A Guide to Best Practises for Electrical Control Panels

Industrial mechanisation and equipment now universally rely on electrical control panels for operating and automating their essential processes. The essential position of electrical control panels in modern industry and manufacturing thus requires high-level and faultless engineering of these products. But in order to maintain their safe and reliable operation, prevent component collisions and incurring large maintenance costs, the following practices must be considered.

Logical Organisation

The importance of organisation in the production of electrical control panels should not be underestimated. Components should be logically positioned in terms of function and electrical requirements, for ease of identification. Following this recommendation, DualTEC have a clear outline for panel organisation. They position circuit protection components proximately to one another in one area of the panel, and near to the necessary devices. Another section of the panel holds group drives, and the PLC is positioned at the top.

Clearly labelling wires and components also ensures more clarity in the organisation of your electrical control panel. Using a consistent syntax or abbreviation type aids this process. We advise using an abbreviated prefix in labelling, such as CB for circuit breaker, and PS for power supply. These labels should be placed visibly on the front of the device and at both ends of each wire.

Our use of wireway to create banks to hold components also ensures short, efficient wire runs, and allows for a neat composition of wires which could otherwise interfere with components. Placing an emergency-stop (e-stop) button in the most visible location on the panel door, and separate from other buttons, ensures the safest control panel operation. This way, it can be easily seen and accessed in an emergency, but the potential for accidental engagement is limited.

Appropriate Enclosures

Choosing the correct size enclosure to hold your panel components is also more than just a space-saving procedure. With components slotted closely together, collisions with door-mounted devices are prevented. DualTEC like to pre-empt any problems, with panel layouts modelled clearly to prevent, in advance, any risk of component collisions.

Not only the size, but the material of enclosure is vital to supporting the safe operation of your control panel. Polycarbonate plastic, mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminium are among the most common materials used, and each holds different benefits and corresponding NEMA ratings.

Polycarbonate plastic is inexpensive and holds high impact resistance, suitable for indoor and outdoor use. The NEMA ratings for polycarbonate plastic enclosures range between 1, 2, 3, 4X, 12 and 13.

Mild steel is commonly used in electrical enclosures, and successfully protects control panels in wet, non-corrosive spaces. These enclosures are offered in NEMA ratings 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12 and 13.

Stainless steel is equally versatile in wet environments, and additionally is fire resistant. Yet alongside these benefits comes a greater cost with this material, and a heavier weight. Stainless steel enclosures NEMA ratings range across 3, 3R, 4, 4X, 12, and 13

Aluminium is a stable and reliable material, fit to withstand high temperatures and resistance to corrosion. Its natural EMI/RFI shielding also prevents interference, and its NEMA ratings range between 3, 3R, 4, 4X, 12 and 13.

Temperature Control

Improperly engineered electrical control panels are prone to overheating, and so heat dispersal must be seriously considered in their construction. Among the causes of overheating are inappropriate enclosure ventilation; exposure to sunlight and natural elements outside without correct protection; locations close to hot machines, ovens and furnaces; and poor maintenance leading to a build-up of dust inside the panel.

DualTEC endeavours to ensure that temperature control elements are incorporated into electrical control panels, altered depending on individual specifications. These components include side-mounted air conditioners, vents, fans and air to air heat exchangers, to ensure a constant temperature is maintained inside the panel. Additionally, advice can be given on the location and enclosure material for your control panel, and regularly scheduled maintenance will keep the panel clear of dust and debris.

DualTEC

Located in Keighley, West Yorkshire, DualTEC pays great attention to these practices in the engineering and construction of their control panels. The qualified team at DualTEC can comfortably and efficiently carry out your automation project.

In addition to industrial electrical control panels, DualTEC provides a great range of control system services including PLC and HMI programming, machine automation systems, energy management and refrigeration syste