What Are The Major Components of Control Panels?


Here’s what you should know...


An integral component to most industries, electrical control panels are enclosures that consist of a combination of electrical devices that utilize electrical power to monitor and control the various mechanical functions of its respective machinery or equipment.

Control panels are generally a metal box or plastic moulding containing these vital components. These systems are energized and require planned preventive maintenance along with condition-based monitoring.

Operators of the equipment will interact with the panel’s controls in order to work the plant and its processes. Control system or panel components are capable of facilitating a variety of tasks - i.e. prompting the opening or closing of a valve, or monitoring the pressure or flow occurring within a pipe.

Electrical control panels can be broken up into two main categories: the panel structure, and the electrical components.

The overall structure of an electrical control panel is a combination of an enclosure and a back panel, which is comparable to that of a breaker box found at home or at the office.

That said, control panels actually vary quite considerably in shape and size - ranging from small boxes mounted to the wall, to longer rows of cabinets placed in designated plant areas - with some located in control rooms to be supervised by small teams or located close to machinery to be controlled by one operator at a time. Then there are Montor Control Centres (MCCs), a type of control panels that include all the necessary components for heavy duty plant operations.


Key components of an electrical control panel


There are several types of electrical components contained within an electrical panel enclosure that are responsible for the several various functions carried out by the panel.

Below are some of the major components of an electrical control panel:

Enclosure

Essentially the body of an electrical control panel, enclosures are metal boxes that store the components inside them, acting as a safety barrier between its hazardous contents and the person outside of the panel. Enclosures also protect the components inside from the environment and can be built to a range of standards to keep out water, dust, heat, or even explosion. The size of an enclosure varies along with its number of doors (typically one or two). Small enclosures generally have higher device density and allow for more space to be saved.

Back Panels

Back panels are metal sheets mounted inside of the enclosure which offer a structural support for DIN metal rail mounting and wiring ducts. With their standardized dimensions, DIN rails provide a mounting structure for electrical devices, with wiring ducts providing for the organization and routing of wires while also assisting in the control of electrical noise between devices contained in the box.

Circuit breaker

A circuit breaker is there to either provide a means of supply to the control panel, or to protect an electrical circuit from potentially becoming damaged. It does this through detecting when there is excess electrical current, to which it will then open or break the circuit in order to stop the flow.

Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)

Specifically designed for the control of manufacturing processes, the PLC is a computer that uses information from a series of inputs in order to control its outputs, which can include motors, valves, alarms, and other components.

Human Machine Interface (HMI)

HMIs, such as video monitors, joysticks, buttons, switches, and keyboards, allow the operator of the panel to monitor or control certain functions of the equipment. HMIs provide clear visualization of the industrial control and monitoring system in the form of graphics or a digital display, which allows the operator to easily understand how the different components are functioning within the specific process the panel is responsible for controlling.

Motor Drives

Motor drives that are commonly used in control panels include Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs), Servo Drives, and soft starters. Generally speaking, their function is to operate a connected motor.

Relays and Contactors

With commands coming from the PLC, these on/off switches control mechanized functions. Smaller relays are responsible for functions such as lights and fans, with larger relays (referred to as contacts) controlling more advanced functions such as motors.

Fuses

Fuses are safety devices that work to protect electric circuits from becoming overloaded by a current that is too high. Fuses must be replaced after they’ve operated, as this renders them open circuits.

For all of your control panel needs, our T&T Power Group is here to help.

Need some assistance with the installation of new equipment for your industrial operations, or require some help with your electrical control panel? Our team of experts has got you covered.

Contact T&T Power Group today to get started.

 

 

Posted by Ron Bougram | Aug 9, 2021 | Categories: Power Distribution