So you’re investing in a new control panel installation, bringing the automation in your company firmly into 2017. The designs are drawn up, the parts are in transit, all that is left is to properly install your system and you’ll be ready to roll. This is the stage where cutting corners really impacts on the future reliability of all that investment, financially and hourly.
Imagine if you will, redecorating your entire house without first fixing the gaping hole in the roof and the creeping threat of rising damp. It won’t take long for all your fresh magnolia to be completely ruined. Well, the same premise can be applied to control panels, in a cabinet installed with shoddy workmanship it will not take long before errors start piling up until servicing will be rendered useless, leaving repair or replacement as the only option. Which will obviously impact reliability, impacting on time and ultimately cost to you.
Installation of Your Control Panel
A cabinet installed with quality workmanship should have neatly organised wires run in gutters or channels, laid-out with only smooth bends to the wire radii, no sharp bends or kinks. But most importantly – all wires, components and terminals should be clearly labelled. We cannot stress the importance of a sound labelling strategy upon installation, when maintenance and troubleshooting is necessary it will save time in testing for errors, saving money therein and ultimately saving you the stress.
Adopt a reliable and durable labelling solution to avoid labels deteriorating. It also pays to run signal, control and power wiring in individually separate bundles or channels. It may mean using more wire initially but will reduce noise, reduce troubleshooting time making future maintenance and repairs far easier.
Control Panels: Regular Maintenance
There is no standardised protocol for the maintenance of control panels, however we tend to live by the old adage: ‘prevention rather than the cure’. With that in mind, here are our three simple maintenance steps to help stave off unwanted issues and maximise reliability.
Control Panel Connections
Re-tightening of terminal screws sounds innocuous enough no? But it can easily result in over-tightened screws which lessens their ability to clamp. As a general rule you should – disassemble, clean and reassemble.
Wiring Insulation in Control Panels
As a preventative measure, you should consider running a regular insulation resistance test, this measures the insulations ability to resist a particular type and level of voltage, not dissimilar to a pressure test. Keeping a watchful eye on the insulation within your control panel will ensure both efficiency and safety.
Pest, Dust and Control Panels
Something as simple as a mouse trap in one corner of the unit will suffice for pests, just remember to check it regularly. As for dust, depending on the degree of dust within your work environment – check and vacuum any accumulated dust accordingly, remembering that live electricity runs through the cabinet. Make sure you follow the appropriate procedures for electrostatic discharge before cleaning and certainly never vacuum circuit boards without doing so.
It need not cost the earth or cause undue stress, but by taking these few steps during installation and then in the upkeep of your control panel, you can minimise future faults, ensuring a reliable control panel for its entire operation.