Because the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) has accelerated the evolution of industrial engineering, it’s generally a good idea to err on the side of versatility. But there are several misconceptions or misunderstandings about the traits and attributes of a modular enclosure. A fully realized modular enclosure will help you respond better to market demands, supply chain logistics and other variant-rich environments with greater flexibility, agility and speed.
What a Modular Enclosure Is and Isn’t
There are specifically three terms that are used incorrectly.
Unibody Enclosure – Often constructed with welded steel or other heavy sheet metal, their rigid design can hamper maintenance, repair or modification of the enclosure and the equipment within it.
Modified Enclosure – While a modified enclosure can have some of the same traits as a modular enclosure, it simply encompasses an enclosure with custom holes or tapping
Modular Enclosure – an industrial enclosure with accessories or panels that can easily be reconfigured or rearranged within its standard frame. It virtually eliminates costly machining and fabrication as your device components change.
Benefits of a Modular Enclosure
- Infinite configurations – Modular frames come with pre-drilled holes using the EIA’s standardized unit of measurement. And common accessories or network devices can be added to the interior without additional drilling or welding. Plus, these frames can easily be bayed together to create nearly infinite configurations.
- Faster mounting & installation – Using rails, an integrator can easily slide panels into or out of the front, side or rear openings of an enclosure. Mounting becomes easier and faster when compared to the unibody technique of laying an enclosure on its back and lifting the panel with a forklift or crane. This all adds up to saving you time and money.
- Built to last – Due to its vertical framing, a modular cabinet won’t lose any of its strength or protective qualities.
- Flexibility – A designer, integrator, engineer and end user each have the freedom to make assemblies as basic or as complex as a job requires. Again, components can be arranged without the need to cut or weld. This allows for varied and unique configurations inside, while also allowing flexible cable or maintenance entry. Any enclosure can be adapted to meet your needs.
- Maximizes floor space – Space is a premium and all floor designers / engineers want to maximize the square-footage at their disposal. Modular enclosures can be customized or tailored to fit specific applications in a variety of environments. They unlock efficiencies and flexibility though both inner and outer mounting levels, multiple baying opportunities and accommodate a variety of connection configurations.
Core Elements of a Modular Enclosure
The prime characteristics of a modular enclosure include:
- Protection of enclosed devices / equipment – There are several physical stressors present in any given environment: tampering, water, mold, corrosion. And just like traditional unibody designs, a modular enclosure can be certified to rugged industry standards (MIL-S-901D, NEMA). Properly assess local weather conditions, corrosive substances and even resistance levels of internal components.
- Compartmentalization – A modular design allows you to compartmentalize separate pieces of IT equipment or add thermal accessories to help with climate control. It removes the need to source several cabinets or climate-control systems. It also saves floor space!
- Ease of modification – It’s easier to scale up or scale down manufacturing needs based on production sequence, customer demand, space or other factors with a modular design. And users can easily swap parts out for new ones and modify panels.
- Mounting panels – The most commonly modified part of any enclosure, the mounting panel in a modular design allows for the addition of rails, making it possible to slide the panel into and out of the front, side or rear openings. It eliminates the need to lay the enclosure on its back and lifting the panel with a crane or forklift.
- Availability of sizes and types – While available in traditional sizes, it can also be configured to specific applications with full size or partial doors, multiple mounting panels and entry points.