Digital collaboration eliminates electrical panel lifecycle pain points

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For electrical installations, the amount of paperwork can be extensive across the entire lifecycle, in part, because of the many different stakeholders that are involved in this process who all have different roles to fulfill.

Meeting that challenge is now easier though, because of digital collaboration. This innovative technology eliminates paperwork, outdated files and conflicting data while clarifying project roles across switchboard design, construction, commissioning and operational phases.

Regarding electrical panel documentation, the IEC 61439 standard “lays down the definitions and states the service conditions, construction requirements, technical characteristics and verification requirements for low-voltage switchgear and controlgear assemblies.”

So, following the standard means supplying technical documentation with a panel that covers handling, installation, operation and maintenance. That information includes upkeep recommendations and the frequency of maintenance. This can involve wiring diagrams, part lists, and anything else needed to service a panel.

There’s more paperwork to do, though. IEC 60634 gives “the rules for the design, erection, and verification of electrical installations.” Hence, there must be a verification report upon installation of a new panel or alterations and additions to an existing one. Also, verification must be repeated at recommended intervals, which can be years.

By adhering to these standards and carrying out regular checks electrical panel problems are reduced and costs are minimized. .

Here is a list of some of the collaborative tools that facilitate the switchboard lifecycle process: Design – single line diagrams and selectivity settings:

  • Switchboard – CAD drawings, photos, user manual, bill of materials, etc.
  • Commissioning – passwords, network configuration, verification
  • Commercial – product and service brochure, warranty
  • Maintenance – plan, guide and spare part lists

This paperwork is created by and managed through different contributors:

  • Specifier/designer – responsible for the design documents
  • Panel builder – handles switchboard information
  • Contractor – in charge of commissioning and commercial records
  • Facility managers/local service providers – maintenance documents

There is interaction between these contributors. For example, the reverification interval depends upon an electrical panel’s design, layout, parts, operating conditions and more. Reverification frequency, then, involves the specifier/designer, panel builder, contractor and even the facility manager/local service provider.

As this example shows, information flows between the various contributors. And everyone needs ready access to original documentation of a panel, sometimes years after installation.

Digital collaboration solves this problem. With it, all contributors can stay up to date and be able to access details of the project by something as simple as scanning a QR code. During the design phase, a specifier/designer can store single line diagrams and selectivity settings in a digital repository, for instance.

While constructing the assembly, a panel builder can access this documentation and add CAD drawings, user manual, bill of materials or more to the stored information. Thus, the designer and panel builder can save time and money while preventing communication headaches. This also eliminates physical paper, which can be lost, damaged or otherwise rendered unusable.

The process of digital collaboration can continue during installation, with a contractor storing site specific data such as passwords, network configuration, warranty and more. Finally, during operation and maintenance, facility managers and/or local service providers can have access to plans and guides for panel upkeep.

In addition to saving time and money, benefits include ready access to spare part lists and maintenance requirements. Such documentation is critical to properly caring for a panel, and it is the type of information that, if lost for any reason, can make maintenance less effective, more expensive, or both.

Schneider Electric’s Digital LogBook is a collaboration solution that offers these advantages and more. For instance, panel builders and contractors can create a Digital Twin, a virtual representation of the panel. This offers the possibility of totally paperless factory and site acceptance testing (FAT and SAT).

For more information about the Digital LogBook and how it can help solve electrical panel problems, please visit our website.

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