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Six Tips for Choosing the Right Industrial Control Panels

Since they perform critical functions within facilities, including HVAC and lighting control, industrial control panels are integral to manufacturing. Optimizing processes begins with industrial control panels, where programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and motor process controls maximize production and ensure consistent quality. 

In recent years, with the addition of automatic and remote controls and IoT data sensors, industrial control panels have become even more important as they can reduce the need for operator inputs and equipment downtime. 

Enercon-made custom control panel using a Com-Ap screen

Tips for Choosing the Right Industrial Control Panel

With the capacity to improve revenue, reduce costs, and ensure compliance with safety regulations, choosing the right industrial control panels can have a big impact on a facility’s margins and risks. Here are some tips on what to look for.

1. Engineering and Design

As mentioned, industrial control panels can reduce costs and downtime while improving production and reliability. However, to deliver these benefits, the industrial control panels must be designed and built to specific, custom plans that incorporate equipment and improve ease of use. Working with experienced industrial control panel manufacturers who can create panels that meet your specific needs rather than just fabricating generic designs is vital. Preferably, the manufacturer would also have its own design team that can listen to your requirements and draw up its own plans around them.

2. Construction Team and Process

The right industrial control panel manufacturer should have a team of highly skilled designers, engineers, and fabricators who all work together. There’s no point in having high-spec lead designers and plans being sent to the shop floor if the processes there are a mess. A highly efficient panel shop will happily outline its prototyping, fabrication, and post-sales processes.

3. Regulatory Standards

Safety standards are designed and enforced to improve operators' safety and reduce the potential for damage to equipment resulting in operational downtime. Adhering to all applicable standards also reduces liability through litigation. There are several safety standards depending on the use and location of the panel.

In North America, these are UL 508A and UL 698A; in the EU, they’re EN 60204-1 and EN 61439-1. Additional standards may apply, such as UL 845 for industrial motor control centers, UL 1773 for power-operated dispensing devices for flammable liquids, and UL 1008 Annex J, which outlines testing standards. All industrial control panels built for your operations must adhere to regulatory standards. Otherwise, you are exposing yourself to significant risk.

4. Total Cost of Ownership

Cost is an important factor when deciding on any equipment purchase or refurbishment. However, the true cost of an industrial control panel isn’t simply the initial investment. The best means of calculating this is the panel’s total cost of ownership (TCO), which tracks the entire cost of the equipment over its lifecycle. 

While the TCO for any industrial control panel will include acquisition, shipping, installation, and training, it’s also important to note the repair and maintenance costs over its lifecycle, and the operations and loss expectancy costs. When calculated fully over the industrial control panel’s lifecycle, the high-quality equipment built to suit your needs will deliver greater benefits, need fewer repairs, and result in lower losses due to downtime.

5. Flexibility and Scalability

New technologies, especially in terms of IoT sensors and remote and automated controls, are changing the functionality and importance of industrial control panels at a relatively rapid rate. The industrial control panels you buy must have the flexibility to cope with component changes down the line, and be scalable to meet increased demand as your business grows. Long lead times cost money and can mean missing out on contracts, so it’s important to ensure that while the quality of the panel remains high, the product is easily replicable over time, too.

6. Documentation and Support

An industrial control panel is a continuous-use product that may be used by possibly dozens of successive and separate operations crews. This means that the panel should arrive with comprehensive and clear documentation, including manuals, maintenance guides, and schematics to inform future users. Support, such as training and on-site installation, can also improve the smooth integration of the industrial control panel into operations, while post-sale care, like troubleshooting, can quickly resolve any issues that may arise during operations.

Enercon-made custom control panel inside

Enercon: An Industrial Control Panel Manufacturer You Can Trust

Industrial control panels are an essential part of manufacturing. The use of PLCs, automated controls, and data sensors means it is now possible for industrial control panels to optimize and implement more efficient and productive processes with minimal operator input. However, to achieve these benefits businesses need to find the right industrial control panel manufacturer.

If necessary, the right industrial control panels should be engineered to a bespoke design that meets current and future needs for components and wiring while meeting relevant regulatory standards such as UL 598A and EN 60204-1. High-quality and effective industrial control panels reduce risk and equipment downtime while improving product consistency and margins. 

At Enercon, we have decades of experience in the design, fabrication, and installation of general and custom-built industrial control panels. We have a dedicated 50,000 sq. ft facility for design, testing, and fabrication, meaning we can meet your needs no matter the project size. To learn more about our custom industrial control panel solutions, contact us here.


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