Control Panel

Outsource Control Panel Jobs to Lower Cost, Risk

Posted October 5, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, Control Panel

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Why outsource control panel jobs? One reason is that a panel shop can save you money on parts because many times, the panel shop orders in much larger quantities.

Why outsource control panel jobs? One reason is that a panel shop can save you money on parts because many times, the panel shop orders in much larger quantities.

Should you outsource control panel jobs, or build them yourself? As a manager, the first thought that comes to mind is, "When I build this panel in-house, I am going to save a ton of money on engineering and labor."  Not so fast.

When you use in-house full time employees to build your control panels, it's easy to lose track of how much the labor is actually costing the company per design/build over the course of the year. Also, building your own panels means working in an environment not already setup for panel designs and builds. The result can be diminishing quality of documentation, labeling, and workmanship.

With the efficiency of an experienced panel shop, the man hours that go into these outsource control panel jobs are reduced which will generally offset the increased contract labor cost. Beyond this topic there are many advantages to having a control panel built by a panel shop.

Cost savings in the components because the panel shop buys in higher quantities.

A panel shop can design and program your control system. They already have the design software and most of the  software used by different devices inside the panel. and all of the necessary software’s for the different devices used in the panel.

A quality panel shop is a resource for support. It also should maintain documentation and back up programs for you when you outsource your control panel.

If you require a UL certification, you sure don't want to go through the rigorous certification process for just a few panels. Trust me, it's expensive and time consuming and involves periodic audits. Unless you are already UL certified, outsource control panels that need UL certification.

Panel going into explosive environments or safety systems? It is never a good idea to build your own panels for these types of applications. Outsource control panels when the risk is injury to workers.

McIver

McIver

If you need to build a mass quantity of panels in a short period of time you may want to outsource some of those builds. This will increase the rate you can build each unit without having to increase manpower.

When you outsource a control panel, you get a warranty. You don’t have to worry about your employee wiring something incorrectly and damaging any of these high-priced components. You'll also have a warranty on the workmanship.

Josh McIver is a Field Applications Engineer in Innovative-IDM's Dallas-area office. You can reach him at josh.mciver@iidm.com

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Water Damaged Control Panel Trouble Shooting

Posted May 3, 2016 by Pepper Hastings

Categories: Blog, Control Panel

Tags:

As a field service technician, I see many water damaged control panels. Numerous instances of water leaking into underground vaults where electrical control panels are tucked away.

There are two types of underground vaults: Ones that leak and ones that eventually will leak. I’ll tell you how to prepare for this eventuality and one way to trouble shoot a water damaged control panel.

Under any fountain array could be water damaged control panels in a vault. It's usually not a matter of if, but when.

Under any fountain array could be water damaged control panels in a vault. It's usually not a matter of if, but when.

Just recently, it happened again, this time in an area of Dallas that is well-known as a low-lying area and prone to flash flooding. The application was a pump for a large, public water display – complete with coordinated lights, laser show, music, etc. Fun stuff....when the pump works. Not so fun when it doesn’t. The customer called our 24-hour field service line and the game was on.

The pump, motor, and controls all were all located in an underground concrete vault beneath the display. Time to troubleshoot. If you run into this problem, here are the steps I would suggest taking to troubleshoot a water damaged control panel:

  • First, check the motor contactor to see if you can manually close it and make the pump run. If so, the pump is OK.
  • Now that we know the pump is OK, I backtracked the control signal for the contactor to the main control cabinet. The relay which should have been pulling the coil of the motor contactor in was energized, but the relay contacts going to the pump contactor had no voltage.
  • I removed the relay to find that the pins for the contacts in question had corroded off because of water intrusion into the cabinet (from leaks in the ceiling of the vault).

I delivered a spare relay to the customer the next day as well as several spare relays just in case. Obviously, this could have been much worse and complications in the troubleshooting I described could be beyond the scope of this article. However, prevention is better than anything. There are several ways they can keep control panel water damage from happening again.

  • Keep water out of the cabinet, period. Make sure all seals around doors are in good shape.
  • Ensure that all connectors penetrating the enclosure and tight and water proofed.
  • Make sure the crew keeps the door to the enclosure closed.
  • If the vault leaks cannot be repaired at street level, a shield or “umbrella” of some type should be constructed to fit over the electrical cabinet. This would force any water leaking from street level away from the cabinet and hopefully minimize if not eliminate future water damage.

This was a relatively easy and inexpensive repair – a simple relay had failed. But had

Gillilan

Gillilan

other electronic components (AC Drives, PLCs, power supplies) in the control panel enclosure sustained water damage, the cost would have been substantial and the water show have been down for a significant period of time.

Lonnie Gillilan is IIDM's Dallas field service manager and an avid stock car follower. You can reach him at lonnie.gillilan@iidm.com.

 

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