New in R211: Importing and Exporting the Material Reference Report.

The Material Reference report lists symbols or references that you have on your drawings and the components that is assigned to these symbols. There are 2 ways you can produce this report, namely inside a drawing and also exporting the report to Excel, both of which gets an update in this R211 release.

If you have an old Material Reference report in your drawing, they work the same, only now, when you right click on a report to generate, Electra will be able to detect previously selected or deselected fields, and will automatically preserve these selection.

We have updated the new, in-drawing Material Reference report (on the Reports stencil), to have 2 extra fields, as shown below:

The "Group" field is mandatory and cannot be deselected, it is used to separate multiple symbols with the same reference into different groups, so that each group can be assigned to one or more components. To understand more about symbol grouping, refer to the help file or this tutorial video: Electra E6 Tutorial Part 3: Symbols and Components (Youtube).

That's all the update for the in-drawing Material Reference report. The really interesting stuff is in exporting the same report to Excel.

When exporting, 4 more fields will be available, namely whether a component will be included in layout, the layout shape to use if included, and also the height and width of the layout shape.

Although these fields can be selected or deselected according to each user's requirements, if you wanted to use the report to be imported back into the drawing, you will need to keep all fields selected.

Notice also, there is an extra "References" tab when exporting.

By default, Electra will select ALL symbols and references to be exported in this tab. However, users can use the CTRL and SHIFT key to select multiple references, or a smaller set of references to be exported, to keep the data set small and manageable.

That's it for exporting.

Once the Material Reference report has been exported to Excel, you can edit, add or delete components as required. To edit just type away. To delete a component, just delete a row. To add components, insert a row and type away.

It is important when inserting components, you need to specify which reference to insert and make sure the reference is correct. At left, we wanted to insert "DC Suppressor" into C2, Group 1, so we make sure the reference field and the group field (on row 4) follows the one in row 3.

The rest of the fields can be edited as required. Note that the Layout Shape field will require that you find the correct layout shape name in your layout stencil, otherwise Electra will default to "LayRect".

Also note that the dimension fields (width and height) will be able to accept major units including mm, cm, ft, in, m etc, so type in as required.

Once you have edited your Excel report, save it into a file of your choosing. Then go back to Visio and Electra and click on the menu Electra | Import | Material Reference.

Browse for the edited Excel file you just saved and click on the Import button. Electra will then scan through your document and import components into your drawing. If any errors were found, they will be displayed in the status box. That's it for importing Material Reference.

Why we do what we do.

Exporting Material Reference and the ability to import it back into Electra, allows batch editing of component information. Normally these are done at the end of circuit design. Editing components in Excel is SIMPLY EASIER. You can use formulas, and just drag and drop without the need for extensive typing.

It is also easier to work in Excel and visit manufacturer's website for dimensioning information and to be able to copy and paste these information from the website into Excel. In simple words, we wanted to make it far easier to edit, add or delete component information in Excel, and to be able to easily import these information back into the drawing with just a click of a button. If you haven't noticed already, we are into making easy to use Electrical CAD Software.

The ability to export and import components, and to be able to select which symbols to export and import, opens up a WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES:

You can add "workmanship" as a component and put in a quantity and a price. After importing, you can then ask Electra to generate a Bills of Materials (BOM) and Electra will generate a report which include your workmanship costing. Simply said, you can easily add in workmanship costing for small parts of your project and have Electra generate a BOM which will give you a total costing.

You can make modular symbols that behaves like modular panels, and drop them onto your drawing to generate a BOM and a project costing without drawing any circuits. For example, you have a project that includes 3 Direct on Line starter (DOL) and 2 Forward Reverse (FR) Starter:

  • Draw a rectangle and make it into a Electra symbol.
  • Drag this symbol onto a blank drawing, export Material Reference, then fill in all components required for the DOL starter including pricing information, and import it back into Electra.
  • You now have a symbol that contains all components for the DOL starter including pricing. Save this symbol by dragging and dropping it into your own stencil. Let's call this the "DOL Starter" symbol.
  • Next, draw a rectangle again and make it into a symbol. This time, export and import all information for the Forward Reverse starter. Then save it into your own stencil by dragging and dropping. Let's call this the "FS Starter" symbol.
  • Since you require 3 DOL and 2 FS starter, drop 3 "DOL Starter" symbol and 2 "FS Starter" symbol onto your drawing.
  • Then click on menu Electra | Export | Bills of Materials report, and Electra will be able to generate a BOM which contains all required components for the project, including pricing or mechanical information (if required).
  • You can now make an estimated project costing without drawing a single circuit, especially useful for project estimation, modular panel makers and users.

I sincerely hope this update has helped, and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment. Thanks a million for reading. Keep in touch.

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