Mimic panels are large room sized panels used to display the layout of a larger system. Many of these panels stand alone on large consoles. However, they can also be wall mounted as well and commonly are. While they occasionally show up outside of industrial settings, such as in prop work, they are generally used for industrial representation and educational purposes.
Mimic panels almost always offer a schematic representation of the original panel, although some do offer a physical representation of the larger system. Mimic panels utilize indicators for components that are important to the overall functionality of the system. This allows for mimic panels to instantly acknowledge the location of issues in the represented system.
These panels can be useful on their own, but are almost universally set up with an accompanying sound alarm. The system works as follows: when something problematic occurs within the larger system the alarm rings, alerting operators to check the mimic panel.
The driving idea behind mimic panels is that after being alerted to the issue, the panels have enough detailed and accurate information to allow operators to find and solve issues quickly. They are a fundamental tool in allowing operators to get a malfunctioning system up and running again as soon as humanly possible. They are generally used in industries where fine control is needed and intricate electronics are used.
These industries include most plants and refineries as well as most industries that deal with the production of chemicals. However, mimic panels can be useful and even essential in any system that requires rapid response and detection. Panel manufacturers impose strict standards upon the production and sell of their panels, as failure of such an important piece of electronics can potentially lead to delays in response to crises and even failure to contain damage that could otherwise have been avoided.
Mimic panel manufacturers generally offer a variety of options regarding the construction and specific details of the layout. While all such panels have to be fine-tuned to the system they represent, customization extends beyond this. For instance there are many levels of protection that a can be built into the panel and its housing.
In general, a true catastrophe will necessitate panels being replaced or repaired. However, mimic panels should still be impact resistant so that they can function in the event that the shockwave of an explosion reaches the room that houses the mimic panels. The levels of protection available to the panels do not generally refer to this kind of protection however.
Rather these levels of protection represent the abilities of the panel to resist water and dust that might seep into the system and reduce its effectiveness or cause quintessential parts to malfunction. Common protection classes for mimic panels include IP52, 55, 65, and 44.
Mimic panels are generally enclosed in protective enclosures of composed of 1.5 – 2 mm of sealed, rust resistant steel to protect against any exterior agents affecting the system. It is essential that the panel be able to resist corrosion and rust even in workplaces that are highly reactive as the panels themselves tend to be extremely sensitive and cannot fail when called upon.