Safeguarding your enclosure supply chains

OKW explains the best way to protect enclosure supply chains from unpredictable disruption is to shorten and simplify them.

The pandemic induced disruption has shown just how fragile domestic and global supply chains can be. Even a small, localized outbreak can close a key supplier’s factory and delay shipments. One employee tests positive, others are sent home and production stops while the factory is cleaned. There’s never been a better time to protect your supply chains and the best way to do that is by shortening and simplifying them.

Customizing a standard enclosure has always been quicker, smarter and more cost-effective than opting for a one-off bespoke housing, especially in low volumes. However, customization can involve many individual processes. Plastic enclosures may need lacquering (lusters, metallic tones, soft-touch feel or other textures), decor foils for photo-quality graphics, RFI/EMI shielding, special materials or laser marking. That can create a lot of potential supply chain weak points.

It’s the same story with fabricated aluminum enclosures. Getting standard cases machined and finished may involve two different suppliers who may not see eye to eye. That is because CNC machining is a precision process while finishing can be harder to control. Less predictable finishing can blemish or ruin beautifully machined cases, resulting in arguments, delays and administrative headaches.

The obvious solution is to subcontract to a single-source enclosure specialist that offers a full turnkey service including CNC machining, custom colors/finishes, digital printing and laser marking.

The benefits of using one trusted partner become more apparent when specifying fabricated aluminum housings such as desktop instrument enclosures or 19in rack cases. Opting for aluminum offers customization services including different sizes, front panels, fixings and inserts.

OKW Enclosures has specialized in turnkey services for many years, manufacturing customizable standard plastic housings and aluminum cases through its metal enclosures division Metcase.

VP of marketing, Robert Cox, said: “Enclosures can be fully customized ready for the installation of circuit boards and other components. The enclosures can go directly to the customer’s production line: out of the box, on to the line. This speeds up manufacturing, reduces time to market and makes supply chains more secure.”

Dealing with one specialist company means it is fully accountable throughout the entire customization process, providing added peace of mind. With no need to shuttle enclosures between different suppliers, there is less waste, fewer transportation miles, less hassle, lower administration costs and a reduced carbon footprint.

If an OEM is subcontracting a substantial part of its product, such as the enclosure, it makes sense to consider how much work it needs to do in-house and how much could be outsourced. With an assembly service, OKW can arrange the component purchasing and perform all installation work, including: assembling accessories such as cable glands, clips and wall mountings; applying keyboard foils, display windows and mounting pillars; and installing components, mounting assemblies, membrane keyboards and touchscreens.