Article
In another article, we talked a bit about some of the new products that 
have changed how we design and work with control panels. We discussed 
many of the electronic components that took the place of old analog and 
magnetic mechanisms that were common in days gone by.<br><br>Of course, many old school components are still used when the need for electronics isn't pressing.<br>But one thing will always remain necessary in one form or fashion: conductors.

More Control Panel Solutions to Make Work Easier

Steve Maurer, IME
In another article, we talked a bit about some of the new products that have changed how we design and work with control panels. We discussed many of the electronic components that took the place of old analog and magnetic mechanisms that were common in days gone by.

Of course, many old school components are still used when the need for electronics isn't pressing.
But one thing will always remain necessary in one form or fashion: conductors.

Whether copper or fiber, you'll find conductors a vital part of any control panel. Even with wireless transceivers, receivers and emitters, a conductor of some kind will always be part of the mix.

Keeping conductors neat and tidy is not only the hallmark of a craftsman, but is crucial to troubleshooting. You have various options for cable management inside the control panel.

Here are a few.

Cable Management Options
We're all pretty familiar with cable ties, aka, zip ties. Kind of a staple in any panel builder's or electrician's tool kit, they keep bundles of wire neatly managed.

Most of the time.

But once cut, they're sometimes never replaced. A better option is the wiring duct, also called a wire loom. Most of the time, it's attached directly to the panelboard or backplate, and the cover is face up.

But when space is at a premium, here's another option I've recently found.

Two ducts are formed together at the side. The opening for the cover is at the outside, top corner of each. The top surface of this ganged wiring duct allows a din rail to be attached.

That means you'll save valuable backplate or panelboard real estate by placing relays, wiring terminal strips, and other din rail mounted components securely on top of the wiring duct.

The cover for the duct is hinged on one side, snapping onto the bottom of the opening. It swings up and latches, securing the conductors inside.

Everything's easily accessible and you'll have enough space for proper airflow or additional components.

Wiring duct is available in various colors. This isn't to make a fashion statement or for haute décor … it's used to differentiate and separate the different circuit types and/or voltages present in the panel. For example, a blue duct could be used to designate low voltage circuits or network cabling.

This makes the circuits more easily traced, cutting down on troubleshooting. It can also help prevent cross-talking or noise interference.

Of course, shelf dividers and inner panels allow for both a neat appearance and division of circuit types.

But another option I've seen takes the cake.

These are more or less multiple panels, stacked one on top of another. They're hinged on one side and fastened by clasps for secure closing.

One use, for instance, would be to have networking controls and low-voltage components in the top panel, with higher voltage components and power supplies in the second level.

You just unclasp the control panel assembly to get to the components needing service. I've even seen miniature air conditioning units in a back section to cool the entire control panel package.

Finally, don't forget to leave your mark!

In the past, that usually meant trying to peel little bitty number and letter strips from a booklet. And trying to wrap them around the conductors good enough to stick and stay put.

But these days, I use a thermal printer that puts the numbers, letters, or even symbols on a sticky-back nylon label of any length needed.

Since I'm able to use any of the letters, numbers, and symbols available on the keyboard, I can put exactly what I want on the wire label. Even arrows and schematic symbols.

I can closely match the wiring schematic notations.

This makes troubleshooting easier, faster, and more accurate.

And anything that makes my job easier … is worth the money.

Photo courtesy of Panduit®
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