Four steps to enclosure sourcing

Hitaltech’s Andy Fitzer introduces purchasing professionals to the four stages of sourcing enclosures from off-the-shelf to fully finished

A well-designed enclosure is more than a box of parts. Depending on the product being developed, it’s a protective shell and product enabler. It’s a design feature that can distinguish the product from competitors. With a QR code on its surface, it could be an instruction manual or even a sales tool. It pays to get the enclosure right and the following is how to achieve that.

Start with off-the-shelf: Always the lowest cost option, the first step in enclosure sourcing should always be to explore stock choices. This doesn’t have to mean compromise. Hitaltech’s range of industrial and building automation enclosures runs to 1,000s of products, ranging from IP-rated and handheld enclosures to embedded platforms and DIN-rail mounted enclosures. It is entirely possible to find the right off-the-shelf enclosure for an application without needing to tailor, tweak or customise.

Adapt off the shelf: Suppose an off-the-shelf enclosure would be ideal but there isn’t an opening precisely where required. With machining or mould tool modifications it’s possible to adapt off-the- shelf enclosures to include the openings and apertures for inputs, outputs and LEDs exactly where required. It’s a fast, cost effective option compared with full bespoke development when producing higher volumes.

Custom design: Where no available choice—even a modified option—would suit the application, the product developer’s next step is working with an enclosures manufacturer to design a product from scratch. Working in collaboration, this could be an opportunity to create the right box for the product and actively improve the product’s functionality, aesthetics and value.

Apply the finish: Whether off-the-shelf or custom, the final stage of enclosure sourcing is to apply design, branding or informational printed elements. From wiring diagrams to QR codes, print can help turn a passive enclosure into an active benefit.