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Standard enclosures for farming electronic systems

Agriculture and forestry are undergoing a technological revolution that is raising the bar for electronics manufacturers across the world. End-users investing in ever-more sophisticated technology are becoming increasingly discerning about the enclosures that house it.

Innovation in agriculture is not restricted to GM crops and biotech – it has become a vital growth market for electronics. Tech-savvy farmers now have access to sensors that enable real-time traceability and diagnosis; agricultural robots (‘agbots’) for ploughing, planting, picking, harvesting, weeding; livestock biometrics (GPS and RFID collars) for monitoring herds.

Agriculture and forestry are undergoing a hugely exciting technological revolution. You have only to look inside the cabs of today’s hi-tech tractors to see how much farming has changed in such a short time.

Just over 10 years ago the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation was founded to improve cross-manufacturer compatibility of electronics and to encourage the development and implementation of new technology.

Its core members include farm machinery manufacturers Agco, Claas, CNH Industrial (Case IH, Steyr Traktoren, New Holland), John Deere, Krone, Kverneland Group, Pottinger and Same Deutz-Fahr (SDF) – along with organisations such as the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), Feder Unacoma (the Italian Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Federation) and the VDMA (Mechanical Engineering Industry Association).

Add to that 200+ more members and the opportunities in agriculture for electronics designers are huge. But like so many other sectors, agriculture and forestry have highly specialised requirements when it comes to the enclosures needed to house those products. They must be…

Tough – But How Tough?

For years ABS has been the go-to plastic for electronic enclosures. It was (and remains) a dependable benchmark plastic for housing your PCBs. But increasingly ASA is stealing its thunder. Look at OKW’s latest new plastic cases and you will see they are molded from ASA.

Why ASA? It’s tough and dependable – just like ABS – but it also offers a more modern, high gloss finish. This makes it much easier to keep clean. ASA also has another trick up its sleeve: far greater UV stability than ABS.

UV rays can fade and weaken lesser plastics surprisingly quickly. So good UV resistance is critical in outdoor industries such as agriculture and forestry. Blending ASA with durable polycarbonate (PC) makes for an ever tougher case. Look for cases that are molded from ASA+PC-FR. They offer all the benefits of ASA and PC with enhanced resistance to flammability.

View OKW’s full range of ABS and ASA cases here >>

Opt for metal if you need something stronger. Extruded aluminum is robust, light and also – being extrusion-based – very easy to customise to your precise specifications size-wise. This makes it viable even for low volumes. (It is also extremely elegant but we’ll get to that…)

And unless your enclosure is being installed inside a warm dry farm building or tractor cab, you will also need to ensure it can withstand the worst the weather can throw at it. That means specifying the correct level of ingress protection.

Ultra-Ergonomic – Because User Expectations Are So Much Higher Now

Agricultural technology has undergone an incredible transformation in recent decades so the prosaic enclosures of yesterday will not suffice. End users now demand much more. And rightly so – they’re using highly sophisticated equipment out in the fields in all weathers so the human interface elements of that technology must be comfortable. Ergonomic curves, soft contours and tactile materials in a well-designed housing will make your technology the product of choice.

Smart, Modern and Elegant – The New Watchwords In Farming Technology

Today’s agricultural customers do not live in a farming bubble. They see and experience the same beautiful 21st century technology as everyone else. So they expect the same standards to apply to their highly specialized agricultural equipment.

That means ultra-modern, intelligent designs and high-quality materials.
For many years, OKW supplied only plastic enclosures. Now we also offer high-end housings that combine finely finished aluminum with high performance plastics to create ergonomic and versatile enclosure solutions.

How versatile? The combined aluminum/plastic enclosures now available to the agricultural sector were originally created for the high-end consumer electronics market. The aluminum case bodies are blasted with glass beads to give them a stunning finish.

Five Electronic Enclosures For Agriculture And Forestry Technology

1. CARRYTEC (IP 54) is a robust portable instrumentation housing that is ideal for agricultural data acquisition, sampling and recording. It is available in both ABS (UL 94 HB) and tougher ASA+PC-FR (UL 94 V-0).

Features include an integrated (and therefore stronger) handle and optional zip sidebags which can be used to house probes or other ancillary apparatus. The probe can remain connected to the main unit when stored in the bag – making it quicker and easier to use then pack away. Choose from three sizes plus a dedicated tablet version (all with large recesses for membrane keypads). View the range >>

2. SMART-TERMINAL is one of the new generation of touchscreen/membrane keypad enclosures that combine matt anodized aluminum with high-quality plastics (ASA+PC-FR and soft-touch TPV 50A).

It can be mounted to walls or machines or used on desk/table tops. The enclosures comply with the ISOBUS 11783 standard for tractors and self-propelled mobile agricultural machines – simplifying the location-specific and targeted management of agricultural land. View the range >>

3. BODY-CASE (IP 65) is OKW’s first fully wearable enclosure for mobile data recording and transmission. It is designed to fit a standard 18 mm watchstrap. It is perfect for safeguarding workers outside.

Applications include geo-location, tracking, monitoring, emergency call and notification. The soft-contoured cases are molded from glossy ASA (UL 94 HB) for comfort and ease of cleaning. Accessories include docking stations for inductive charging. View the range >>

4. DATEC-COMPACT (IP 65) is a tough but comfortable handheld enclosure built for outdoor data recording, measurement and control. Standard options include integrated contacts for easy charging.

SD cards and USB connectors can be mounted within the sealed compartment. The cases are molded from UV-stable ASA+PC-FR. Accessories include stations and wall holders. View the range >>

5. ROBUST-BOX (IP 66, UL 94 HB) is a universal enclosure that suits a wide range of outdoor measuring, regulating, metering and monitoring applications. It is available in ABS or extra strong polycarbonate (PC) for handheld, wall mount or desktop use. Both its sections are equipped with pre-molded threads so you can decide whether to use the flat or high part as the base. Both are recessed to accommodate membrane keypads.

Accessories include color-coded cover strips (that conceal the fixing screws), fastening elements, case feet, wall brackets, cover hinges, security plugs, PCB supports, pressure equalization elements and cable grommets. View the range >>

Get Expert Advice On Enclosures

Contact OKW – the electronic enclosures specialist – for expert technical advice on the best housings for your PCBs and electronic components.

Contact our team and discover how easy it is to specify the perfect enclosures for your electronics.