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Safer Panelboard Gets U.S. Patent

ProLine Panelboard from ABB was designed for applications where increased uptime, power reliability and safety are critical.

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The ABB Low Voltage Products division,  based in New Berlin, Wis., has been awarded a United States patent for the advanced current limiting, selective coordination and safety technology of its UL approved ProLine Panelboard product. Designed by Dean Latham, ABB control panel segment manager, the product targets industrial and commercial applications where power reliability and safety of the highest integrity are required.
 
“The design of the basic panelboard hasn’t changed in the last 40 years. Our goal was to provide our customers a tangible benefit, and to prove there is still room for innovation with legacy electrical products,” said Latham. “The patent recognizes ProLine Panelboard as the only product of its kind with complete breaker coordination and touchsafe capabilities.”

>> ABB developed a video, narrated by Kevin Sims, that explains branch coordination and current limiting features.

Latham said the new design delivers improved reliability through current limiting breaker coordination. Selective coordination increases uptime by limiting power outages to the branch of an electrical system where a problem occurs, without knocking out other areas of the system. When a fault occurs, the closest overcurrent protective device opens, ensuring that any faults do not cascade upstream. “In this way the advanced breaker coordination technology isolates electrical problems, stops nuisance tripping and avoids system-wide blackouts,” he said.
 
To increase safety, the design isolates the operator during installation and maintenance. For example, the bus bar is fully covered and the interior is encased in resin for additional safety, said Latham. Breaker connections are made in "wells" that prevent any contact with live parts, while containing any arcs that may occur.

“Traditional U.S. panelboards feature an open architecture with the bus bar structure and breaker hardware void of any insulating material, exposing operators to ‘live’ parts when servicing and installing,” Latham said. “Such systems require the operator to manually secure the breaker with a screw directly on the open chassis bus bar. ABB's system features a breaker screw that mechanically secures the breaker with a connection that is not connected to the bus bar.”


Renee Robbins Bassett, rbassett@automationworld.com, is managing editor of Automation World.

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