Radica Launches Fully Browser-Based Electrical CAD Software24 Jan, 2020 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin
Thomas Yip, CEO and founder of Radica Software, discusses the "world's first" solution for 2D electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic schematic drawings that runs in the cloud.
Malaysia-based Radica Software has announced the release of Electra Cloud, an electrical CAD software application that allows engineers to create, edit, and share 2D electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic schematic drawings. The fully browser-based software is the first such application of its type, according to Radica.
Because it runs in an Internet browser, Electra Cloud is platform-agnostic, and accessible via mobile devices as well as desktop computers. It also enables users to collaborate with remotely located team members in real time, regardless of what software each person has installed on their computer. A dashboard gives all individuals working on the same project access to the latest version of drawings, and supports sharing, commenting, chatting, and collaborative editing.
Thomas Yip, CEO and founder of Radica Software, explained that browser-based software offers advantages for a variety of organizations: “For small teams, being able to access critical engineering resources from the cloud means the boss can go out to meet a client with a laptop, without asking the engineer to email the latest version over. It also means the engineer can still make some modifications over the cloud if required, even though he or she may be on a vacation. The days of forgetting to put in place a backup plan are over, as everything is in the cloud, and properly backed up,” he told Cadalyst.
“For large diverse teams, it is far easier to sync up the latest changes and plans with everyone. IT cost, scalability, business continuity (in case of manpower turnovers), collaboration both internal and external, access to automatic updates, and flexibility of work practices all contribute to a far better bottom line for companies, compared to good old traditional software.
“Perhaps the only area where traditional software may be required are absolute privacy like military projects, or specialized software that is used to design planes and automotive, where privacy and extreme speed is absolutely required,” Yip acknowledged.
Electra Cloud includes automated tooling including automatic tagging, circuit reuse, real-time cross reference, NFPA/JIC and IEC symbols, PLC modules, automatic bill of materials (BOM) generation, terminals, panel layout, and more. The software also features File Version Control functionality that saves changes made in real time automatically, allowing collaborators to revert to previous revisions without losing any work, according to the company.
Radica states that Electra Cloud “helps engineers complete schematic drawings between 300% and 500% faster than traditional software currently available in the market.” Yip clarified that by “traditional software,” the company is referring to design software not specifically tailored for electrical design.
“The majority of users are still using normal CAD and 2D CAD software widely available in the market to perform electrical designs,” he said. “These [applications] include some that offer electrical stencils and symbols, are built and designed as a general diagramming software. [These applications don’t] understand electrical, have no automatic numbering and tagging, cannot generate bills of materials, cannot generate terminals, do not contain component databases, do not have smart circuit reuse that numbers electrical circuits according to electrical norms and standards, etc. With a lack of such features, the engineer must do all this manually — manually typing out the bills of materials by hand on a spreadsheet — compared to actual ECAD software like Electra Cloud, where bills of materials can be generated with the click of a button.
“The lack of such automation causes numerous errors, and therefore, in an internal study, we asked engineers to use these software [applications] compared to using Electra Cloud, and our findings [show] that most engineers are able to complete their circuits with far more details, far faster and more precise, 300-500% faster compared to non-electrical software,” Yip explained.
Learning the Ropes
According to Radica, Electra Cloud does not require extensive training. “Referring to competitors,” said Yip, “training [to use those products] can last several days to several years, and normally a user would not be able to be productive unless having gone through extensive training. … You can imagine not being productive unless you have had extensive usage after training,” he told Cadalyst.
“For Electra Cloud, we’ve designed our software for electrical engineers to ensure no extensive training required, like any consumer software such as Google Docs and Microsoft Office, whereby a user would be able to use the software out of the box. Normally an engineer designs a circuit and will not design again until project completion, which may be months, and to be able to pick up the software again after not using for a while is a huge boon and productivity gain for all employees and companies alike,” Yip said.
Although Electra Cloud is complete now and “has all the tools that an engineer requires,” there is “a lot more enhancement in the works,” Yip explained. The following enhancements have already been scheduled for completion:
Cable and connection reports are coming as soon as February, and a manufacturer database will begin rollout in March. By making a manufacturer's component database available to users, Radica will enable them to “easily insert a Koyo PLC [a type of programmable logic controller] without leaving the software, which includes all details including exact sizing and front/side views,” explained Yip.
In April, the company expects to have an automatic wire connection functionality ready. “This is where we have algorithms that predict that you will want to place wires and automatically do them, to save engineers even more time,” said Yip.
Also targeted for April is the ability to create Google documents and spreadsheets, and upload PDF and other files onto Electra's dashboard, so that the entire team — including vendors and clients — can have easy access to all engineering resources in a single place, Yip noted.
- A design verification plugin is in development, which will help users “perform various checks to ensure no overloading, calculation of loads, and other checks which helps to validate a design,” Yip said. This is scheduled for launch in June 2020.
Radica Software also plans to release an offline version of Electra Cloud to address the demands of users who have confidential drawings and do not want to place their data in the cloud; launch is planned for March of this year.
Pricing and Plans
Electra Cloud is available for a free 30-day trial, after which users can choose to downgrade to a Free plan or pay for the Freelance plan ($99 per user per month), Standard plan ($999 per user per year), or Professional plan ($1,499 per year). With the Free plan, minor text or graphical edits are possible, but features and functionalities are unavailable. The Professional level of the software includes hydraulic and pneumatic tools that the Standard version lacks.