Building custom control panels requires a similar type of skill set; that is, a customized one. In our quest for constant improvement in our processes, technology and product we’ve also discovered the best way to train our new employees.
At UCEC, every year we strive to do better than the last. It’s this pursuit of innovation that’s kept us in business for more than half a century and what will sustain us into the next one. Today, we’re sharing a topic that might be one of the least exciting, but one of the most critical for your business’ success: process improvement.
Pharmaceutical facilities are another interesting environment where our panels operate. They’re regulated by the FDA, handle very potent and oftentimes dangerous chemicals, and are responsible for creating medicines to exact specifications that people rely on to treat their maladies. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that pharmaceutical facilities have high standards when it comes to both safety and cleanliness.
By Mark Inboden
Sixty years ago, UCEC was founded on the simple idea that we could build quality control panels at a fair price. Since then, we’ve built beautiful panels for just about every market and industry, gaining broader and deeper expertise with each custom project. And while we’ve been making control panels for more than half a century, we haven’t been stagnant in our approach. We’ve added new technology and innovated new efficiencies benefiting our employees, the environment and our clients.
New Technology is a core value at our company, so we are practiced in looking to the future and planning for ways we can usher it in. We constantly renew this commitment, by seeking out best practices and the most advanced technologies on behalf of our customers and industry partners. In a recent blog post, I mentioned my belief that industrial panel building will evolve faster in the next five years than it ever has before. I also mentioned UCEC was positioned now, more than ever, to incorporate these advances. This has led us to launch a new division leveraging our legacy to advise on opportunities for implementing smart solutions within industrial, city and the IoT landscape.
Introducing UCEC Smart
What is smart? Smart is about capturing data and converting it into actionable and intelligent decisions. It’s a way to run your business more efficiently, operate your city more safely and create a smarter, more connected world.
We launched our new division a few weeks ago at the Hannover Messe, the world’s leading trade show for industrial technology. While there, we got to interact with automation pioneers who are already working to create a more connected world. We’re excited to be expanding our business to collaborate with these innovative thinkers.
The growing ecosystem of smart, connected devices is transforming the way we live and work. UCEC Smart provides solutions for this new age of functionality by helping businesses and individuals navigate how to make their projects more intuitive and interconnected than ever before. We’re still building custom control panels and we look forward to serving your control panel needs for many years to come.
Visit us at UCECSmart.com to meet our new division and discover the smart opportunities that await your business today.
Control panels for the oil and gas industry can be grouped into the three main process stages oil and gas go through to transform from a resource in the ground to a commodity.
This year, UCEC is celebrating its 60th year as a control panel shop. Over half a century later, the world’s demand for control panels is still high and the primary function of the panel has remained the same, but almost everything else has undergone some change. Vice President of Business Operations, Evan Coulter, takes us through some of the major changes in creating quality control panels at a fair price.
By Garrod Massey
As a control panel shop, we create industry specific panels for a variety of major markets including food and beverage, water and wastewater, life sciences, industrial, oil and gas, packaging and more. These panels can look very different from one another and serve different functions within those markets, but their insides are far from different. Similar to humans and other mammals: vastly different exteriors, with basically the same interior parts and functionality. In this series, we’ll review how these common components of control panels differ by industry. First up, let’s explore the uses of control panels within the food and beverage industry.
Food and Beverage Control Panel Usage
Control panels for the food and beverage industry tend to be one of two things: machinery control panels or conveying control panels. In this industry, machines are used to both create the vessels that will hold the food or beverage product and to fill that vessel with the product.
Machinery control panels operate the machines that help construct or fill those vessels whereas the conveying control panels operate the equipment that transports the vessel between machines to be built, labeled, filled, sealed and packaged for shipping.
Machinery Control Panels for the Food and Beverage Industry
Machinery control panels are generally pretty small as they are specific to and attached to a single machine. Machines in this industry are primarily making the vessel that houses the food or beverage, be that a can, jar, bottle, box, etc.
Dependent on what form the final vessel takes, there are generally between 10 and 20 machines needed to take a can from a giant roll of aluminum to a finished container, ready to be filled with product. For the most part, each machine will only do one specific function. Machine control panels are typically around 48” x 36” in size and they require lots of layers of safety since they have many moving parts that can cause injury to its operator.
These panels generally consist of terminals, circuit protection, programmable logic controllers (PLC), communication equipment, safety relays, motor or servo controllers, pushbuttons, selector switches, and a human-machine interface (HMI). Usually, there will be several auxiliary panels mounted on and around the machines with emergency-stop (estop) buttons for added user safety.
Conveying Control Panels for the Food and Beverage Industry
Conveying control are generally pretty large as they are specific to moving the can from machine to machine. Conveyors in this industry come in all shapes and sizes. There can be several hundred to several thousands of feet of conveyor in a food and beverage facility. To maximize plant efficiency throughout, conveyors must be able to transfer a large amount of product very quickly from machine to machine. Since floor space is finite, conveying systems are able to move product horizontally, vertically, and even upside down. This versatility allows manufacturers to build up instead of out, if that’s what their plant space requires.
Each conveyor in a plant requires a control panel populated with terminals, circuit protection, PLCs, relays, motor controllers, pushbuttons, selectors switches and an HMI.These control panels are often four or five bay panels, meaning they have four to five doors and are typically 12-16’ wide. Some conveying control panels can be as large as eight bays.
A typical conveying panel also comes with 5-10 accessory panels set up 10 to 20 feet apart from one another. These accessory panels are all wired into the main control panel and are used to control the specific part of the line they are placed in front of. Often these are small push button stations or might be a touch screen on a moving swing arm.
E-stop buttons and motor disconnect panels are also placed along the line and wired into the main control panel to provide operators a quick and easy option to shutdown the machine if there is a safety or production concern.
Conveyors in the food and beverage industry often have a variety of monitoring systems to help determine that everything is running appropriately between the machines. These monitoring systems are typically proxes, cameras or lasers that can identify when items are passing certain checkpoints, the frequency at which they’re passing and even perform quality checks. These systems help operators know if a facility is operating at capacity.
Similar technology is also often deployed as a light curtain that will automatically shut off all or a portion of a line if someone gets within a range or enters into an area deemed unsafe to be in while the conveyors are operating.
All of these monitoring systems also get programmed into the control panels we build so all the systems within the facility work together.
In the food and beverage industry, every plant is different because of the difference in the physical space these machines and conveyors are housed in. Though each food and beverage control panel has mostly the same components, the layout and demands of an individual plant can drastically change how we configure the components to work together to meet the customer’s needs.
Building quality control panels is a team effort. At UCEC, each of our control cabinets is created by the collaborative efforts of seven dedicated teams. These skilled craftsmen work closely with the client and each other to create a client roadmap that will ultimately deliver a custom control panel at a fair price.