Off the shelf enclosures are not always up to the job, particularly when marketing demands an aesthetically pleasing product which can be differentiated from the competition
Where products are produced in large volumes, a custom enclosure will be created using a custom mould tool with pay back on this cost being realised in a relatively short time. In low to medium volume products however, investing in the mould tools for a custom enclosure is neither practical nor financially viable, and as a result a degree of customisation of a standard off the shelf enclosure is often required through machining, drilling and/or printing.
This process is often carried out by a third party, leading to a substantial hike in costs and longer lead times. Furthermore, it is often associated with large minimum order quantities. Alternatively, the customisation process can be carried out internally through investment in machining and printing equipment, however this may require substantial allocation of internal resources.
Hitaltech currently supplies enclosures into the building automation market. Within this market, both energy management technologies and light management are registering a high growth rate and as a result manufacturers in this industry are striving to design a product which can be differentiated from the competition on both a functional and aesthetic level. Accordingly, a trend has emerged over recent years where a number of Hitaltech’s existing customers are finding themselves in a trade off situation between customisation costs and the need to set themselves apart from their competitors.
In order to meet this need, Hitaltech and its manufacturing partner Italtronic, have worked together to offer a range of DIN rail enclosures designed suit a variety of applications as standard, as well as providing the option to customise the product to meet customer specific demands. A two option approach has been developed which gives purchasers the possibility to differentiate their product for both low and medium volumes with excellent value to cost ratio, and without the need to invest in expensive tooling and processes.
The first of these options is aimed at low volume projects with typical annual quantities from one to three thousand pieces. Using a combination of multiple tools, multiple axis CNC machines as well as low cost, high quality laser and full colour digital printing processes, Hitaltech is able to offer value for money customised enclosures.
The second option is aimed at medium volumes with typical annual quantities from three thousand pieces. Using a multiple slide, flexible tooling approach Hitaltech’s partner Italtronic has developed a range of mould tools that can be adapted by the inclusion of relatively low cost custom mould tool inserts to produce a finished custom enclosure. This custom enclosure is produced direct from the injection moulding process, therefore eliminating the need for additional machining.
In order to assist with the design process Hitaltech can produce samples of both printed and/or machined enclosures in a short period of time.
Designed to order
Hitaltech’s customisation options have recently been utilised by design engineers at Schneider Electric in the development of a new remote terminal unit called the Talus T4e.
Used in water and waste water treatment sites, environmental monitoring systems, abstraction points and booster pumping stations, the Talus T4e is housed in a Hitaltech’s standard DIN rail and wall mountable enclosure, the 12M Modulbox.
While working with the engineers at Schneider Electric, it became apparent that they required their chosen DIN rail mounting enclosure to have large internal volume for components with openings for a large number of inputs and outputs, as well as having both wall and DIN rail mounting capability.
The projected annual quantities fell into the small to medium volume category and therefore the customer did not want to invest in custom mould tools, but ideally wanted to receive the enclosure already customised to their requirements, allowing them to eliminate the need to sub-contract out any machining or printing to a third party.
Based on these requirements Hitaltech proposed the Modulbox C version. This boasts two high shoulders compared to the traditional two step design, resulting in increased internal volume, giving more room for components and air flow.
As well as requiring custom openings for components, Schneider Electric also required laser markings on the enclosure and a digitally printed transparent top panel. The resulting finished product is housed in an enclosure which looks aesthetically pleasing and gives a distinct customised look, meeting both functional and aesthetic requirements.