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

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

Rittal

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

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

 

Protection by Design: are IP ratings everything?

Rittal

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!

What Does the Future hold for Food & Beverage Manufacturing?

Rittal

Food and beverage manufacturers of all sizes are facing huge operational challenges right now.  Sudden increases in consumer demand, shifting expectations, changes in food safety legislation, and emerging technologies, all require companies to be responsive, agile and flexible.  There is also the matter of ensuring seamless production continuity, to ensure consumer confidence around maintaining food and beverage supplies.

As digital technologies continue to transform global markets, no industry remains untouched, and food and beverage manufacturing is certainly no exception. 

Let’s consider how each of these three factors can impact day-to-day operations on the production floor, and how leading manufacturers are adapting to win.  

Standards and Legislation

In recent years, food and beverage manufacturing regulations have changed significantly across the globe due to technological and scientific advancements. Europe has long been at the forefront of these legislative changes and successful companies will likely be those who stay ahead of the curve by implementing changes sooner rather than later. These companies will avoid both production downtime, and the potential for higher costs associated with refits, when new legislation eventually passes.   

Even in our current outcomes-based regulatory framework, reducing cleaning time and ensuring impeccable hygiene standards continue to be key areas of focus. As the physical landscape of manufacturing shifts to accommodate the increased presence of technology, so too will our approaches to safety and cleanliness. 

This leads us to our next topic: the presence and proliferation of technology in food production spaces.  

Food Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility

There’s no denying that we all have a responsibility to implement sustainable environmental practices. But from a commercial perspective, it’s also worth your time to embrace sustainability as millennials and Gen Z begin to dominate the consumer market. 

The consumers of the future will place huge value on environmental sustainability, and they’ll also go out of their way to support companies who follow environmentally friendly practices. 

Manufacturers that want to reach this audience will need to implement changes that reflect this shift in consumer priorities and effectively communicate the changes that have been made. To do this, you’ll need to streamline every aspect of your business with a new focus on environmental sustainability. 

Whether it’s recycling production materials to close the loop on waste outputs, or reducing the energy consumed during cleaning, every part of your process should be moving towards a more sustainable future, either directly or indirectly.  For example, Rittal’s HD enclosures are specifically designed to make them quicker and easier to clean.  HD enclosures are typically power washed, so reducing the time it takes to clean them will lower both water and energy usage.

In order to offset the cost increases associated with making these transitions, industry leaders are continuing to refine efficiency-boosting practices like CIP to make production facilities greener.

Technology and Digital Transformation

At this point, we can consider the massive impact that the Internet of Things (IoT) will have on manufacturing is a sure thing. Telstra puts it very clearly when they state that “In an increasingly automated manufacturing environment, having multiple machines communicating with each other and being managed and diagnosed remotely offers benefits that are self-evident.” 

These smart machines pose a unique challenge to the food and bev industry; their delicate circuitry and sensors must be on the production floor but must also be protected from contaminating/being contaminated by the manufacturing process. 

Additionally, these complex computer systems need to be compliant with current and future food safety regulations and be well-suited to withstand increasingly ambitious CIP procedures. 

Now is the time to consider how you can update your existing manufacturing systems to try and account for the changes that are taking place in the industry. Whether it’s investigating new, sustainable production methods, or investing in physical infrastructure that supports new technologies, now is the time to move confidently forward or get left behind. Optimising every piece of the manufacturing puzzle is essential to maintain a competitive advantage.

By Emma Ryde, Rittal’s Product Manager Industrial & Outdoor Enclosures.

For more info about our range of Rittal Enclosure Range check out our website or call LC Automation on 01254 685900, our experts will be happy to help!

A Safe Take-Off – Rittal Blue e+ chillers used in aircraft manufacturing

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Aircraft manufacturing. Before a brand-new A320 can be put to work ferrying holiday­makers to sunnier climes, the aircraft has to pass some serious testing at Airbus. However, it isn’t just the aircraft that needs overheating protection to make sure it runs like a dream – the testing hardware needs proper protection, too. Airbus uses Blue e+ cooling units from Rittal to keep its testing facilities in top condition.

The two Airbus workers sit on stools in the cockpit of the Airbus A320, as the pilot seats have yet to be installed. Through the cockpit windows they see not clouds, but 4 monitors displaying the “ground test instructions” they need to work through.

However, the first tests start much earlier. As soon as the fuselage sections of a new aircraft have been assembled, the cables are laid there – and tested. All along the various assembly stations, all newly installed components and systems are immediately tested to ensure they are fully functional. Depending on the configuration of the aircraft in question, the full set of tests for an A320 can take around 400 hours to complete. The majority of these are carried out in Jacobs’ department. Fuelling, taxiing, take-off and landing together with various flight manoeuvres are all simulated on the final assembly line. “Our engineers could fly the aircraft, even though they’re not pilots,” the Head of Ground Testing points out. All functions that are essential to flight safety on the Airbus must be 100 per cent reliable. Only when an A320 has passed all these tests with flying colours can it be sent for delivery and take off from the runway at the Airbus plant in Finkenwerder on its maiden flight.

Simulating Operation

The tasks carried out on the final assembly line include the complete fit-out of the cabin. “Once again, we check everything – from the headphone sockets and in-flight entertainment screens on each individual passenger seat right through to the coffee machine in the galley,” says Jacobs. Testing all the onboard functions requires high-performance hardware that is connected up to the sensors and actuators of the aircraft and used to run complex simulation programs. A total of three computers are needed for the simulations. Each computer is equipped with additional hardware that links up to the components in the aircraft. Lengths of cable as thick as a human arm reach from enclosures containing the simulation computers to the insides of the aircraft. This makes it possible to simulate parameters such as engine speed and the signals from the speed measurement devices. The computers also capture output signals, primarily voltages and volume resistance.

Left: An ice-cold marathon – Cooling units in the Blue e+ range run continuously and stop hardware from overheating. Right: Digital view – No stunning aerial vista for the engineers: Monitors are mounted in front of the cockpit to display the ground test instructions.

Airbus developed the simulation computers, which are installed in a Rittal enclosure on the test bench, in-house. The hardware generates a lot of heat when in use and therefore needs to be cooled – the voltage transformers in particular, which are needed for the connection to the components in the aircraft, can get very hot. “In the past, before we started using active cooling systems for the computers, they often crashed during the summer,” Jacobs recalls. Given how tightly and carefully coordinated the production schedule is at Airbus, that simply could not continue. The enclosures were fitted out with active climate control systems in 2006 to avoid precisely such downtime. Today, there are 28 of these test stations in the Airbus plant, all similarly configured. What’s more, all are fitted with Blue e+ cooling units from Rittal to protect the sensitive hardware from overheating. The reliability of the Blue e+ units is particularly important to Airbus. “If the cooling systems for the simulation computers were to fail, we wouldn’t be able to conduct our tests,” Jacobs points out. The test bench is in use at least five days a week in double-shift operation. “We switch on the cooling units in the morning and they run with absolute reliability,” he says. The cooling systems at the test benches are monitored and, should a unit still somehow fail, a warning light comes on to alert staff.

Guaranteed Energy Efficiency

The idea to upgrade to the energy-efficient Blue e+ cooling units came about while working on energy management for the ISO-14001 certification. Rittal Support gave Airbus crucial assistance during this process, as Jacobs explains: “Thanks to the energy efficiency calculator, we were able to work out in advance how much energy we would save by upgrading to the new cooling technology.”

Well-timed maintenance is crucial to ensuring the cooling units run reliably and efficiently. The main causes of failures are critical component statuses and external influencing factors. Networking the units with the IoT interface ensures the condition of all cooling units is reported to overarching systems. Maintenance teams can then promptly plan the necessary measures and carry out the work at the most appropriate time. These benefits can be taken to the next level in the future by linking up to Rittal’s Smart Service Portal. The networking between the devices and continuous status monitoring ensure critical operating statuses can be identified early on.

The senior managers at Airbus were also impressed by how user-friendly the cooling units are. All parameters can be adjusted easily, using the two buttons on the control panel, and the display depicts status and error messages in clear language. “The quality is right and the customer service we get from Rittal is excellent,” Jacobs concludes. Based on this positive experience, the test benches at the Airbus sites in the USA and China, which are configured in exactly the same way, are also being retrofitted with the new Blue e+ cooling units.

German Innovation Award For The Rittal VX25 Large Enclosure System

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The VX25 large enclosure system from Rittal has won the 2019 German Innovation Award. The German Design Council honoured the innovative large enclosure system on May 28 as the winner in the “Excellence in Business to Business/Machines & Engineering” category.

Fit for Industry 4.0 and award-winning: With the VX25, Rittal has launched the first enclosure system specifically designed to boost productivity in panel building, switchgear manufacturing and in Industry 4.0 value chains.

The Award Recognises User-Centric Innovation

With the German Innovation Award, the German Design Council (set up by Germany’s Parliament, the Bundestag) honours pioneering innovations that are having a lasting impact and offering users added value. Nearly 700 international submissions were received. The winners were chosen by a world-class jury of physicists, patent consultants, computer scientists, financing specialists, product designers, technology historians and marketeers.

“User-centricity represents the key to the evaluation of the innovations submitted. It is the distinguishing feature of the German Innovation Award,” explained Andrej Kupetz, the German Design Council’s General Manager. “It is particularly successful when future users are involved in product and design development at an early stage.”

The Award Winner: Enclosure System For Digital Process Chains

“We are delighted that such a renowned institution as the German Design Council has honoured the innovative power of our own VX25 with this award. Specifically, the main focus of the jury on user centricity coincides precisely with Rittal’s approach to product development. The success of the system, the feedback from our customers and honours such as this award also prove that we are on the right track”, added Dr Thomas Steffen, Managing Director Research and Development at Rittal.

Intensive dialogue with customers was crucial in developing this large enclosure system. Developers and analysts conducted a large-scale scientific usability study that tracked day-to-day operations at panel building and switchgear manufacturing companies. The VX25 ‘ticks’ like enclosure manufacturers think – in functions and processes”, added Dr Steffen.

The VX25 offers the highest possible quality and consistency of data, reduced complexity and savings in time, as well as safe assembly. More than 25 registered property rights demonstrate the high level of innovation involved.

“The launch of the award-winning large enclosure system was a milestone that was then followed with the brand new AX.KX compact and small enclosure series. With the Blue e+ cooling unit range that had previously been presented, our core product portfolio has now been updated and is fit for Industry 4.0. Together with our sister company Eplan, we are thinking deeply about the entire value chain of panel building and switchgear manufacturing and we are supporting our customers with optimisation and digitalisation”, Dr Steffen concluded.

Special Mention: Blue e+ Cooling Units

The Blue e+ cooling unit series was also nominated for the award in the same category as the VX25. It was given a “Special Mention” at the awards ceremony. Blue e+ has been the most efficient commercially available industrial cooling system since 2015. It works with a new combination of heat pipe and compressor. Application data shows average energy savings of 75 percent compared to conventional systems. The lower temperature deviations within the enclosure increase the service life of the components installed. The IoT interface is predestined for a variety of Industry 4.0 applications, up to and including predictive maintenance.

The Organiser: The German Design Council

The German Design Council (Rat für Formgebung) was established on the initiative of the German Bundestag (the German parliament) in 1953 and promoted by the Federation of German Industries (BDI). For 66 years now, the foundation has been pursuing the goal of promoting the competitiveness of German companies. The German Design Council, with its competitions, exhibitions, conferences, seminars and publications, is making a decisive contribution to the dissemination of knowledge about design, innovation and brands. More than 300 German and foreign companies currently belong to the circle of patrons.



For further information on the Rittal VX25 Series Enclosures 
see the Rittal range on our website or call LC Automation
on 01254 685900.

In Times Of Uncertainty, Make the Most of your Assets

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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 electrical drives, motors etc. without which any very expensive robotic arm is nothing but a very elaborate statue, collecting dust. So it’s imperative that electrical equipment is housed within a protective environment, to ensure it operates to it’s 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.

Rittal Blue e+ Roof Mounted Cooling Unit

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:

  • Carbon dust in the steel or manufacturing industry
  • Yeast or vinegar extract in the food and beverage industry
  • 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.

Summary

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.

Rittal can provide you with a free inspection of your current cooling equipment regardless of manufacturer, age or condition. This will then allow us to advise you of any recommended improvements and (critically) confirm whether you are using the correct equipment.

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


Written by Karl Lycett, Rittal UK’s Product Manager for Climate Control. For further information see the Rittal range on our website or call
01254 685900.

Generation X Was Here – Rittal Launch New AX and KX Enclosures at LC Automation

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Rittal brought their brand new demo bus to LC Automation’s head office in Blackburn last Thursday. Titled ‘Generation X is here’ it was the first chance to see the new AX and KX enclosures which were recently launched at Hannover Messe. We are excited to share our partnership with Rittal and can’t wait to supply the new enclosures later in the year.

Neil Battery demonstrates the latest new developments from Rittal

Over 35 Million Units Sold

Rittal has rethought and redesigned the new AX compact and KX small enclosures, providing simpler, faster assembly and component installation, greater flexibility and enhanced safety. This launch marks the digital transformation of a standardised product that has been made by Rittal for more than 50 years: Over 35 million units of the AE have been manufactured, making it the most popular compact enclosure in the world.

Rittal Alliance Partner

We have been a Rittal Alliance Partner for many years, so it was a big deal to get the brand new AX and KX enclosures to our Blackburn head office before (almost) anyone else. It was a great opportunity for our staff and customers to see some of the main features such as; more space, easier installation and modular design, for themselves. They are going to be incredibly popular when we get them in stock.

The brand new Rittal AX and KX enclosures

The AX and KX enclosures won’t be available till the autumn but as Rittal Alliance Partners we can be sure that LC Automation can supply Rittal enclosures for any industrial application. If you’re looking for a high quality enclosure for your project, give us a call on 01254 685 900 or take a look at our website
https://www.lcautomation.com/Page/Our_Suppliers/Rittal.aspx