Control System Integrator Global Energy Technologies

Control System Integrator Control Panels guide for OEMs – Global Energy Technologies

Control Panels guide for OEMs

Electrical Control Panel

Well designed and visually appealing equipment control panels generally help equipment sales. The more important the equipment, the more likely your control panels affect how people feel about your equipment package.

  • Control panels can be a deciding factor when it’s a close call.
  • Improving your equipment control panels can help equipment sales.

Customers choose your equipment over the competition when they feel you offer the best package. When your equipment and control panels are better than the competition, customers feel better about your equipment package.

1.) Marketing your control panels

Beat your competition with your equipment and your control panels. Your control panels should enhance your equipment. Your control panels should help make your equipment package unique. When customers see your equipment package as unique, attractive, and reliable customers will choose your equipment more often.

Marketing your control panels makes sense when they’re well designed and visually appealing. It doesn’t make sense if they’re the weakest part of your equipment package. If you need help making your control panels marketable find a company that specializes in producing control panels for your equipment.

2.) Quoting control panels to specification

When you can easily quote control panels to specification, as quickly and accurately as your equipment, you’re creating more opportunities to sell more equipment at a profit. Customers that want you to produce your equipment and control panels to their specification are willing to pay a premium. You welcome these opportunities.

When quoting your equipment and control panels to customer specification you have two choices.

  1. Thoroughly review all specifications and quote everything to specification.
  2. Review and quote the equipment to specification and quote your standard control panel.

When you can’t easily quote these opportunities you turn them down or you start guessing. The problem with guessing at control panel cost is you can be off by a factor of ten and not know it. When you guess high you’re out of the running. When you guess low you’ll get the order, but it probably will not be profitable.

3.) Control panel specification checklist

Control panel specifications can be extensive, so you have to break them down into sections to make sense of them. This is the same technique you should use to tell a panel shop what you want them to produce for you. Below is an example of what I mean.

  1. General
    1. Where will the control panel be physically installed ?
      1. City, State
      2. Indoors (HVAC), Indoors (Ambient), Outdoors (Direct Sunlight)
      3. Skid Mounted, Wall Mounted, Floor Mounted
    2. Does the control panel have to be a UL Panel ? Safety Certified
      1. Is UL 508A required ? Standard control application
      2. Is UL 698A required ? Intrinsically Safe application
  2. Enclosure
    1. What’s the required enclosure rating ? NEMA 12, NEMA 4, NEMA 4X
    2. Is enclosure temperature control required ? Heating, Cooling
  3. Power
    1. What’s the Incoming Power ? 240V 1 Phase, 480V 3 Phase, 600V 3 Phase
    2. Is there a specified minimum Short Circuit Current Rating (SCCR) ? 10kA
    3. Is specified Surge Protection required ?
    4. Is specified Power Monitoring required ?
    5. List the Outgoing Power loads ?
    6. What’s the specified Control Power voltage ? 120V, 24VDC
  4. Controls
    1. Are there any special requirements ?
      1. NEMA rated Motor Starters
      2. Variable Frequency Drives (VFD)
      3. Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)
      4. Operator Interface (HMI)
    2. Are there any specified manufacturers ?
      1. Motor Starters by Manufacturer A Model B
      2. VFDs by Manufacturer C Model D
      3. PLCs VFDs by Manufacturer E Model F
      4. HMIs by Manufacturer G Model H

4.) Producing control panels to specification

The only way you get control panels you want is by specifying the requirements clearly. The problem is specifying control panels can be tricky. It’s tough to find the right balance between too little and too much information. The right balance depends on who you’re working with and how you’re communicating.

  • Verbal specifications can be good or bad depending on who you’re talking to.
    • A panel shop that knows you can fill in the unspoken details they know are important to you.
    • A new panel shop can’t fill in the unspoken details and may not understand what you want.
  • Written specifications can be good or bad depending on who’s reading them.
    • A panel shop that knows you will focus on the details they know are important to you.
    • A new panel shop may not see details important to you in an ocean of unimportant ones.

When you specify what you want in writing, use the shortest accurate description that clearly conveys what’s important to you. An outline format or spreadsheet format works best.

5.) Verifying control panels meet the specification

Whether you specify what you want verbally or in writing, eventually you’ll need to verify your panel shop is planning to produce the control panels you’re expecting to receive. Make them show you what they’re planning to produce before they start production.

Ideally your panel shop should provide a detailed engineering submittal for your review and approval prior to production. At a minimum it should include datasheets for each provided part, physical layout drawings, electrical schematic drawings, and field connection drawings. Whatever you do, before you place an order verify you’re getting what you’re expecting to receive. No surprises.


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