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How does your enclosure perform in terms of efficiency?

25 June 2013

Where enclosures are concerned, packing density is rather more important to the IT sector than it is to industrial users. You have only to look at a modern server installation where just one enclosure may have a power dissipation requirement in the region of 20 to 30kW. That is a great challenge for cooling technology.

Rittal - The System
Rittal - The System

Generally, industrial cooling requirements are around a tenth those of the IT sector. Target temperatures are also a factor. In the IT sector, cooling to a constant temperature of 22°C in front of the servers is mandated, whereas the optimum temperature within an industrial enclosure might be closer to 35°C.

Essentially, this is down to operational economies; more cooling than is necessary will result in higher energy bills. On the other hand, higher enclosure temperatures may shorten the useful life of the electronic components housed by the enclosure. Is a compromise the only solution?

Well no, actually. Rittal’s approach is to make the cooling system as efficient as it is possible to make it, cost-effectively and without compromising the cooling performance, thus satisfying the disparate needs of both the IT and industrial sectors. And that requires a considerable degree of innovation in terms of design.

Rittal is a company that prides itself on the efficiency of its enclosure climate control systems. Examples include a new generation of fan-and-filter units, the energy-saving Blue e cooling system with intelligent control, and new product concepts in liquid-based cooling for both IT and industrial users.

Once the cooling loads have been determined, there are essentially three methods to consider. Cooling can be provided with ambient air - fan-and-filter units or air/air heat exchangers would suffice, so long as the ambient temperature is less than the desired internal temperature. If this is not the case, ‘active’ cooling will be necessary.

In the latter case, IT infrastructure cooling using water as the heat transfer medium has developed apace in recent years, and the technical developments for IT users now benefit industrial users as well; Rittal’s LCP cooling system is case in point.

The other ‘efficiencies’
Beyond the economical use of energy, there are other ‘efficiencies’ that can be attained with the right enclosure system. The IT industry is particularly dynamic and its needs are constantly evolving.

Making sure that the components and modules are available to meet these needs also has to do with efficiency. This is where the ‘Rittal – The System’ programme comes into effect. Rittal’s partnerships with the big server manufacturers and industrial enclosure suppliers, is all about thinking ahead to determine what these companies will need for the future.

Further efficiencies are to be found in terms of installation. An enclosure manufacturer has little chance of influencing raw material costs, other than making economical use of costly materials such as copper. However, they can use the most intelligent design and production processes in order to achieve installation gains – and thus further cost efficiencies for their customers.

If products can be assembled in a few minutes as opposed to a few hours, for example, then that also contributes in terms of system efficiency. A good example of installation efficiency is provided by Rittal’s new base/plinth system, Flex-Block, a novel design that uses recyclable plastic materials. Whereas the assembly time for a conventional base/plinth is about ten minutes, Flex Block can be installed in just one minute.

You can find out more about Rittal – The System – a complete hardware-to-software enclosure system offering here.

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