Are you frustrated by rising electrical costs as a proportion of total project cost?
Some ideas to consider:
Provide more detail upfront
Your electrical partner will generally allow for contingencies where the requirements and specifications are unclear. As a result, they could be allowing for components and parts that aren’t required, putting upward pressure on your price.
To ensure your control panel pricing closely matches the final requirements, try to provide as much detail as possible on the motors, equipment, process and specifications. This will allow your control panel builder to greatly reduce costly contingencies.
Consider alternate switchgear brands and models
For projects without rigid specifications, keep an open mind on major electrical components such as variable speed drives or PLC hardware. For example, on a smaller project an Allen-Bradley MicroLogix PLC can be half the price of an Allen-Bradley CompactLogix. Assess whether you really need the features and performance of an expensive PLC or VSD when a more cost effective range would suffice.
Avoid specifying brands for every ‘nut and bolt’ in the electrical scope, unless the end client requires it – this can lead to higher costs overall.
Eliminate unnecessary functionality
Keep an eye out for areas where you may be duplicating functionality or where features can be consolidated. For example, for a control panel with a HMI touch screen, you don’t generally need physical switches and indicators as well. Instead of indicators and outputs for every process alarm, you could consolidate several different alarms into one ‘General Fault’ indicator.
It’s important to be flexible – just because you may have always included a feature on previous systems doesn’t mean it can’t be removed to save cost.
Over-engineering is another relatively common area where costs can be reduced. While your process design and general build should be engineered to meet the required performance comfortably, look at ways you can reduce cost through the design. For example, you may not need duty/standby pumps for a certain application, or a smaller motor size may be sufficient.
Small changes to your process, particularly around motors, can result in large savings in the electrical scope.
Ask your suppliers for ideas
Your electrical partner can be an invaluable resource in exploring cost savings. If you’re working to a tight electrical budget, share the figure with your supplier and ask for help and ideas in meeting it. Open communication and transparency is essential in maintaining mutually beneficial arrangements with suppliers.
It’s in your control panel builder’s interest to work closely with you to produce a cost-effective solution.