Designing Industrial Control Panels: Diagrams, Rules, Key Points & More

Designing Industrial Control Panels

Designing Industrial Control Panels: Basics, Regulations, and Considerations

Electrical control panels are essential for industrial automation. They provide higher-level monitoring and control of the various functions of production machinery, allowing manufacturers to define, organize, and meet production objectives. Modern control panel replaces legacy design relays logics hardware and are designed using modern Programmable logic controllers [PLC] and Human to machine operator interface [HMI].

Our guide covers control panel design and programming PLC and HMI, giving you an overview of essential aspects. From schematics to standards, ControlSoft Canada dive into effective control panel design for industrial machinery.

Our guide covers control panel design and programming PLC and HMI, giving you an overview of essential aspects. From schematics to standards, ControlSoft Canada dive into effective control panel design for industrial machinery.

Included in this guide:

  • Designing Industrial Control Panels: Schematic Setup
  • Meeting Regulatory Standards for Industrial Control Panel Design
  • Key Points in Industrial Control Panel design and programming 

ControlSoft Canada Designing Industrial Control Panels: Schematic Setup

Creating control panel design and programming in Canada for industrial machines is a vital task. These panels manage machines or processes. It’s more than just picking an enclosure and back panel for electrical parts. Correct hardware mounting and wiring are essential. Mistakes can lead to machinery issues and risks for operators. Individual electrical components need to meet electrical standard for complete electrical control panel to meet UL508 standard.

Starting the Process: Planning Control Panel Schematics, always begin by assessing specs, rules, and needs. Once done, draft drawings showing wiring, circuits, and all panel details. A well-rounded design covers both electrical and physical aspects. 

Drawings include:

  • Function diagram
  • Input/Output (I/O) diagram
  • Power distribution
  • Networking media signals & protocols
  • Cabinet and back panel layout
  • Bill of materials

A table of contents helps navigate this detailed schematic. This serves as the base for further industrial control panel work.

Meeting Regulatory Standards for Industrial Control Panel Design

Despite several Code cycles, many industrial control panels still don’t follow widely accepted industry regulations. Adherence is crucial to minimize safety risks when using control panel design and programming in Canada.

Here’s an overview of ControlSoft Canada key rules for designing, making, and setting up these panels. Regulatory standards change over time, like the recent replacement of UL 508 with a global standard. Keeping track of current requirements is essential due to these shifts.

NFPA 79: Wiring Safety for Machinery

NFPA 79, a part of NEC (National Electrical Code), focuses on wiring rules for industrial machines. This standard covers electrical and electronic parts of machinery working at or under 600V. It includes various machines like assembly, injection molding, and material handling, plus testing equipment. NFPA 79 makes machinery safer by guarding against fires and electrical risks for operators, equipment, facilities, and ongoing work.

Parts of NFPA 79 apply to control circuits, operator interface, equipment location, mounting, and enclosures in control panels. These rules ensure safe panel design.

UL 508 and UL 60947-4-1: Control Panel Standards

UL 508 used to be a significant standard for a long time. But now, UL 60947-4-1 has taken its place.

Here’s the timeline:

  • Until Jan 26, 2012, panels followed UL 60947-4.
  • From Jan 26, 2012, to Jan 26, 2017, new panels followed UL 60947-4, and revised ones could stick to UL 508 if asked.
  • After Jan 27, 2017, all listed panels must meet UL 60947-4-1.

This change brings together UL, Canadian Standards Association (CSA), and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. UL 508 and UL 60947-4-1 are quite similar technically but incorporate national differences to create a global standard.

Transition Impact on Testing and Standards

The transition affects how products are tested and qualified due to global voltage differences. In the US, industrial voltage is 480V at 60Hz, while Europe uses 400V at 50Hz.

The updated UL 60947-4 standard applies to equipment (mentioned in sections 1.1.1 and 1.1.2) with main contacts connected to circuits rated up to 1,000V AC or 1,500V DC.

A variety of other standards are applicable to certain types of industrial control panels, shown in the table below:

UL 218: Standard for Fire Pump ControllersFire pump controllers
UL 1203: Standard for Explosion-Proof and Dust-Ignition-Proof Electrical Equipment for Use in Hazardous (Classified) LocationsEquipment intended for use in hazardous locations
UL 698A: Standard for Industrial Control Panels Relating to Hazardous (Classified) LocationsIndustrial control panels with intrinsic safety barriers intended for connection to circuits in hazardous locations
UL 845: Standard for Motor Control CentersMotor control centers
UL 864: Standard for Control Units and Accessories for Fire Alarm SystemsElectrical control unit assemblies or equipment containing electrical control units for fire-protective signaling systems
UL 891: Standard for SwitchboardsFreestanding assemblies of circuit breakers and related applications
UL 924: Standard for Emergency Lighting and Power EquipmentAny equipment necessary for supplying automatic illumination and/or power to critical areas and/or equipment essential for the safety of human life
UL 1563: Standard for Electric Spas, Equipment Assemblies, and Associated EquipmentControl equipment for swimming pools and spas
UL 1640: Standard for Portable Power-Distribution EquipmentPortable control panels for specific applications
UL 1741: Standard for Inverters, Converters, Controllers and Interconnection System Equipment for Use With Distributed Energy ResourcesEquipment for controlling fuel cells, photovoltaic systems, or utility interactive systems
UL 1773: Standard for Termination BoxesEnclosures or pedestals that contain terminals for connecting power circuit conductors
UL 2017: Standard for General-Purpose Signaling Devices and SystemsCovers control panels that contain emergency alarm equipment, as well as the actual alarm equipment
UL 2075: Standard for Gas and Vapor Detectors and SensorsEquipment for gas or vapor detection
UL 60950-1: Standard for Information Technology Equipment – Safety – Part 1: General RequirementsCovers control panels with predominantly communication equipment
UL 294: Standard for Access Control System UnitsControl equipment for use in physical access control systems
UL 1037: Standard for Antitheft Alarms and DevicesControl equipment intended for theft deterrent or warning purposes
UL 916: Standard for Energy Management EquipmentEquipment for energizing or de-energizing electrical loads to achieve the desired use of electrical power

IEC 60204-1 is one of the relevant standards, focusing on machinery and electrical equipment safety. With various standards for specific control panels and applications, it’s crucial to pinpoint the right standards at the design’s outset

Key Points in Industrial Control Panel design and programming 

Designing a control panel involves many choices. You must balance functional needs, application specs, and regulations. The main design factors include these decisions, though specific applications might need extra thought.

Enclosures and Space Planning

Selecting the right enclosure for an industrial control panel depends on its environment. Leave room for component installation and wiring. Have enough outlets to avoid using extension cords for testing gear or devices.

Positioning matters too. Swing clearance for cabinet doors is a factor. In hot areas, you might need a fan or AC for ideal temps. For temperature control, ensure easy air intake and exhaust access.

Space is crucial. Many NEC violations stem from small or cramped panels lacking room for wiring. Think ahead for potential changes and retrofitting challenges due to limited space.

Wire Sizing and Component Choices

Choosing wire sizes and components follows two rules:

  • Size wires based on load current, then protect circuits using appropriate protection methods. Right wire size ensures safe current delivery, and proper protection prevents overheating and fires.
  • Pick components based on function and size. Voltage and load current set size minimums. Components must reliably handle these demands and function as needed.

UL standards detail wiring specifics, including materials, conductor labels, power circuit conductor size, and wire sizing.

Control Components and Circuits

Which controls fit the task? There are options like relays, timers, and terminal blocks. Choose the simplest.

Control circuits guide power components. For safety, these circuits use lower voltage. Control power transformers (CPTs) and power supplies convert power circuit voltage to control circuit voltage.

Supply Conductors 

Choose supply conductors to handle the highest possible load. Calculate total motor and apparatus power (factoring in duty cycles and simultaneous operation), then add resistive load current and 125% of the top motor’s full load current.

Dealing with Overcurrent Protection

Think about overcurrent protection during design. Two choices: put it before the panel or use one main device in the panel. In some cases, it’s better not to put the device inside to avoid opening the enclosure.

Operator Devices and E-Stop Button

Operator devices like buttons, lights, and displays are key. More complex HMIs (human-machine interfaces) offer advanced functions but cost more due to software.

For controls, simplicity matters – usually. Pick the simplest operator devices that meet needs for user-friendliness.

Every industrial control panel needs an emergency stop, separate from a cycle stop. It’s usually a self-latching button, required by OSHA. E-stops must be standalone push-buttons, not on an HMI. Start buttons should be near the stop button.

Labeling Matters

Label wires, terminals, and parts in control panels. It saves time and cuts mistakes in testing, fixing, and upkeep. Labels should handle the environment – durable, no fading or damage.

Front Panels and Faceplates

Front panels and faceplates aren’t just extras – they’re vital like the inside parts. Tough front panels handle harsh conditions, weather, and chemicals, protecting what’s inside.

Materials like metal or plastic work, mounted with studs, adhesives, or fasteners. Graphics guide operators, labeling devices for usability. Faces need to stay readable.

Industrial control panels involve countless components. This guide gives an overview. Given the complexity and rules, partnering with an experienced expert “ControlSoft Canada” is smart for makers.

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