Ensuring that the control panel being designed will ultimately meet the specifications set out by the client, meeting the necessary regulatory standards alongside functioning correctly is a careful and considered process. There are numerous choices that must be considered in the development of an industrial control panel, all of which should reflect the primary specifications. Below we will discuss the most common component considerations needed in control panel design and which aspects need to be weighed-up as part of the process.
Considering the panel casing and overall size
The overall size of the control panel you’re designing will be dictated predominantly by the amount of physical space available. Industrial environments are generally large and airy, but when filled with machinery and other control panels, space can be at a premium. Be sure to pay close attention at the very start of the design phase to the project environment, where is it’s placement in the workplace? In relation to other enclosures, you may need to consider how much room is required for door clearance or for comfortable operation.
In the case of a cabinet enclosure being used on this industrial control panel, you will need to consider the need for ventilation and the space required to effectively maintain air intake and exhaust vents. If the temperature of the cabinets environment is high then an external fan may need to be fitted and in the event of temperature sensitive control panels, easy access will be required to all ventilation grids to keep the panel effectively maintained.
Space considerations aren’t solely governed by the control panels running requirements or its physical size within it’s environment – you also need to keep in mind the regulations for suitable spaces in control panel manufacture. One of the most common violations in control panel design and manufacture is not adhering to the regulations for proper wiring manipulation. Also keeping in mind that the guidelines for panel design are regularly changed, and that an insufficient amount of space is often a stumbling block when upgrading old control panel systems.
Component types and wiring size considerations
When planning which components and gauge of wire to use in your industrial control panel design, the main factor to keep in mind is load current. Both components and the wire used in circuitry must be capable of carrying the necessary voltage and load current running through the panel. Circuit protection or insulation is governed by both wire size and load current and is imperative to ensure safe running operation of your control panel.
When selecting which components to use, they need to meet three requirements:
- They must have the right function and make using the control panel as simple as possible
- Must be the correct size, physically and in relation to the load current
- Need to adhere to any regulations and standards, the same goes for your wiring gauge
Controlling an Industrial control panel
The operator of the control panel needs the means to do just that – operate the control panel. Operator devices traditionally involve levers and push buttons, digital panel meters and indicator lights, but as technology evolves – so do our control panels. Industrial control panels are increasingly being designed and built with touch screen control panels (known as Human Machine Interfaces or HMIs). They allow for accurate control and far more complex functionality within the panel, but they also require programming knowledge to accurately run the necessary software and so can add to the cost significantly.
When planning which controls to include in the design of your project, a good rule of thumb is to keep it simple. If the requirements of the panel demand complex functionality – work in a HMI into the design. If the panel functions in a relatively simple way then use simpler controls, this way you can keep ease of use a priority and not over complicate the build.
Industrial control panel design assistance
If you’re taking on a new project and are looking for a reputable business to design and even manufacture your industrial control panel, consider contacting the team here at DualTEC. We have decades of experience in designing panels for industrial applications and across a host of other sectors. For any further information or enquiries, you can reach us via our website, by email or you can contact us on 0153 5609 314.