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EPLAN Platform Multi-User Application Recommendation 11 / 2010

EPLAN Platform

Multi-User Application Recommendation

11 / 2010

EPLAN Platform Multi-User Application Recommendation 11 / 2010
EPLAN Platform Multi-User Application Recommendation 11 / 2010

Multi-User Application Recommendation

Copyright © 2010 EPLAN Software & Service GmbH & Co. KG

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13. Dec. 2010

Multi-User Application Recommendation

Table of contents

What does multi-user mean?

4

Organization of multi-user operation

5

Designing the workflow

6

Optimizing data volumes

7

Number of users

9

Workstation computers and the network

10

Defining subprojects

12

Multi-User Application Recommendation

What does multi-user mean?

The focus of state-of-the-art machine and plant engineering is on shorter design times and faster time-to-market while complying with ever stricter quality standards. Parallel editing is an ideal, flexibly scalable engineer- ing method for shortening the project cycle of automation projects and preventing delays in critical project phases.

Of course, the engineering system also needs to support this working method and be flexible. The EPLAN platform provides all multi-user ca- pabilities and manages parallel access and direct synchronization of project data – ideally without the user's awareness.

The EPLAN platform's multi-user functionality allows many users in a company to work on control documentation at the same time. In project management, you can see which users are currently working on a project (Popup menu > Show users).

If multiple users try to simultaneously edit an object in the schematic, on- ly the first user can make changes; the other users will receive a mes- sage that the data is only available in the read-only mode. No special settings are required in the program for this.

In multi-user operation, each user can undo their own actions. If a user changes an object after it was changed by the first user, then the first user can no longer undo their actions.

Multi-user operation can prevent or compensate for time bottlenecks and allow large projects to be processed more quickly – an unbeatable ad- vantage in the ever more competitive engineering world.

Multi-User Application Recommendation

Organization of multi-user operation

Designing in multi-user operation requires both multi-user capable soft- ware and a suitable work organization in order to prevent mutual interfe- rence in engineering and to be able to optimally use the software.

Performance during project creation can be influenced by how the ad- ministrator specifies the project structure and divides up the project among the various users.

Recommendation:

Take advantage of EPLAN consulting services! Personal consulting is a prerequisite for using the EPLAN platform in multi-user operation. Only then can you be sure that users take full advantage of the software's ca- pabilities and that workflows are optimally coordinated.

For each multi-user project, name a responsible person / an administra- tor who divides up the work areas, carries out preparation, post- processing and cross-project actions, and coordinates editing.

If the working areas are independent from each other, then conflicts be- tween users, and limitations due to mutual interference can be pre- vented. Each user should therefore be assigned an exclusive design area with little or no contact with other areas.

Areas of contact are, for example, connections points, power supplies that are distributed across several pages using interruption points, and the use of project-wide potentials and signals. Such connections can cause editing conflicts when working in multi-user operation, or restrict performance, and should be created at the end of the project, if possible.

The following criteria for dividing up design areas have proven success- ful:

Machine design according to enclosures, plants or mounting locations

Design areas such as controlling, power, PLC or fluid power

Commissioning should also be taken into account. If a plant is commis- sioned in stages, then it makes sense to represent the various stages in independent projects from the very beginning. This will also make revi- sioning easier.

Multi-User Application Recommendation

Designing the workflow

The workflow, i.e. how you work in multi-user operation, has a tremend- ous effect on the performance. For instance, some project data repre- sentations are continually updated online which causes a large amount of data transfers.

However, there are also navigators for the various design areas and en- gineering phases that offer a special optimized view of the data and do not require as many data transfers.

Recommendation:

When designing, use specialized navigators as much as possible, as they offer both a clearer structure and improve performance.

In views that show all project data (e.g. in the device navigator), updates must be carried out much more often than in views of subareas, i.e. a graphic page or a specialized navigator such as the PLC navigator.

Recommendation:

Use the graphic editor to edit individual subprojects. Perform global ac- tions (e.g. numbering of connections or offline numbering of items) on the entire project when you are done designing.

Configure the online numbering with Options > Settings > Projects > "Project name" > Devices > Numbering (online)).

In the dialog that opens, you determine the project-related settings for online numbering. Associated with this are the online numbering format and the definitions as to how devices are to be numbered when copying and inserting into the schematic. For example, the PLC addresses check box can be deactivated. The addresses are not automatically numbered when they are inserted.

Multi-User Application Recommendation

Optimizing data volumes

There is no explicit "multi-user mode" in the EPLAN platform. In multi- user operation you can use all the functions available in single-user op- eration.

However, in multi-user operation, some of the functions should only be used when needed in order to limit the volume of data transferred and improve the performance.

Recommendations:

Install the programs on the workstation computer and only keep the projects on the network.

Close any unnecessary projects. The more projects you have open, the more data has to be kept online and updated.

Turn off the graphical preview in multi-user operation since each selection change causes data to be transferred.

Open as few navigators as possible in multi-user operation. Naviga- tors are continually updated, thereby loading down the network.

Wherever possible, perform error checking offline when in multi-user

operation.

each work step which can be significantly more extensive than the

Online error checking causes data to be transferred at

editing itself.

Options > Settings > Projects > "Project name" > Management > Message management

- Set the check type for all project-related tests to No or Offline.

- Activate Limit off-line check messages.

Multi-User Application Recommendation

Use Offline translation after designing, since online translation conti- nually accesses data.

Options > Settings > Projects > "Project name" > Translation > General> Group box Translation

-Deactivate the Translate on input check box

Deactivate the input aids when entering text so that the data in the translation database is not continually accessed.

Options > Settings > User > Translation > Dictionary

- Deactivate AutoComplete

- Deactivate AutoCorrect

The following settings reduce the volume of data that has to be trans- ferred, thereby improving system response time:

Options > Settings > User > Display > General

- Deactivate Update reports when opening pages

- Deactivate Update connections when switching pages

- Deactivate Update connections project-wide

- Deactivate Always update cross-references

Multi-User Application Recommendation

Number of users

In single-user operation, Windows makes sure that the data is always

managed from the workstation computer and not from the server. As soon as there is a second user, windows uses other methods for caching and updating files between the server and the workstations. However,

these methods are more time-intensive.

A large number of users on one project requires a high volume of data

transfer, since everyone is informed about changes when editing in multi-

user operation.

The number of users has a more significant influence on the perfor- mance than does the size of the project.

Recommendation:

Select a relatively small number of simultaneous users. This also makes it easier for the project administrator to coordinate editing.

Multi-User Application Recommendation

Workstation computers and the network

The recommended hardware requirements are listed in the performance description.

Multi-user operation places higher requirements on the hardware than single-user operation since the data is exchanged directly over the net- work and is updated much more often.

The computing power of the workstation computer is more important in multi-user operation than in single-user operation. Some editing steps require much of the data to be locked during processing and this data is only unlocked after processing has finished. During this time, other users cannot access the locked data. Fast workstation computers minimize the waiting time caused by data locking - for all users and not only for this workstation user.

Recommendation:

Select one of the latest multicore CPUs with a high clock rate.

In addition to the processor speed, the main memory size of the comput- er also affects the speed to a lesser degree.

Recommendations:

Use at least 4 GB of memory.

Use the 64 bit Windows 7 operating system.

The network speed has a noticeable affect in multi-user operation. Changing from a 100 Mbit network to a 1 Gbit network can result in an improvement in the network performance amounting to a factor of 2 to 3.

The EPLAN platform benefits primarily from the lower latency of the net- works used, because many small packages are often exchanged via the network in multi-user operation.

If you connect multiple clients with a 1 GB network, make sure that the backbone and the server connection are sufficient.

Recommendations:

Use 1 Gbit networks if possible.

Only use storage locations with a latency of less than 1 ms.

Multi-User Application Recommendation

Use a terminal server in order to simultaneously access a project from locations that are physically separated (WAN).

A heavy network or server load can perceptibly worsen the performance

of EPLAN in multi-user operation.

Recommendation:

Use a server dedicated exclusively to EPLAN.

The supported server operating systems are listed under the system re- quirements of the performance description. Unix-based NAS (Network Attached Storage) servers have repeatedly turned out to be the cause of performance and stability problems, especially with CIFS (Common In- ternet File System) implementations. For these and other reasons, such systems are not approved.

Recommendation:

As stated in the software requirements and performance description, on-

ly run the server with a Microsoft Windows operating system.

Multi-User Application Recommendation

Defining subprojects

Projects that are very large and have many simultaneous users affect the project in other ways, independent of the software. When dividing a project into work packages, the following should be taken into account:

Users work with very long total lists of pages, plants, site, devices, and parts and need more time to find desired information.

Commissioning usually takes place in stages, therefore revisions of subprojects are completed during editing.

Data backup of the entire project is more extensive and takes more time; the amount of data makes it more difficult to exchange the project via email.

An entire system can be organized in subprojects during designing. This method has numerous advantages over one large design project: smaller project sizes, higher design flexibility, assignment of subprojects to indi- vidual users according to specialist field and special topic, and it is easier to exchange the project with suppliers. Revision management and offline translation can further simplify the design process. These functions are only applied at the subproject level.

Recommendation:

Divide large projects into smaller, self-contained subprojects. Where ne- cessary, copy the pages of the subprojects into an overall project.

EPLAN offers "EPLAN Subproject Management" for managing subpro- jects. This is an add-on tool that is integrated into the EPLAN Electric P8 interface. This tool allows the administrator to manage the individual subprojects and also to synchronize and distribute settings. Individual projects can also be combined into an overall project.