Five tips for designing control panels

Dear Control Engineering: When planning control panels, what are key design considerations?


Dear Control Engineering: When planning control panels, what are key design considerations?

Here are five points to keep in mind as you begin:

1. Consider the purpose and goals of the machine that the control panel will serve. How can the next-generation design further those goals?

2. Use hardware and software components and industry standards to speed control panel design, assembly, test, and installation, maximize reuse of intellectual property, and ensure compliance with electric codes and safety requirements.

3. Design with attention to ergonomics for operator safety and comfort, machine access for maintenance and repair, and cleaning, and security needs.

4. Distribute components beyond the enclosure or panel as needed to enhance performance and lower wiring costs.

5. Enhance quality, enable predictive maintenance, increase throughput, and meet enterprise and supply chain goals by integrating appropriate sensors, logic devices, actuators, automation software, human-machine interface, I/O modules, industrial Ethernet and other rugged network protocols, wired or wireless.

These are tips from the 2009 series of Control Engineering tutorial videos on control panel design. See for additional details to help with your next project.

Have some good ideas and techniques to share? Learn how to submit your 2010 tutorial video on panel design at

–Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief

Posted by Ask Control Engineering on February 13, 2010

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