Does your Business Need a Motor Control Center?

 (525 words)

Recently there has been of surge of interest in using ‘intelligent’ motor control centers (MCCs). What makes an MCC intelligent? To answer that, let’s take a look at the traditional technology involved in an MCC.

What does a Basic MCC Do?

It provides modular grouping for electrical distribution components and motor control. Try to imagine an MCC as a filing cabinet. Each drawer has combination starters and lighting contactors as well as other products for control and electrical distribution.

Originally, MCCs were electro mechanical. They had basic functions including

a power switching device

short-circuit and overload protection

local and remote actuation

controller state indication.

Why are They so Popular?

They are highly popular because they –

Provide one source for coordinating components. Electrical distribution and motor control equipment can be bought in one pre-assembled, pre-tested system. This saves money as it is less expensive to install than controls that are separately mounted.

Are easier to install because they need much less line-side power wiring than separate controls. This saves on installation costs.

Have excellent flexibility for configuration.

Come in space-efficient packaging,

Centralize maintenance.

Are excellent at containing faults.

Are excellent for isolating electrical components.

Where are They Used?

MCCs are perfect if you are using many loads that are controlled remotely and are all linked to one central point of control.

In Industrial Plants, this central point is most commonly a control of the environment. This can involve the use of HVAC, pump, and fan loads.

In industrial processes, many load types traditionally require coordinated control. This may be the source of an important process or for diagnosing information from machines. Load types typically include conveyors, pumps, fans, and mixers. This control and acquisition of data is usually provided by Distributed control systems (DCSs) or PLCs

Intelligent Motor Control Systems

One way of defining an MCC as intelligent is if it uses electronic components, distributed I/Os and open networks.

Intelligent motor control systems typically have these three attributes:

1. A microprocessor-based system is used for control

2. Hardwiring is replaced by Network technology

3. Diagnostic or protective functionality is enhanced to some degree


These technologies are associated with intelligence but another association is that of economics.

Business environments are becoming increasingly competitive. What business owners need to know is that an intelligent MCC should be viewed as a simple unit that gives better functionality for less money.  An intelligent MCC (as opposed to a traditional one) simply maximizes the value of components in any appropriate application.

How do you Determine Maximum Value?

This doesn’t include the cost of designing, specifying, purchasing, installing operating, maintaining an upgrading an MCC.

Everyone involved will use their own perception of maximum value to define intelligence, whether it’s a design consultant, an installation contractor or a facility manager. Operators will be focused on how the system functions and its durability. However, regardless of the function of anyone in the train, what you need to know as a business person is that a truly intelligent MCC will optimize the value of the equipment that is specific to that function.

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