BlogThoughts on Control Panel Design

Thoughts on Control Panel Design

By Gary Stokes
March 16th, 2018

When is the Control Panel Design Complete?

We read an article about control panel design the other day in Control Design magazine. You can read it here:

We especially liked this excerpt: “The final control panel design is successful if you can build a duplicate of the control panel a year from now”.

It sounds simple enough in concept, but it takes dedication and effort to accomplish. Most importantly, you must accept that the control panel design is not complete when you start to build the panel. The design phase continues beyond the building, shipping, and installation of the panel.  The control panel design ends when you produce a set of drawings that work a year or more from now. (please note that we are using the term control panel design as a proxy for the design of the entire control system with the panel as the brains)

Checklists Are Powerful Tools

The Pendant team uses simple checklists throughout the process of producing a new control system.  One of Pendant’s checklists, the Startup and Commissioning Checklist, contains specific instructions for producing detailed and accurate final drawing sets that complete the design phase of the project.

The Pendant checklist includes steps like these for updating the control and coordination drawings during and after the commissioning step:

  • Added field wiring has been red-pen added to drawings
  • Panel and circuit numbers from house power that feed the control panel(s) have been noted on the incoming feed of the drawings for Red-Pens
  • Verify all devices are laid out as indicated on the coordination drawings
  • One set of Control Drawings, with Red-Pen changes, has been left inside the panel
  • One set of Coordination Drawings, with Red-Pen changes, has been left inside the panel
  • One set of One-Line Drawings, with Red-Pen changes, has been left inside the panel

Pendant team members update the drawings in AutoCAD Electrical immediately after completing the commissioning of the system. We know that it’s not likely that you will want an exact reproduction of your system one year from now or beyond. But that’s not the point. The point is to methodically document the control system, clearly and accurately.

The Bottom Line

Enjoy this for about 3 minutes:


That snippet is from a piece Mozart wrote in 1789. Someone (or a group of someones) developed a documentation system that allows five people to faithfully reproduce what Mozart communicated almost 230 years ago.

With that in mind, we don’t think it’s too much to ask that we document our control systems so well that they could be reproduced in a year or longer.

Help me with my next control system