What are the Different Types of Control Panels

What are the Different Types of Control Panels?

By Martin Lissenburg, Product Specialist

“Control panel”is a generic term that can be applied to a control cabinet or back-plate mounted sub-assembly delivering a bespoke pneumatic or electro-pneumatic control system solution. They are categorised alongside Manifolds and Modified Products as Custom Solutions.

What are control cabinets?

A control cabinet is an enclosure that houses a set of electro-pneumatic control components. The increased protection offered by the housing can make cabinets the ideal choice for arduous environments including those where ATEX certification is required.  Cabinets typically have separate inputs for air and electricity and subsequent outputs to the application.

This way the internal control system components can be isolated from the environment resulting in an aesthetically pleasing appearance - often including badging and labelling to indicate functionality, provide instruction and promote safe operation. 

Typically, they are delivered ready to install so can be considered “plug and play” solutions. If necessary, or where there is a desire to separate the functionality of different processes, multiple interconnected cabinets can be used together.

What is a back-plate?

This is a configuration that sees the control system components mounted onto a single plate, known as a back-plate.  As with control cabinets, separate back-plates can be connected to reflect different elements of a process, or provide additional functionality that a single system couldn’t perform otherwise. The principle difference when compared to a control cabinet, is that the components are not enclosed; thus they are more easily accessible and open to the operating environment.

Manifolds and modified products?

A manifold can provide multiple flow paths for different mediums or functions within a single block. For example, this could be a block of aluminium drilled and tapped, in order to connect several system components into a single-station assembly. The key advantages of a manifold are that they occupy a smaller working envelope (making them a good choice for applications with restricted working space) and have fewer possible leak paths due to fewer air input ports, and a significantly reduced number of fittings required. 

Output(s) are also positioned directly on the manifold, meaning that piping and wiring can be simplified further.  Manifolds can be machined out of a variety of materials including aluminium, brass or even polymers such as PTFE.

The final custom solution that IMI Precision Engineering are able to offer is Modified Products, Modified products are standard products that have been re-designed to suit a particular applications needs. As a very simple example, a pneumatic actuator application may require the ISO footprint, but a non-standard stroke with a guide system. In this instance, a modified ISOLine™ Actuator could be used.

In our next article, we will further explore the benefits a custom solution can bring to the client.

More information

Find out more by viewing our Customised Control Solutions area.

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