Instrument Monitoring and Electrical Control Panels
An electrical control panel, also known a panel board, power distribution board or service panel, is a flat, horizontal or vertical surface, having multiple control instruments. These instruments are involved in the supply of electricity to a number of applications which operate for a specific project. Control panels are often used in the large-scale industrial projects, operate at less than 600V and involve power circuits and control circuits. The name ‘panel’ refers to its mounted position on or in a metal enclosure. Its main purpose is to provide signals to show the performance of the controlled equipment. It comes in different sizes and shapes with varied specifications with respect to the functionalities it has to cover. From simple control panels with only a few buttons to large and complex panels with intricate structures are all examples of present-day electrical control panels used for monitoring and control operations in the industry.
Electrical control panels in control instruments
Control panels have pervaded every industry and every large scale project to monitor and control machines and production lines. Some of the large scale projects where it finds its implementation are nuclear power plants, aircraft carriers, mainframe computers and ships.
A control panel helps in keeping track of all the processes with a single go. It used to have switches and push buttons in old designs, however, now switches are replaced with automated and touch screen displays. A typical control panel involves a capital console and multiple sub-panels and indicator lights. The Console carries fuses and circuit breakers. An upgrade has been made in the old designs and so, the contemporary transformers do not facilitate in the current supply if it is lower than the main supply. Such upgraded panels are very efficient especially in situations where numerous equipment with different power requirements is merged together.
Components of an Electrical Control Panel
Electrical control panels are available is a wide variety of technical integrations and digital displays. Generally, an electrical control panel consists of the following parts.
Housing: It is the outer cover that contains all the switches, displays and lights. It is layered with a plastic or metal coat and an insulated paint. This eliminates all the likelihoods of short-circuit or electric shock.
Main disconnect: It is the central switch for power control and thus has the fundamental value in an electric control panel. Main disconnect is of major importance in the case of overload or short circuit.
Circuit breakers: The power runs through main disconnect to circuit breakers when the main disconnect is switched on. These small constituents operate by tripping down automatically in case of a power overload or fluctuation. Hence, these components cut down the risks of overheating which may cause a fire hazard.
Quality control for Electrical Control Panels
An electrical control panel available in the market must have a QC stamp by its manufacturer and it is now considered mandatory. Following are some of the parameters or factors that must be checked before purchasing a control panel.
- Resistance to harsh weather conditions
- Safety standards
- Temperature threshold of controllers
- Quality of circuit breakers
- Integrated voltmeter
- Inclusion of main switch fuse division
Electrical control panels are an amazing accessory for the industry; having an ever increasing demand in industrial units and technology-intensive projects. They have made the process of monitoring and control easier than ever by providing a single platform to perform and control complex operations. They must be purchased after running strict quality control checks and maintained perfectly to ensure efficient and smooth running and a long life span.
This article provides an introduction to the electrical control panel and its application in the industry. It also highlights quality control features that must be checked before purchasing an electric control panel.