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Stay in control of controls

Common problems with control systems

Over the years, we at JCL have encountered numerous issues when dealing with control panels, mainly when troubleshooting existing systems or refurbishing equipment. The 3 most common issues we have faced over the years are:

Earthing / grounding

One of the most common problems we find in industrial and hazardous area control panels is improper grounding/earthing. These grounding mistakes can happen for many different reasons however some of the most common mistakes occur when changes are made to the panel. We at JCL find that when new hardware is retrofitted to a control panel that it is grounded improperly, or not grounded at all. We also see numerous incidents where control panels have multiple points of grounding in the panel itself, then go to different areas within the environment that the panel is actually located in. Sometimes these different grounding locations are not bonded to one another, which can lead to issues with the various types of hardware that are located within the panel. It is important to make sure that you always ground the hardware that you are working with. There should typically be one point in the panel that is bonded to the larger system ground. When working in older panels or retrofitting these older panels, try to identify where this one earthing point is and make sure that you are bonded to that earthing system

Improper identification

Another very common issue we see in control panels is the lack of identification or markings that indicate the incoming power to that panel. Without this information displayed, it can present a danger to the operator working in that panel. There should always be a label that identifies the incoming voltage and current ratings. The short circuit ratings should also be listed. It is also important to know if more than one power source exists for that panel. If more than one power source does exist and it is not properly labelled for example, this can lead an operator to believe that there's no power present in a panel when they have “shut the power off”, which can of course be extremely dangerous to the operator and pose an explosion risk when working in explosive environments.

Incorrect documentation

The third common mistake we encounter is when work has been done to that panel over a given period of time and no documentation of that work exists. For example, when a panel is initially installed, it is common to see that the panel will have a full drawing set accompanying it. These drawings will indicate to any operators exactly how the panel works and how it is wired. If work takes place at a later stage in the panel and changes are made, it is important to make sure that those changes are properly documented and that the drawings are updated. Without these updates, it can be very difficult and potentially dangerous for operators to work within the panel as they may not be able to easily understand how the panel works or to figure out how the panel might be wired. This can also make it hard to troubleshoot any issues in the panel as well. For these reasons, it is imperative that all changes made in a control panel are properly documented and that the drawings are updated.


If you are looking for a reliable fabricator for both industrial and hazardous area control systems, JCL may well be the missing piece of your puzzle. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements

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