Understanding the environment in which an enclosure will operate will go a long way to determining the overall performance, safety and efficiency of a system’s operation. Here, Rittal’s John Wilkins explains the importance of understanding your enclosure environment
Specifying the correct enclosure can help to increase productivity and profitability for systems integrators, right through to end users. Understanding the environment in which the final overall system will be operating and what is the most suitable internal environment required by the installed equipment is fundamental to providing a successful design.
At the initial design stage for the enclosure material or surface finish, wrong decisions can have a detrimental effect on design life, maintenance and operational down-time due to corrosion, material failure or difficulties in the surface cleaning. There is a wide variety of material finishes available from Rittal such as carbon steel, 304 and 316 stainless steel, cast aluminium, sheet aluminium, polycarbonate plastics and GRP. Carbon steel is suitable for the majority of applications and shows long term durability for indoor applications when finished in Rittal’s Nano three stage powder coated finish.
In corrosive environments such as outdoor, coastal, chemical and heavy pollution, stainless steel should be used. It should also be used when clean environments are paramount, such as the manufacture of food and beverages, hospitals or pharmaceuticals. Stainless steel can also be powder coated and exhibits exceptional corrosion resistance whether in its raw state or powder coated. However, users should be aware that if the surface is contaminated with carbon steel then the enclosure can show signs of surface corrosion.
For more cost effective outdoor solutions than stainless steel, sheet aluminium can be used. This also provides a high degree of corrosive protection and is powder coated to provide a tough finish to the enclosure surface. It can also be coated with an anti-graffiti finish making it easy to remove paint and adhesive residues from posters. Sheet aluminium is lightweight and provides the added advantage of easier installation without the use of expensive lifting equipment into less accessible areas.
Non-metallic enclosures such as plastics and GRP impregnated plastics are more suited to the smaller range of electrical enclosures. This type of enclosure provides a robust mechanical strength and electrical insulation properties. It also provides an extremely high degree of corrosive protection but can discolour under certain light conditions without harming the material properties of the enclosure.
IP, access and security
Ingress protection (IP) and National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) are the industry standards for the ingress protection of enclosures. IP ratings refer to the protection against contact, foreign bodies and water.
Developed for high pressure, high temperature washdown, and suitable for areas where hygiene and cleanliness are paramount, Rittal has a range of enclosures that meet IP69K. NEMA classification outlines the protection of individuals from unintentional contact with equipment and the protection of an enclosure from external factors in much the same way as IP ratings.
With the correct enclosure selected for the integrated system it is also important to understand the requirements for access and security. Part of a well designed system considers the access for maintenance and repairs, as it’s an important benefit to the end user that down-time for maintenance is kept to a minimum.
With a good system design, maintenance critical components and procedures are integrated into the overall system and the type of enclosure and accessories selected play a major part in the process. Selecting something as simple as a door stay to hold the door open at a set angle, can make it easier for the operative to change the fan or filter, as well as for the operator working on a solid object within a designated area around the enclosure and not in front of a live open system.
Modern switchgear and control components in industrial engineering are highly complex and must satisfy universal requirements. Rittal enclosures offer a range of accessories to satisfy the demands for flexible solutions in industrial production processes.
Rittal’s accessories have been designed and developed to make the installation, fit-out or maintenance (at high level or at low level), as simple, safe and as easy as possible, providing effective cable management solutions into, within or out of the system enclosure.
Whether using the plinths for cable routing, to providing internal lighting which can be operated when opening the door for service and maintenance when in operation, all make the enclosure a critical part of the complete system integration and a quality product that any good system designer would be proud to be associated with.
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