Designers and engineers have limited time constraints to finish control panel plans and, more than often, encounter issues to produce products with a robust lifecycle that also meets all design requirements. Products do not replicate ideally in harsh environments as they do in control environments. Practical issues experienced in the field can lead to downtime needed to repair damaged systems, which can result in costly maintenance.
The article will dive into solutions and practices that help control engineers and panel designers to optimize control panel development and product lifecycle. This will provide tips and tools to deliver better process solutions to reduce cost and improve lifecycle performance.
Optimizing Control Panel Space
Machine engineers and designers are challenged to constantly reduce the size and footprint machines they build. This means that designers need to build smaller footprints to fit more into existing control panels. Maximizing enclosure platform space is a good solution. But, there are several challengers with designing smaller control panels. Considerations include:
- Cable Segregation
- Thermal Management
- Cable Entry
- Electromagnetic Interference
- Cable Bend Radius
- Space for Future Expansion
In addition to safety concerns, complying with standards and codes, as well as complying with electronic component separation requirements makes the engineer and designer’s jobs that much more complicated.
Control panels have come along way from the traditional panel box and single door design. Control panels have much more versatility with panel boxes designed with multiple points of access, sub-panel compartments, and optional integrated cooling systems. An area that most tend not to use is the space between the enclosure door and the components mounted to the sub-panel in the rear. Utilizing a DIN rails with components that would normally be installed on the sub-panel.
With integrated cooling systems, control panels can allow for electrical equipment to be mounted and installed closers to each other. This decreases space used and improves heat dissipation efficiency within the unit. There are plenty of cooling systems available and choosing the right one all depends on the control panels needs.
Electromagnetic interference from external components emit noise that can ultimately interfere with normal operations of other components. EMI risk increases with the addition of networked components and power devices while to minimize panel costs. It is difficult to detect noise emitting components once the control panel is completed, therefore to reduce chances of possible EMI, it is essential to incorporate noise mitigation solutions into the original design.
Properly grounding noise emitting components is a great first step in reducing EMI emissions. Wires that form loops make excellent antennas and minimizing the size of the loops will help reduce noise received. Instead of looping wires, run feed and return wires together. Twisting wires together further reduces EMI effects. Bond incoming ground conductors to sub-panel where they enter using a universal ground bar.
Wire layout is a crucial consideration in noise control and the distance between the two is a great factor along with the wire pathway layout. Cross conductor wires at right angles since perpendicular conductors have much less common length than parallel conductors, thus reducing noise. Avoid running DC next to AC, and inputs next to outputs. To reduce EMI a recommended distance of 3 to 6 inches between high voltage and low voltage conductors in parallel runs. And 12 inches is recommended between encoders and resolver feedback cables, and motor or any AC power cables.
Control panel enclosures need to protect vital systems and provide reduced potential downtime risk and ensure personnel protection. Environmental risks such as corrosion, substance exposure, electrical noise, and ambient temperature can have harmful effects on control panel systems. Determining whether the application will be indoors or outdoors is heavily dependant on these factors. Overall environmental factors include:
- Human Interaction (Isolation of Equipment from Personnel for Safety)
- Substance Exposure (Keeping Dust, Moisture, Oils Sealed off from the System)
- High Pressure Fluids and Abrasions (Cleaning and Agent Washdown)
- Temperature (Keeping Electronic Equipment within Operating Temperatures)
- UV Rays (Material Degradation from Sunlight)
- Corrosive Elements (Salts and Chemical that can Cause Equipment Corrosion)
To protect control panels from substance exposure they must have leak-tight seals on mating surfaces for isolating vital internal systems. Applying appropriate finishes to the enclosure external surface can help it withstand high pressure and temperature exposures, as well as UV rays and potential corrosion. Thermal management systems can help maintain control panel systems within designed operating temperatures.
Protecting the control panel from environmental factors is important to ensure that systems runs smoothly, while productivity and equipment longevity is not lost. During selection of control panel enclosure it is important to understand the environmental factors in order to specify the enclosure based on ingress requirement and standard compliance to achieve proper protection.
Providing a safe workspace for personnel is essential for everyday business. As control systems continue to develop and become more complex, it is more vital now than ever to take the necessary steps to ensure safety. The number of electrical accidents has grown leading to a need to increase safety. When environmental hazards are neglected, injuries to personnel can cause fines and increase operating costs.
An arc flash explosion is very dangerous and a costly electrical malfunction that occurs as a short between electrified conductors. Often, an arc flash is triggered by operator movement or contact with energized equipment. A phase-to-ground or phase-to-phase fault that results can cause fatal injuries and damage equipment.
Signage, labeling, and identification systems should be used to ensure that personnel understand that there is a possibility of risk within control panels and nearing systems. Physical barriers are important to protect against mechanical hazards. It is necessary to design equipment so untrained personnel are away from risk sources. Physical barriers include:
- Latching Mechanisms (Preventative Safety that Locks Power Sources while On)
- Data Ports (Allows Diagnostics Outside of Panel away from Risk)
- Lockouts (Ensures that all Energy Sources are Rendered Safe before Maintenance)
It is important that facilities with control systems and panels take the necessary precautions to keep personnel safe during operations. There can be significant costs associated with electrical incidents such as worker’s compensation, insurance costs, and legal fees. By evaluating and understanding workspace hazards, control panel systems and components can be designed with personnel safety in mind.
E3.Panel for Control Panel Design Development
Provides an complete in-depth interface to design and develop control panel layout. This platform can easily integrate 3D mechanical design with electronical component to visualize component placement for control panel space optimization. Visually see wiring layout, control system components, and the complete integration of schematic circuit design. Able to provide virtual representation that will display overall control panel design from the type of panel structure to labelling potential hazards for production.
E3.Panel allows for ducts and cable routing paths for components. Able to deliver true route and length approximation calculations for improving material direct cost estimations. Provides design rule checks the ensure that the design is manufacturable without device and component interference.
Automatic, or manual, wire routing based on component placement in order to prohibit invalid control panel design. Also provides design rule checks in order to avoid over-filling of ducts, and placement of parts in restricted areas, as well as its ability to comply with standards by recognizing wire and part proximity.
In-depth component libraries with online cross-referencing to provide information about component specifications and physical dimensions for determining best space saving dimensions for control panel infrastructure.
Additional E3.Panel Features
- 100% Integration with E3.Schematics and E3.Cable
- Any changes made in panel or schematic are reflected through all E3.Series tools.
- Design Rule Check
- Hazard Avoidance
- Clash Detection
- Automatic snap on to valid mounting positions
- Placement Error Prevention
- Create Additional 2D Views
- 2D representation of control panel design
- Integrate Panel Design with Manufacturing Equipment
- E3.Panel plus integrates with various manufacturing equipment such as Komax wire preparation machinery and Perforex drilling, punching, and cutting tools.
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