Taking a Look at Industrial Control Panels

It would be appropriate to say that industrial control panels are the back bone of many activities in the world today such as water treatment, lift stations, main control cabinets, and OEM supplied equipment. The design of an industrial control panel depends on a variety of different articles in the NEC (National Electrical Code). This meant that there was widespread confusion in this regard. This would eventually lead to introduction of the NEC 409. Industrial control panels are defined as an assembly of standard and systematic arrangements of more than one control components according to the NEC 409.

These control components can include:

  • Overload relays
  • Motor controllers
  • Circuit breakers
  • Related control devices
  • Timers
  • Selector switches
  • Control relays
  • Fused disconnect switches
  • Associated wiring
  • Pilot lights, etc.

The workings of an industrial control panel are closely related to its design. These panels are designed in a way that they are able to tackle an enclosure complemented custom application. Once the enclosure that is closed is opened, there is a vast area available to add valves, multiple motors, etc. The power and the signals that are equally important are routed via specially designed, specialized wires. Yet, there remain some areas of concern in industrial control panels that need to be eradicated as soon as possible.

The only way to eradicate these limitations is to have a major shift in the design of the industrial control panels to make it stay more in line with NEC 409 110(3) requirements.

SCCR (Short Circuit Current Rating)

The SCCR simply put is the amount of energy that a device needs to take into without having to affect the control panel. The role of the SCCR has been to make sure that the workers in and around the control panels are protected. Before the NC 409 was introduced, the designers of industrial control panels could have been forgiven for being unaware of the topic. This would mean that control panels made back then were prone to errors and vulnerabilities. The introduction of the NEC 409 and the SCCR has meant that the control panels have now become more reliable by allowing a greater current withstanding ability in the device.

The Doctrine of Ultimate Liability

NEC 110 .9 warrants the installed equipment to be able to withstand a certain amount of fault current without affecting the industrial panel. Yet the NEC 409 110 only requires the builders of the panels to mark the panels. The 409 requirements lack in this regard since they do not specifically state the need for builders to make sure that their devices are able to withstand a certain amount of fault current. The best way to tackle such a situation is to make sure that in addition to the NEC 409, the engineers and the makers of the industrial panel adhere to the requirements of the NEC 110.9 as well.    

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