Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Whatever your business, it's never easy choosing the best supplier. Here Gibbons offers five things to consider when looking for the ideal panel builder.

Whatever your business, it’s never easy choosing the best supplier. Here Gibbons offers five things to consider when looking for the right panel builder for your application:

1. Design

It pays to get panel advice BEFORE your project starts. Otherwise you risk a raft of costly problems that can be avoided by talking with the design engineers in advance.

You should consider: Electrical hardware, systems sequencing, circuitry, PLC software, machinery and computer interface.

2. Manufacture

  • Motor control centres
Motor control centres (MCCs) need to be designed to comply with:

BS EN 60439-1:1994 - partially type-tested low-voltage switchgear and control assemblies having a totally segregated busbar and dropper system to ‘Form 4’ standard. Type 2, 3, 5, 6 or 7 of the National Annex can be provided.
The majority of the water companies’ general specifications including WIMES 3.01 and Sewers for Adoption 7th Edition.
MCCs must also:

Be tested and ASTA certified up to 50kA for three seconds, with a current carrying capacity of up to 3,000A.
Have air-insulated HDHC copper bar as standard with the option for tin plating and/or PVC insulation at extra cost.
Customised panels

Customised panels can be adapted to meet application and space requirements. Cubicle heights, widths and depths can be adapted to suit the space needed for the equipment to be housed and any on-site restrictions in space availability or installation accessibility.

  • Motor starters

Individual motor starters of all types should be available, including: DOL, ASD, auto-transformer, stator, rotor, ‘soft starts’ and variable speed.

They should be custom built to the client’s specification to include the protection, control and supervisory signals that may be required.

  • Panel refurbishment

Existing motor control centres and starters on site can sometimes need refurbishing, upgrading or modifying. This can take the form of installing new starters or controls into existing panels or updating the panels to comply with the latest HSE regulations.

You should consider: Panel building, detailed assembly, mounting sensors, comprehensive testing, PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), data acquisition, MMI/HMI and touchscreen technology. Control panels can include simple relay logic.

3. Programming

Check the level of programming expertise that your supplier is able to offer in-house.

You should consider: In-house HMI and PLC programming capabilities that cover all major types of HMI and PLC.

4. Installation and commissioning

Installation of control systems, on-site commissioning and further enhancement of software for optimum system performance.

You should consider: Delivery, handling, safety procedures, location, foundations, mounting, motor/load components, bearings, mechanical alignment and electrical considerations.

5. After-sales service

Make sure that CAD (computer-aided design) electrical schematic diagrams and general arrangement drawings are issued, either on paper or in any standard electronic form. Full documentation including FAT (factory acceptance test), SAT (site acceptance test), method statements, risk assessments and operating and maintenance manuals should all be provided as required.

You should consider: Operator manuals, detailed spares lists and experienced engineers providing after-sales support and training.

Gibbons Group offers a full range of panel building products and services, including the design and manufacture of motor control centres for the water, food and beverage, power generation, oil and gas, marine, commercial, transport and aviation industries. Call us on 01621 868138, email barry.horsfall@gibbonsgroup.co.uk or visit our Panel Building page for more information.


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