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Monday, February 24, 2014

Control Panel Design Guide

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Control Panel Design Guide

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I had "Control Panel Design With Maintenance in Mind" published in Control Design Magazine this month, but there wasn't room to include the rest of the article I wrote. Please read the article by following the link above, then read below for 'the rest of the story'...
I will elaborate on another example we stress in our PLC training classes, PLC Forces. NFPA 70E instructs “Design to Accommodate Maintenance” which emphasizes design considering the safety aspects of conducting inspections, tests, repairs, and servicing. Placing a force on real world I/O in the PLC is a safety issue, and causes the equipment to operate other than designed. It is critical for maintenance to be aware if forces are installed, and what those forces are, before working with equipment. At minimum, the warning indicator needs to be mirrored on the outside the panel (lamp and/or HMI) to increase the likelihood of being noticed. For safety, and liability reasons, I would go even further, requiring the logging of all force activity possible within the machines controller.

Making your electrical control panels more maintenance friendly is a constant improvement process. Equipment manufactures need to have a more visible path for customer’s recommendations to get back to designers. With today’s technology there are many ways to establish a feedback loop. Many companies are successfully utilizing social media as a functional and reliable feedback loop today. As a result, there really are no excuses for manufacturers of electrical control panels to sacrifice customer maintainability in favor of ease of design anymore.

Author: Don Fitchett is president of Business Industrial Network (http://BIN95.com), an industrial training company. Don also founded the activity based costing system called "True Downtime Cost" (TDC) , author "True Downtime Cost Analysis - 2nd Edition". Don has been in the industrial training sector for over two decades.

Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .) Be sure to to stay on top!

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