Siemens Industry Articles

Control Panel Design: Digitalization as a Competitive Advantage in Control Panel Construction

May 17, 2021 by Siemens AG

Today, engineering, design, and documentation account for nearly half of the costs in control panel construction.

While machines’ mechanical design and automation are largely software-driven, many electrical engineering tasks are still performed manually. For example, selecting components and calculating cable cross-sections and short-circuit currents. These tasks are time-consuming and frequently lead to errors. As a result, there is a high potential for optimization. With the new Control Panel Design software from Siemens, electrical engineering is entirely digital for the first time. 

The new Control Panel Design software makes electrical engineering tasks easier and faster. Electrical engineers benefit from simple dimensioning, a consistent workflow, and a comprehensive standards library, available digitally for the first time. This reduces the electrical engineering effort and avoids possible sources of error. 

The innovative engineering tool is integrated into the TIA Selection Tool configuration and ordering software, allowing engineers to select and dimension all the components for an industrial control panel. In addition to the mechanics and automation technology, they can also design the electrical components using one platform and one set of data.

As a result, control panel design creates the basis for noticeably more efficient development processes, faster throughput times, and smart electrification solutions in the industrial sector. Using digitalization, machine and control panel manufacturers can make their value creation process more efficient, strengthening their competitiveness. 


Intuitive and Standards-compliant Electrical Engineering 

Engineers are often faced with selecting the right components for a motor starting application and all parameters for the motor feeder. This includes appropriate cabling, short-circuit, and overload calculations. Cable design is particularly difficult. It must take into account all the relevant regulations and standards for the IEC and the UL market.

The Control Panel Design Assistant in the TIA now makes it possible to design and dimension the main electronics of a machine with software support. All the required standards are already stored in the tool. Electrical engineers only need to specify the motor data and the desired cable parameters, such as type of routing, grouping, or ambient temperatures.

Protection and switching components suitable for the motor, including accessories, cable cross-sections, and short-circuit values for motor feeders, are automatically displayed at the click of a button. Whether fuseless or fused IEC feeders up to 250 kW or fuseless UL feeders up to 500 hp, Control Panel Design is perfect for projects for the IEC market and systems designed for the North American market where the UL 508A, NFPA79, and NEC standards apply. Tool-based engineering is extremely quick and easy and allows virtual testing to determine the effect of different parameters, such as control panel air conditioning, on the required cable cross-sections. 

The Control Panel Design Assistant displays standards-compliant calculation results and the appropriate switching devices and conveniently assembles an order list in a subsequent step. Even the main current can be designed visually. In addition, the complete system is represented in a detailed single-line diagram. 

Once the design is complete, all the technical data and calculation results needed for short circuit certification and other requirements can be output as complete PDF documentation. The entire project can be exported to EPLAN. This makes engineering considerably easier: it saves time and ensures that all cables and short-circuit values comply with the applicable standards. All an electrical engineer needs to start the configuration is the current offline version of the free TIA Selection Tool and some information about the mechanical load, i.e., the motor. 


Greater Efficiency Through Digitalization

Planning and implementing control panel systems has never been more challenging than today. As a result, the demand for smart electrification solutions is increasing. Add to that more and more standards, stricter security, availability, and energy efficiency requirements – and finally, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is compounding cost pressure even further. Control panel manufacturers can successfully meet these challenges with consistent digitalization of their workflows and software-aided engineering. This saves them time and costs and makes their overall value creation process faster, efficient, and more flexible. Nowhere is the potential for optimization greater than in electrical engineering.

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