Good design and advice improves your control panels.

During 2018, Denca assembled approximately 500 control panels in its dedicated control panels workshop on Waterloo Road, Widnes.

Denca designs the majority of the panels we build, often as part of a wider project. We also produce, many panels working to a customer’s design and specification. Some of these designs we found could be up to 20 years old. As a result, these often incorporate equipment and the methodology of the day. Consequently, obsolescence can be an issue. It makes no sense to build a control panel and find it can’t be supported. A lack of spares or difficulty integrating with the more modern systems are never helpful.

Furthermore, with technology moving at an ever-increasing pace, an older panel design may not benefit from more recent innovations. Denca’s day to day experience means our team gains real insight. We can be some of the first people to learn about new technologies as they become available.

As a result, Denca can often advise clients where there is an opportunity to usefully upgrade existing panel design. This may be by either installing newer components, replacing obsolete parts, or improvements to the build utilising modern construction and assembly methodology.

While there is clearly no benefit in change for the sake of change, we also sometimes find that older, customer-supplied designs may not meet the latest regulations. Denca will always advise accordingly. We ensure the panels we build are fit for purpose.

We recognise that we have a responsibility to give good advice that delivers real value.

2 Examples

1. Upgrading an existing design

A chemical manufacturer based in North West England approached Denca asking us to build and deliver a control panel to an existing design that had been previously used successfully. Reviewing the drawings Denca identified that conventional Direct On-Line (DOL) starters were specified as motor controllers. We recommended that switching to a modern Intelligent Motor Controller (IMC) – in this case we recommended the Schneider Tesys U or Tesys T modules – there was an opportunity to replace five or more components with a single unit that would deliver the same functionality more efficiently. In addition, the IMC delivers data to control systems using modern and more secure protocols. The upgrade also removes the risks associated with obsolescence.

A consequence of more efficient motor control can also be some degree of improvement in energy efficiency for motors that run under light load for a large part of the time, resulting in less heat, noise, and vibration.

2. Implementing the latest regulations

Surge Protection is an area where Denca has often given advice to clients requiring new control panels. Denca naturally works to the most up to date regulations. BS7671, 18th Edition Wiring Regulations are the current standard for electrical installations.

The requirements of BS 7671 regarding surge protection are open to interpretation. Surge protection is not a requirement under the current code. It is, however, an advisory. The final decision as to whether surge protection should be included in a scheme will be an outcome of the Risk Assessment on the application that the client is required to carry out.

As a responsible designer and builder of control panels, Denca will make recommendations if we think adding surge protection equipment to a new panel can reduce risk, makes sense and is best practice. Denca’s wide experience of control panel installations is extremely valuable here as there are many factors to consider.

The sector where a control panel will be installed and operational is a key factor. For example, in a hospital or at a COMAH Top Tier chemical site where there are many ATEX zones, there will be a strong case to include surge protection as the impact of panel failure can be serious.

Geography and environment are other considerations. Denca exports panels overseas including to the Middles East and Africa. These regions experience more and stronger electrical storms than we see in the UK.

The 18th Wiring Regulations cover a surge in power from outside the building where the control panel is installed. For example, although a lightning strike is very concentrated, the risk of a consequent surge in power systems extends more widely, potentially over an area covering several miles.

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