Software with Prototyping Capability Streamlines Control Panel Design

DN Staff

June 17, 2010

2 Min Read
Software with Prototyping Capability Streamlines Control Panel Design

Software with built-in prototype functionality speeds timeto market for control panel builders, system integrators, and originalequipment manufacturers through its ability to handle design, setup and testingof control panel components prior to assembly. As a result, this capability enablesusers of the software to improve quality, reduce risk, ease integration,streamline commissioning, and better manage product lifecycles compared topaper-based project documentation, which has a tendency to be difficult to findwhen needed the most.

By running diagnostics prior to assembly, digital prototypingfunctionality allows for easier control panel upgrades, lowering costs over thelifecycle of the control cabinet or panel, and can be used to connectcomponents beyond the control panel. Multiple entrants in Control Engineering's Control Panel Design Contest over the pasttwo years cite the value of such software tools.

While software cannot do everything, and no softwarepackage provides all of the following functionality, control panel designersmay use software for:

  • Electrical design;

  • 3-D prototyping forcomponent selection and layout;

  • Control panelcompliance regulations, such as UL 508A, the Standard of Safety for IndustrialControl Panels, ANSI/UL 347,"High Voltage Industrial Control Equipment," and ANSI/UL 508C, "Power Conversion Equipment,"among other standards.

  • Control softwaredesign, analysis and testing, and integration with human-machine interface andnetworks; and

  • 3-D motion simulationsfor motion-related devices connected to the panel.

During control panel design, software can be used to cautionthe user about incompatibilities during design development. Product images anddimensions can be imported from libraries of components, and the software cansuggest placeholders, links and missing components. Bills of material,incorporating and checking for compatibilities from multiple manufacturers, maybe automatically generated. Built-in guides and wizards can also be used to automatemany design steps, transferring input/output tags from design to runtimesoftware, saving time and eliminating a source for errors.

Knowledge gained from prior projects, as well as otherareas of an organization can be incorporated into design software, therebyallowing for on-the-fly collaboration over multiple locations on an ongoing,as-needed basis.

Many control component manufacturers offer advice,examples, videos and starter kits to help with initial design prototyping. If yournew design idea may be the first design of many, these vendors may even offerincentives. For more about various prototyping, software tools, and controlpanel design, go to:

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