Modular and mobile: trends in housing selection

TTI supplier marketing manager, John Sandy, examines trends and market needs driving selection of protective housings and enclosures.

GPS navigation and monitoring systems on agricultural vehicles have to survive dirt, dust, summer sun and pouring rain. Electronics controlling photovoltaic panels must survive the same solar rays that produce the energy. Connected systems on semitrailers and OTR trucks that allow for electrification and navigation also have to function in any climate and all weathers.

Across industries and applications, the ‘go anywhere, do anything’ demands placed on electronic devices and systems bring with them a need for sturdy, reliable protection. TTI is seeing demand for more outdoor housings to provide higher levels of protection, preventing sensors and other electronics from moisture and potential damage. Sales trends are showing greater demand for IP65 to 69 rated outdoor housings.

In the near term, gaining the full promised benefits of connected technologies, 5G and the IoT will mean attaching new electronics to existing vehicles, buildings and equipment. Each sensor, antenna and PCB must stay clean, dry and functional.

Manufacturers need a protective solution they can add to existing equipment to provide those benefits without major changes. That often means something they can attach to an existing design without having to worry about making space ‘under the hood’, literally or figuratively.

Today more protective housings are available that enable these modular designs, providing an easy path to adding functionality to existing systems, future upgrades and design improvements. An exterior protective housing or enclosure can allow access to repair or replace technology, without extensive downtime or service requirements for the vehicle or equipment to which it’s attached.

This approach makes it easier to access devices to verify performance, upgrade systems or perform routine maintenance. From smart meters to marine monitoring devices, these off-the-shelf boxes will make tomorrow’s technology easier to deploy.

While a custom-designed protective housing can fit a device like a glove, with options for customization that make those bespoke solutions attractive, the real-world needs mentioned above could make that route less attractive.

Today’s standard enclosures and housings also benefit OEMs by offering design flexibility. Late changes to product design, for example a differently sized antenna or added RJ45 jack, could lead to lost time and other setbacks if they also impact a bespoke case design.

Also, minimum order quantities can be substantial, meaning manufacturers who measure sales in hundreds of units per year could reduce costs and time-to-market. Standard, predesigned case options come in enough sizes, and with enough features, to make it easier to find the right level of protection for an application. Depending on the application and supplier, it may be possible to customize products to meet specific goals.

For today’s electronic device designs, it’s easier to find an off-the-shelf, standard protective case created with your application in mind: not too big or small and available from stock.