Industrial environments can be harsh, possessing the potential for causing expensive damage to equipment accompanying any investments in technology. Therefore, it is important to select the right industrial enclosures to protect, cool, and power systems for applications. Several key questions can come up when considering industrial enclosures and their selection.
Modern businesses prefer modular enclosures, as they provide flexibility, allowing evolution with the changing demands of business lifecycles. Compared to traditional unibody enclosures, modular enclosures may provide up to 30% more mounting space. Additionally, modular enclosures are typically lighter than welded units but capable of holding an equivalent weight of the material.
Modular enclosures may have additional advantages over their traditional counterparts. For instance, most modular enclosures offer greater surface area, thereby increasing the capacity for adding more accessories. The additional accessories may include fold-up keyboard shelves, LED lighting, and busbar power.
With doors capable of opening from either the right or the left side, modular enclosures offer swapping of lock systems without requiring tools. Reversible doors offer easy addition of IoT-enabled access controls or biometric controls. One can also send alerts by email and/or phone if the door is open, thereby improving remote security monitoring.
As it is possible to allow the frame to hold components also, the design does not limit itself to mounting the panel alone. Therefore, the user can fully utilize the interior of the enclosure. In other words, users can shrink the footprint of the enclosure, while still maintaining the operational capabilities.
When selecting the material for an industrial enclosure, it is preferable to look for carbon steel or stainless steel. Painted carbon steel is most suitable for indoor enclosures and is the most cost-effective among all metallic enclosures. It is easy to get a paint finish that is scratch resistant. Carbon steel with a painted surface has limited resistance to acids, alkalis, and solvents.
However, for the greatest protection from corrosion, rust, high-pressure washes, chemicals, and various harsh weather conditions, stainless steel enclosures offer the best solutions. Industries dealing with food and beverages, pharmaceutical, mining, wastewater, and oil and gas, use stainless steel enclosures extensively. Of the two main types of stainless steel available for enclosures, type 316 and 304, type 316 offers the highest resistance to corrosion, both for indoor and outdoor use.
Selecting modular enclosures with frame options that accommodate multiple door options offers more flexibility. For instance, it is easy to configure several small partial doors when considering a solution for custom motor control centers.
Consider foamed-in-place gaskets for modular enclosures, as it is possible to pour the gasket in a continuous manner around the perimeter of the doors and sidewall, thereby ensuring no gaps exist. Not only does this provide a better seal and memory retention, it also increases protection from corrosive materials and atmospheric conditions.
It is also possible to use an external skin with modular enclosures. This feature allows removing the sidewall, doors, and other parts, thereby offering greater access to internal components. It also allows more accurate modifications and cutouts on the enclosure. Stainless steel panels with an L-fold around the perimeter offer greater stiffness.