In any sort of automated industrial system, the electrical control panel is one of the key components in the system. That control panel is where most of the human interface elements reside. That is, it’s where you or your equipment operators will be able to control your industrial system.
While every electrical control panel will be different, custom-tailored to the job and the system they’re paired with, there are still going to be some common elements. Being familiar with these will help you take control of automated systems more quickly.
What’s in An Electrical Control Panel?
Control panels are almost always kept in a closet-style enclosure, which should be kept locked whenever not in use. These may have a single door, or double door, depending on how large the systems inside are. They may also be proofed against water, dust, or other environmental factors, as needed.
Inside, you’ll typically find:
- Circuit Breakers: The breakers for the control panel are kept within the enclosure, for ease of access. This also lessens the chance of an electrical mishap with people nearby.
- Power supply and transformer (if needed): A typical electrical control panel may run on anything from 120v to 480v. If the power draw is above 120v, there will be a transformer included.
- Surge protector: These panels almost always include their own surge protector, so you don’t have to provide your own.
- Programmable Logic Controller (PLC): The PLC is the brains of your automation system, where all the programming and instruction sets are stored.
- I/O Cards: The system will have one or more Input/output (I/O) cards, dedicated to sending information back and forth between the control panel and the various systems under its control.
- Network Interface: Any modern control panel will have a network interface, which usually runs on standard Ethernet cabling or possibly fiber optics.
- Human Machine Interface (HMI): This is the user interface for the control panel and, by extension, the entire automation system. The HMI is most typically built into the control panel, such as a screen mounted on the cabinet door. Occasionally it may also have the hookups for direct connection from a laptop.
For Top Quality Flow Control Systems, You Want FloRight Pump & Controls
FloRight Pump & Controls has over three decades’ experience in crafting custom-built pump and control systems. We pride ourselves on developing a deep understanding of our clients’ needs, to craft the perfect system to match. Contact us to learn more.