Industrial control panels can help a business operate more efficiently and effectively. But how do you find the right one? UL creates standards that ensure a manufacturer makes quality control panels for companies. What are these standards and guidelines? Check out this blog below to learn more about UL508A and its importance in industrial control panel design.
What Is UL508A?
UL508A is the UL standard for constructing Industrial Control Panels (ICPs). It provides guidelines to panel builders to prevent safety issues regarding the following:
- Wiring methods
- Proper component selection
- Calculation of short circuit current ratings
It’s a document that ensures regulatory compliance for constructing the industrial control panel. After a successful inspection, the board can have the UL label. In essence, it’s a handbook on the correct manufacturing and construction practices to build ICPs. It provides the detailed steps required to construct the panel. Plus, it shows how to apply the standards to each component.
There are benefits to acquiring UL508A certification. It’s a level of assurance and trust that the panel is of the highest quality and safety standards. This certification also aligns with the compliance requirements for the NEC (National Electrical Code).
What Does “UL” Stand For?
UL in UL508A stands for Underwriter’s Laboratories. They are a global organization that provides third-party testing that certifies and validates tests with standardized audits and inspections. They have thousands of standards for various industries and provide education on standards to ensure quality and safety.
You can commonly find built standards that fit the criteria, but they don’t have any testing or certifications to prove that they perform as they should. That’s where the UL508A certification is important.
The Importance of UL508A Compliance
It’s critical to follow UL508A standards because it ensures the longevity and safety of the industrial control panel. The certification provides proof that the ICP complies with the criteria. This documentation goes throughout the design process and assembly phase with all national and local electrical codes. It also ensures the control panels will work as designed.
It’s time to consider adding the UL508A standard to all your custom panels. If you’re unsure if your boards are UL508A-verified, have them inspected to find out for sure. It’s worth the time and investment to ensure the proper safety and function of the industrial control panel.
Applying the Wrong Standard
One of the most common reasons the code authority rejects a panel is when an engineer uses an element that’s not valid for the intended application, even if it includes a UL marking. Any of the components of the machine’s electrical panel could use incorrect standard applications, and the UL certification or inspection will find this.
Making these mistakes can lead to significant delays during projects. There’s extra work and steps to fix the error and get back on track. This additional work could result in needing deadline extensions, reduced customer satisfaction, and further costs.
Engineers should work closely with UL508A-qualified manufacturers to ensure precise application and interpretation of the UL508A requirements.
There are applications engineers should be aware of which UL508A can’t be applied:
- Panelboards in hazardous locations
- Motor control centers
- Fire pump controllers
- Dead-front switchboards
- Fire protective signaling systems
- Industrial control panels with intrinsically safe barriers
Technology is a rapidly changing industry, and people are constantly revising the UL508A standards to keep up with the evolution. Since technology is becoming useful in various businesses, UL508A also needs to change its guidelines for these areas.
For example, vehicles are becoming more and more similar to drivable computers. Some areas that UL508A covers for the automobile industry include surge protection devices, cable fittings and assemblies, ICPs with LED luminaries, and alternate conductors for industrial control panels.
Other industries that benefit from UL508A standards include solar power generation, waste and water management systems, fountain controls, industrial process controls, and oil and gas pipeline control systems..
Benefits of Following UL508A Standards
A level of undisputed trust comes with having the UL mark on your control panel. Some even argue it’s the most credible form of third-party certification. No matter your thoughts, it’s easy to see why your devices gain instant credibility and trust with the UL certification.
Another benefit is that you ensure the device conforms to the National Electric Code in the US and the Canadian Electrical Code in Canada. This benefit plays into trust and builds upon it.
UL continues to work with the companies and regulators that have adopted their best practices. With access to this institution and network, it’s easier for you to achieve success. Select the standards that apply to your business and modify them to fit your position or situation.
More companies have adopted using UL standards. This popularity makes it easier to access parts and pieces that work well with the panel. The UL508A standards place businesses into an elite club of sorts.
Safety is a legitimate concern for all companies. Having a UL certification means your equipment and devices are safe to use, and this safety benefits the business greatly. Plus, there are additional ways it’s beneficial. It brings worker safety, reduced litigation risk following an avoidable disaster, repeated business for OEMs, and non-existent or reduced equipment repairs or breakdowns.
Adopting the UL standards gives your company an edge over the competition that’s not following the same guidelines. You’ll have more effective and efficient equipment and operation standards, which will allow you to sell efficient and effective equipment to your customers. How do you think that will affect your customers? You guessed it—efficiently and effectively. Client satisfaction will rise, and you will see an increase in your company’s profits.
Using a UL508A Panel Shop Manufacturer
Your first step is to see whether a manufacturer is UL508A-certified. If not, it’s best to take your business elsewhere because you want that trust and safety a UL508A manufacturer offers. Then, you should follow up with questions to ensure that the company will create the perfect panel for your needs. Do they offer customization? Will they engineer, design, and create a solution to fit my needs instead of providing a prefabricated panel?
Be honest with your manufacturer regarding the panel’s use and environment. This honesty will ensure they create the perfect panel. If you’re currently looking for a new UL508A panel shop, Xpect Solutions is the right business for you. You’ll find that our expertise and knowledge are exactly what you need.
Now that you understand more about UL508A and its importance in industrial control panel design, you can make educated decisions. Utilizing this knowledge will greatly help you and your business in the future.