In 1991, the television comedy show, “Home Improvement,” debuted and quickly became a hit with its audience. Tim Allen played a man who was constantly trying to find ways to increase the performance of his lawnmower, appliances, and even Christmas decorations through the application of more power. His signature phrase was in fact: “More power,” which he was often heard saying right before some sort of comical accident occurred due to his unorthodox enhancements.
What makes for a funny scene on a television show, however, can prove to be a nightmare in real life. When your industrial equipment is being built by a contract manufacturer that doesn’t have the proper certifications and experience with power, you won’t know if it was built according to safety specifications. To avoid any problems, you should insist on working with a CM to build your equipment that has the UL508a panel shop requirements that your products need. Here’s a little more about the benefits that you will gain by working with a CM that is UL508a certified.
What Are UL508a Panel Shop Requirements?
To build a panel that satisfies the requirements of UL508a standards, the panel must first be designed to meet those standards. Here are some of the requirements you must meet to achieve UL508a certification on your panel:
- Components: Critical components used in the panel design must be from “listed” or “recognized” sources that are certified.
- Circuit protection: The design must have built into it the required circuit protection to prevent the possibility of electrical shock danger to the user or the panel.
- Labeling and identification: Conductors and components must be labeled according to the standard for easy identification.
- Spacing: The panel must be designed with specified electrical spacing for safety purposes.
- Regional electrical codes: The panel must be designed with full compliance to these codes.
These are just some of the requirements that will need to be designed into the panel to make it UL508a compliant.
Once the panel design has been confirmed to be UL508a compliant, it is then up to the certified contract manufacturer to build the product according to the design specifications. To complete the process, the CM will host follow-up inspections with certified auditors to verify that the panel manufacturing remains compliant with the standard.
By meeting these requirements, the CM is then allowed to apply the UL mark to the panels that they have manufactured. Only a certified CM can apply the UL mark to the products they build, and they can only apply the mark if the proper verification process has been followed.
The Value of UL508a Certification
To be certified, a contract manufacturer must be trained in the UL standard and maintain that certification annually. With a UL508a certification, the CM will be able to build industrial control panel equipment that will include the enclosures and sub-panels of the system. It also includes different types of control circuits, such as overload relays, circuit breakers, selector switches, indicator lights, and push-buttons. Along with that, of course, are all of the associated terminals and wiring that must be connected within the product.
Having a UL mark on your product is a valuable thing. First of all, it shows that you’ve designed your panel according to exacting UL standards. That mark will help to build the confidence of your customers by demonstrating that your product has a robust design.
Second, the UL mark will show that the panel has been built according to the same tough standards. Your customers will know that the layout of the wires in the panel as well as how they are cut and connected is done according to a controlled cabling method. Your customers will know that, with the UL mark on it, the panel they purchase from you will have been built in a precise and organized manner.
The Benefits to You When Working with a Certified CM
When working with a contract manufacturer that is UL 508a certified, you will get the best-produced panel possible, but that’s not all. A certified CM also knows how to work with the UL verification process. These CMs will often do extra work ahead of a UL audit, such as preparing a detailed inspection documentation package, that will assist the auditors in their work.
For instance, the last thing that a UL auditor wants to do is to hunt through unorganized paperwork to find specific information on a part they are verifying. With a well-prepared inspection package ready to go, however, the UL compliance testing will go much more smoothly and quickly. This will ultimately help you to get your panel certified and on the market in less time than your competition.
At VSE, we’ve been building toward UL standards and working with UL auditors now for a long time. We know what information they need, and we make sure that both the panel we’ve built and the associated documentation is ready when it is time for the certification audit.
Our documentation process includes creating illustrations that pinpoint specific details of the panel to help the UL auditors find and inspect the parts they are looking for. Details like this are all part of what we do to ensure that not only are your industrial control panels built the best that they can be, but that they will pass their UL certification without any problems.