• Enclosures - Manufacturing challenges in the new decade

    Steve Gallon, Managing Director of Electrical Enclosure company FIBOX, comments on the future, and explains how innovation and consistency of service will impact on the market post-recession

    With 2010 heralding the dawn of a new decade; this year offers many challenges and opportunities for electrical product manufacturers to self-examine, introspect and outperform the decade gone by. While the beginning of the last decade saw the industry's R&D departments adopting positive attitudes toward innovative technology; the end of the decade saw many of those company's finance directors putting the brakes on innovation and adopting large scale cost-cutting measures and implementing huge rationalization programmes in order to ride-out the effects of the recession.

    It wasn't that these companies didn't recognise the importance of innovation, but in reality, investing in innovation was not possible. For them, the recession meant financial resources and extra facilities for investing new ideas were just not available, so instead, their focus was on making more effective use of the scarce resources that they had.

    Having been in the industry more years than I care to mention, I ?see the notion of ‘if it's not broken, don't fix it' as committing industrial suicide and instead recommend ‘demand, challenge and probe' become the new paradigm.

    If there is one thing history has taught us; it's that as the financial situation returns to somewhere near normal, wealth increases and markets stabilize, the demand from customers will change and therefore in order for those surviving manufacturing companies to prosper, they will be the ones that have looked to the future and continued to innovate.

    Right now the ability for the industry to innovate is not just critical to success. It's simply a prerequisite for survival. 

    So, what is innovation? Conventionally innovation has been best explained as the initial recognition of a market need and the development of a unique or novel way of fulfilling that need by producing a commercially viable product or solution. However, in today's market, as the current manufacturing industries emerge from the deepest recession since the Second World War, innovation must go further than purely identifying a need. It's about responding quickly to challenges, adopting new ideas and moving fast to seize opportunities.

    However, innovation needs to be encouraged at all levels and in all elements within an organisation to be truly effective.

    From a corporate standpoint, the most important thing for Fibox, was to emerge from the economic downturn, stronger and fitter than before and in a position to drive strong growth as volumes increase.

    Companies who will achieve this best are those that have continued to innovate. It is not good enough for a company to hope to grow ahead of the market solely on the basis of old products. The companies that will show greatest growth potential in recovery are those that emerge with new products and improved services.

    The fact Fibox sees innovation as the most important driver of future growth is based on its ability to develop new products for new markets and gain sustainable competitive advantages within them. Yet, innovation is not something it reserves for product development: It is really applied creativity. Given this definition, all Fibox employees are encouraged to rethink processes, streamline job tasks, implement productivity measures, and continue to think creatively.

    Innovation in management is important too, because this dictates the speed of production and ensures the development of suitable ideas make it through to commercialisation.

    With this in mind, Fibox has continued with its policy of integrating its product innovation programmes in conjunction with its customers' demands, suppliers' needs and specialist distributors' call for specialist and bespoke products complete with specific components.
    A lot of the interesting innovation happens when you work in close partnership with people in organisations who are your suppliers or who are your customers and who can perhaps help you in getting products much faster to market.

    This ‘open' innovation policy not only creates added value for the company but is a prerequisite for our future innovation capabilities and helps us to inject new impetus, into discovering new market opportunities and develop new ideas and technologies.

    By collaborating with our customer partners, correctly evaluating R&D progress and product roll-outs also have important implications for the company beyond any particular initiative. We regularly introduce our key product development personnel to meet with distributors and customers, because unless they are clear what client customers demand; their innovations will have no value for the end user. Innovation, based on the specific needs of customers, is faster, cheaper and a more dependable approach.

    Innovation of service has a role to play in the modern marketing mix too. As mentioned before, innovation is based not only on applying cutting edge technology in a novel way; but as about all round creative thinking.

    When Dell developed its first products, its innovative idea was not totally product based; it was its web based distribution methodology that set it apart. This new approach allowed Dell to emerge rapidly as a market leader with a range of ‘me too' products.

    The art of ‘two-way' communication is an innovation in itself and continues to emerge as a powerful tool in the strategic arsenal of many leading companies.

    In order to make company information and product innovations public, expert journalism is required. As such, technical, business and above-the-line promotion in carefully selected media vehicles are adopted. Furthermore, when innovations are professionally presented, it evaluates them and presents them to the customer in a comprehensive way.

    In tandem with professional external communication, the contribution of internal communication to the commercial success of our products and revitalised service innovations cannot be overstated. This is especially true when it comes to delivering straight talk. Shielding employees from bad news is condescending and akin to treating them like children; it implies they are not ‘grown up' enough to handle harsh decisions. So why do some companies do it? One reason is because they feel employees will feel totally dejected and then underperform. But we have found just the opposite; tell people what they need to know and they will reward you with solid performance.

    Over the last few years, Fibox has implemented firm communication plans, supported by updates on intranets, texts, and even blogs, not to mention, emails, to help employees know how the company is performing. It is important to listen, it doesn't make any sense to spend all time and effort to find and appoint the best people around, if you are just going to ignore their input.

    Therefore, from a Fibox point of view, innovation is about encompassing the company's total creativity, novel thinking, original design and often, but not always new technology.
    At Fibox we believe this 360° attitude to continued growth is based on innovation of product in combination with innovation of service through precise and well-timed use of technology will be key to our success in the new decade.

  • Explosion-proof enclosures stand the test of time

    A range of explosion-proof enclosures from Cooper Crouse-Hinds (CEAG) are being used by MCI  Electrotechnics, a supplier of electrical instrumentation and control panels, to protect a variety of electrical equipment destined for offshore and onshore oil, gas and petrochemical applications.

    Established in 1995, MCI manufactures, and if required, installs and commissions custom control panels and electrical equipment for both hazardous and non-hazardous environments around the world, including the North Sea, Middle East and Far East. The business has an annual turnover of around £4m and employs 32 staff. The company's manufacturing plant is based in Dyce near Aberdeen and covers approximately 6,500 square feet.

    MCI supplies a diverse range of electrical control systems, including motor control centres (MCCs), junction boxes, motor starters, control panels, distribution boards and CPFG (combined pressure fire & gas) panels. On the hazardous area side of the business, MCI offers customers two main types of explosion-proof enclosure for its products: a moulded plastic (GRP) EEx de version, as well as a range of metal (aluminium / cast iron) Ex d enclosures. All of these enclosures are supplied by Cooper Crouse-Hinds.

    Using the CEAG moulded plastic Ex de enclosure, MCI assembles and mounts a variety of flameproof-encapsulated components, such as fuses, contactors, lamps, MCBs, switches and meters. These impact-resistant GRP enclosures provide increased safety protection for the components. Built up units include Ex distribution boards, control stations and motor starters, all supplied to European standards EN 50014 and EN 50018. The systems are ATEX-certified for use in Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 21 and Zone 22.

    MCI also uses aluminium / cast iron CEAG explosion-proof enclosures for use with control panels, starters, junction boxes, MCCs, distribution boards and CPFG panels. MCI offers three versions of CFPG panels for A60 class modules, battery isolators and temporary power units. These ATEX-certified systems are suitable for use in Gas Group IIB installations, Zone 1 and Zone 2 areas, fulfilling the requirements of EN 50014 and EN 50018.

    As Ian McIntosh, managing director of MCI comments: "We began using CEAG explosion-proof enclosures around 10 years ago. In that time, the enclosures have proved very reliable. We've probably only had to reject one or two units in the last 10 years, which is pretty impressive. For MCI and its customers, it is absolutely critical that the enclosures are reliable because we need to guarantee the safety of our products and help to minimise any downtime for the customer caused by faulty, unsafe equipment."

    "CEAG enclosures are designed and manufactured to a high quality and the service and technical back up is also very reliable," adds McIntosh. "Even our customers sometimes specify that we use CEAG enclosures. They understand that CEAG is a respected, globally-recognised product in the oil and gas sector and they appreciate the quality of the enclosures."

    In late 2009, MCI supplied a motor control centre for a drilling system to be delivered to an oil and gas exploration platform in the North Sea. The 10-metre long MCC panel was built in three sections, which in total use 52 separate explosion-proof enclosures. All of the enclosures were Ex d certified and interconnected by using ‘barrier assemblies'. The entire unit has ATEX assembly certification. The remainder of the project was the build of Ex de moulded plastic lighting distribution boards. All units were EEx d certified for Zone 1 and Zone 2 areas.

    As McIntosh explains: "We won the contract by offering the customer a very competitive price and delivery time for the MCC. We couldn't have done this without the support of CEAG, who was able to respond to our customer's requirements in terms of the enclosures. We believe that our delivery time of 16 weeks was almost twice as fast as any competitor could offer for this project. But without CEAG's support, we couldn't have met this timeframe."

    In addition to supplying explosion-proof enclosures and other electrical equipment certified for ATEX environments, Cooper Crouse-Hinds also offers other hazardous area electrical equipment to IEC and NEC standards, as well as other international approvals for Eastern Europe, China and North America.

    Cooper Crouse-Hinds (UK)

    Tel: 02476  308930  
    Fax:  02476 301027  
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Enclosures - Solving enclosure confusion

    Specifiers must assess enclosure construction before specifying products as the incorrect  choice can lead to significant and costly consequences. They should also make sure they fully understand the system of IP ratings, to avoid incorrect choices and spending more money than necessary. here, Darren Hodson from Schneider Electric explains the system of enclosure ratings, discusses the differing materials available and highlights one of today's most common misconceptions surrounding the ratings standards - IP69K

    The various enclosure materials available have their strengths and weaknesses and in order to specify the most appropriate material, these must be fully understood. In addition, the importance of the right quality enclosure is critical.  The role of an enclosure is to protect valuable electrical components and personnel and it just doesn't make sense to save a few pounds by purchasing an inferior product to protect high value systems.  A substandard enclosure could result in leaks, damage to equipment, and possibly even become a hazard to the public.  If this happens not only is the user faced with the cost of replacing the enclosure, there is also the cost of changing any damaged components, downtime and possible litigation.

    It is critical the same level of time and investment goes into choosing the right quality enclosure, in order to reflect the time and money spent in developing the system it contains and the system(s) it is connected to. Choosing the right material for the job is also an important consideration.  Buying a high quality enclosure, but in the wrong material, can be a costly mistake. 

    Depending upon the application and the preference of the customer, there are three common materials which enclosures are manufactured from: mild steel, stainless steel and GRP. But regardless of the material used, each enclosure should be chosen to suit the specific application they are intended for and this includes having the appropriate IP rating. IP ratings are defined in the IEC 60529 standard for degrees of protection provided by enclosures, published in the UK as BS EN 60529.

    The degrees of protection are specified by the letters IP, followed by two or more digits. The first digit (1 to 6) depends on the protection given by the enclosure to equipment within it against the ingress of objects, and also the protection of persons against contact with live parts of equipment within the enclosure. The second digit (1 to 8) relates to the protection of equipment against the harmful ingress of water. Either digit can be replaced by ‘X' for an unspecified condition.

    Optional supplementary letters can be used to specify only the protection of persons against access to hazardous parts, and to stipulate special conditions, such as use for high-voltage apparatus or under specified weather conditions.

    In general, a higher number represents better protection, although specifiers should be aware this isn't always a guarantee, as sometimes an enclosure might, for example, pass the tests for IP67 but not to a lower rating such as IP65.

    It is important specifiers fully understand the conditions of use for an enclosure, as simply specifying a high IP rating does not necessarily mean it is right for the job. The designations refer to the ability of the enclosure to pass the tests under controlled conditions, not to its ability to withstand influences such as weather, sunlight, corrosion, or extremes of temperature. A product can meet the highest level for protection against ingress of water, yet be subject to rusting, so customers must make clear what they are actually expecting from an enclosure rather than relying solely on an IP rating.

    In addition to IEC (BS EN) 60529 there are two other standards widely used for enclosures; IEC (BS EN) 62262 ‘Degrees of protection provided by enclosures for electrical equipment against external mechanical impacts (IK code)' and IEC (BS EN) 62208 ‘Empty enclosures for low-voltage switchgear and control gear assemblies - general requirements.' BS EN 62262 uses the letters IK followed by the numerals 00 to 10 to specify the enclosure's ability to withstand mechanical shock including direct impact.

    These ratings are used across all materials including mild steel -the UK's most popular choice. This type of enclosure is suitable for most indoor applications. With IP ratings up to IP66 and a high IK rating, it is robust and strong in many environments. The fact that it is easily modified is another reason why it has remained a popular choice for so long. However, specifiers are gradually realising its weaknesses. Mild steel has poor anticorrosion properties if the material is not treated, and this treatment is usually expensive. In addition, cut-outs made after painting must also be protected, adding yet a further cost.

    As an enclosure material mild steel still has its place. For general purpose enclosures, either indoors or in industrial and commercial premises, it is a cost effective solution but the fact it corrodes so quickly makes it an unsuitable choice for any external applications.

    Stainless steel has been a popular material choice for decades, typically used within the food manufacturing, food processing and pharmaceutical industries as well as for most external applications. It provides the same benefits as a mild steel enclosure but with greater longevity in aggressive environments.  It is also rust resistant, however depending on the grade and the environmental conditions, tarnishing and corrosion can occur. Stainless steel also has its own natural finish and so requires no further treatment.

    GRP is best suited to outdoor applications as it does not corrode in damp/wet conditions, even when exposed to sea salt. It also offers excellent protection against UV rays and therefore it won't discolour. Being an insulator it offers extra peace of mind on public access sites and so GRP is fast becoming a major competitor to steel with its insulation, strength and corrosion resisting properties over a temperature range from -50oC to 150oC.

    GRP enclosures are designed for the wide variety of aggressive applications in which they are used. In addition to the material, which is double insulated, self-extinguishing and halogen free, there are a number of anti-vandal features which make unauthorised access difficult. The list of industries that now accept GRP enclosures is growing and includes security, airports, highways, rail, utilities, telecoms and agriculture.

    It is also important to remember, especially when considering harsh environments, high IP levels are not necessarily an indication of a product being weatherproof. Other design features such as canopies also contribute to the enclosure providing the correct level of protection.

    IP ratings are invaluable in ensuring enclosures meet the correct standard however it is not always straight forward, as highlighted by one of today's most common misconceptions - requests for enclosures rated IP69K. At first sight, when you consider the rules for IP codes there is no such thing, since this rating is not mentioned in any of the standards mentioned above. In fact it stems from a German national standard developed for use specifically in the automotive industry.

    DIN 40050-9 adds to the IEC 60529 rating system with an IP69K rating for high-pressure and high-temperature wash-down applications. The IP69K test specification was initially developed for electronic equipment on road vehicles, but has also been used in other areas such as the food industry, where the use of pressure washers is common.

    This standard is purely a German national one and currently has no real meaning in the UK or other countries, as it doesn't feature as part of a British or International standard. A project is now underway to incorporate its requirements into IEC 60529 but initial attempts by various test houses found the test equipment and procedures were not precisely defined by the DIN standard. This means they do not give the same result when performed by different test houses, and so cannot be compared. Some research has resulted in a proposal to modify IEC 60529 to include the designation IPX9, but this is still at an early stage, and needs more work before it can be published as an amendment to the standard.

    In the meantime buyers of enclosures should be aware that ‘IP69K' products from different manufacturers may differ, and might not even pass the tests for IPX5. They should also remember that even the IEC 60529 tests are fairly short, up to 30 minutes for IPX7, although longer immersion can be agreed as part of IPX8. As a result they do not define the enclosure's ability to withstand long-term influences such as weather conditions. It is also often forgotten the ‘water ingress' tests do not specify that no water must enter; they allow water to enter but not in quantities that are considered to be ‘hazardous', which of course cannot be determined without knowing what apparatus will be within the enclosure.

    Today's enclosures offer a wide choice of materials and the breadth of products available is always expanding but specifiers and designers should remember that correct material specification is vital in achieving product longevity. And it is impossible not just to choose an enclosure with the highest IP rating and expect it to do any job, in any environment. Specifiers need to carefully assess the conditions of use and prescribe the IP rating that is most appropriate and importantly one that is recognised by IEC or British Standards, as well as choosing the appropriate material for their enclosures.

  • Opinion Enclosures - Innovation – assuring the future of manufacturing in Europe

    Manufacturing has a vital role to play in solving the economic imbalances we face - whether financial, demographic, security or environmental," says Steve Gallon, UK managing director of electrical enclosure manufacturer, Fibox

  • Customised Enclosures…How far do you want to go?

    Spelsberg's in-house UK CNC capabilities mean that it is able to produce large volumes of highly customised enclosures for customers on very short lead times. OEMs and contractors that need specialised enclosures also have access to a fast prototype service and the facility to order ready modified enclosures in place of standard products. The onsite milling and drilling service offers customers the opportunity to specify exact custom machining requirements on any smooth walled enclosure within the Spelsberg range.

    Spelsberg's facilities include two advanced CNC production cells at the UK headquarters. The machines can customise all sizes of Spelsberg aluminium, polycarbonate and polystyrene enclosures. The standard Spelsberg range includes over 4,000 unique products including IP68 protected and UV protected enclosures; each can be fully customised, meaning that Spelsberg really can provide the perfect solution to almost any application.

    Spelsberg's customisation abilities include any combination of circular holes, hinge fixing points, push button holes, rectangles, countersunk holes and threaded holes on any external surface. The customisation ensures that non standard cables and cable gland requirements can be easily accommodated without the need to employ an enclosure that is otherwise unsuitable for the application.

    Spelsberg has the flexibility to quickly produce one or many thousands of bespoke enclosures; customers benefit from being able to obtain low cost prototypes without having to place orders for large numbers of one design. Each enclosure template is then kept on the system, making re-ordering simpler, quicker and cheaper.

    Chris Lloyd, speaking on behalf of Spelsberg ELS, comments: "At Spelsberg we understand that every customer has different requirements for their application and they do not want to compromise when it comes to their products protection. For this reason we not only offer an extensive range of enclosures to start from; we are also capable of customising every enclosure we make. We are able to run large and small numbers of customised boxes and always save the template to make re-ordering as simple as possible."

    Having the facility for customising enclosures in-house in combination with offering the widest range of plastic enclosures ex-stock in the UK, means Spelsberg can significantly reduce delivery times of bespoke enclosures to customers throughout the country. Spelsberg UK's headquarters are centrally located in Telford, providing customers with immediate access to technical support and next day delivery on all standard items.

    Spelsberg els UK
    Tel: +44 (0)1952 200716
    Fax: +44 (0)1952 200725
    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Web: http://www.spelsberg.co.uk/

  • Extended range of designer plastic enclosures

    OKW has extended its ‘ART-CASE' range of plastic electronic enclosures.  Due to customer  demand, four new rectangular models have been added, in addition to the existing round and oval versions.

    These ergonomic and highly tactile enclosures have been designed to house the latest innovations in OEM and consumer electronics.

    Typical applications will include detection and monitoring devices, system controllers, home automation, medical and wellness equipment etc.

    The new rectangular S110 and E160 models have external dimensions of 110 x 110 x 38mm and 160 x 110 x 38mm and are also available with an integrated EURO specification plug according to DIN VDE 0620 part 101.

    All models in the ‘ARTCASE' range can be configured with a series of three different base sections, two of which are inclined at 30o or 55 o. The other base section increases vertical height by 20mm, providing greater internal space for the electronics, and is especially useful for ceiling or wall mounted devices.

    A separate wall/ceiling mounting kit is also offered which allows the enclosures to be installed without the need to open the case.

    All parts are moulded in off-white or black ABS (UL 94 HB), with special colours available on request. The top parts can be flat with a recess for a membrane keypad, or domed.

    The bottom part and deep base will accept a battery compartment for two 1.5V AAA cells. Internal screw pillars are also provided for mounting the PCBs. Standard prices start at £9.

    OKW can supply ‘ART-CASE' enclosures with additional holes for push-buttons, connectors and displays etc., plus silk-screen printed legends and logos, and EMC shielding.


  • Stylish and robust IP65 handheld enclosures

    TEKO has extended its ‘TEKBOX' enclosures range to include sealed versions rated IP65. As a result, these modern handheld enclosures can now be used outdoor or in harsher industrial environments.

    Typical applications will include test and measurement instruments, mobile data collection units, environmental monitoring equipment, medical devices etc.
    ‘TEKBOX' enclosures consist of the top and base mouldings which are fitted together with a deep tongue and groove feature and four self-tapping screws. The IP65 models are supplied with a rubber gasket which is fitted into the groove in the top part. This provides a high performance seal which is unaffected by frequent opening.

    The new IP65 models are available in four rectangular sizes and two ‘T' shaped sizes. The external dimensions range from 160 x 94 x 31 mm to 210 x 116 x 31 mm.

    Screw pillars are provided inside the top and base parts for fitting PCBs, keypads and display assemblies.

    ‘TEKBOX' cases are moulded in off-white, RAL 9002 or black, RAL 9004 ABS (UL 94 HB). Recessed areas the top and base parts are provided for mounting membrane keypads or product labels.

    TEKO can supply the ‘TEKBOX' enclosures with additional holes for push-buttons, connectors and displays etc., plus silk-screen printed legends and logos, and EMC shielding. The cases can also be moulded or painted in alternative colours. Standard prices start at £7.


  • Terminal box for HD enclosures

    To complement the range of Rittal's Hygienic Design (HD) enclosures a new terminal box has been added to the product portfolio.

    Rittal's HD enclosures, with a protection category of IP69K, are a key element in the design of clean rooms for open processes in the food industry, where there is an emphasis on ease of cleaning.

    Utilising Rittal's HD system accessories, the following benefits have been designed into the stainless steel cases and enclosures, which are available in a number of sizes

    Simple cleaning with inclined surfaces of 3° on all sides and 10° on the front cover; all round gap free silicone seal between enclosure and front cover; hygiene compliant hexagon locks and seam free construction.

    Captive quick release cover locks and a one-piece easily replaceable silicone seal for easy assembly/maintenance are standard.

    01709 704000

  • Versatile and sealed aluminium handheld enclosures

    ROLEC has extended the ‘mobilCASE’ range of handheld enclosures with new models and size combinations. These robust and highly attractive enclosures are now suitable for both cable connected or battery powered portable electronic equipment.

    Typical applications will include data-collection units, machine controllers, robot programmers and test and measurement devices.

    The construction consists of a single or two piece anodised aluminium case body, with internal guides rails. Two black die cast aluminium end panels are fitted to the extrusions by self-tapping screws. The cases can be sealed up to IP65 protection class.

    The innovative ‘mobilCASE’ design incorporates a round edge section, which is very easy to hold, and also acts as a battery compartment. An M16 cable gland can be fitted in place of the battery compartment, allowing for cable connection to the host machine.

    The extended range now consists of twelve standard sizes with external dimensions from 118 x 120 x 80 mm to 168 x 240 x 130 mm. The recessed top section can be used for mounting push-button switches, membrane keypads, and joy-stick or tracker ball controls etc.

    ROLEC can supply these enclosures with additional holes for push-buttons, connectors and cable glands etc., plus silk-screen printed legends and logos. Standard prices start at £36.


  • Enclosures - Getting it right first time

    The cost of getting a product to market is on the increase and the last thing you need is for machinery and plant to break down at the critical moment. Alan Lawson from PSJ Fabrications explains the benefits of specifying a bespoke motor control centre, and why it pays to invest in the right solution for you

    Motor control centres (MCCs) have been in use since 1950 when they were first introduced in the UK by the automobile manufacturing industry. They are now far more common and are used in many industrial and commercial applications to accommodate a wide variety of different devices required in modern facilities.

    The basic role of a motor control centre is to protect valuable electrical components and it therefore doesn’t make sense to save a few pounds by purchasing an inferior product to protect high value systems. A substandard MCC could bring with it all kinds of problems including leaks and damage to equipment, all of which will result in downtime and thus specification should not be taken for granted.

    In short, the same level of time and investment should go into choosing the right motor control centre and this should reflect the time and money spent on developing the system which it contains and the machinery which it protects.

    Make your choice
    There are a few key items which should make up your specification for a motor control centre, including ampacity (the maximum amount of current that the main horizontal bus can accommodate without overheating), bussing material and feeder cables – all of which could mean the difference between a long and reliable service life or an early, abrupt failure.
    But possibly one of the most important things to consider when specifying your MCC is ensuring it is suitable for the environment in which it will operate.

    In an ideal world the motor control centre would be located in a separate air conditioned room, but with space at a premium an MCC will often be found on the factory floor next to the machinery which is being controlled. This brings with it the inevitable problem of how to protect the contents from dusty and corrosive processes which is why it is imperative to ensure the MCC which you specify is suitable for the area in which it is located.

    Benefits of bespoke
    There are a number of issues which you need to consider when specifying a motor control centre, the first of which is the size. How many times have you heard stories from people who have bought new machinery for the factory floor and then discovered that it doesn’t quite fit into the space which had been set aside for it? The same happens with an MCC, which is where a bespoke solution becomes the right option.

    By specifying a bespoke solution you can work with the manufacturer to ensure it perfectly fits the space which you have available – which is particularly useful if you are tight for space and need to pack as much into it as possible.

    The other main benefit of being able to specify the exact size is versatility, because it enables you to take into account the requirements of your factory or commercial process, and then specify exactly what you need within your MCC without having to work around the ‘standard’ option the manufacturer wants you to have because that is all that they supply. A good example of this would be the option to have fixed or withdrawable starters, distribution and control aspects or if the MCC needs to be specifically designed for harsh environments.
    This brings me onto the material in which the MCC is manufactured, because the material on the outside is just as important as the contents of the MCC.

    We manufacture all of our cubicles from 2mm and 3mm stainless steel, with a main frame that is fully welded for strength and rigidity and doors, shelves and mounting plates bolted in position.

    Stainless steel has typically been used in the food manufacturing industry, but has grown in popularity for external applications over the years because of its ability to provide the same benefits as mild steel but with a greater longevity in harsh or aggressive environments. It is also rust resistant and has its own natural finish so requires no further treatment.

    The benefits of a bespoke solution however mean that if you do require a specific finish then that option is available. We regular receive requests to match specific colours so that the MCC blends in with its environment and we then carry out a process which includes degreasing and rubbing down to remove all traces of dirt and rust, before priming and applying the paint at a depth of 50 microns to ensure colour longevity in even the harshest conditions.

    The right rating
    Getting the right IP rating is also a very important issue when specifying a motor control centre, particularly when it will be located in a harsh environment. IP stands for Ingress Protection and it is a rating that describes the protection from the intrusion of solid and liquid material.

    The letters IP are always followed by 2 numbers, the first refers to intrusion by solids (1-6) and the second refers to intrusion by liquids (1-8). All of our cabinets are protected to IP55 which means that they are protected against the ingress of dust and dirt and low pressure jets of water.

    You will find this rating is suitable for the majority of the environments in which a motor control centre is located and in order to retain the ingress protection all of our doors and covers are press formed for positive alignment.

    Make it future proof
    Without the aid of a crystal ball it is difficult to see what the future will hold and with the needs of every business changing rapidly it is impossible to predict your needs five years from now. But with an MCC having an average shelf life of 25-30 years you need some reassurance that the money you are investing now is well spent and that what you are specifying will match your needs well into the future.

    Future-proofing your MCC is therefore the obvious answer and a bespoke solution allows you to do this. By working closely with the manufacturer it is possible to design a solution which adequately meets the needs which your business has today but at the same time it allows you to build in some space which can be used for future expansion.

    It makes sense
    Generally speaking we all like to be given a choice and when times are tough we are more likely to scrutinise every penny which is being spent to ensure it is being put to good use. I’m not sharing any trade secrets when I say purchasing a new motor control centre is an expensive business but at the same time it is still possible to get value for money if you look carefully at all of your options, before you part with any of your hard earned cash.

    Don’t be tempted to make any quick decisions and do bear in mind the fact that a motor control centre sits at the heart of your business and while a cheaper, off the shelf solution may seem like a good idea, will it still seem like it was the best option when it fails to live up to your expectations 2 years down the line?

    Downtime is costly and we all have enough on our plates at the moment without having to worry about our systems and machinery breaking down at a critical time which is why it makes sense to choose the most appropriate MCC for the job. A typical motor control centre will be in operation for the next 25-30 years and it is vitally important that this period of time is largely trouble free.

    By opting for a bespoke design it is possible to tailor-make a solution which suits your needs now but will also provide space for expansion in the future, thus guaranteeing the longevity which you require and saving you more expense in the future. Reliability is also a key factor, and again, with a bespoke solution you know that it has been built to your exact specification and therefore will provide the control which you require both now and in the future.

    Put simply, a bespoke motor control centre makes sense both now and for the future of your business. It therefore pays to look at all of the options available and ensure that whatever solution you choose is right for you, your budget and your business.

  • Re-tooled enclosures for extreme environmental installations

    The dynamically re-engineered Euronord and Tempo enclosure ranges from Fibox are not only innovatively designed, robustly built as demanded by industry, but are also very affordable.
    In addition to the wide range of standard enclosure products, Fibox can custom manufacture these enclosures based on customer requirements for small, medium and large-scale projects.

    During 2010, the company has invested heavily in rationalising the entire range of EURONORD enclosures and has made the aluminium range available in 22 additional sizes ranging from 50 x 45 x 32 to 600 x 310 x 180.The entire range is now produced using the very latest vacuum die cast technology, which completely eliminates the possibility of air pockets and now features products with perpendicular walls which eliminates draught angles, thus offering an attractive option for enclosures that need to be sequentially mounted.

    The new design also gives extra protection for gaskets in the covers and as well as industry standard internal mounting points. The company's designers have also added extra pods for flexibility. Euronord enclosures are available either painted or unpainted and the company's usual high quality complete customising service is also available.

    The Euronord PC/ABS range has also been completely re-tooled and now offers end users a choice of 18 footprint sizes plus various height options with quick release cover screw options, in addition to standard screw versions. The new range still offers industry standard internal mounting points, but additionally they now feature extra pods for flexibility. The usual Fibox complete customising service is again available.

    Fibox has also announced newly added benefits to the industry preferred, Tempo range.

    In order to deliver a viable option to those ‘less expensive' imports that have appeared on the market, Fibox have added 5 new sizes to the smaller end of the popular Tempo series. These enclosures feature the option of knock outs and free cover retention hinges on all sizes. This range now offers installers a genuinely low cost, high quality (ABS - IP65) range of value for money enclosures for those many projects with increasingly tight budgets.

    01642 604 400

  • First round diecast enclosures for industrial equipment

    ROLEC has introduced the new ‘aluDISC’ range - the world’s first standard round diecast aluminium enclosures for industrial electronics and electrical equipment.

    This new range has a unique round shape which has been designed to integrate both visually and functionally with industrial applications where everything is round: pipes, tanks, lamps, displays etc.

    Typical applications will include process control equipment, monitoring and detection systems, flow metering and other industrial measuring devices.

    The ‘aluDISC’ enclosures are rated to IP 66 as standard, but can also be specified to IP 67 and IP 69K.

    Manufactured in diecast aluminium and powder painted light grey RAL 7035, the ‘aluDISC’ enclosures have external dimensions are 150 x 139 x 80 mm. Three further industry standard sizes are planned for introduction before the end of 2011.

    The attractive design features clip-in lid cover trims moulded in black POM plastic which hide all of the assembly and mounting screws, thus giving a clean and very modern appearance when assembled.

    ‘aluDISC’ enclosures can be mounted to a wall or machine while still assembled, without the need to remove the lid, thus avoiding any potential damage to the internal components or sealing gasket. The clip-in trims are simply snapped into place after mounting.

    A round recessed area in the lid is designed for mounting membrane keypads, display modules, controls or product labels. A separate model is also available pre-fitted with a transparent hinged cover for extra protection of the controls. The cover is secured by a quarter turn fastener.

    Rather than having a completely round housing, ROLEC designers used the wrist watch as inspiration when designing the ‘aluDISC’. As a result, they included two flat areas either side of the round face for mounting cable glands, connectors and controls.

    Threaded screw bosses are provided inside for mounting PCBs, mounting plates, earth leads and other components. Mounting screws are included in the kit. Prices for the ‘aluDISC’ start at around £60.

    Accessories include unique replacement lid assembly screws which include moulded retaining straps for keeping the lid in situ during servicing or installation.

    ROLEC offers a full customising service on these enclosures with CNC milling, drilling, silk-screen printing, assembly of cable glands and terminals and much more, providing a fully finished housing ready for fitting the components.

    Tel: 01489 583858
    Fax: 01489 583836
    E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


  • Enclosures - Designing system enclosures to save energy

    Often you hear people talk of ‘Green IT’ but, love or loathe it, it’s here to stay and proven to be more than just a passing fad, today it is rather an economic necessity. Green IT is not only concerned with saving energy, but involves other factors, such as the use of non-toxic and recyclable components. nevertheless, the key issue remains saving energy, which is unlikely to change. There are many options available for IT managers to save energy, but in reality success can only be achieved through a combination of methods

    The use of power saving server systems, using classic technologies such as APM (Advanced Power Management) and ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface), has now become an industry standard. There has also been a great deal of progress made in regards to the energy efficiency of CPUs within modern systems, in some cases saving up to 90%. However, the methods and systems that ensure data centre infrastructures save power are far more interesting than the above-mentioned technologies. Uninterruptible power supplies and climate control systems play a central role in green IT as, alongside the servers, the UPS and cooling systems consume the most energy.

    Progress made in semiconductor technology means there are nowadays no problems in building UPS systems without a transformer. A DC booster is used for the transformer-less technology which is a DC/DC converter that converts the voltage behind the rectifier to a significantly higher direct voltage. This increased direct voltage then allows the inverter to create a higher alternating voltage without needing a downstream transformer.

    Transformer-less technology provides several advantages. Firstly, UPS systems without transformers can be built with very compact dimensions. Secondly, the transformer is not exactly a ‘lightweight’ which means systems without one are significantly lighter than conventional systems with one. Furthermore, the noise level of a UPS system without a transformer is significantly less than a comparable system with one. The efficiency over the complete load range is better for the transformer-less technology than for UPS systems with transformer.

    Powerful UPS systems, such as the PMC (Power Modular Concept) from Rittal, can provide efficiency up to 95 % at under full load and up to 94% under partial load or with non-linear loads, CO2 emissions can also reduced by around 20%.

    Battery management systems should also be considered to monitor all the relevant data such as battery voltage, internal resistance, discharge curve and temperature. This data can then be evaluated and used to control the charging process which can increase the lifetime of the battery by up to 30%.

    System integrators and engineers should increasingly think about the enclosure and approaches to thermal management foremost in the design process. This used to be something of an afterthought, which can lead to a poor and ineffective system cooling solution, creating the problem of excessive energy costs for the end user as well as expensive down time, due to premature component failure.

    So much of today’s selection criteria for an optimal enclosure solution centres on thermal performance. Thermal performance, more than any other single element of the design, will form the base line for the design of any enclosure. Depending on the application, size, and external ambient and internal heat load can each have an impact on the design used to solve the system cooling. As equipment is becoming smaller and requires dissipation of larger heat loads, a larger portion of the design effort should be dedicated to optimising the thermal efficiency of the system.

    Fan and filter units are still ideal for dissipating heat loads cost effectively. The pre-requisite is the ambient air must be relatively clean and with a temperature below the desired enclosure internal temperature. Products are also now available with EMC shielding and IP54 protection category as standard and by utilising fine filter mats and hose-proof hoods higher IP ratings can also be achieved. However, in many situations, this method of cooling is not ideal, especially in environments with higher ambient temperatures or where dust or oil particles may be present.

    Air-air heat exchangers use the ambient air to cool the air within the enclosure interior. Based on the counter flow principle, the completely separate airflows are routed through the heat exchanger by powerful fans; separating the internal and external air circuits prevents the ingress of dust into the enclosure. Air-air heat exchangers are best suited where the ambient air temperature is below the required enclosure internal temperature.

    Cooling units maintain the enclosure internal temperature at a constant particular level which is often below the ambient room temperature. Two separate circuits prevent the ingress of dust from penetrating the enclosure. This option is normally available as a wall or roof mounted option and can be individually tailored to suit each particular application.

    Air-water heat exchangers are a relatively low maintenance option to effectively dissipate high heat loads. By using the spatial separation of the heat exchanger and the re-cooling system, the room housing the enclosure is not burdened with the waste heat. In all areas with extreme ambient conditions, enclosure and climate control components are subject to special requirements but for application areas with high ambient temperatures up to 70°C and extreme dust contamination this technology offers an effective solution.

    Recooling systems ensure centralised, efficient cooling using a cooling medium (generally water), to dissipate particularly high heat loads. These units can serve several pieces of equipment simultaneously such as the air-air heat exchangers. If the equipment has different requirements in terms of inlet temperatures or flow rates, multi-circuit systems can be tailored to the respective needs. Units can be provided for either internal or external siting for a vast range of kW cooling capacity.

    Direct cooling packages are best for effectively cooling power electronic components. Heat loads are cleverly dissipated from the enclosure or housing using cold pate technology without compromising the high enclosure protection. Devices such as inverters are physically attached to a cooling plate which is fed by cold water from a re-cooling unit. This method of cooling is not only quiet, but also a thousand times more efficient than heat dissipation via air.

    Liquid cooling packages (LCP), cater for extremely high heat loads typically found in IT or server racks. Liquid cooling, using water as the medium to transfer energy can offer the solution to localised cooling due to its close proximity to the racks. Manufacturer Rittal’s LCP is fitted as an extension to the rack or, in some cases, inside the rack itself so cooling takes place where the heat actually rises – in the server rack itself. LCP needs to be fed with a constant flow of water at a specific temperature to feed the air-water heat exchangers - normally an external IT fluid chiller. However, significant energy savings can be made if free cooling is used. A free cooling unit (FCU) uses the outside ambient air to cool the heated water by means of built in fans and delivery pumps which are integrated into the cooling unit. Free cooling cannot be used in a unrestricted way in every region and only functions when the external air temperature is at least 3k below the allowed inlet temperature of the cold water system (so is ideal for anywhere within the northern hemisphere). Depending on geographical location, up to 50% of the water can be cooled by free cooling, again, offering significant energy savings.

    Today the data centre is not only being scrutinised for up time but is also importantly targeted on its environmental impact. For years silicon chips just burned energy to ensure that the data rates were maximised, now, as a result, the carbon footprint is a significant factor in any data centre design. We know the carbon footprint looks at the effect of the generation of CO2 into the environment but the more CO2 we generate the more the planet needs to absorb, and to maintain that balance is essential.

    Hot aisle cold aisle systems are a common method of delivering cold air to the servers within a data centre. Using a computer room air conditioning system, generally abbreviated to CRAC, the cold air is pushed under the floor. Using vented tiles, statically positioned in front of the server enclosures, allows cold air to escape and then pulled into the server inlet. In essence a CRAC system can be broken down into three elements, an air to water heat exchanger, a fan and a chiller to provide the cold water. The hot air within a data centre is drawn through the heat exchanger by the fan and then the cold air is dispersed under the floor. Therefore, when looking at energy efficiency, there is a need to look at these elements in detail.

    Software calculation programmes, such as Rittal Therm, for the climate control of enclosures, have been developed to eliminate the laborious calculation of climate control requirements. An easy to use interface leads the user to the appropriate and correctly dimensioned cooling solution.

    Whether your requirement is for a new build or upgrade you can tune the energy savings to not only meet your business needs, but also provide a future proofed, energy efficient system. Going green is not a fad; it is ‘good engineering’.

  • Round diecast enclosures

    Rolec has introduced the new aluDISC range - the world's first standard round diecast aluminium enclosures for industrial electronics and electrical equipment.

    This new range has a unique round shape which has been designed to integrate both visually and functionally with industrial applications where everything is round: pipes, tanks, lamps, displays etc.

    Typical applications will include process control equipment, monitoring and detection systems, flow metering and other industrial measuring devices.

    The aluDISC enclosures are rated to IP 66 as standard, but can also be specified to IP 67 and IP 69K.

    Manufactured in diecast aluminium and powder painted light grey RAL 7035, the aluDISC enclosures have external dimensions are 150 x 139 x 80 mm. Three further industry standard sizes are planned for introduction before the end of 2011.

    01489 583858


  • Enclosures - The quest for sustainable products

    An urgent question facing many manufacturing companies is, ‘How do we provide clean, safe, environmentally-sustainable energy products for Britain, Europe and the world as a whole, during the twenty-first century? - Steve Gallon, UK MD of enclosure manufacturer Fibox, explains its approach

    With scientists predicting the world's population will continue to grow for several decades at least. It’s clear the demand for energy is likely to increase even faster, and the proportion supplied by electricity will also grow faster still. - However, this is where opinions depart as to whether the demand for electricity will continue to be served predominantly by extensive grid systems, or whether there will be a strong trend to locally distributed generation.

    Either way, it will not prevent the need for more power, especially in urbanised and industrialised areas, and much of that demand will be for a continuous, reliable supply of electricity.

  • Free-standing enclosures

    Rittal's new SE 8 free-standing enclosure system is replacing the popular ES 5000 series. The SE 8 offers an ideal platform for your application and will ensure maximum availability, whether in building installation, mechanical and plant engineering or process technology.

    Take the opportunity to switch to the new SE 8 free-standing enclosure system from Rittal before the end of the year and benefit from savings in time and money as a result of reduced ordering, assembly and planning, thanks to the TS system platform. Integrated additional benefits include two mounting levels that offer more options and room for interior installation. Reduced parts usage and installation costs as a result of automatic potential equalization and can be used in all industries worldwide. All versions are available off-the-shelf at any time.

    All ES 5000 series models will be available until the end of November.

    01709 704000

  • Die-cast aluminium enclosures

    A new range of die-cast aluminium enclosures complements the Eta Enclosures line up of quality enclosures and accessories and is available from stock now.

    Sealed to IP66 as standard and with IP67 available on request these enclosures provide a high level of protection for internal components and are ideally suited to meet the demands of controls placed in aggressive and hostile environments.

  • Enhanced enclosures

    Legrand has enhanced its range of Plexo IP65 enclosures to make the products stronger, more weatherproof, more secure, and easier and quicker to install than ever before.

  • New portable enclosures

    OKW has launched the all new Carrytec range of plastic enclosures for portable electronics equipment. These innovative enclosures have a modern contoured design and feature an integrated handle which is ergonomically designed for convenient carrying during operation.

  • Hygienic Design (HD) enclosures

    Where there is an emphasis on stringent hygiene requirements and ease of cleaning, Rittal’s Hygienic Design (HD) enclosures, with a protection category of IP69K, provide a key element in the design of open processes in the food industry and clean rooms.

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