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Industrial enclosures – to standardise or to customise that is the question

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A common belief is the standard products are the key to cost savings. The advantages include such aspects as short lead-times,

quick basic technical support and after service or ease of sourcing additional components. These are main reasons why companies standardise products. Rainford Solutions, an established industrial enclosure manufacturer debates what really is the best product when choosing cabinets, racks or enclosure solutions.

Well developed standards are needed in industrial markets as they minimise risks associated with quality, reliability and safety. Standard setting organisations like ANSI, the American Standards Organisation or ETSI the European equivalent, are both accessing performance of products like enclosures and create common frameworks for their construction. This enables access to the markets for new entrants, ensures safety of the products and their quality, important aspects for the consumer.

Large companies take the common industry standards like 19” or 23” and adapt them further by creating even more standardised derivates. The claim is that the ‘off the shelve’ product limits the risk for the purchaser as the product is broadly available, the inconsistency of the item is minimised and the reliability is higher as the cabinet has a proven track record.

However, the question of the true cost of the product throughout the whole product life cycle comes into focus when reviewing the case for standard cabinets. Even though the customised solutions are not freely available, they are often worth waiting for.

“We work with a blue chip telecom company, which needed to expand its network capacity but had no space to do so. This is why our designers worked with the client to come up with the product that combined all the necessary industry standards and adapt the enclosure to accommodate electronic functionality needed. As a result we achieved energy and material cost savings as well as increased product life cycle and improved functionality.” comments Philip Harris, head of business development at Rainford Solutions.

This example shows how important it is to understand that ready made products will have their limitation in handling particular applications. This is why Rainford Solutions decided to develop a semi-standard, where cabinets are characterised with standardised sizes supported by the optimised bespoke solutions.

‘Custom solutions are often best suited to provide enhanced features, functions and size that match the exact expectations of the client, where is semi-standard is based on existing common industry sizes with room for different equipment and slight modifications’ says Rainford Solutions product engineer. With the ‘off the shelve product’ there is a degree of inflexibility as well as added charge in the form of stock holding cost. Often these aspects are not immediately noticeable and it is worth taking the entire lifecycle into consideration to determine what is the best solution for the application. What seemingly appears to be cheaper may cost more in the long run.

Custom electronic equipment enclosures no matter how big or small can provide competitive advantage and deliver benefits to clients. Bespoke enclosures may seem more costly at the start but after comparing the bill of materials and the labour cost involved on top of the required individual modifications to the non standard cabinet the price becomes very competitive.

“We focus on standard processes as we have learned that this is where the savings can be made. We are not an ordinary supplier; our business model makes us a responsive and flexible strategic partner for many companies. Our practical design, keen attention to detail in every phase of the production process, thorough testing, and dependable service are at the core of our company values. For those practical reasons we are recognised on the market as versatile, top quality enclosure, cabinet, rack and cable management systems’ designer and manufacturer” sums up Rainford Solutions’ operational director.

Some standards provide clear benefits due to the fact that they serve an obvious need. However as the market becomes more diverse it is advisable to weigh all the pros and cons of standardisation to achieve best product performance and integration.

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