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What Goes into an Industrial Control Panel?

9/22/20  |  Rexel

Let’s Look at Basic Components

The internal and external components for your industrial control panel will depend on your applications. The numbers, sizes, and functionality of parts will vary widely between panels. This post provides basic descriptions for common components. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will familiarize novices with terms they’ll encounter as they begin exploring control panels. 

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Enclosures in manufacturing environments are full of cables, drives, rail, and much more. This short glossary will help you understand what the internal industrial control panels are and what they do.

Cable Glands – Glands are used to manage cable entry, meaning pass pre-terminated cables through an enclosure sidewall with no cutting or splicing. Cables may be of varying widths and may need a water-tight seal. (Learn more about cable glands from icotek®.) 

Circuit Breakers – Automatic devices for stopping electrical current flow in a circuit as a safety measure. It generally has a disconnect on the outside of the enclosure. 

DIN Rail – Metal rail used widely for mounting industrial control equipment such as circuit breakers inside equipment racks. Typically made from steel, they are only for mechanical support in an industrial control panel.

Drives – Industrial drives include variable frequency drives (VFD) to control AC motor speed and torque and servo drives to control, amplify, and transmit electronic current. 

Ethernet Cable – Networking hardware to connect equipment and allow communication (also known as patch cords). 

Fuses – There are a variety of fuse types from fast-acting to inductive loads to timing delays. Before making a selection, find the right fuse for the application your industrial control panel is powering.

HMI – Human-machine interfaces (HMI) allow users to interact with a machine using physical input hardware (e.g., a keyboard) and output hardware (e.g., computer monitor).

Mounting Plates – Plates used to mount equipment to the enclosure (also known as sub-panel or sub-plate).

PLC – Programmable logic controllers (PLC) are industrial digital computers for controlling automated manufacturing processes. 

Power Supplies – These are used to convert AC to DC voltage, converting electric current from a source to the required voltage, current, and frequency for the load. 

Signal Conditioners – Signal conditioners manipulate analog signals to meet the requirements for further processing. In industrial environments, they isolate, transmit, convert, split, and amplify to improve process reliability.

Terminal Blocks – Insulated blocks that secure two or more wires together

Transformers – Used to convert voltage and provide isolation.

Wire Duct – Rigid trays used for routing and organizing cables and wires within an electrical enclosure.


The external elements depend on the complexity of your industrial control panel and your applications. Here are some of the most common components.

Disconnect Handles or Switches – External means to safely turn disconnect power to the control panel inside the enclosure.

Enclosures – Cabinets to hold your industrial control panel and its components and protect them from the surrounding environment. There are a number of materials and protections available. 

Push Buttons – Buttons installed or connected to an enclosure to externally control operations.

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