Rittal: Modular industrial enclosures cost less considering operating costs

Modular industrial enclosures save money over unibody systems for system integrators and end users when accounting for all costs, according to a Rittal whitepaper.
By Control Engineering Staff June 4, 2009
Rittal TS8 modular enclosures
Rittal TS8 modular enclosure, designed for industrial applications has a 16- fold tubular frame and multi-level mounting. The frame can hold weight loads up to 1,500 lbs on the mounting panel. The 25 mm hole pattern allows components and accessories to be mounted by height, width and depth, providing up to 30% more available space than traditional NEMA-style enclosures of equal dimension. Symmetrical frame design makes suiting in a row, into a corner or even back-to-back simple. Kits are available where separation between the floor and the enclosure are necessary due to environmental hazards or cable conduit installation and access concerns.

Modular freestanding enclosures offer a number of key advantages when compared to traditional unibody enclosures, according to “Rittal White Paper 103: The Practical Benefits of Modular Industrial Enclosures.”
Many times, attributes of modular designs are overlooked, either out of a false perception of increased enclosure costs, reluctance to change, or a simple lack of awareness to the possible benefits of modular solutions, says Nathan Xavier, a Rittal Corp. applications engineer.
Integrators and end users can benefit from a clearer understanding of the benefits and savings offered by modular enclosures over a system’s lifespan. A lifespan cost analysis factors in common use and operating costs such as maintenance, modifications, and expansions associated with typical industrial applications, Xavier says.
Most people are familiar with the concept of return on investment (ROI). Xavier says the true cost of an enclosure over its useful live can be represented similarly as:
Acquisition Cost + Use Costs + Operating Costs = True Cost.

Here are some details.
-Acquisition costs : Control panel shops, system integrators and end users pay the cost of acquiring the hardware.
-Use costs : Panel shops and system integrators often are more concerned with use costs, which include labor and use of floor space during integration. Modifications, such as human-machine interface (HMI) components that require changes to the door, are use costs.

Rittal resources: Energy efficient climate control for enclosures

Enclosures can influence energy efficiency in industrial climate control applications. System integrators and end users can maximize energy efficiency by selecting the proper type and size of enclosure, optimizing panel layout, and performing regular maintenance, according to the Rittal whitepaper.

Because sophisticated, sensitive electronics and drives are the backbone of many industrial applications, and this equipment often is placed inside enclosures to protect it from rugged environments. Surrounding temperatures and other ambient conditions may require that the enclosures be cooled to ensure proper component performance of installed components and avoid heat-related downtime.

Rittal White Paper 303: Energy Efficient Enclosure Climate Control” (395 KB PDF) discusses tips for cooling industrial enclosures that Rittal says can:
– Reduce energy consumption;
– Save money by creating energy efficient climate control solutions;
– Select products of the correct type and cooling output;
– Optimize panel design, enclosure and climate control placement; and
– Ease maintenance.

Traditional enclosure doors with piano hinges can take up to 30 minutes to remove. Doors of a modular enclosure are attached by multi-point, captive hinges and can be removed in as little as 30 seconds (over 98% faster than piano-hinged doors) and taken to a separate location for modification, allowing simultaneous work on cutouts, increasing productivity. Also enclosure sidewalls and roofs can be removed for adding fans, heat exchangers, or air conditioners.
Creating cut outs with modular enclosures can be easier, says Xavier, because the strength of the enclosure comes from the frame rather than skin, so thinner gauge steel may be used. Thinner steel also results in weight savings of 75-175 lbs. for single door and 300 lbs. for double door configurations when compared to unibody equivalents.
-Operating costs : End users take the largest share of true costs from operating costs: labor for maintenance, lost productivity due to downtime, and costs incurred during expansion. Modular enclosures can substantially reduce all these costs. Flexibility of modular enclosures makes them easier to maintain and limits users’ exposure to unplanned downtime, allowing removal of doors, walls, and roofs within minutes, thus easier access to installed equipment. Also, mounting panels easily slide out of the front of modular enclosures, without time-consuming enclosure staging.
In the event of enclosure damage, a modular enclosure surface (sidewall, door or roof) can be replaced; unibody cabinets do not provide this flexibility. If expansion is needed, equipment needs to be removed and reinstalled in a larger enclosure. Modular enclosures may add partial mounting panels, chassis bars, or 19-in. rails. These are standard accessories for most modular enclosures that easily integrate into an existing cabinet or allow joining another enclosure to it when needed.
A unibody cabinet might seem to be more cost effective at first, but once the use and operations costs are factored into the equation, a unibody solution may prove to be cost-prohibitive, Xavier says. Learn more in “ Rittal White Paper 103: The Practical Benefits of Modular Industrial Enclosures ” (PDF).
Control Engineering offers other information on enclosures to improve NEMA designs, enclose wireless equipment, and keep cabinets coo l. See also

tips for control panel design and saving space

– Edited by Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief, Control Engineering www.controleng.com

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