Top Tips for Enclosure Cooling

Rittal
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

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

Rittal

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

 

Audi Plant Acts as Testbed for Cabinet Cooling Systems

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Tests at an Audi factory have shown that an alternative form of cabinet wiring can cut internal temperatures, extending the life of critical components inside the cabinets. As Lütze’s cabinets product manager, Michael Bautz, reports, the reduction was greatest at hotspots that are critical for many components.

While the components used in control cabinets are generally becoming smaller, their heat dissipation is increasing and cabinets are getting hotter. More efficient cooling systems obviously help, but the way the cabinets are wired can also have an effect.

One approach to cutting heat levels is to separate the heat-emitting components from the cabling using a wiring frame rather than using conventional mounting plates and trunking. This directs cold air downwards to the rear of the cabinet and then to the front and up again, creating a cool zone to the rear, where most of the cabling is located. A permanent circulation of air is generated between the warmer wiring at the front and the cooler wiring at the back.

A look inside the control cabinet test setup at Audi Hungaria in Györ: with an
AirSTREAM wiring frame (left) and conventional mounting plate (right).
Traditional v’s Alternative Cabinet Cabling Technologies

An Audi engine factory in Hungary was recently used as a testbed to compare the traditional and alternative cabinet cabling technologies. The plant, in Györ, includes automated production lines that press valve seat rings and valve guides into the cylinder heads of V6 Otto engines. The test involved two of the site’s production systems, each using four control cabinets with the same construction.

The cabinets are 2000mm high and 600mm deep. Three cabinets in each system were 1200mm wide, while the fourth was 600mm. For the test, one of the four cabinets in each system was monitored. The first cabinet was equipped with a conventional mounting plate and was cooled using an air-conditioning system with a 1.5kW heat loss. In the second cabinet, the mounted components were separated from the wiring using a wiring frame – Lütze’s AirStream system.

The AirStream cabinets don’t use trunking that might impair airflows and were cooled using 1.45kW heat exchangers. The relative power losses of the two cooling systems was a minor factor because the cold air came from the roof. Instead, the study focused on verifying the effect of guided air inside the control cabinet.

In the alternative system, the air circulates freely, unlike in cabinets with conventional mounting plates. Measurements were carried out over two days and taken for six hours at a time with ten sensors recording ambient and internal temperatures. The power consumption of the two systems was not examined because it was assumed that the clocking was identical.

Measuring Temperatures at Critical Points

Temperatures were measured at critical points in the cabinets – e.g. components with high heat losses. After the air-conditioning system was started in the cabinet using the mounting plate (about 40 minutes after the production start-up), the temperatures fluctuated between 29°C and 43°C. The temperature measured between a contactor and the trunking was 38.5°C – 42.5°C, indicating an air blockage, while the temperature between a Siemens Simatic ET200S I/O system and a cable duct was 36.5°C – 38.5°C. At the air intake of the air-conditioning system, the temperature was 33.5°C.

The trunking hotspot remained just within the tolerances because the system is designed for an external temperature of 38°C and a maximum internal temperature of 42°C. In the cabinet with the new wiring frame, temperatures were measured after the heat exchanger had started to operate (a maximum of 37 minutes after the production start-up). The temperatures fluctuated between 30°C and 34°C. The temperature between a contactor and the ET200S in this cabinet was measured as 31°C – 33.5°C, while between the ET200S and the terminals it was 32°C – 33.5°C. At the air intake of the heat exchanger, the temperature was 29.5°C.

If the temperature of the air at the outlet of the heat exchanger was identical to the temperature of the air-conditioner, the curves would rise linearly. Despite this, the air is not layered as happens when a mounting plate is used. Hotspots in the new wiring frame system were barely detectable. When the cabinet incorporating the wiring frame was tested, the ambient temperature was 23.9°C – some 1.9°C higher than when the cabinet with the mounting plate was tested. If the external temperature had been the same, the cabinet with the wiring frame would have been 1.9K cooler and the curves would have been even lower.

The Conclusion

The tests demonstrated that using a wiring frame can achieve noticeable cooling and a consistent climate inside control cabinets, protecting installed components from the heat & increasing their life expectancy. Further improvements could be achieved by routing cool air to minimise hotspots around components with particularly high heat losses. Further analysis using Lütze’s online AirTemp application also reveals that air-conditioning wouldn’t be needed using the wiring frame. Assuming an ambient temperature of 25°C and that 70% of the components would be operating at the same time, fan-based cooling would be sufficient.

Looking for More Information? LC Automation Can Help With That…

For more information download the Lutze AirStream Wiring System Catalogue or Lutze Airstream Compact – For Compact Control Panels.

Lutze also have an excellent white-paper which looks at the background information and theories you need to consider when thinking about the temperatures in your control panels. You can download Thermodynamic Considerations for Control Panels here.

If you have a specific question or would like to discuss cooling in your control panels, please call LC Automation on 01254 685900. Our Technical Support Engineers will be able to help you select the best solution for your application.

20 Years Partnership

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Tray sealing specialist Proseal and its supplier LC Automation are celebrating a successful 20-year partnership during which the two companies have risen to become leaders in their respective fields. LC Automation provides Proseal with a reliable supply of quality electrical components that form a key part in the manufacture of its market-leading tray sealing machines.

Queens Award for International Trade

Since the beginning of the companies’ relationship in 1998 – the year Proseal was founded – Proseal has established itself as the UK’s leading manufacturer of tray sealers. This recently culminated in the company winning the Queen’s Award for International Trade 2018.

During the same period, LC Automation has grown to become one of the UK’s leading technical distributors of automation, control and safety products. The company supplies Proseal with a range of electrical components from PLC’s, servos’ and a.c. Inverters, to sensors, power supplies and even the cables.

“LC Automation supplied the Mitsubishi components for our very first machine, the Proseal PR30, and we’ve been using them ever since,” explains Steve Ballantyne, Purchasing Manager at Proseal. “Their first-rate service and innovative components are essential to the smooth production & consistently high standard of our products – we count on them to continue delivering our leading-edge Proseal machinery.”

Fully Integrated Supply Chain

An important benefit of the relationship is that LC Automation is fully integrated into the Proseal supply chain, receiving a regular forecast of their machine requirements. This allows LC Automation to predict usage and ensure the components are always available when required, meaning there is no disruption to Proseal’s production schedule. In addition, Proseal receives expert technical support on all the products it purchases from LC Automation with additional support from a Key Account Manager.

Stronger Together

“LC Automation plays a vital but unsung role in what we do, and as we mark 20 years of partnership, we’d like to take the opportunity to thank the company for their continued excellent service,” says Steve Ballantyne. “We look forward to the next 20 years of working together, which I am sure will be even more successful!”

“On behalf of everyone at LC Automation I would like to congratulate the Proseal team on 20 successful years and winning the Queens Award to Industry. I believe Proseal’s success is down to three factors; excellent customer service, outstanding engineering which meets customer needs and just being nice people to deal with,” says Malcolm Chadwick, Managing Director of LC Automation. 

If you want to know more about the range of machines Proseal offer click http://www.proseal.com or call 01625 856 600.