Unused space. Energy distribution. Thermal management. When it comes to the manufacturing floor, space is at a premium and the drive to reduce costs by fitting panels into tight spaces while complying with safety and regulatory requirements can be challenging. Smaller panels are an option, but present other challenges such as noise mitigation, adhering to minimum separation requirements for electronic components, and codes and standards compliance.
1. Look closely to find unused space
Look at the space between the enclosure door and the components mounted to the sub-panel in the rear of the enclosure, also known as three-dimensional (3D) space. Using products that tap into this 3D space can save up to 40% of the space on a sub-panel, leading to a smaller control panel design or maximizing an existing panel’s effectiveness. Some wiring duct products allow a DIN rail to be mounted on the duct itself rather than on the control panel.
2. Don’t cut corners
Corners are another area inside the control panel that go unused or underutilized in many panel layouts. Products that tap into this unused space, such as wiring duct designed to fit in corners, can provide an excellent transition from rear sub-panels to side sub-panels and hold the potential to save up to 12% of space on the sub-panels and decrease the enclosure footprint by 18%.
3. Noise mitigation products can help space savings
Noise mitigation products are not typically space saving tools. However, there are products that bring together wiring normally separated by at least six inches of air space. This creates an effective EMI barrier, reclaiming crucial inches of real estate. Some wiring ducts can incorporate a metal noise barrier to help achieve the equivalent of those six inches of air space, allowing the control panel layout to become more compact.
4. Maximize energy distribution
Panel design optimization is important to minimize equipment size, which affects the protective enclosure containing the sub-panel, and represents the outer envelope of the power distribution and control housing in equipment design. The approach for introducing electrical power into and distributed throughout an enclosure also impacts its size. Traditional wiring methods use older components such as power distribution blocks (PDB) where large conductors enter one side of the PDB and small conductors exit the other side. PDB requires significant labor to install and anchor a power control component to a specific location in the panel design, leaving little room for variation.
Conversely, modular busbar systems can distribute power of less than 150 amperes to well over 1800 amperes at system voltages of up to 600 volts. Modular busbar systems, can deliver upwards of 25% space savings in traditional motor control applications, variable frequency drive applications, and power distribution panels for industrial equipment.
5. Thermal demands
Saving space often means mounting active heat-generating devices in close proximity with one another, and putting them into a smaller, more compact enclosure. This creates a problem for heat dissipation because there are more heat-generating devices in a smaller enclosed space.
There are several levels of thermal management solutions, depending on the amount of heat being generated inside the panel, the environment surrounding the control panel, and the type and size of the enclosure used for the control panel design. Products that can help include small-footprint air conditioners, thermoelectric coolers, and compact cooling fans.
Follow these tips to gain control of your space.