Control Panel on Plant Floor

As the number of Ethernet devices increases on the plant floor, those responsible for the network are seeking guidance on the best way to deploy Ethernet switches.

The answer depends on the type of switches specified and the environment in which they will be deployed.

Industrial Switches

Industrial switches have a form factor well suited to a typical control panel. These switches are DIN rail mountable and a variety of power supplies and UPSs can be used to support them. 

While it may seem convenient to mount an industrial switch in an existing control panel, one should consider the following issues before deciding the best path forward:

  1. Is there room in the panel for both the switch and structured cabling (patch field)?
  2. Will power need to be disconnected before opening the control panel?  Power cycling of network switches should be avoided possible.
  3. Will EMI noise inside the panel interfere with network performance?
  4. Has thermal clearance dimensions around the switch been considered?
  5.  Have temperature limits of the switch been considered?
  6. Is corrosion resistance or food safe conditions required?

One way to avoid these potential issues, is to dedicate an enclosure to the deployment of industrial switches. That way the network can be managed for moves, additions, and changes, without opening up a machine control panel and potentially slowing or stopping production. Conversely, Machine/Production control panels can be maintained without powering down the network.

Network Zone Systems enable network communications between the control room and manufacturing floor within an industrial facility. Deploying a zone enclosure allows the usability and familiarity of IT switches while maintaining the critical uptime needs and controls interfaces on the plant floor. This ensures that management and control of your network does not get in the way of making the most effective use of your data available on the network.

Panduit 1 New

Available in multiple levels of integration, active equipment is deployed with network structured cabling and cable management according to best practices and industry installation guidelines. 

19” Rack Mount

Some Network Architects prefer to work with traditional 19” rack mount switches, or enterprise grade switches. Improperly deploying switches can significantly shorten the life of the network investment. 

Before designing the network infrastructure with 19” rack mount switches, one must consider the following issues:

  1. Is there dust in the environment?
  2. Is there potential for liquids or condensation to reach the mounting location?
  3. How will a patch field be installed and maintained?
  4. How will cables be routed to the patch field and switch(es)?
  5. Will a UPS be used?  How will it be mounted?
  6. What are the thermal limitations of the equipment?
  7. How will access to the switches be secured physically?

Panduit 2 New

The Panduit Pre-Configured Industrial Distribution Frame (IDF) solves these issues to ensure the robust deployment in most plant environments.

The innovative design includes pre-installed Panduit products with defined equipment locations using Panduit best practices in connectivity, cable management, and grounding.  This yields a 25 percent faster implementation and reliable equipment deployment.

The Pre-Configured IDF is thermally validated to 50 degrees C with the recommended AC unit.

Extra back end space allows for 3X the cooling capacity over typical enclosures, significantly lowering the risk of downtime due to switch overheating. The system is designed for ease of equipment maintenance and controlled access. Additional accessories and instructions ensure consistency without direct supervision on the jobsite.

In closing, the use of Panduit’s pre-configured and engineered products can help deploy a variety of switches on your plant floor in a robust, repeatable, and reliable way to reduce downtime and increase the life of your network investment.