Fred Costey

EPLAN License Activations

So I recently visited my alma mater, you know.. the school of hard knocks, and I thought that I would write this post in the hopes that it might save you some trouble.
I know that this post is very long but this is a fairly complicated topic, if you can find anyone else writing about it more succinctly, you are welcome to post a link to it below.

Single User License

To be clear I am a single license owner with a USB license dongle and I recently became a “subscription” member, if you have a different type of license this information may not apply to you.

In the old days up to and including version 2.7, when you wanted to use EPLAN on a different PC you simply unplugged the license dongle and moved it to the other PC and plugged it in. You could install EPLAN on as many PCs as you liked (including VMs) and so long as you had the license dongle plugged into that PC you could run the application.

License Activations
The license terms were changed recently to limit the number of “Activations” that you can have concurrently with a single user license. This means that as of the date of this post date, you can have up to three “activations” of EPLAN at a time. I think I was vaguely aware of this but I was not really aware of what this meant or how easily you can lose one or more of these activations.

When you “activate” a license you are essentially making a declaration to EPLAN that you want to use EPLAN on a particular PC and important information will be transmitted to EPLAN to uniquely identify your PC. I believe this started in V2.8 which is also when the EID code was introduced.
If you have already activated EPLAN on (3) PCs, and you want to use a license at any additional locations, you must now “revoke” an existing activation so that you can transfer it to a new location. To “revoke” an activation you will need to use a special EPLAN application named REHOST.

Significant Changes

In addition, If you want to make any significant changes to the hardware or OS of an “activated” PC you will need to “revoke” the activation on that PC BEFORE making your updates OR THE ACTIVATION MAY BE LOST. Oh yes.. sad emoji face for sure!

So what kind of changes are we talking about?

  • Formatting the hard disk
  • Replacing a hardware component (?)
  • Reinstalling or upgrading the operating system (?)
  • Changing the computer name
  • Moving a virtual machine or modifying its hardware
  • Activating a different EPLAN license

(Source: EPLAN Help)

Example Time

Lets do some simple math to illustrate an example, I have EPLAN activated on two PCs:

A desktop pc: Let’s call this PC1

A laptop pc: Let’s call this “My Laptop”

So far I have used up (2) of my activations, right?

Now one day I decide that I want to change the name of my laptop from “My laptop” to PC2. I Google how to do it and make the change, it never occurs to me to think about EPLAN..

So how many PCs can I use EPLAN on now?
The correct answer is only (2)..I just lost an activation because I did not follow the proper procedure of revoking the activation BEFORE making the changes.

A few weeks ago I needed to work remotely so I grabbed my license dongle and my laptop and jumped in the car. About an hour later I fired up the laptop and was greeted with a error message that informed me that an “activation” was not available and that I would need to deactivate a previous installation. This is when i was introduced to EPLAN Rehost..

So what is going on? I honestly don’t really know because over the last year or two I have done the following to my EPLAN PCs:

  • I replaced the hard drives with SSDs
  • I replaced one or more small SSDs with larger SSDs
  • I renamed the PC
  • I activated EPLAN on other PCs

At the moment I know that I have (1) activation and I think I may have a second (2) activation but I am sure that I don’t have the ability to use all three.

So why don’t I know what’s really going on? Well it seems that EPLAN does not have a tool that you can use to simply manage your current “activations”. I am told that this information is internally available to some EPLAN employees but that it is not available to the license owners. I think I heard someone mention that you can formally request an “global activation reset” but I don’t know the details of that.

Moral of the Story: Be careful and informed when activating a license and be mindful when making significant updates to your PC, these changes may limit your ability to use EPLAN.

Ref: Activating a single-user license

Ref: Returning a single-user license


ISO 81346 and the real world

Reader David H asks:

In very large systems such as manufacturing plants, there are lots of different machines for lots of different reasons and they all have a complex list of subsystems, mounting locations, and connection points, this equipment is also often made by a variety of manufacturers, and much of the time we are buying something that we have no real control over the design.

Can this system (ISO 81346) be applied at the various levels of such massively complex systems?

For instance, the maker of a bottling system in one section of the plant has no knowledge of the larger overall system of the plant. That maker will label functions, locations, and products within his system. When it is installed in the plant, it now has a different, overall function and location that the original functions and locations will now live within.

Can that now be documented with all those levels of hierarchy?

Your answer is Yes and no….

First, the owner of the plant management needs to decide if they want to own and maintain a documentation system for the machinery in the plant, or not. I will be honest, I have seen many plants where management simply says that sounds like it will cost money and that’s the end of it. I assume because you are asking this question that you may have a need to create such a system and you want to know if this is one that you can use and have confidence in. I have total confidence that it can handle the most complex designs that you can think of BUT the problems that you will encounter using it are not often with the system, it will be with your current understanding of how to implement it and with others reactions to seeing it often simply because “they didn’t use it at the last place I worked” .

The scenario that you describe in your question is typical of the real world not a perfect world, in a perfect world all plants would be designed starting with a green field and there would be no unforeseen changes or additions of equipment over the lifetime of the plant, this of course is not reality.

If you are thinking about implementing such a system get comfortable with the fact that there will be some things you will have control over and many other things you will have very little control over, this is not good or bad just reality. By this I mean if you are creating such an identification system, you will have full control to identify all aspects of the machine to your liking only for the machines that you design.

For equipment that you purchase from another manufacturer you will very likely just design the interface circuitry around the machine and accept the internal circuitry for what it is. Typically for most equipment provided by others your Interaction will typically be limited to the main power feeds, an ethernet connection and a label with your identifier on the main cabinet, the rest of it will be treated like a black box where the internal details are provided by the manufacturers own documentation.

EPLAN’s Page Navigator combined with the page type external document can go a long way to simplifying your documentation management issues as make it very easy to add a PDF or Autocad sheet set to an EPLAN project so that everything you need is contained in the project database.

Identification methods for Industrial systems

Reader David H writes:

Are there pre-defined letter codes for the function aspect like there are for the product aspect?

Yes, the same designators that an electrical engineer or designer would use to identify devices in an electrical system (81346-2) can be used to identify the functional aspects of a design. As a control systems engineer I often use the identifiers found in ISO 81346-2 Table 2 to identify the part aspect (+)  of the devices in my projects. However the more generic “parent” identifiers are often used as functional identifiers; see ISO 81346-2 Table 1

ISO 81346-1 was created to help standardize this process; the full name of the document is:Structuring principles and reference designations for Industrial systems, installations and equipment and industrial products

The standard (81346-1) does not mandate what designators you should use but it does encourage the use of the standard identifiers found in 81346-2.

The choice of identifiers is left to the design team and in many situations there are other influences that can impact the desired identifiers that include corporate legacy codes, industry standards and common conventions as well as many others.

It should also be mentioned that in certain types of  systems the process flow should also be considered. If I were to consider two very different systems; a large boiler and a bottling line for example, in my mind I will quickly see two very different process flow diagrams. The one for the boiler will be very centralized (generic) with many functional sub systems surrounding the central boiler vessel. The bottling line on the other hand will be very sequential, Raw materials at the beginning followed by several process stations and then the end of line packaging.

Since the boiler plant is centralized it would be my inclination to prefer an identification system that uses a letter code from 81346-2 table 1 followed by an incremental counter, the letter code will identify the general function of the sub-system and the incremental counter will allow you to keep track of many functionally similar sub systems. Also the fewer letters the easier it is to remember what it is.


=G1: Electrical Power System

=W1: Material Handling Station 1

=C1: Ingredients Storage system 1

=F1: Fire Suppression system

In the case of the bottling line I would see the very sequential process flow diagram in my mind and I would be inclined to go in a different direction. Since the machine operates in a highly sequential manner I would want to use a numerical identification system. The area where raw materials enter the process flow may be numbered as process stations =100 to =199, the process cells in the middle of the machine might have identifiers such as =500 & =570, and the end of line packaging stations might have identifiers such as =900 & =1500 or whatever makes sense for your machine.

You will also need to consider functional systems that I refer to as infrastructure, these are systems that are part of the building that are also part of your manufacturing line, common examples are; Fire Suppression, Lighting, HVAC, Environmental monitoring, Drainage, Comms Networks and many more. I would also assign identifiers to these systems often using numerals of less than 100 but that’s just my personal preference.


=10: Power Distribution

=30: Building Fire System Circuits

=40: LAN

=100: Ingredients Loading

=207: Ingredients Storage system, Hopper Group 7

=403: Bottle Washer; Line #3

=802: Packaging Robot line #2

We have until now been considering system level designs but I often create machine electrical designs using the same principals.


=10: Power Distribution

=24: 24VDC

=30: ESTOP

=40: PLC

=50: Ethernet

=101: Motor Circuit 1

=105: Motor Circuit 5

=401: Water Chiller 1

=600: Operations Station

You are free to create your own system that makes the most sense for your application, just remember to document what you decided on and include it early in your design for others to reference.

Placing a Table of Contents

An EPLAN user recently posted a question on the forum that i thought that I would answer here as the response will be rather long and require several graphics.


I have a large project with approximately 200 pages with a structure something like this:




+ (A.Panel_1)

+ (A.Panel_2)

+ (B.Panel_1)


+ (A.Panel_3)

+ (A.Panel_4)

+ (B.Panel_2)

I would like to generate a table of contents for the whole project under the = level.

From <>


So I made a quick demo project to see if I could walk you through this..I changed mine slightly because I did not fully understand yours, they should be functionally similar.

When I first create the project I add the TOC form to the template and generate the reports, when I do EPLAN places the report at the bottom of the page navigator, this is largely controlled in the report template settings which we can see here: Utilities > Report >Generate

Select the report in the list and the settings will be in the right window, Start page of report block defines the starting page..I have:  ===+++/1 which if I think about my structure elements for a moment looks right.

However my TOC report page is located at the bottom of the navigator and I want it at the top. This is controlled by the structure identifier manager settings:

Project Data > Structure identifier management > Functional assignment

I select the [==] Functional Assignment icon to set the view in the right window. In (row 2) I see that pages with an empty identifier will be placed below all others, I think I want to move them to the top of the page navigator so I will move the empty identifier setting in row 2 to row 1.

I now generate the reports again and the TOC has moved to the top

This is where most designers will want it but you specifically requested it be placed in the HLF =AREA.

I will need to edit the report settings again: Utilities > Report >Generate > TOC >1

I will also need to edit the “Start page of the report block”


That should do it..

Are you sure that you really need a structure that has that many levels?

Is this something that you have used before and you know that it meets your needs?

I have worked in some very large auto plants that document the assembly line with only 3 structure elements..just saying..


Simple Block Property

A frequent contributor on the forum posted a question recently that I thought I would answer here in detail. 

In the circuit below function text is assigned to the relay coil. The designer would like to transfer this text automatically to both the Coil, the coil contacts and the related lamp which is part of the circuit.  For this example they will all be located on the same schematic page but of course the contacts and the lamp can also be anywhere in the design.

I was so inspired about this topic I created a video and posted it on You Tube.

The function text at the bottom is a special kind of text know as Path Function text, this text can be accessed directly in the schematic and its data can be transferred easily to other objects in its path, for IEC designs this requires vertical alignment and for NFPA this requires horizontal alignment.

I will start by creating the path function text below the relay coil and by adding a display property to the coil to display the text there.

Now to define the coil and the contact as related all I need to do is assign them with the same device tag (DT) or reference designator. While I am doing that i will also add the display property for the Function Text. This data will be available directly at the contact because when I assign the DT, they will be defined as related functions of the same logical device.

Ok, so now all we have left is the do we access the data of the relay?

Block Properties

The lamp and the contact are related though a logical (wired) connection. In EPLAN we can make use of these direct and indirect relationships by creating a custom data property known as a Block Property. I will avoid trying to define what a block property is, I will leave that to EPLAN, but I will state that they are a powerful tool available to communicate information in EPLAN to devices that share some type of logical relationship.

In the case of the contact and the lamp they are logically related via the connection point X2 on the lamp and the N.O. contact. EPLAN is aware of this relationship via the connection (wire) and you can use this relationship to access information about the relay contact via this connection. In essence EPLAN will look out from the connection (H23:x2) to the next device and you can tell EPLAN to make information about that device available at the lamp.

Block Properties at the Part Reference level
Block Properties can be created at two different levels, at the symbol or object reference level or at the project level. I like to first create them at the symbol level to make sure that they work and then copy them to the project level. At the symbol level we have access to specific data values that makes the creation process much easier.

This means that we can create a block property locally for this instance of the lamp symbol and any copies that we make of it, but if we insert a new lamp symbol using symbol insertion, that data format will not transfer because the definition was created in the schematic for a particular instance of the symbol. To make the block property available to ALL symbols in the project we need to define the block property at the Project Level AND then assign it at the schematic level as a display property.

Are you starting to think about local and global variables? Good, because that is essentially exactly what we are talking about.

Block Property Format

We will begin by defining the relationship between the objects and the data, this is known as a block property format.

We will open the device properties of the lamp.

On the first properties tab (Signal Lamp) we will look at the properties in the grid at the bottom of the dialog. Let’s start by looking for existing Block Property formats and find an available slot. 
I will be creating a new Block Property: Format at position #10, you may already have some in your project so if #10 is already in use just select another position and make note of it.

Once you create the block Property Format you will be returned to the main dialog

Selecting the Value field of the new property, the ellipsis should appear […] and we want to select that to define the format of this block property.

A new dialog will appear: “Format”
We will now look for the data that we wish to display on the related object
First I should tell you that the current data displayed is related directly to the Signal Lamp that we selected and we can verify that by looking at the Navigation dialog at the bottom.

The relay contact is related to the lamp via a connection at H23:x2
So starting at the point of view of the lamp, we want to look at data related to a Target (some other object) via a connection point on the lamp.
In the available format elements select: “Target via connection point and target number”.

A list of connection points will appear, and the lamp has two connection points so we should expect to see data at two connection points. Looking “out” from the connection point along the wire we see a relay contact (Connection point 1: Target 1) and we see a terminal (Connection point 2: Target 1). This information helps to confirm that I am looking at the correct data and I also know which connection point I want to use as a reference.

Again, the current list of available format elements (data) is for the lamp and we want them to reflect data for the contact or the coil.
To change the focus of the data set, we will need to navigate up the connection point to the contact.
So I will select Connection Point 1, Target 1, and then at the bottom I will select the “UP STAIRS” icon to “navigate” to the change-over contact.

When I do, the information in the navigation pane will update describing where I am:
I started at the Lamp and I am now referencing a target via a connection point (Change-Over Contact)

Ok great, we can now get the data from the contact or with a few more clicks directly from the coil because they are directly related.

In the middle of the list of format elements we can see a property “Main Function (=+K10 A1/A2 Coil for Power Contactor) or similar.

If we select this property and then select the Navigation tool again, we can change the focus to the main coil. Again, we can verify this by looking in the navigation pane at the bottom. It reads as follows top to bottom:

  • We started at the lamp
  • We jumped to the next target (relay contact) via a connection point
  • We then jumped to the main function which is the relay coil.

The available format elements will now reflect data for the relay coil. 

Ok great, we can now point to the data from relay coil. 
In the “available format elements list” I will scroll to the top and expand the function list.
This is a list of data types associated with the Relay Coil.
I will now select the General Function element and then to blue arrow icon to expand and access related data sets.
I will search for function text..and in this case I can see the desired value in Function Text Common, which I will select.

Now in the right side of my format dialog I will see the selected data element and in the bottom right preview window I will see a Block Property (Format?) and a preview of the desired results.
Now this is why I like to create these at the part reference level first so that I can see the specific data that I want, you can create these at the project level but you will not see any object specific data.
[OK] to save the BP

We will test this first and later we will copy this (BP format ?) to the project level.

Returning to the schematic the BP format has been created and we should see it in the properties list. 

To see it we need to add it as a display property to the lamp.


The result is a circuit where the three dependent function texts can be automatically synchronized to the main path function text, no matter what page the contact and lamp find themselves on. 

To update the text after an edit, go to Project Data > Connections > Update.


Changing the orientation of the lamp in the circuit will affect the transfer of data to the lamp. Computers are excellent rule followers; In my case I told EPLAN to look out the connection point of the lamp at x1 to the next device; if i insert the symbol rotated 180 degrees it will not “see” the contacts but instead the terminal X1:4.


Almost Done.. Now we need to copy the BP to create one with global project scope.

Project Level Block Property

Lets open up the local block property that we created and copy the Format or Value.

Simply select the value and copy 

Close the dialog

Project > Properties 

On the Properties tab sort by property name by double clicking the column heading.

Look for a list of Block Properties

I will be randomly creating one at: Block Property: Format (General Devices) [10]

I would simply look for one that has NOT already been used. 

Add the property as NEW if needed.

When the value window appears simply paste the previous data into the cell.

OK to save and close the dialog

Return to the schematic editor

Open the properties of the lamp

Delete the block property that we previously created as we don’t need it anymore.

Click the cell to delete the text

Once the text is gone you can click and delete again to remove the cell.

Go to the display tab

Verify that the Block Property is assigned 



Hidden Parts

Just a quick little post here today.

I am creating a new parts library for a customer which often requires a lot of editing of parts properties in the parts manager database. I started to have a problem this morning where parts that I was confident that should be in the database could not be found with a direct search. After several attempts to find the parts I decided to just recreate the part assuming that it was deleted. Upon entering the ERP number for the new part, EPLAN threw a warning that the part already existed. That was my ah-ha moment and I knew what to do, I needed to update the search index of my parts database.

Apparently, the Parts Manager has a search index that references the part instances in the parts database so that you can find the parts quickly. Occasionally it appears that the search index can get out of synch with the parts database and the result is parts that appear to be hidden.

To resolve this EPLAN provides a tool that will manually update the search index to synchronize it with the data in the parts database. Of course, EPLAN should manage this automatically which it usually does, but when you are moving a lot of data around creating new parts, errors can occur.

 To resolve this issue:

  • Open your parts manager
  • Find the Extras Button on the lower right of the dialog
  • Select the menu to reveal your options
  • Select “Update Search Index” from the menu
  • Return to normal operation

EPLAN Videos

Customers often ask me for good sources of information on how to use EPLAN and I always mention that there are quite a few videos available on You Tube. Many of these videos were created by EPLAN employees. If you have any requests for videos, just send me an email and let me know what you would like to see added and I will do my best.

I have begun creating videos myself so please check out my channel for updates. If you have a request for a topic, just send me an email and I will see what I can do.

Here is a list of EPLAN videos that you may find helpful:

EPLAN Video Collections

 Fred Costey

Videos from Multiline Designs

EPLAN Official on YouTube

Roland Younk

EPLAN Canada

Sean Mulherrin

EPLAN P8 Product Manager

Sergio Brinckhaus

EPLAN USA Applications Engineer

Luc Morin – STLM Inc

Independant EPLAN Consultant

ibKastl GmbH

Automation Consultants

EPLAN V2.7 Tutorial

Bill Of Material

Export to Excel (fast version) at 7:00

Data Portal

EPLAN Macros

Macros II

Macros III

Macros IV

Working with PLC’s


PLC Overviews

Translation Module

Default Plot Frame Selection

2D Panel Layout

Place Holders

Simple Power Circuit

Clip Project Printing

Creating a Custom Menu

Creating a custom menu with icons is easy with EPLAN; if you find yourself digging deep into the standard drop down menus to access frequently used commands you might consider creating a custom menu to simplify your life. Here is an example of how to make a custom menu for a connection definition placement (CDP) or what we call a wire tag or label here in the USA.

Go find a nice collection of 16×16 icons on the internet, (.bmp or .jpg) and save them in your master data image folder or any place that you like.

Create a custom toolbar for saving this new menu icon or add it to an existing menu; I would recommend in most cases just creating a custom menu.
Right click anywhere in the menu header or footer area and select customize from the right click menu
Select the Commands tab

Select Menu from the Categories list, and scroll in the buttons list until you find the desired command
If you did not already notice, the Buttons list displays the exact menu path that you navigate when using the normal drop down menus

In this particular case we are looking for : Project Data > Connections > Numbering > Place
Select this command in the Buttons window and select it with your left mouse button, hold that button and drag it to your toolbar

The “set button” dialog will appear, chose one of those nice 16×16 icons that you downloaded in step 1 and apply it as the “image file”. Eplan will place a small eplan logo by default but once you have more than a few of those its hard to remember what the buttons do which defeats the purpose.
(In the case of a categories: “Action” EPLAN will also allow for you to enter a tool tip.)

Give your new menu a try, add some more..

Custom menus must be saved in a workspace or they will vanish, they can also be “exported” which saves them outside the current project

To delete custom menu element from a menu, have the custom menu editor open and simply drag the icon off the menu and drop it anywhere on the screen that is outside the perimeter of the menu.

The settings for the placement command are found in the project settings:
Projects > [Project Name] > Connections > Connection Numbering > Placement
Two popular options here are: Symbol 308/CDP (the slash) or Symbol 311/CDPNG (no graphic)

If you find that when you manually place these symbols EPLAN wants to place the wrong symbol you can easily change this:
When placing a symbol hit the [backspace] key on your keyboard
Select the desired symbol
[OK] to confirm
EPLAN will now use the new symbol by default

EPLAN Property ID

Occasionally an EPLAN a user will  have the need to display a property on a form that is already available in a schematic or a layout, Many users feel that this task can be simplified with the use of EPLAN Property IDs. Since EPLAN projects are a database file (.edb) it is not surprising that these properties would all have unique IDs. These IDs can also be displayed in the application interface which many users find convenient.

Default display: Without Property IDs enabled Custom display: With Property IDs enabled


To enable the EPLAN Property IDs:

Edit your user settings at the following location:

Options > Settings > User > Display > User Interface: [x] Display Identifying numbers

[x] Display Identifying numbers

The result


Some users may find it a bit confusing to have the properties displayed before the property names so EPLAN has an additional setting that will display the IDs “behind” or after the property names.

Display the Property IDs “behind the name”.
Options > Settings > User > Display > User Interface: [x] Display Identifying numbers
Options > Settings > User > Display > User Interface: [x] Behind the name



Problems when renaming an EPLAN project

EPLAN is typically a VERY stable design tool but occasionally it will do something unexpected.

Problems when renaming an EPLAN project

Probably the most common situation that I encounter (3-4 times a year) is a problem when renaming a project file. When this happens EPLAN will put up some very scary warnings that suggest that the project that you just renamed does not exist or cannot be found!

System Message Info:

Unable to open the project. Open Project (S247027)

On further inspection of the project database file (.edb) you will now get really nervous when you come to realize that the main project folder is essentially empty! There should be a lot more files in that folder!

What Happened?

During the renaming process it appears that EPLAN made a copy of your project file (.edb) with the new project name BUT it did not create a new link file (.elk) for the new project and it nearly emptied the old project file (edb).


Why did this happen?

Sorry..I do not know the exact reason but you probably have a “special character” used in the name of your project.


Please do not use special characters in filename e.g. (Project names)

~ # % & * { } \ : < > ? / | “


Not to worry your project files are still there but for the moment EPLAN can not tell where they are.


How do I fix this?

Make a copy of the old project link (.elk) file

Rename this file (.elk) to match the name of the new project file (edb)

Open the (.elk) file with a text editor

Edit the first line of this file to match the new project name. This is the pointer to the project database.

Save and close the file

Open the new project with EPLAN.

Make a backup!



I strongly suggest that you try to open the project file from inside EPLAN rather than double mouse clicking on the file, double clicking on the elk file MAY give you what you want but it may not.

For users with multiple versions of EPLAN installed concurrently this is a must! I have 4 or 5 different editions of EPLAN installed for various customer and as luck would have it the version that Windows considers the default version IS THE LAST ONE THAT YOU INSTALLED. In my case its EPLAN V2.3 so thats going to causes errors if I just double click on a elk file, to avoid this problem I simply open the file from inside EPLAN.

Have Fun!