Messy, crowded panels with wires all over the place. You know a badly designed control panel when you see it. And you’re probably aware of the problems a poorly designed panel can cause. A poorly designed control panel can not only create safety or performance issues, but also make it harder to diagnose and repair problems down the road. This ultimately leads to frustration and lost production time. On the other hand, a well-designed control panel is more reliable, easier to maintain and more cost-effective long-term.
Basics of a Well-Designed Control Panel
So what makes a good control panel design? A well-designed control panel should be:
Planned to Fit Your Needs: A good control panel is one that is well thought out from the beginning. The panel designer should understand current and potential future needs and design the panel accordingly. This may include standardizing design elements to fit the rest of your plant or incorporating design elements that will allow for future expansion. Since every project is different, your designer should work with you to make sure the control panel will meet your needs now and well into the future.
Logically Laid Out: A well designed control panel is laid out in a logical/functional manner with the proper placement of power inputs and exits, PLC, and I/O terminals. Components should be laid out taking into account their function, voltage, heat, and accessibility requirements.
Fully and Clearly Labelled: Control panel wires and components should be accurately labeled with logical syntax and easily visible labels. To make trouble shooting easier, labels should correspond to schematics and PLC documentation.
Properly Sized and Spaced: A well designed panel isn’t crowded. The panel enclosure should be properly sized for the intended environment with enough space to install and wire components, The panel should be sized to allow adequate space for heat dissipation, wire coiling and potential expansion. The enclosure size should also take into account the needs of where it will be installed. For example, there may be requirements to allow for specific door swing spacing or ventilation.
Designed with Appropriate Wireway: Panels need to provide the right type and amount of wireway. There should be enough wireway to neatly route internal wiring and I/O terminals. There should also be adequate wireway to accommodate future expansion.
Choosing a Control Panel Designer
The company you choose to design your control panel should:
- Complete a power-up test and detailed quality check
- Provide clearly labeled schematics
- Provide a bill of materials
- Ensure that the panel is designed and built using the correct standards
Whether designing a new control panel or retrofitting one to work with your existing system, Control Works, Inc. will work with you to understand your control panel needs and then design your panel to the highest quality standards. Contact us today to see how we can help you.