Benefits of modular enclosures in manufacturing applications

Modular enclosures can help manufacturers maximize the space they have and give them added flexibility in many different applications.

By Troy Miesse August 15, 2022
Courtesy: Rittal

Enclosures Insights

  • Manufacturers can maximize the space with modular enclosures and get added flexibility on the plant floor.
  • Modular enclosures also can be connected to cloud-based tools, which can create streamlined workflows for installing electrical controls, wiring and more, giving the user deeper insights into what’s happening on the manufacturing floor.

If the last couple years have taught global manufacturers anything, it’s how speed, flexibility, and reliability are among the most prized components of a productive and efficient industrial automation infrastructure. Whether it’s combating supply chain instability, labor shortages, lead times, or seamless integration, the right industrial enclosure solution is the heart of your automation system, and manufacturers need industrial cabinets that help them overcome these challenges.

While unibody enclosures may have long been the favored solution of choice for many manufacturers —modular enclosures provide manufacturers with the same rugged durability as unibody enclosures with the bonus of flexibility via configuration, assembly and installation.

Because it’s easy to fear what you don’t know, too many manufacturers have not realized the value modular enclosures offer simply because they don’t have the information or experience with how a modular approach to industrial enclosure design and engineering saves time, money, and resources. With this in mind, let’s look at a couple of reasons why there’s no need to fear modular enclosures and why manufacturers should make the move to modular. [subhead] Modular enclosures helps maximize factory floor space

Whether it’s distribution centers in the material handling space, production floors in the automotive industry, or the hygienic zones of food and beverage production, space is at a premium and automation architects need enclosure solutions that shrink the footprint of their automation systems and maximize the available square-footage.

Whereas traditional unibody enclosures are rigid and lack the maneuverability to alterations in floor layout or space, modular enclosures — like an adjustable hat — can be customized or tailored to fit specific applications in manufacturing environments. This flexibility also helps automation architects easily adapt to challenging applications.

Modular enclosures unlock increased efficiency and promote flexibility through a variety of avenues. Innovative modular frame structures create both inner and outer mounting levels inside the cabinet, which allows for more electronics within the enclosure. Increased opportunities for baying on all sides of the enclosure allow integration into spaces with size limitations and a variety of connection configurations make for easy cabinet wiring regardless of the application.

Faster, more efficient configurations, simplified installations, and interchangeable panels also help create optimized efficiency by streamlining tedious, time-wasting manual processes that once required high degrees of human intervention and inflated operational costs.

Courtesy: Rittal

Courtesy: Rittal

Same level of safety and protection

One common misconception surrounding modular enclosures is that the versatility in design, engineering, and in-field configuration sacrifices the high level of safety and protection unibody enclosures provide. While there are some differences in terms of NEMA or IP ratings when comparing modular versus unibody enclosures, the fact is modular enclosures can provide the same protection for sensitive electronics in a greater variety of industrial applications.

Digitalized design for simplified engineering

Industrial automation in today’s manufacturing landscape is built on end-to-end, 360-degree visibility, which includes everything from the sourcing of component parts to the integration of a finished panel and enclosure into existing production infrastructure. Such high levels of visibility and transparency are only achievable through a complete digitalization of the design and engineering process.

Modular enclosures paired with cloud-based tools also can create streamlined workflows for installing electrical controls, wiring, and panel assembly with benefits such as:

  • Increasing pricing pressures to be able to provide the right product at the right time within the right budget, especially as competition breeds a race to the bottom-line
  • Skilled labor shortages that can result in increases in scrapped materials and revisions/alterations
  • Delivery pressures due to thechanging and real-time demands manufacturers must respond to
  • Inefficient workflows via antiquated data capture, storage, and communication systems

Troy Miesse, industrial automation senior product manager, Rittal Corp. Edited by Chris Vavra, web content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology,

Author Bio: Troy Miesse is product manager, Rittal North America.