Control Panel Fabrication
In industrial settings, control panels are used for one of two purposes: to control the flow of electricity to electric motors and equipment, or to control the movement of equipment in a system. In modern industrial settings, these devices are essentially the “brains” of the operation, controlling various critical machinery and equipment. Because control panels are so vital, it is very important that they do their job reliably. This starts with good design, and good design starts with well-defined requirements and constraints.
Typically, a firm looking to install new control panels will have many requirements. While each firm’s control panel requirements are unique, we will briefly outline some of the most common considerations to take into account.
Control panel considerations
There are several factors to consider when building and installing industrial control panels. Cost and functionality are two of the most important to keep in mind. However, there are several other parameters that need to be accounted for in order to achieve intended functionality at the right cost.
Space requirements are one of these considerations. This means knowing how much room you have to work with, as well as the size of components placed inside the panel. After the space for functional components are considered, there may be additional requirements, such as the National Electric Code (NEC), for determining adequate spacing and clearance for specific components.
Heat distribution and temperature management are other factors that, if not accounted for, may lead to service disruptions or hazards to employees. The Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has standards for the spacing of certain components, such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and variable frequency drives (VFDs), to ensure adequate ventilation.
Various circuit protections, including available fault current, labeling , and power coordination, are other factors to consider in panel fabrication. These are critical for the safe operation of control panels
Prior knowledge of environmental conditions will also help ensure safe and reliable control panel operation. The functions and location of a control panel may introduce other factors that impact reliability and safety. It is worthwhile to consult National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) specifications and standards when fabricating control panels for various environments.
Compliance with standards
There are various industry standards and regulations to keep in mind when designing and fabricating control panels. The NEC, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) all have regulations relating to the fabrication and operation of control panels. To keep a safe and compliant workplace, these must be taken into account.
Current Engineering Control Panel Services
Current Engineering offers complete, turnkey electrical control panel design and fabrication services. We design and fabricate a wide variety of control panels requiring engineering expertise. Our experienced, in-house panel builders have fabricated hundreds of electrical enclosures including: Operator Control Panels, Motor Control Panels, VFD Panels, and PLC Cabinets. Let us know how we can be of service by contacting us here.