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What You Need to Know Before Buying Industrial Control Panels


How is your equipment or machinery operating? Control panels allow industrial manufacturers to see how their assets are performing while giving you greater control over those assets.

However, you have to design industrial control panels carefully. Before you order industrial control panels, you need to look at your specifications, regulations, and available space to order the right setup. To complicate matters, you also need to meet safety and compliance requirements, so it isn’t as simple as placing an order and hoping it works out.

Let’s look at how industrial control panels work and what you need to know before you buy them for your organization.

What are Industrial Control Panels?

An industrial control panel (ICP) is an electronic controller for the different switches and circuit breakers for your equipment. They give signals telling you how well your machinery is performing.  Whether it’s HVAC, heaters, lighting, or refrigerators, most industrial equipment relies on ICPs to run efficiently and safely over time.

Some ICPs have a digital display and smart features, which allows organizations to automate their equipment usage. ICPs are made of power circuits, but they don’t include the main power source to your equipment for safety reasons.

Most ICPs include:

  • A panel or enclosure
  • At least two control circuit components
  • Wired assembly

While front panels are a good idea, open ICPs don’t have an enclosure at all, which could be necessary depending on your setup.

Industrial Control Panel

What to Consider Before Ordering Industrial Control Panels

Do you need to order industrial control panels for your organization? Minimize errors and compliance issues by considering these factors before you buy.

Follow Regulations

First and foremost, you need to look at the legal requirements. This sounds simple, but many organizations don’t realize they’re beholden to regulations like:

  • NEC
  • NFPA 79
  • UL 508 and UL 60947-4-1

Compliance isn’t simple, but the last thing you need are expensive penalties. Meet with your legal department to ensure your setup will meet the requirements.

Look at Your Available Space

How will your ICPs function in your existing environment? Instead of ordering ICPs and forming the space around them, it’s important to assess the space and choose an ICP that’s appropriate for it. For example, look at the space where you’re going to install the ICP to see if there are any nearby doors. You need plenty of clearance for the door to open fully, and your ICP could create issues if you don’t account for the space.

Plan for Extreme Conditions

Industrial environments can be harsh, which can then cause damage to the electronic components within an ICP without proper precaution. For example, if you have high temperatures in your work environment, that might mean you need to install a special fan or air conditioning unit to keep your control panel operating within the optimal range. That’s going to change your spatial requirements, so make sure you plan for your current conditions.

Pick the Right Enclosures and Panels

Many ICPs are enclosed, so before you order industrial control panels, it’s important to choose the proper enclosures, back panels, and front panels. You want to choose options that are both durable and that fit well. In fact, the wrong enclosure can lead to malfunctions and safety issues, so choosing the proper enclosure is a must.

Your front panels, or faceplates, need to be durable enough to protect the components inside from the elements. That’s why MPC fabricates front panels in several ways to meet the unique needs of your application. One-part metal front panels are fabricated with a thick substrate and graphic elements. Two-part panels are fabricated with a thinner substrate and graphic elements backed by a thicker metal layer for rigidity and support. Plastic front panels and equipment faceplates have a two-piece construction with a plastic overlay on a supportive metal panel.

Multiple material options allow further customization. Metalphoto® front panels, for instance, can withstand exterior exposure in harsh environments such as extreme cold, heat and UV and offer an expected exterior life of 20+ years.

Include Protections

If you’re required to follow regulations, your ICPs are likely to include several fail safes already. But even so, it’s a good idea to order ICPs with built-in protections. For example, you may need protection from overcurrent, which can go inside the panel or as a separate device. Emergency stops (E-stops) are required by OSHA and must come in the form of a hard-wired push button on all ICPs.

Digital Control Panel

Label Effectively

While your ICP components and setup certainly matter, labeling is a must-have for every ICP. Without labeling, your team cannot know which components in the ICP they need to work with. Labeling not only improves employee safety but also saves time and streamlines your workflow.

When assessing labels for your ICP, go for durability first. It’s important that the labels won’t fade in your operating environment, so ask your provider for samples to assess the product quality before you buy.

ICP Labels That are Designed to Last

Industrial control panels are shockingly complex, and with so much at stake, ICPs must follow a web of requirements and regulations to keep everyone safe. Be sure to assess your needs and current setup to get more value from your investment.

MPC makes it possible to improve accuracy, save time, and bolster safety with durable industrial control panel labels that go the distance and remain readable throughout the lifespan of your assets. See the difference for yourself: get a free sample of our labels now.

Questions about the article? Let us help!

Our sales engineers are experts in automatic asset tracking, tagging and identification,a nd can answer all your questions. Get in touch now.

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