I am very upset!!

August 24th, 2015 | Posted in Panel Building
Tags: , ,


I am very upset!!

My name is Paolo, I am a Brazilian panel builder. I assemble low voltage power distribution panels using enclosure systems from International manufacturers also known as “functional” panels… and I’m tired of it! I can only state that the expectations are not met…

International manufacturers (ABB, Schneider, WEG…) promote “functional” or “modular” systems (for beginners sold in the form of kit, just like Ikea furniture!). The other solution is to use standard metal-sheet enclosures that many panel builders manufacture themselves.

I first thought that the kit system allowed me to save time with the assembling… However, there are a lot of drawbacks that make me question the relevance of this kind of “kit” offer…

  • As soon as you need to add extra functions which are not provided in the kit manufacturer’s catalogue (like motor starter, power supply…), the installation becomes complicated and cannot be optimized… What a waste of time!

  • If by misfortune you have to add a functional unit in a panel which is already full, it becomes a tough nut to crack whereas with local sheet manufacturing you always find space to add components as you can install them in the way you need… What a waste of time!

  • It’s a closed system in which you have no other option but to use the devices from the same manufacturer… and you take the risk not to get all the references available at your distributor, not to mention the price of the equipment! … What a waste of time!

  • There’re way too much packaging, what a waste! Not to mention sorting the items when receiving the products… When I have 4 or 5 columns to assemble and to connect I receive everything in bulk and it’s not even in the assembling order, I’m all confused!… What a waste of time!

Well, I admit that kit system make it easier to do things in compliance with standard. True, it offers somewhat of a guarantee but… with all these constraints, Is the kit system more advantageous at the end? As far as I’m concerned, I’d rather feel free to assemble the components the way I want and avoid all these constraints and waste of time… What about you?

Do you face the same problems as me? Do you know any alternative solutions? What is being used in your country?

For each comment, a free caipirinha! :)

Comment(s) to “I am very upset!!”

  1. J.Powell says:

    I do not understand the problem. The ‘kit’ system is an industry proven model that fits national standards of safety; reliability; ease of manufacture (therefore relatively cheap) and most importantly is certfifed.
    Build your own panel by all means and then go to the trouble and cost of certification: fault level testing etc., and in the USA you will also come up against the ‘Arc Flash’ requirement. In the UK the DNO engineer will need proof that your panel complies with all relevant safety and operational requirements.

    Adding functional units is something that is considered at the design stage and should not present any difficulty to a competent panel builder – if the panel board is full add another board (and this time allow for future expansion ).

    Using the manufacturers equipment is surely a good thing; it provides interchangability; a lower spares stock (inventory), traceability of performance data.

    The cost and packaging are surely not the issue – relaibilty is.

  2. doc70 says:

    I agree with J.Powell. As a canadian electrician I have not used these “kit” systems. In the mining industry, for example, we design/build our own “racks” with a splitter/junction box to accept the supply feed(s) then distribute power to local disconnects and starters. We use certain manufacturers’ equipment that we are satisfied with which in turn maintains continuity and simplicity in our inventory and re-ordering system. Mixing up the same style of equipment from different manufacturers with different catalogue numbers only complicates our affairs…Perhaps you may be better off designing your own setup with gear of your choice.

  3. Ahmed Habieb says:

    If I correctly understood, I think you may alternate 2 types
    1. standard product, using kit system
    2. customized product, upon customer needs which kit system will not applicable

  4. D.R.Remedios says:

    Well, in my experience the panel builders that i’ve worked, they prefer to use the kit system that are already certified and has a proven Quality rather than make their own solution. Of course that’s depending on the complexity of the swicthboard.

  5. Teodato says:

    Although am not an Electrical Engineer by Profession am a Mechanical Engineer who is familiar with panel kit systems. I agree with J. Powell and complaining about such panel kit systems is out of the question – i think your problem is on the correct selection of your required panel kits and perhaps the Schneider blog may help you understand and clear some of your problems-the ebiste of the blog is, http://blog.schneider-electric.com/building-management/2015/02/17/functional-division-lv-installation-systems-architecture-general-principles/.
    The existence of blogs really goes a long way in solving some of our technical problems.

  6. eco says:

    And I am very confused of this “upset” post. Paolo obviosly is far away from world’s standarts and regulations.

  7. Technomake says:

    I can not understand your problem.

  8. ELM Master says:

    Speaking about power or distribution panel boards, the manufacturer kit solution has clear adventages. Certified and proven design, saving mounting time… There is no better solution. All he problems you have with them (increase new feeders, for example) are easy to solve if you forsee it in your design.

    However, speaking about control panel boards, the kit system is the worst choice you can make. The kit systems are not designed for panels with contactors, control relays, push butons and leds in the front, etc. Can you make it? Of course, but you don’t save time neither money.

    So the key is use the kits where they are design for and design the panelboard foreseen the life cycle of the panel.

  9. César says:

    Hello, Paolo.
    We in Colombia have a similar problem, but aggravated by the fact that by regulation, all electric panel must be certified in accordance with IEC61439, or any other standard, in a real way, that is, with type tests. This is the philosophy of IEC 61439, in force since January 2014.
    But do not worry, you will not alter. The solution is not complex, it is only required to meet the standard, apply it correctly and some good engineering sense!
    You face two problems:
    A. Dimensioning cabinet.
    B. Extension of certification.
    To solve the two I propose you:
    Estimate the size of your “kit” to accommodate all the equipment required for the assembly, including power, control and measurement.
    This allows in the case of power circuits, take advantage of the certification busbars kit and breakers.
    Check the levels of short circuit resistance of equipment -contactores maneuver and control, auxiliary and relays, equally drives & soft starters. They must be consistent with the Isc of the total assembly, otherwise, should derating Isc assembly to the lower value of Isc.
    Check the thermal equilibrium of the assembly, to determine whether the surface of the cabinet is able to dissipate the total power or if instead, you must use additional ventilation, natural convection or forced.
    Verified above and placed in the correct values, proceed according to the IEC 61439-1 Clause 3.9, Table 13 and cited reference standards, to extend the certification of the assembly.
    In this way, you fail the standardization of the “kit” and at the same time not lose the certification plus.

Leave a comment

Spam protection: Sum of 2 + 9 ?

Electrical engineering Community, license Creative Commons License