Enclosures & AccessoriesProduct

Industrial Enclosure Q+A

Panel enclosure

An AutomationDirect product manager provides industrial enclosure selection essentials for Control Engineering readers.

Industrial enclosures protect essential automation components that otherwise wouldn’t stand a chance in the face of harsh factory and field conditions. As automation technologies are trending toward more instrumentation and greater decentralization, the role of enclosures is adapting.

Control Engineering interviewed AutomationDirect’s Jody Kinney, and published the Mar 2023 article Q+A: How to Select an Industrial Enclosure. They also published a related article, Industrial Enclosures 101, both of which provide industrial enclosure insights for readers.

One key trend is that as intelligent field devices proliferate, enclosure designs are becoming more compact and decentralized, to protect components locally where they are installed in the field. Although there is still a need for some larger centralized enclosures, IIoT and digital transformation initiatives are driving the need for more enclosures to house smart devices.

To some extent, an industrial enclosure is just a box, and there are many standardized products. But there is innovation around smaller enclosures, and especially a shift toward non-metallic materials. Some basic enclosure categories and concepts include:

  • Junction boxes: for routing wires
  • General purpose: for mounting smaller devices and terminations
  • Mounting types: On-machine, wall, or floor mounted
  • Rack cabinets: for IT data rooms
  • Environmental rating: for areas like data rooms, dusty locations, washdown areas, or hygienic uses (like food and pharma applications) as needed
  • Operator interface: fixed, swing, or pendant mounted designs for HMI screens, pushbuttons, and keyboards
  • Power enclosures: with disconnecting means for worker safety
  • Heat management: many enclosures require fans or other cooling methods to remove heat generated by components and environmental exposure
  • Customization: many designers can use standard enclosure offerings and modify them as needed, but some prefer factory-customized enclosures

Visit the AutomationDirect website to browse a large portfolio of industrial automation enclosures ranging from small to large, along with a complete range of panel fabrication accessories and automation devices.