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How to reduce costs when installing enclosures

Author : Paul Metcalfe is Rittal’s Product Manager for enclosures

05 December 2016

Fitting out the interior of an enclosure creates a number of challenges for switch-gear manufacturers. First, there are the high packing densities of the enclosure’s many components and second, there are typically very short project times.

Rittal’s TS 8 enclosure

The internal components in question include power distribution systems, switch-gear, automation components, clamps etc., and their requisite cabling. Placing all this logically inside the enclosure is both an art and a science! Engineers need to create an easy to follow solution for end users, as well as pay attention to relevant standards and follow the component manufacturers’ installation instructions. 

Of course, the more time it takes to configure the interior, the greater the cost pressures on the electrical engineering company – particularly when multiplied across many projects.

Enclosure design

The design of the actual enclosure and the amount of space it offers has a major part to play in how quickly the interior can be fitted out.

 

Rittal’s TS 8 enclosure has a central element, a frame section with a uniform 25mm pitch pattern which adds to the flexibility of the space for electrical equipment and also reduces “wasted space” to a minimum. Two other mounting levels can be used and, by using the external mounting level, the installer can achieve up to 15 percent more available space, compared with a single-level alternative.

Take full advantage of the gaps

The gaps between the bayed enclosures can also be utilised to create more space. By inserting a mounting plate infill between two TS 8 bayed enclosures, installers can create a continuous mounting plate. 

Alternatively, this space could be useful for a cable duct. Installers can then add other components onto the mounting plate.

All these ideas can solve any problems of packing densities in the enclosure.

Well thought-out installation concepts save time

A faster installation has a number of advantages; apart from the obvious fact that clients will be happier, fewer staff are also needed, which lowers costs. Many systems still require two people to install them (for example, to mount the side panel of the enclosure) so choosing an enclosure that only needs one installer has considerable business benefits. Again, the TS 8 is constructed so the side panel can first be suspended from the enclosure. It then remains in position without having to be held by a second person before it is screwed tight. Other assembly steps (for example, changing the door hinges from one side to the other) follow the same principle so there is no need for two installers.

Meanwhile, the TS 8’s Flex-Block base, means there is no need for tools - panels can be simply clipped on. The entire base has been assembled in less than 60 seconds during installation workshops.

Go online for the perfect configuration

At a time when products and systems are becoming increasingly complex, configurators are an indispensable tool for helping customers quickly track down the right product for their needs. These online tools help users precisely determine the necessary parameters, quickly select the appropriate solution, and automatically compile technical data. 

For example, Rittal’s TopTherm chiller configurator enables designers and technical buyers to put together machinery and process cooling systems. It provides precise estimations of the required cooling output, rapid identification of the most suitable solution and automatic generation of all technical specifications. 

Safety is a prime consideration

Finally, the number one priority for this - and any other electrical engineering installation - is, of course, safety. Clearly fault currents (short circuits) and enclo-sures which become “live” both have the potential to cause serious harm.  

The earthing of metallic parts on electrical systems is prescribed virtually everywhere and applies to all electrical equipment and units – from simple lamps to low voltage distribution systems. In low voltage switchgear, all the metal frame and enclosure parts at risk of stray voltage have to be earthed.

Many enclosure manufacturers require each panel to be earthed through earthing straps of copper wire connected to the frames, the side panels, the enclosure roof, any other panels as well as the door. Once fitted, the straps ensure there is an equalisation of potential and the enclosure components can be earthed via the protective conductor of the voltage supply. 

These straps have to be attached by hand during enclosure assembly; unfortunate-ly, should a strap be inadvertently forgotten, the finished switchgear will still be able to function despite the risks it poses in the event of a fault.

The obvious step for the industry is moving towards built-in safety, avoiding the need necessarily having to earth each individual panel.

The TS 8’s, side panels, enclosure roof, rear panel and gland plates are all automat-ically connected to the frame conductively, creating potential equalisation. The enclosure uses special claws or washers which press through the electrically non-conductive surface coating of the panels during assembly to achieve a reliable contact. The earthing strap then only needs to be attached to the enclosure door – although obviously the final decision as to whether or not to attach additional straps is left with the user. The contact resistance between the panels and the enclosure frame is less than 0.1O, the value demanded by the DIN EN 62208 empty enclo-sures standard.


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