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Speedy and efficient enclosure assembly

06 March 2013

There is growing demand for standardised, less complex enclosure systems that can be assembled efficiently, no matter what industry sector they are destined for, thus keeping the costs of engineering and handling in check. Philip Glenister describes a new free-standing enclosure development that was conceived in response to this demand.

Free-standing enclosures are used in many areas of industry and in building services management. Typical fields of application are in very compact machinery and equipment, whose power distribution and automation components can be accommodated in one single enclosure. An enclosure's potential efficiency thus primarily depends on interaction with an extensive range of accessories.

With its’ new SE 8 system enclosure, Rittal has striven to provide the highest possible configuration diversity in a single product. Standardised products are increasing in demand as they offer tangible benefits for plant constructors who can react to very different requirements quickly and safely thanks to a common platform and a well stocked modular system.

The new SE 8 is a one piece monobloc, single construction floor standing enclosure, with an integrated TS 8 frame. Unlike baying suites with frames and removable side panels, the body of the SE 8, consisting of two side panels and a roof, is made from one piece of sheet steel. For the user, this means that both handling and the installation of separate side panels are eliminated. A direct replacement for Rittal’s ES 5000 free-standing monobloc enclosure, the SE 8 has a removable rear panel, which is secured from the inside and shares many design features with Rittal’s TS 8 enclosure.

Sharing the same accessories as Rittal’s TS 8, the new free-standing enclosure can be supplied in heights of 1,600, 1,800 and 2,000mm, depths of 400, 500 and 600mm and in widths of 600 to 1,800mm. One particular advantage of the 1,800mm wide, two-door system enclosures is that they offer unimpeded access to complete mounting plates and switch panels, as their doors can overlap due to the absence of a centre bar. The SE 8 offers potential savings, especially in the larger widths, as one single enclosure can be used instead of two or three bayed ones. 

Thanks to the specially manufactured sections on the side panels, the user can now easily install the complete range of baying system accessories in the SE 8, including virtually all the products needed for enclosure configuration, from enclosure lights to climate control systems. Additionally, more interior space is provided by expanding on two mounting levels.

A unified system platform offers significant advantages for switch gear and control gear manufacturers, in terms of logistics. In the past, a customer who used both free-standing enclosures and bayed enclosure suites always had to provide different accessories for both versions. Now, the variety of parts held in stock can be greatly reduced.

Automatic potential equalisation
Besides the logistical advantages of platform integration, there are constructional improvements compared with the predecessor – the ES 5000. Not least, automatic potential equalisation of the enclosure body with rear panel and gland plates has been implemented in the new free-standing enclosure.

This is achieved by using special contact elements pushed into the surface coating during the assembly procedure, establishing a secure electrical connection. The need to attach separate earthing straps, which is still necessary with most enclosures, is no longer necessary. During installation, the assembly time per enclosure (not including the time saved by the absence of earth straps) is greatly reduced, leading to corresponding cost reductions.

New possibilities also arise during the planning phase by integrating the SE 8 free-standing enclosure in the system platform. Up to now, users have first had to specify one type of enclosure before they could begin planning. Since the interior installation of Rittal’s baying systems and free-standing enclosures is completely identical, the user can already begin to plan, only defining whether a free-standing or a bayed enclosure makes sense for the specific application at a later stage.

This considerably increases flexibility. If, for instance, it becomes apparent during planning that the free-standing enclosure is insufficient, the same solution can simply be used for the TS 8 and expanded accordingly. Naturally enough, Rittal supports its’ customers during the planning stage by providing 2D and 3D CAD data, which can be downloaded from the company’s website.

Philip Glenister is with Rittal

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