Machine builder wins control panel design contest: 60% less space, 30% less wiring

CP Packaging won the 2009 Control Engineering panel design award, based on a poll at during March. The company’s design for plant-floor machine control panels focus on saving space, assembly, and startup time as key considerations, especially in rugged environments. This and five other panel design tutorial videos remain available for viewing and comment. Look inside the CP Packaging panel design and the others, as well.


In the CP Packaging control panel, controls and I/O modules are on top, terminal blocks in the middle, and high-voltage components on the bottom. CP Packaging Control Engineering Panel Design video .

Oak Brook, IL, and Appleton, WI – Winner of the 2009 Control Engineering panel design award is CP Packaging . The company’s design for plant-floor machine control panels focus on saving space, assembly, and startup time as key considerations, especially in rugged environments.
Explaining the company’s VisionPak Horizontal Form-Fill-Seal Vacuum packaging machine, CP Packaging’s Ray Buchko Jr., vice president of operations, said the control panel was designed to reduce space on the machine, provide easy access for maintenance, reduce costs, and save build-out and installation time. “In the environment where these machines are used, the panel also had to be durable enough to withstand high-pressure washdown, so designing for sanitation was also important.”
The design removed the servo drives from the cabinet and distributed them onto the machine. “That change saved about 60% in control cabinet space, and 30% in wiring costs,” Buchko says. Because the Rexroth integrated motors and drives are connected by one cable (instead of the previously required 12), adding more drives won’t change cabinet size, since the extra drives are located out of the machine. Servo power supply is mounted sideways to reduce the cabinet depth, he noted.

Access was cited as a strong feature among those commenting on the CP Packaging VisionPak Control Panel video in the comments area where tutorial videos are posted.

Finished back panel is bolted into a water-tight, high-pressure washdown stainless steel enclosure that swivels out from the machine. With small size and low weight, the panel for a seven-axis machine can be lifted into place by one person. Mounting the panel on the machine (instead of remotely) saved time on wiring and installation. Even the location adds to the machine design. The swing-out panel, which Buchko calls unique, serves as a machine guard and eases access behind the panel and under the machine.
Inside the panel
The enclosure (see photo) design includes high voltage and control components. On top there’s the control wiring: main controller, I/O modules with spring cage terminal connections, and other controllers. On the bottom is the high-voltage wiring. In the middle, terminal blocks connect above and below using insulation displacement technology to save time and keep the integrity of the landing points to avoid shorting. In addition, DIN-rails are used as much as possible to help save time.

CP Packaging VisionPak Horizontal Form-Fill-Seal Vacuum packaging machine

More information on the CP Packaging VisionPak Horizontal Form-Fill-Seal Vacuum packaging machine is available here: .

Simpler panel design means assembly is possible in hours rather than days, with easier maintenance and troubleshooting. Mounting the panel on the packaging machine helps reduce onsite installation and startup to less than 24 hours, as opposed to several days.
In addition to the team at CP Packaging, Buchko also credits Marty Paschke, Machine Control Specialists , Little Chute, WI, for "initial layout of the panel and component locations to minimize the size of the panel and still maintain separation of low and high voltage wire points." Wade Savage, CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne , Brookfield, WI, "helped source the components that provide the flexibility we require to manufacture custom machines with a single enclosure." Key components were provided by Banner Engineering , Bosch-Rexroth , Moeller , and Phoenix Contact .
Panel design voting criteria
Suggested criteria for voting on the control panel videos focused on how well the videos explained:

  • The thought process for determining the layout of components, both interior and exterior component mounting techniques;

  • Wire and cable termination techniques;

  • How consistency is maintained from one person to another in component mounting and wiring practices;

  • Door work (mounting, labeling and wiring of devices on an enclosure door, or other exterior surfaces);

  • Methods for insertion of completed panels into enclosures;

  • Methods for maintaining cleanliness and protection of the enclosure and components; and testing procedures.

“That’s a lot to pack into a panel design video in five minutes,” noted Control Engineering ’s David Greenfield, editorial director. “While all six continue to garner interest, voters clearly put CP Packaging on top.”
See more photos and read more details about this CP Packaging application from the May 2009 Control Engineering North American print edition. Control Engineering is located in Oak Brook, IL; CP Packaging in Appleton, WI.

Videos remain posted for viewing and comments .


Submit a video for the 2010 contest - Learn more here.

- Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief
Control Engineering News Desk,
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