Control cabinets - what are they used for, where are they used and how are they manufactured and assembled?

In many industries, where precision, control and reliability are key elements, control cabinets are becoming an integral component of numerous electrical systems.

Their role is crucial in ensuring the safe and efficient management of many processes. Failures of various kinds in power distribution systems, automation systems or electrical parts of machines could lead to downtime in production facilities and thus large financial losses. The way to avoid this problem is with control cabinets. What are they for and how are they used? Why are copper components such as bus bars and bus wires used in enclosures? How is the enclosure manufactured and what requirements does it have to meet? These and other questions are answered below.

What is a control cabinet?

A control cabinet is a structure whose primary task is to protect automation components, power distribution systems and electrical components from the negative effects of external influences such as dust, humidity or extreme temperatures. As a result, it ensures trouble-free and continuous operation of systems or electrical apparatus.

Control cabinets perform many other important functions, including:

  • supply power to the equipment;
  • control the start-up and operation of equipment and systems;
  • allow complex electronic apparatus to be organised and structured;
  • protect against unauthorised access to the apparatus.

By using a properly designed and constructed control cabinet, it is possible to maintain the correct electrical parameters, such as electrical voltage, and minimise the risk of failure of the equipment being powered. Control cabinets are responsible for distributing the correct current voltage, which is why this type of solution is used very widely, in many industries.

Types of control cabinets

Control cabinet companies offer a variety of solutions, which vary in terms of construction and design. Very often, control cabinets are manufactured to a specific customer's order - the cabinet is then tailored to the requirements of the devices it will control and power, and to the conditions in which it will operate. The most common are:

  • single control cabinets - these are very versatile and usually consist of a single compartment housing various types of infrastructure, such as IT;
  • modular control cabinets, which are made up of several modules that can be joined together - this makes it possible to create larger structures for use in complex industrial installations, for example;
  • switching cabinets, which are most often mounted on walls - they are equipped with special internal switchboards for separating different circuits, e.g. in electrical switchboards.

What is in the control cabinet?

Inside the electrical control cabinets are the components responsible for power supply, power distribution and the control of individual system components. These include:

  • drivers;
  • inverters;
  • servo drives;
  • copper or aluminium bus bars or laminated busbars;
  • electrical relays;
  • overcurrent circuit breakers;
  • terminal strips;
  • cable trays and conduits;
  • connectors and fittings.

Operation of the control cabinet is made possible by a control panel which - in addition to buttons, indicators and displays - has special sensors for efficient power distribution and regulation of the plant or system operation.

A very important part of any control cabinet is copper or aluminium components. Copper ensures efficient power transmission and minimises energy losses, resulting in efficient and reliable electrical systems.

Components such as bus bars, bus bars, earthing rails, connectors, laminated, epoxy-painted or galvanised components are therefore used in cabinets. Copper components are also used as terminals and connectors to connect electrical wires inside the enclosure. These not only provide an effective electrical connection, but also minimise energy loss.

Aluminium, on the other hand, is mainly used for enclosure enclosures due to its lightness, strength and corrosion resistance. Aluminium enclosures provide robust protection for the electrical systems contained within, and facilitate the transport and assembly of enclosures. Aluminium can also be used for the production of heat sinks or cooling panels, which are responsible for cooling and heat dissipation in enclosures. Thanks to its good thermal conductivity, aluminium helps to efficiently dissipate heat from within the enclosure, thus maintaining the correct operating temperature for electrical equipment.

Electris offers dedicated copper and aluminium components, manufactured strictly according to customer requirements, which are often used in control cabinets of various types.

What are the functions of the enclosure enclosure?

A key role in terms of protective functions is played by the enclosure housing. The components of which it is constructed are usually:

  • the frame, which is usually made of stainless/acid-resistant steel or galvanised sheet steel;
  • single- or double-leaf lockable doors made of powder-coated steel or aluminium;
  • side panels, rear panels (so-called back) and roof;
  • mounting plate;
  • floor plate.

In some cases, solutions are used to further protect or improve the operation of the enclosure. The design may include seals to protect against dirt and other external factors or ventilation systems to ensure adequate air circulation, for example to avoid overheating of equipment inside the enclosure.

Where are control cabinets used in practice?

As we mentioned earlier, control cabinets are used in various industrial sectors and applications, providing the necessary control and management of electrical and automation systems. They are used in, among others:

  • industrial automation: in factories and production plants, where it is necessary to control production machines and equipment, assembly lines, industrial robots and many other devices.
  • energy distribution: the energy industry uses control cabinets and applies them, for example, in power stations, transformer substations, generators, energy installations and energy management systems - wherever control and monitoring of the energy network is needed. They are also used in equipment that uses renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines;
  • building automation: control cabinets perform important functions in the management of lighting and ventilation systems, as well as in the monitoring of security and access control systems in residential or office buildings;
  • railway traction and trains: control cabinets are used, for example, for controlling traction systems, controlling brake systems or managing emergency power supply systems.

Control cabinets are also used:

  • in transport and logistics: in traffic control systems at airports, ports, warehouses and in transport systems such as lifts and escalators;
  • in the field of telecommunications for the management of telecommunications networks and communication systems;
  • in the chemical industry: to control production processes and monitor environmental parameters;
  • in the food industry: for the control of production lines, including packaging, pasteurisation and freezing processes;
  • in the pharmaceutical industry: to control production processes, including in the manufacture of drugs and dietary supplements;
  • in the metallurgical industry: in steelworks, steelworks and foundries to control furnaces, rolling machines and other production equipment.

What is the production of the enclosure like?

A key role in terms of safety and functionality of enclosures is played by the accuracy of their manufacture and the assembly of individual components. Their production process requires precision, advanced technology and meticulous assembly work.

In order to develop a fully functional control cabinet, tailored to the tasks it is to perform, the next essential stages of its preparation must be taken into account. These are:

  • Design and planning. A key stage in production is the proper design of the control cabinet, taking into account customer specifications, safety standards, electrical voltage and environmental resistance standards. It is also important to ensure an ergonomic layout of components inside the cabinet and easy access to components for maintenance, service and repair. The cabinet should be designed to provide adequate protection against moisture, dust, vibration and other external factors that could affect its performance.
  • Selecting the right components. The assembly of an enclosure requires the correct selection of components, such as enclosures, panels, mounting plates, controls, terminals, cables, rails, connectors and much more. It is important that all components are compatible and meet the relevant quality standards.          
  • Precise joining and assembly - prefabrication. During assembly, each component must be precisely assembled and connected. Assembly of a control cabinet often requires sophisticated tools and the relevant technical expertise of a team of engineers and electricians.
  • Testing and quality control. Once the cabinet has been completed, it must go through a process of testing and quality control to ensure that all components function correctly and that the final product meets all the required safety and environmental resistance standards. Electrical testing is also very important and includes checking voltages and safeguards against accidental voltage contact, overheating, short-circuiting and other hazards to those operating or working in the vicinity of the cabinet.
  • Technical documentation. All changes and activities carried out during assembly should be carefully documented. This makes it possible to follow the production process and possible repairs or upgrades in the future.

The assembly of control cabinets therefore requires not only technical proficiency, but also meticulousness, accuracy and knowledge of industry norms and standards. A correctly executed control cabinet is not only a key component of the control system, but also guarantees the safety and reliability of industrial or energy processes.

Enclosure components available from Electris

Control cabinets play an important role in many industries, which is why high-quality components are essential for their manufacture. At Electris, we offer copper and aluminium custo-made components, such as bus bars, connectors, laminated parts, which we create according to individual customer needs and specifications. Our large production capacity allows us to produce components that are reliable and applicable to different types of enclosure.

FAQ - Control cabinets - what are they used for, where are they used and how are they manufactured and assembled?

What is a control cabinet?
Types of control cabinets
What is in the control cabinet?
What are the functions of the enclosure enclosure?
Where are control cabinets used in practice?
What is the production of the enclosure like?
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