October 25, 2021
The rise in demand for factory automation serves as a key driving factor for the global industrial control panel market. Additionally, the rising investment of new construction and manufacturing has driven expanded electrical installations in warehouses, factories, distribution facilities, etc. Other areas of growth include:
- Replacement of old industrial control panels (ICPs)
- ICP adoption for mobile machinery, such as cranes, lifting machinery, elevator controls, etc.
- Implementation in renewable energy production and distribution applications
As the demand for ICPs continues to rise, product manufacturers look for ways to quickly source safety-compliant ICPs so they can get their products to market.
What qualifies as an industrial control panel?
ICPs are defined by the U.S. National Electrical Code® (NEC) Section 409.2 as an assembly of two or more power circuit components, control circuit components or any combination of power and control circuit components. These components are typically switches, terminal blocks, contactors, motor drives, transformers, overcurrent protective devices and the like.
Similar to other industrial equipment, ICPs can be evaluated as open type or enclosed. Open-type equipment is ultimately installed in an enclosure before being put into service. Enclosed ICPs can be rated for indoor use or any type rating, such as 3R, 4 or 12. In addition, these can be certified for use in classified areas, e.g., hazardous locations.
Challenges for ICP builders
Quality of work, cost savings and turnaround time are always a priority for manufacturers, but developing and building products involves many complexities. For ICPs, key decision makers need to coordinate between hardware, engineering design and assembly needs to ensure performance and quality.
Before shipment to an installation, each panel must demonstrate compliance for regulatory standards to be certified. Often, this can be a lengthy process as ICPs contain many components ranging from electrical to mechanical to the actual enclosure.
As demand continues to rise, product manufacturers are looking for help getting their installation-ready products to their end customers faster.
UL’s Industrial Control Panel Shop Program
In order to demonstrate panel safety to customers, UL offers an Industrial Control Panel Shop Program (ICP Shop Program) that allows control panel manufacturers to apply the UL Mark at their facility for ICPs destined for the U.S. and Canada. This program provides an efficient, fast and economical way to achieve UL certification while allowing maximum flexibility in panel design.
The benefits of our program include:
- Addressing all applicable requirements, such as proper component usage, enclosure environmental ratings, wiring and motor protection, safety markings and conformance to the NEC and Canadian Electrical Code (CEC).
- Offering greater compliance competency, which helps minimize red-tagged panels at the job site, along with the resulting delays and extra cost.
- Encouraging widespread acceptance: Manufacturers will benefit from widespread acceptance of the UL Mark by regulatory authorities in every jurisdiction in the U.S. and Canada.
- The most comprehensive ICP program in the industry, including industry-recognized standard, manufacturer technical representative (MTR) requirements and UL Follow-Up Services for continued certification, which can all be demonstrated to customers.
- Streamlined component sourcing: Formal component acceptance agreements that permit acceptance of specific components for end-product use, including ICPs, allowing flexibility and efficiency in component sourcing.
- Training: Gain expertise through technical training, workshops and advisory services focused on the needs of ICP builders.
- Other solutions available, including field evaluations of your ICPs.
When regulators, specifiers and end-product certifiers see the widely recognized UL Mark, they can be confident that the panel has met rigorous industry certification requirements.
Panel builders are encouraged to explore UL’s ICP Program to realize the benefits of the widely recognized UL Mark and differentiate their ICPs to customers.
Industrial Control Panels and the Panel Shop Program
By maintaining close relationships with authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs), our program offers unique flexibility for control panel manufacturers, enabling you to label either mass-produced or custom-built ICPs without needing our examination of each design.