Five things to consider when investing in an electrical control system

Electrical controls play a vital role in automation. They are built to make automated systems operate the way you need them to.

However, the way an electrical control system is designed and the hardware, software, and technology it uses can significantly influence how efficient and effective the system will perform.

It’s not unusual for a business’ in-house engineers to collaborate with machine builders and/or automation distributors when designing and building an electrical control system. However, when this happens, the engineers often select products that might not be the best match for the intended purpose. 

To prevent this from happening, there are numerous things that your business should take into consideration when looking for – and setting up – a new control system, ranging from price tag to suitability. 

Here are a handful of principles to keep in mind:

Cost

Cost is arguably the most important thing to consider when investing in an electrical control system, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that drives the decision. In fact, basing the decision purely on cost could, in the long run, wind up being more expensive.

There’s no single way to create a solution. Much will depend on what you need your electrical control system to do, what you are looking to achieve, and whether it needs to be flexible and scalable enough to adapt to your operational needs as your business grows.

While opting for the most straightforward solution might work out cheaper in the short term, commissioning a more complex system that will serve your current and future needs may be more cost-effective over the long term.

Existing resources and skills

When it comes to purchasing a new electrical control system – or upgrading an existing one – it’s essential to consider your existing in-house equipment, resources and skills.

For example, if your plant already relies on one type of controller for its operations, you may already have the hardware and software to support a new system, as well as the in-house expertise to manage it.

However, if you’re looking to make a change, you also need to consider what additional equipment you need to buy and invest in training to ensure your team can make the best use of your new system.

Suitability

Assessing your needs and understanding what you’re looking to achieve are vital considerations for choosing the right electrical control system for the job.

If it’s a simple process you’re looking to automate or control, a simple micro-PLC may be suitable. On the other hand, if vast amounts of data need to be processed and you need a higher clock speed to do so, then you’ll need a more complex system.

So, memory, connectivity options and processor speed are key considerations when commissioning a new system.

Ease of programming

With any new electrical control system, it’s essential that the proprietary software that accompanies the controller is intuitive, user-friendly and simple to understand. So, you should consider what skills and expertise your in-house team has to ensure they can hit the ground running. 

Some training may be required, but if the system is backed by comprehensive documentation and external technical support, it should help keep your training and development costs to a minimum to help keep the overall project investment down.

Spares and maintenance

In an ideal world, your system could just be left alone to do its thing with minimal maintenance and downtime. Unfortunately, even the most robust systems and components suffer wear and tear and damage and break down.

Opting for equipment that’s widely available and isn’t outdated will help ensure that you always have access to spare parts and technical support quickly, to keep service interruptions to a minimum. It’s also important to choose systems and hardware that are easy to maintain by your in-house engineers, so you don’t need to bring in expensive external support every time there is a problem.

Let Banelec create your next electrical control system

Electrical control systems can play a transformative role in many manufacturing, engineering and production processes, helping to improve quality, productivity and safety while minimising downtime and maintenance.

So, if you’re looking to invest in a new electrical control system or upgrade an existing one, Banelec can help.

We can design, build, supply and install complete automation systems tailored to your needs. We can also create and supply standalone electrical control panels to install yourself or design and build a control panel based on your specifications or schematic designs. And we can incorporate any parts issued by your supplier into your control panel.

If you’re looking to make your production facilities safer, smarter and more sustainable, give us a call. Whatever the size of your next project, we can design and deliver an electrical control system to meet your requirements.