What is the process for selecting a NEMA rated industrial enclosure for a manufacturing environment? Purchasing an enclosure from a ‘big-name’ supplier does not mean that the enclosure is the best fit for the equipment or the end users that will be using the enclosure system. From a functionality standpoint, the enclosure’s worth may far exceed the original purchase price. If the electronics are difficult to install or if there is a considerable amount of installation time, then the purchase price of the enclosure alone is not reflective of the overall ’real cost’ of the installation.
The following steps will help manufacturers or integrators determine the ‘real cost’ of doing business with an enclosure supplier and help assist in the project timeline.
- Hidden Costs
Buyer beware! Every company, small or large, is looking for ways to save a few dollars. Upon receiving the initial quote(s), consider the total cost of ownership for the enclosure system. If the industrial enclosure does not come assembled, recognize the amount of time and energy that will be required to build each individual system. Additionally, consider the time needed to install the wide-ranging electronics. Also, understand what accessories are standard versus add-ons/upcharges that will increase the overall enclosure price.
Prior to shipping, custom doors and knockouts (for push buttons) provided by the enclosure manufacturer will save the end user or system integrator a significant amount of time during large deployments. Pre-cut panel monitor doors – built specifically for an HMI or industrial touchscreen – eliminate the need to make the cutouts on site, which saves time and money. Also, consider printer access doors, bolt-down legs, sliding shelves, power supplies, locks/hinges, and rack mount rails. These are popular customization features that will enhance the enclosure functionality.
- Think Ahead
Avoid choosing the industrial enclosure that is the lowest price on the marketplace. The old saying still rings true, “you get what you pay for.” The cheapest product is probably the lowest price for a reason. It is critical to think at least 5-10 years into the future. Will the enclosure withstand the installation environment (harsh as it may be) and will it accommodate the everchanging sizes and styles of electronics in the future? Thermal management should also be considered, if the electronics, being housed in the enclosure, produce a large amount of heat.
- Knowledgeable Sales Reps/Engineers
The sales department is, most likely, the first contact a system integrator will have with an enclosure supplier. A sales rep should be friendly and willing to help design the best solution for your application. If you need help configuring a system, the rep should ask general questions to narrow down the enclosure request. For highly customized projects, request access from the engineering department. Choosing an industrial enclosure manufacturer that is willing to answer your questions intelligently will bear the most fruit.
Inquire with the industrial enclosure company on the warranty. Ask a very simple question: theoretically, how long should the products last? Also, what is the process for submitting a claim if something would need to be serviced or replaced altogether? Companies that offer a limited warranty or no warranty at all may already know that the product is going to fail. Invest in an industrial enclosure solution that is built to withstand a rugged manufacturing environment.
When it comes to a manufacturing or factory setting, many options exist for industrial enclosures. Before purchasing equipment, consult with other knowledgeable business partners or associates that have experience in deploying industrial enclosures. Always consider variables like cost, materials, construction, and warranty before a purchasing choice is made for the deployment. The lead time for delivery should also be clearly conveyed from the first quote to the purchase order.
Do not make the mistake of specifying a product that will perform well below expectations.
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