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Updating your control panels

Control panels house the components for controlling devices and also act as the interface between the equipment (or ‘plant’) being controlled and the system doing the monitoring (although the monitor is sometimes simply a person).

A computer-based monitoring system, known as a Building Management System (BMS), typically controls ventilation, air conditioning, lighting and or security alarms.  It is most frequently found in a large building with a complex HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), electrical or plumbing layout.

Putting functionality first

Before you decide whether and how to update your control panels, first consider the systems they will be controlling: a control panel should be designed around a system, not the other way around.  Usually, you only need to update a control panel if all (or part of) the system being controlled (or doing the controlling) is itself going to be updated.  Updates to control panels are generally made when a new plant is added to an existing system, when routine inspection identifies a fault, or when the client requires more functionality or monitoring capacity from their system.

Different environments, different control panels

Safety comes first: a control panel in, for example, a hazardous environment with potentially flammable gases in the atmosphere requires an intrinsically safe design.  All Transcool’s panels are designed with protection from any potential hazards identified at the survey / design stage.

The design, size and complexity of a control panel all vary, but should match the system it is controlling and, as with other industrial cooling products, suit onsite conditions.  The level of interactivity required should also be considered.  For example, will the equipment be controlled remotely over the internet or will the client’s existing monitoring system be used?

Design specifications include the options of a readily customizable touch screen display and Programmable Logic Controller (PLC).  A PLC makes the panel much more compact, as all the monitoring, timing and counting equipment is incorporated into a single unit, a significant advance if you are updating your existing one.  The interface and communication possibilities are almost infinite – from simple panel-mounted LEDs to GSM remote monitoring. A PLC is especially suited to automated factory processes, and are resistant to vibration.

A digitalized system assesses environmental and plant conditions more accurately than a system based on relays and contactors can, and is easily adjusted according to the time of day or year.  With fewer moving parts, the equipment’s lifespan is increased (and maintenance time reduced).

Control Temperature Modules that are matched to the most sophisticated high efficiency fan technology are replacing the larger, more expensive speed controllers.  Their monitoring and controlling abilities are superior, too.

The latest in digitalized panels are more straightforward to modify than analogue panels, as most of the changes are done within software.

Finally, there are almost as many industry standards and certifications as there are industries, but broadly speaking in the UK all wiring must comply with the latest IET wiring regulations, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Transcool Systems supplies control panels for industrial cooling plants. All our equipment can be pre-programmed and tested in the factory, which brings down the onsite commissioning time.  Contact us now on 01903 733911 or info@transcoolsystems.co.uk to discuss your requirements.