Outdoor Enclosures – What To Consider.


With the rise of renewables and connectivity, the placement of industrial, IT and telecoms equipment outside is becoming more and more prevalent. If we look at the growth of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure, 5G, intelligent transport systems and renewable systems like solar and wind – they are all very large growth areas. Importantly, placing equipment outdoors is often a requirement for these applications. Given the criticality of these applications, getting it right to prevent failures and issues will be very important.

Ingress Protection

You could be forgiven for thinking that a high Ingress Protection (IP) rating automatically qualifies and enclosure for being placed outside. This isn’t true. In short, the IP protection only remains relevant, so long as the sealing solution on the enclosure remains intact. Where the IP test considers clean water in lab conditions, as we all know – sadly this is not reflective of the outside world!

When you look at most standard mild steel enclosures, you’ll notice that where the seal on the back of the door meets the main chassis of the enclosure, there is often a “lip” or return (as seen on image below). Should it rain, most enclosures are not designed to ensure this water runs off and away from the door seal. Now, if it’s winter and that water freezes for example, this water will expand and risks cracking the seal over time. Suddenly, what might have been IP66, no longer has an IP rating. Protection of your sealing points is a very important consideration when placing equipment outdoors – after all, you don’t want water on your expensive and critical equipment! As a level of guidance, IP55 is typically well suited to outdoor conditions in most standard outdoor applications.

You may want to look at rain canopies and door protection guards for example as a basic means of protecting these points. However, a door designed to inherently protect the seals off the shelf would be preferable. Equally, a door with a different style of seal designed for harsher environments might be a relevant solution.


Even in the UK we get sun (I know, doesn’t sound right does it?!); couple that with increasingly warmer summers, heat is becoming a major challenge on active equipment which sits outside. If we look at markets like EV and telecoms specifically, the internal equipment is becoming more and more dense meaning more power which therefore typically means it will run hotter as well. If you are not careful you could be creating a warm oven like environment. The equation below gives an overview of the potential effect on electrical components under certain heat conditions over time.

Yannik Longbottom recently ran a thermal calculation estimate with a relatively low heat output for basic enclosure, with a single wall, sitting outside. Assuming a worst case scenario of 33°C outside, the enclosure was estimated to reach nearly 80°C after taking into account solar gain and the heat generated by the internal enclosure (500W). One very simple way around this is ensuring that you are using a double skinned enclosure. Keeping everything else the same, just by double skinning the enclosure, the calculation showed a reduction down to nearly 64°C (A drop of 16°C).

What Else Works

In addition to double skinning, you can then follow the other traditional methods such as fans/filters units, air to air heat exchangers or cooling units. Again, you want to aim for a solution that is designed to be used outdoors. Don’t forget with fan/filters, you are drawing the environmental conditions into the enclosure. This could be dust, dirt, debris, or humidity so please use wisely. Whilst an IP rated fan/filter system will minimise these elements entering the enclosure (particularly the solids), over time they will reduce the performance of the fan if not maintained properly and you could lose the vital airflow required to help remove some of the heat. If the environment is of concern, focus on using an air to air heat exchanger or cooling unit that separates the air circuit inside your enclosure from the external environment.

Its not just the high temperature which is a consideration. Don’t forget the winter cold! Make sure you have a heater in there as well. Whilst using a double skinned enclosure will reduce the risk of condensation affecting your equipment, a heater will give you more protection as well as protect any sensitive equipment from failing in the low, cold, temperatures.


The environment you place your enclosure in will play a big part in what material you select. Generally, avoiding painted mild steel is a good idea. Aluminium coated with outdoor paint or plastic designed for outdoor use are two good, lightweight, and cost effective materials. When installing outdoors, a heavy solution can be more costly so, where possible, keeping your material choice lightweight can be useful. Equally, for a larger solution, having a solution which is modular can often carry the same benefit.

Where the environment is much more corrosive such as coastal, then naturally you’ll want to entertain the use of stainless steel. 304 stainless for milder outdoor use and 214 stainless steel for more corrosive/salty environments. My advice would also be to consider applying an outdoor protective coating/paint on top of stainless steel – there are different levels of protection that you can have.
There are also what is known as Corrosion Class Ratings marked very simply as C1 through to C5-M.

Other than protection from corrosive atmospheric elements, the other benefit to protective coatings is protection from UV as well. In addition to typically discolouring a paint finish over time, UV accelerates the corrosion process on metals as well.

Security and Safety

Finally, another consideration you may want to consider is security. By nature of these enclosures sitting outside – public access is often a risk. Sadly, as we all know, exposing equipment like this can lead to vandalism, damage and even theft. All of which compromises the equipment inside and therefore the application that it’s fulfilling.

EN 1627 is the European Standard covering security classes and ideally your enclosure of choice will conform to the relevant class defined in this standard. When looking at your outdoor enclosure, consider, in the very first instance your locking mechanism. Naturally a padlock, unique lock, anti tamper or even wireless controlled lock is a sensible start. Ensuring a multi point locking system (with at least 4 points) for larger enclosures is also important as you heavily reduce the possibility of someone being able to flex the door open at a corner. But more importantly the overall build design can play a major role in this area. For larger systems, taking a solution which uses multiple layers of interlocked cladding on the sides, back and roof is a serious consideration. By doing this you are vastly reducing the ability of someone with power tools to be able to remove the cladding to gain access to the internal components in a reasonable time. Typically, if designed right, having multiple layers of cladding (double skimming) can benefit you in the event of damage/vandalism as well. If the damage isn’t too severe you can get away with simply replacing the outer cladding leaving the main enclosure protected and sealed off which can reduce potential down time.


As discussed above, there are multiple important points of consideration when deciding to put an enclosure outdoors: Ingress Protection, Temperature, Material and Security/safety. I highly recommend that you consider each carefully to ensure whatever solution you push forward with, it provides proper protection of your critical assets for years to come, minimising your down time and failures and ensuring proper operation. If you’d like to discuss this further, please feel free to get in touch any time.

Thanks for reading!

Like what you read? This article was published by By Yannik Longbottom. For more information go to www.rittal.co.uk

A Place for Every Robot and Every Robot in its Place

Mitsubishi Electric

Robots are continuing to advance significantly, creating a diverse ecosystem of solutions, which support an increasing variety of industries and applications. As a result, future-oriented factories are able to select robotic systems that meet the requirements and goals of virtually any activity. Thanks to its comprehensive range of robots, Mitsubishi Electric can help companies build smart and customised automation solutions that improve shop floor operations.

As the smart factories of the future are steadily becoming a reality, robots within these facilities are automating a wide range of activities, enhancing productivity, efficiency and safety. Thanks to the growing variety of robotic systems available, finding the ideal solution for a specific task has never been easier. Whether the goal is delivering high-speed performance, safely working alongside humans or fitting in compact environments, companies can select the system that is most suited to their intended application.

Increasing Productivity Whilst Keeping Employees Safe

It is getting harder and harder to attract people into the manufacturing industry, therefore the employees available need to be able to operate as effectively as possible. Having them perform repetitive tasks does nothing for the employee nor the employer. For the employee, these are not interesting, motivating or well-paid activities. For the employer, positions involving such tasks are hard to fill, there is a risk of injury through repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) and involve inefficiencies. Automation can free up human labour, enabling staff to get involved in more enticing activities.

Furthermore, whilst labour costs have and will continue to rise, the cost of automation remains constant, or even decreasing. There has never been a more cost-effective opportunity to move to automated solutions. Thanks to automation, production can continue whilst the factory is unmanned, for example at night. This could help businesses manufacture high-volume products at night, whilst small batch items can be made during the day, as they require manual interventions.

Industrial robots can be at the centre of this move towards automation. They are easy to install, can be easily integrated, offer flexibility, high accuracy and fast movements. Their fast cycle times can even increase productivity. Even more, robots can operate in many different environments, such as automotive, electronics, pharmaceutical and food and beverage facilities.

In effect, a broad range of robotic solutions are available to address a variety of requirements, from large solutions for heavy weightlifting to accurate dispensing of liquids with microlitre accuracies.

A Robotic Solution for Constrained Workspaces

This means that automated machines don’t necessarily need large work envelopes, as many tasks involving lightweight items, also take up less space. There are many processes where compact, cost-effective set-ups are not only beneficial but actually a must. For example, where space is limited, technologies with a smaller footprint can be deployed to improve low to medium complexity applications.

To address these requirements, companies can select space-saving products such as those in Mitsubishi Electric’s RH-CH series of small and highly economical SCARA robots. These, as well as the RV series of six-axis industrial robots, can be equipped with the MELFA SafePlus safety system to make the most of compact workspaces by leveraging cooperative functionalities. In practice, the robots can operate at high speed when their workspace is clear, but slow down or stop completely if movement is detected in their vicinity. This is achieved using safety sensors, combined with a built-in safety monitoring function in the robot’s controller. As a result, industrial robots in cooperative mode can be utilised in an open environment, without requiring a physical safety barrier.

Integrating robots into a process has never been easier than with MELSEC iQ-R and iQ-F series PLCs. Connected to these PLCs, GOT 2000 HMIs and to the Cloud, highly interconnected robots can help to create connected factories for next-level performance and smart operations. Finally, they can be linked to software platforms that support real-time troubleshooting, maintenance and diagnostics, such as the GENESIS64 visualisation tool from ICONICS.

Hand in (Robotic) Hand

When companies need to accommodate limited space and frequent interactions between operators and robots, collaborative robots are the answer. These incorporate advanced safety features include a special design to prevent pinch points, limited torque and speed as well as the possibility to stop the robot by hand.

An example of such a robotic system is Mitsubishi Electric’s articulated arm MELFA Assista. It can share its workspace with humans, thanks to a number of collaborative functions, such as collision detection and compliance with the international safety and robotic standards ISO 10218-1 and ISO/TS15066. The cobot is also coupled with an intuitive, touch-enabled engineering software, RT VisualBox, for the creation of operating sequences without any programming knowledge.

Besides, the MELFA Assista offers an additional hand-guided teaching function. Users can manually move the cobot into a position, which is then added to the work sequence by pressing a button on the robotic arm.

Finally, external devices, such as vision systems, can be connected to the collaborative solutions to develop cutting-edge applications.

Automation on the Move

With such a comprehensive portfolio of robotic systems, Mitsubishi Electric can provide the right solution for a wide range of applications. Backed by extensive experience and technical knowledge, the company’s specialists can provide guidance on which robot is best for any customer project. As a result, machine builders and users can enhance their operations and, ultimately, their competitiveness in a fast-paced marketplace.

Thanks for reading!

Like what you read? This article was published by Mitsubishi Electric Europe.

40+ Years of Mitsubishi Electric Automation Systems

Mitsubishi Electric

From what we thought was good in the 80’s through to drives that now have opinions of their own!

Roger Payne, Divisional Manager and Wayne Turtill, Product Manager at Mitsubishi Electric – Automation Systems Division UK discuss: 

The first FR-E series general purpose a.c. inverter was introduced by Mitsubishi Electric in 1981 to provide energy saving, ease of use and endurance.


“The fact that some of those drives are still out there doing their job is all you need to know about the ‘endurance’ aspect. We ran a competition a couple of years back to find the oldest piece of our factory automation equipment in operation. The amount of energy they must have saved since they were installed means the cost and environmental benefits are off the scale.” 


“It’s a double-edged sword commercially. Not only do the products seemingly last ‘forever’ but we also make sure our next generation products are backwards compatible. The benefits are felt by end users and system integrators alike, as reliability is paramount but we also deliver technical innovation, ease of use and integration into legacy systems. We have a very loyal customer base, especially from those of us who can remember the 1980’s but our focus on innovation gives new generations of customers a strong reason to choose our products, with the confidence we will be giving the same support in years to come’.

“A lot has changed since the ‘dawn of digital drives’: 1981 was a pivotal year with the IBM PC, Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX81 all hitting the shelves. The first generation of mobile phones was being introduced in Scandanavia and it would be a full four years until Marty McFly’s DeLorean travelled ‘Back to the Future’ in cinemas. Many aspects of what was then regarded as Sci-Fi are now a reality. Mitsubishi Electric’s own brand of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Maisart is a good example. It features on the latest FR-E800 series a.c. Inverters, providing operational and maintenance teams with real-time predictive maintenance advice”.
Mitsubishi Electric Inverter FR Series 40th Anniversary Video


“We also got a lot of what makes a good drive right early on. If you take a ‘digital inverter’ from 1987 – the first ten parameters are still the same now. A lot of companies purposefully change formats and software platforms to force product obsolesce. But as Roger points out, business invest in long term assets and backwards compatibility in an industrial B2B context is extremely important to Mitsubishi Electric. Factories rarely get built from a fresh start, so it’s more common to provide evolution in machine design and upgrade paths for production lines”.


“Networking and communication are constantly evolving, which is why investment has gone into Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN), Edge computing and the previously mentioned AI. When our devices communicate across large facilities in near real-time, and a 30-year-old press machine can also be integrated with a new line of robots – that no longer require physical safety barriers, then we are helping to deliver flexible solutions to the end user. Add-in big data being handled efficiently to optimise production, which is being coordinated by PLCs where demand is driven directly from online orders, then we know we are also servicing future requirements now. The installed base is also huge, having been in the business since the start we’ve shipped over 25 million units globally”.

“We also invest in our people, it can sound a bit hackneyed as it is so often repeated, especially by companies that don’t exactly walk-the-walk when it comes to training and individual support. Mitsubishi Electric has a reputation for strong staff loyalty, and a very high level of technical competency throughout the organisation. There are also partner distributors such as LC Automation, that have offered our factory automation products and solutions continuously since the 80’s, which proves a point when it comes to the longevity of our staff and commercial relationships”.  

“It’s difficult to predict exactly what the next 40 years will hold, but focus on the Environment, Digitisation and Intelligence will underpin a lot of what we do. Again Mitsubishi Electric is already investing in what we believe is critical path technology and the sustainable production methods that will mean our products are the right choice”.

Thanks for reading!

Like what you read? This article was published by Wayne Turtill and Roger Payne, Mitsubishi Electric.

Rittal’s Next Generation Cooling Technology Reduces Energy Consumption for Bakery Ovens.


The UK Food and Beverage sector is one of many industries that is having to rapidly adjust to consumer needs and behaviours.

In recent years, the demand for food and drink products has heightened and as a result such facilities are now having to offer round-the-clock production, to support both modern lifestyles and the use of online ordering, such as click and collect. This in turn is having a major impact on factory infrastructure.

Allied Bakeries, a household name thanks to brands such as Kingsmill and Allinson is no different. In 2019, Rittal UK was approached by Rob Shaw, Site Controls Engineer for Allied Bakeries’ Walthamstow facility, which produces circa 1.5 million loaves per week.

The company was performing a continuous improvement appraisal on the plant tunnel oven, which bakes bread at a rate of 10,000 loaves per hour.

Cooling the electrical equipment required to run any industrial production line is vital to ensure its continued optimum operation. Allied Bakeries was already protecting its equipment with Rittal’s ‘Blue e’ cooling units. It’s engineers were keen to explore if an upgrade to this equipment, would reduce the energy and carbon footprint of the site, whilst maintaining the high level of protection required by the oven’s controlling equipment.

The Rittal team undertook a fact-finding tour of the Walthamstow site to understand the wider processes, location and environmental conditions in which the electrical equipment has to operate.

Rittal’s Next Generation Cooling Technology

Blue e+’ Cooling Units as an Innovative Solution

Based on their initial consultation and after further discussions with Allied Bakeries Engineering Team, the Rittal team was able to confirm that the technology-leading ‘Blue e+’ Cooling Units would fit the criteria. These new generation cooling units use state-of-the-art technologies, to deliver industry-leading climate control within a factory environment. In addition, the hybrid cooling technology provides on average a 75 percent lower energy consumption than previous generation ‘Blue e’ units. This represents a quantum leap forward for cooling systems and is a major incentive for food and beverage production facilities, seeking to minimise steep rises in energy prices and reduce their carbon footprint. 

In addition, Blue e+ unlocks the potential of Industry 4.0 through a remote monitoring capability when used in conjunction with Rittal’s IoT Adaptor. This means that Allied Bakeries’ Engineers now have constant access to the cooling system’s performance data, as well as early warning of any issues before they escalate and cause electrical equipment failure and line stoppages.

Thanks for reading!

Like what you read? This article was published by By Karl Lycett. For more information go to www.rittal.co.uk

The Drive for Greater Efficiency

Mitsubishi Electric

Forward thinking businesses interested in reducing motors energy use can now go further than before, by implementing new tools that enable a.c. inverters (variable speed drives, VSDs) to save even more energy.

Wayne Turtill, Mitsubishi Electric product manager, looks at reducing energy usage with the right a.c. inverter technology.

A.c. inverters have long been used in applications where varying motor output speeds are required, such as fans, pumps and production machines. By controlling voltage and frequency, the key elements of a motor’s electricity supply – a.c. inverters precisely adjust speed and torque to deliver the process requirements of the machine or device.

Using a.c. inverters to reduce energy use makes a huge difference compared to using dampers and valves or gears to adjust the output speed.

Moving Beyond the Usual a.c. Inverter Benefits

Installing an a.c. inverter to operate motors is a good starting point, as it reduces energy consumption and helps to improve the environmental impact of your industrial activities.

Companies often use fan & pump loads to oversize their motors, maybe because the ideal motor size falls between standard frame sizes or specified one frame size up ‘just in case’.

Avoiding Motor Oversizing

As a general recommendation, oversizing the fan or pump system and particularly the motor should be avoided. Businesses should instead select products that meet the necessary specifications without exceeding them, although it’s not always that simple and easy to do.

While there are situations where it is not possible to avoid oversizing, suitably rated a.c. inverters can still provide the correct level of control and save energy.

In particular, businesses that select a.c. inverters with specific energy reduction capabilities have more to gain. For example, Mitsubishi Electric’s a.c. inverters feature Automatic Energy Optimisation.

This analyses the output to the motor in terms of voltage and current, to reduce the voltage while maintaining the same operating parameters, i.e. speed. The voltage is reduced until the a.c. inverter detects an increase in the current, then increases the voltage to compensate. Using a PID algorithm without setpoints, allows the system to reach the lowest (and most efficient) voltage possible.

These adjustments are conducted a hundred times per second, during steady state operations as well as acceleration and deceleration to support real-time, continuous voltage control.

Next-level Energy Intelligence

Finally, application-specific functions in next-generation Mitsubishi Electric a.c. inverters can help businesses cut energy consumption even further when applied to certain applications, such as pumps and fans, or conveyors. Using Mitsubishi Electric’s E800 range of a.c. inverters, featuring Advanced Magnetic Flux Vector Control to provide optimum dynamic performance.

For example, in a conveyor application the a.c. inverter can automatically switch into energy saving mode when the conveyor is not loaded and maintains this efficient state until a load is applied. This can offer very substantial energy savings compared to more conventional control methods.

Choosing the right equipment for motor-driven applications can deliver significant cost and energy savings, far beyond what you would normally expect for an a.c. inverter application.

By installing state-of-the-art equipment and using all the features available, businesses can reap additional efficiency gains while still benefitting from all the flexibility and productivity advantages of a traditional control philosophy.

How Much Can I Save?

As an example, we will look at a 22kW motor driving a centrifugal pump, constantly, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

We are assuming the pump speed can be reduced without affecting the performance of the water system.

According to the Carbon Trust, with an electricity price of 17.2p/kWh, using an a.c. Inverter to reduce the speed of the pump by 20% will save;

• £15,333 per year
• 85,661kWh per year
• 36.8 tonnes CO2

OK, but What About the Return on My Investment?

In this example a 22kW Mitsubishi FR-A840 Inverter (£2,859 list price), gives a payback time of just 68 days!

Source; Carbon Trust Motor & Drive Technology information leaflet – ECA764

Thanks for reading!

Like what you read? This article was published by Wayne Turtill, Mitsubishi Electric.

Top Tips for Enclosure Cooling

It’s safe to say that there is a great deal of uncertainty at the moment; something which is being felt not just in the UK but in many countries across the world.

In these circumstances, the best thing that businesses can do is protect their existing assets. It’s fundamentally important to ensure that all assets perform at an optimum level during their entire service life, and for an organisation to continue its journey towards increased efficiency and reliability so that it can remain competitive in a changing marketplace.

In the industrial space, a company’s lifeblood is its machinery and all machinery has critical components such as its a.c inverters, motors etc. without which a very expensive robotic arm is just an elaborate statue, collecting dust. So it’s important that electrical equipment is housed within a protective environment, to ensure it operates to its full potential. 

A protective environment takes the form of both high quality enclosures and correctly prescribed climate control equipment. The two items work together to safeguard your equipment from the following:

High Temperatures Impact the Lifespan of Equipment

Prolonged high internal temperatures reduce the lifespan of your equipment. This will mean an increased chance of unplanned breakdowns, increased costs and reduced production output.

Furthermore, your equipment cannot work at 100% output once its maximum operating temperature has been exceeded, which means you will experience an overall reduction in your machine’s efficiency and reduced manufacturing output.

To prevent high temperatures being reached within the enclosure, correctly sized enclosure cooling products should be installed. This could be fans and filters, cooling units or air-to-water heat exchangers, dependant on both the amount of heat produced by the electrical equipment and the ambient temperature in the surrounding environment.

Low Temperatures Can Also Damage Equipment

Equipment needs protecting from low temperatures as much as high ones. In winter, when ambient temperatures drop, any equipment that has been idle over the weekend can be damaged as soon as it’s turned on from cold.

In addition, motors or compressors can experience problems when oil contained within sealed systems begins to increase in viscosity. This can damage the seals/components, again causing failures.

To prevent this happening, you should fit a correctly sized enclosure heater inside the enclosure. When connected to a thermostat, the heater will maintain an acceptable minimum temperature preventing any damage to electrical equipment caused when the low temperature minimum is exceeded.

Condensate Poses Safety Risk

Condensate can be a real issue when it forms within the enclosure and on critical equipment in high humidity environments. Condensate poses a real safety risk to the electrical devices and can cause catastrophic failure if left unchecked.

You can combat this problem by using a high quality industrial enclosure with a minimum of an IP54 seal to prevent humid air from constantly entering the enclosure. This can be combined with a cooling unit featuring an integrated condensate evaporator; the cooling unit acts as a de-humidifier and removes excess condensate from the pocket of air within the sealed enclosure.

Dust, Dirt and Corrosive Substances

Many industries suffer from dusty or dirty environments, which can impact on electrical equipment and its optimum performance. For example:

  1. Carbon dust in the steel or manufacturing industry
  2. Yeast or vinegar extract in the food and beverage industry
  3. Salt water vapour in the air in a marine or coastal application

The above contaminants will attack the wires and electrical connections within your enclosure. In time, this can corrode or (worse) short connections, which in turn can cause excess heat and/or a panel fire.

In highly contaminated environments, the best advice is to use a cooling product which does not allow dirty ambient air to constantly enter the enclosure, so fans and filters are a no-no. Air-to-air or air-to-water heat exchangers and cooling units are best solutions, dependant on the heat load as they will only treat the small pocket of air within the enclosure, but they will also reduce the level of contaminants entering the space.

Cooling Top Tips

Any change or upheaval that impacts on a company’s trading environment brings with it challenges, but also opportunities. The trick is always to optimise your business for success, reducing costs wherever possible, while maximising productivity and efficiency.

The long term benefits of maintaining a protective environment and allowing your equipment to perform to its optimum will, in turn, help your business to flourish.

If you need anymore help or advice with control panels or climate control, call LC Automation on 01254 685900 and our experts will be happy to help!

Thanks for reading!

Like what you read? This article was published by By Karl Lycett. For more information go to www.rittal.co.uk

Maintain Your Cool – Autumn is Here! … Time to Reflect


Finally! The temperature seems to be reducing to a more bearable level, the nights are slowly drawing in and… do I see a hint of colour change in the trees?

That’s right Autumn is upon us once again and that can only mean one thing… It’s time to stop, look back at the summer period and understand how things went…

Four seasons campaign – Autumn October

Did You See –

  1. Electrical equipment under stress?
  2. Unexpected breakdowns?
  3. Emergency repairs needed on critical equipment?

If any of this sounds familiar or has happened to you, now is the perfect time to put plans into place to make your life easier when next summer hits.

Protecting Your Electrical Equipment

Servicing, upgrading or even specifying some brand-new Climate Control to protect your equipment is one of the most effective ways of creating a protective environment for your sensitive electrical equipment within your enclosures and ensuring it lasts for many summers to come.

Even if your cooling equipment is up to date, there is always an opportunity to make small improvements which will increase your overall efficiency. 

Implementation of Industry 4.0 Principles

A great example is the implementation of Industry 4.0 principles, simply put this is taking any data generated by cooling equipment and allowing it to be directly reported into your building management systems or straight to the relevant person in charge of managing the health of your electrical equipment.

This reduces the need for daily walk round with a clipboard, making notes of any issues. This old-style approach can result in things being missed and breakdowns occurring unexpectedly, however, with the solutions available you can choose to have e-mails sent directly to key personnel whenever limits have been reached and warning flags are showing. This means staff are more efficient and know they will be notified if any issues begin to arise. 

We know that your sole focus doesn’t lie on Climate Control. You have more important things to worry about, mainly keeping your business up and running and producing for your customers.

Helping You Get The Most Out of Your Equipment

That is where Rittal and LC Automation can help. Over the next three months we are going to cover a different theme related to Climate Control but with the focus on how you can utilise this information to get the most out of your equipment, by creating that protective environment and allowing it to thrive and stay healthy.

This takes the workload off you when the temperature starts to rise again and allows you to concentrate on more important matters while knowing you have implemented systems to keep your equipment chugging along.

Energy Efficient and Cost Effective

The additional benefits of undertaking this action is the reduction in energy usage and costs related to the replacement of spare parts etc. If items are tripping out every year, this causes a high level of wear on components which can result in more order being produced to replace burnt out cards etc.. All of these small changes are going to impact your bottom line and overall efficiency.

The Next Three Months Topics Are Going to be as Follows;

  1. Service & Maintenance of Cooling Equipment
  2. The Fundamentals of Cooling
  3. Focus on: Cooling Industry

If you are interested in any of the topics mentioned, look out for the latest Rittal Climate articles in the LC Automation email News Update.

In the meantime, if you have any specific questions or would like more information about Climate Control or Rittal Enclosures, give LC Automation a call on 01254 685900. They will be happy to help.

Thanks for reading!

Like what you read? This article was published by By Karl Lycett. For more information go to www.rittal.co.uk

Want a Robot but Don’t Know Where to Start?

Mitsubishi Electric

Industrial or collaborative? This is the question everyone is asking. We all want to get the most out of our production, however the demarcation line between the two options is not as clear as you might think. It all depends on the setting in which the machine operates, how operators need to interact with the robot and its main functions.

Barry Weller, Solutions Marketing Manager – OEM at Mitsubishi Electric, looks at how to identify what type of robot is best suited for your application and how to integrate it.

The first question that companies interested in automating their processes should ask is: what do we want to achieve? The answer to this will determine the role and type of robot needed. Consequently, conducting a comprehensive risk assessment will shed light on the safety requirements.

For example, if speeding up operations is the main objective behind deploying a robotic solution, conventional industrial robots, such as Mitsubishi Electric’s MELFA RV articulated arm and RH series SCARA robots, are quite likely to be the most suitable option. As the application will dictate, these robots move at high speed which means they are suitable for applications where workspace is to be shared with human operators only by adopting additional safety provisions. The options to integrate them are to construct physical safety perimeter guards or implement systems that allow automated speed control when humans approach the robot working area.

Conversely, if the main goal is assisting employees in their activities, for example by passing or holding parts, the application would be considered collaborative. As a result, any conventional physical separation between humans and robots would obstruct the application. In this case, the ISO/TS 15066:2016 standard supports the development of suitable safety measures, as highlighted by the risk assessment. An example of a robot designed for collaborative applications is Mitsubishi Electric’s MELFA RV series Assista articulated arm robot.

The guidelines indicate different types of collaborative applications which include safety-rated monitored stop, speed and separation monitoring, hand guiding as well as power and force limiting.

This is where the grey area between the two types of robot starts to appear. With the increase in safety options now available, industrial robots can also achieve many of the requirements needed in a collaborative application.

Industrial or collaborative robot?

Designed to work alongside humans collaborative robots or ‘cobots’, can provide a safe solution. However, there are some obvious caveats.

The term collaborative, as specified by ISO/TS 15066:2016, actually refers to systems or applications where automatically operated robots share the same workspace with humans. This means that robots for collaborative applications, just like any other type of robot, still require a risk assessment.

There are different industrial operations whose risk assessment would support the use of cobots, for example, if the robot is required to work alongside the human as part of the assembly process to pass objects to operators. Here the risk of a collision between the two is high and so this application would fall into the category of power and force limiting. Features such as safe torque range to detect the impact and prevent injury are needed.

There are situations where the use of robots would require additional safety measures. For example, if potentially harmful chemicals, sharp edges or extremely hot items need to be handled, the robot would need to be enclosed by physical safety perimeter guards to protect human operators. Because of this, the use of a conventional robot is likely to be the right choice for these applications.

In other situations humans may need to infrequently enter a robot’s workspace to briefly interact with the application or there could be a limited area of interaction. These systems will run as fast as possible under normal operation and only slow down when there is a risk of collision. Again this would suggest that a conventional industrial robot would be right for this application due to its ability to operate at high speeds in normal safe operating conditions.

As suggested, the most effective way to make such applications fast, safe and reliable would be to utilise standard industrial robots operating in a cooperative way, coupled with additional safety features such as physical guards or safety light curtains and scanners.

More precisely, businesses can implement high-speed, high-payload industrial robots, such as the MELFA RV articulated arm robot, equipped with a MELFA SafePlus safety system from Mitsubishi Electric. This means humans and robots can work safely and in harmony.

Making the right choice

As technology evolves, the line between industrial and collaborative robotic applications also changes. The most important consideration when implementing a robotic system is to ensure the system meets the needs of the specific application and delivers against the user requirement specification. The system must achieve both the throughput required and also operate in a safe environment for operators in line with the risk assessment for the application.

The inclusion of collaborative robots has widened the choice and the type of applications that robotics can now be used for. It is not a question of which is best, industrial or collaborative robotics but which is best for the application. With its wealth of experience and proven track record, the robotics team at Mitsubishi Electric helps businesses find the right solution.

Thanks for reading!

Like what you read? This article was published by Mitsubishi Electric. For more information go to www.mitsubishielectric.com

4 Excuses NOT to Take Your Enclosure Cooling Maintenance Seriously


There is an adage that time is money, this is true when it comes to production downtime. Hold ups in production could result in lost money- a lot of lost money!

Losses of upto £480,000 have been suggested that one of the UK’s largest automotive manufacturers could lose EACH HOUR; when they experience downtime on their paint plant. Your overheads may not be as substantial as the above example, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the old adage you hear in every corner of business and production is true:

Regardless of your industry and the product you manufacture, production downtime is a crucial performance indicator to monitor because of the direct impact it can have on your bottom line. More downtime equals increased spares/maintenance costs, taken directly from your profit. This could have been invested to meet more pertinent business objectives, purchasing new machinery etc..

Do you ever hear any of the following excuses as reason not to tackle climate control provision and maintenance in your production and automation facilities?

1) “I will just fix a problem when it occurs”

In the past, the approach of reactive maintenance was seen as acceptable for most businesses. However, times have changed. The key goals of any sized business are now becoming “increased throughput”, “Cost Efficiency”, “Continuous Improvement”. Potential roadblocks to output targets need to be nipped in the bud and nobody wants to be the one in the morning meeting explaining why yesterday’s targets weren’t met!

The implementation of a semi-regular maintenance schedule doesn’t have to be massively time-consuming. Even something as simple as a weekly visual check of cooling equipment filter mats or any system alarms can alert you in good time to call in the experts, who can then perform a more detailed review for you.

2) “We just open the enclosure door for a while”

This is treating the symptoms rather than the illness. If you are having to resort to a tactic such as using large fans to blow ambient air into an open enclosure you could be doing more harm than good. Not to mention that this is a massively dangerous solution from a health and safety standpoint.

An enclosure’s purpose is to create an environment in which electrical equipment is protected from ambient contaminants. Having the door open allows a constant stream of dirty air to be pulled into the enclosure. This will then gather in switchgear/connection points and can cause short circuits or block on-board fans which will result in damage to componentry, reduced life and possible critical component failure.

If this course of action is required it can point to the fact that the cooling equipment currently employed is not adequate for the installation, or it requires some level of maintenance to bring it back into working order.

A RiAssure FREE Cooling Review from Rittal is perfect in this instance as your local Climate Control expert will perform a short appraisal of your existing equipment, give you honest feedback as to whether the equipment is adequate, and also provide details/quotations for a service contract to suit your ongoing needs.

3) “My equipment is currently operating, and I haven’t serviced it in months/years”

The problem may be “out of sight, out of mind” for now but the longer your cooling equipment is left unchecked, the higher the risk.

For example, if a fan unit is in a dusty environment and the filter mat becomes clogged, this will reduce its effectiveness to cool the electrical equipment within due to a reduced level of air throughput.

This in turn can increase the enclosure internal temperature. As a rule of thumb, for every 10°C you increase your internal temperature, you halve the life of the equipment within and increase the likelihood of an unexpected failure.

4) “I don’t have the manpower/we have a company who does that work for us”

Many companies I visit tell me that they outsource their servicing to a third party, however I tend to question what checks they are performing, given that I have been called onto site because an enclosure is overheating!

On one occasion, I asked the customer to speak with his current service provider to understand what checks were being undertaken, because his cooling units were in quite a state of disrepair. It became clear after a short discussion that they serviced “Air Conditioning” in the offices and didn’t even look in the factory…

Obviously, this is not the case for all service providers out there, however climate control equipment becoming increasingly efficient, while new, sophisticated, cutting-edge technology is launched every year. The only guarantee of the highest level of checks and service will come from engineers who have been trained by the manufacturers about the technology and its detailed workings.

Rittal has been manufacturing industry-leading climate control equipment for 30 years and all of our service staff are highly trained on the whole portfolio to ensure they can remedy your issues.

Take the introductory example again and turn the spotlight onto your business. Everyone has budgets and savings targets to hit, so ask yourself, can you afford NOT to have correct maintenance in place?

Thanks for reading!

Like what you read? This article was published by Rittal. For more information go to www.rittal.co.uk


Protection by Design: are IP ratings everything?


As of late, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people around the concept of protection in harsh or outdoor environments (maybe it’s the time of year!). There appears to be one consistency with many of these conversations and that is a discussion around IP ratings. If you are involved in deploying systems or equipment in an outdoor or harsh environment, then I recommend you continue reading on. I hope that through this article I can impart some useful information that will help you ensure that you are maximising the protection of that all-important, expensive equipment that is often responsible for controlling or communicating with critical infrastructure. After all, nobody wants an equipment failure deep in a tunnel or a communications failure for transport infrastructure deep in the countryside due to water or dust!

The questions I want to address in this short article are:

  1. What are IP ratings?
  2. Are IP ratings everything when protecting equipment?

Let’s begin – what are IP ratings?

Anyone who has dealt with enclosures will likely be aware of what IP stands for and what IP ratings mean. Just for clarity, IP stands for Ingress Protection. The Ingress Protection is specific to two mediums – Solids and Water. In my experience however, I find fewer people are aware of how the ratings are defined and what they are based on. After IP you will typically find two numbers or an “X”. The first number relates to a Solid object with “X” and “0” being no protection and 6 being Maximum Protection or “dust tight”. Similarly, “X” or “0” equates to no protection from water and “9[K]” refers to the highest level of tested protection. I have put a brief definition of each rating for reference below.

First thing to note here is an IP rating can only apply following a certified testing process. And there are elements within the process that are determined by the manufacturer carrying out the test. Furthermore, the reason I wish to share these loose definitions is so I can show you just how specific they can be. If we take rating 6 from the water ingress protection, the actual test involves the following criteria:

“The test duration will last 1 minute per square meter for at least 3 minutes. The water will be projected at 100 litres per minute at a pressure of 100 kPa at distance of 3 meters.”

Now, what I would like you to note here is that these tests are very specific, following specific criteria for a specific desired outcome – an acceptable level of ingress in relation to the tested rating. The above is as technical as I’m going to get but I promise there is a point to highlighting it and that’s addressed under my next question!

So, are IP ratings everything when protecting equipment?

Truthfully, the answer is no. Do they play an important part? Yes, but, there is more to be considered. Whilst I often hear that IP66 is required as the enclosure will be placed in an outdoor or harsh environment this often isn’t necessary and actually, IP55 would typically be perfectly suitable. If we go back to the test criteria, how often have you seen rain being projected at 100L/minute defined as a powerful jet of water – in all directions. Rain will always fall down and with wind, you would likely see it at an angle – maybe even close to 90 Degrees if you’re like me and are based in Scotland…Equally unless you’re in a desert or similar environment where there could be masses of loose fine particles, you’re unlikely to see any harm from solid ingress.

Now, is I previously mentioned, IP ratings are classified under controlled and specific conditions. As we all know, outdoor and harsh environments are not controlled in a lab under specific conditions. The water will likely not be PH neutral or chemicals could even be present if the enclosure is needing washed down. The temperatures will fluctuate and again, if you’re in Scotland like me, freezing temperatures would not be unheard of!

What does this mean then in terms of ingress protection? There’s a fundamental design element for your typical floor standing enclosure (control panel, IT rack etc) that you would typically use indoors – the seals on the back of doors and vertical panelling are exposed and water is not designed to run-off them. Therefore, if, subject to the above-mentioned water conditions, over time the seals could degrade or crack. For example:

  • The water’s Ph is significantly away from neutral or there are chemicals present, this could break down the seal’s structure over time and void your IP
  • If stagnant water freezes on the seal, it could crack it.
  • If there is an insufficient lip at the door contact point, when you need to open the door, any stagnant water could drip into the enclosure.

So I suppose the logical next question is how do you get around this and thankfully it’s relatively straight forward:

  • Ensure at minimum, that a rain canopy, preferably with an overhang on all edges is used to minimise water sitting on top of the seals
  • If necessary, pick enclosures with a chamfered lip along all edges to allow water to run off
  • Where chemicals are present, choose an enclosure with a silicone based replaceable seal
  • If necessary, apply a sloped roof
  • If IP rated fan/filter units and outlet filters are used, ensure you have a hose proof hood which covers, at minimum, the full area of the fan

The other side of this is solid ingress. It is often the case that outdoor/harsh environment enclosures will have to consider solar gain and dust and dirt blowing around in the wind. Now to many this can be problematic where heat is a consideration. Whilst yes you can add fans to help with air circulation, please remember that even though they could be IP54 or IP55 for example, they will still suck in the dirt from the external environment and filters could clog up very quickly and could lead to a damaged fan over time. So where possible I would recommend an outdoor cooling unit as this will separate the external environment from the internal environment. Therefore, by design, ensuring contaminants don’t harm your internal components.

Another concept would be to use a double skinned enclosure where either:

  • The air pocket travels up to a vented rain canopy where the vents point to the ground on the overhang or;
  • The outer skin itself is vented.

This way, you can create a natural chimney ventilation effect where any potential ingress (or condensation) would be caught between the inner and outer wall and therefore not affect your equipment inside.

Although brief and not overly detailed, I hope this captures the concept that whilst IP ratings are important, the physical design of the enclosure plays a big role when placed in an outdoor or harsh environment. Once again, if at least one person takes something away from this and changes their approach to assessing outdoor or harsh environment enclosures, I will be pleased. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a comment or a message.

Thanks for reading!

Like what you read? This article was published by Yannick Longbottom. Click here to check out his LinkedIn page and read more Rittal articles!