objects on your schematics. Thanks for reading!

Watch the full on-demand webinar to learn how to effortlessly manage component cross-references, use advanced searching tools to locate items of interest quickly, and organize our project into subassemblies for easier navigation.