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Implementing Industry 4.0 – With The Right IIoT Enclosures

Specifying enclosures for IIoT and Industry 4.0 electornics

Industry 4.0 – the new frontier of manufacturing – offers tantalizing opportunities but for newcomers the learning curve can feel very steep. IIoT’s technological barriers to entry can seem daunting. Especially when the challenges of Covid-19 present more immediate concerns.

But fail to seize the Horizon 3 opportunities offered by IIoT and your Horizon 1 outlook may become ever-more limited as the months and years flash by.

Data is the lifeblood of IIoT. Huge amounts of data. But capturing all this information and managing it successfully requires meticulous strategic planning and tactical implementation. It means:

  • creating a baseline (involving assets, processes, data collection and analysis to identify opportunities and issues)
  • using machine learning, Big Data and automation to create a ‘system of systems’
  • employing open integration and communications
  • consolidating data (from disparate systems) in the cloud…using applications such as advanced process control (APC), condition-based monitoring (CBM) and enterprise data historians
  • redefining functions and enabling smart collaboration – enhancing operations and supply chain management.

And all that depends on having a robust, reliable and well managed data collection infrastructure – one that will never let you down. Whether you’re taking your first steps in IIoT (starting with a few machines) or scaling up existing Industry 4.0 operations, your success will depend on the uptime of your sensors and data receivers. That means ensuring they are housed in the right enclosures.

Which Enclosures For My IIoT Sensors And Receivers?

Until recently the IoT/IIoT enclosures market felt under-served – and in some respects it still feels that way. Across the market, there have been few truly brand new IIoT enclosures designed from the ground up.

But OKW was quick to identify smart factory operators’ needs – and responded by unveiling a number of brand new IIoT enclosure models in rapid succession. After what feels like a very short time, our range of IIoT/sensor enclosures now numbers 17 different models.

Here are some questions to ask when specifying IIoT enclosures (and the practical answers that our enclosures provide)…

EASYTEC pole mount enclosures for sensor electronics

Are The Enclosures Quick To Install?

Large IIoT operations involve significant numbers of smart sensors. So rapid installation is a priority. Until now, there have been few enclosures designed specifically for that purpose. But new EASYTEC features smart lugs that enable it to be cable-tied (or screwed) in place quickly and easily.

That alone should make it a key choice but there’s more. EASYTEC also features a concave recess on the rear for easy mounting on poles – and optional IP 65 ingress protection to cope with the demands of life in a smart factory. EASYTEC also has the added bonus of sharing its design language with OKW’s EVOTEC designer table-top enclosures – offering you a holistic solution when it comes to specifying housings for other components in the system.

EVOTEC’s versatility means you now have a range of sloping and flat-topped IIoT enclosures for desktops, wall mounting and DIN rails – complementing EASYTEC.

View EASYTEC range >>

SMART-PANEL wall mount enclosures for smart building technology

Do The Enclosures Need To Be Elegant? Or Unobtrusive?

Or will they need to be both? That might seem like a contradiction in terms but it’s entirely possible. And desirable.

First though, let’s rewind a little and consider the wider question of aesthetics in more detail. The last few decades have seen a huge leap forward in how manufacturing facilities are perceived: they are gleaming, futuristic cathedrals of technology staffed by robots and controlled by cyber-systems.

So their IIoT sensors and receivers deserve to be housed in something worthy of that ideal…elegant flush-fit enclosures. Such as SMART-PANEL which looks sleek and sophisticated enough to be used for luxury home automation, it’s because it is. But why should the upmarket residential sector have all the fun? SMART-PANEL is equally at home in Industry 4.0 factories and offices.

Look beyond those soft modern curves and you’ll discover a highly practical housing that flush-fits into standard cavity wall boxes. SMART-PANEL snaps together so there are no fixing screws – and the mounting screws are hidden away. Specify the enclosures for sensors, data receivers or control pads – creating uniformity of design language (and practical cost efficiencies) across your system.

View SMART-PANEL range >>

SMART-CONTROL enclosures for corner mounted electronics

Will Your Enclosures Need To Fit In Corners?

This question sounds simple enough but it’s one that’s seldom answered. That’s because virtually all wall-mounted enclosures are designed to fit flat surfaces…not 90° angles. There have been surprisingly few designed specifically for corners. Until now…

SMART-CONTROL is one of OKW’s newest enclosures – with IoT/IIoT as one of its key markets. Like SMART-PANEL, it has modern soft contours and is moulded from tough UV-stable ASA+PC-FR (rather than ABS). Torx stainless steel fixing screws make it more tamperproof than housings assembled with traditional Pozidriv screws.

And again, it’s versatile – an optional stand enables SMART-CONTROL to be used for desktop electronics.

View SMART-CONTROL range >>

SMART-TERMINAL extruded aluminium enclosures

Do You Need Something Tougher? A Metal Enclosure?

Aluminum offers the best of both worlds: it’s tougher than plastic but advanced finishing technologies give it premium aesthetics not always found in other metals. And if you opt for extruded profile-based enclosures, then custom-length housings are very easy to manufacture (making them a highly cost effective solution).

OKW’s SMART-TERMINAL is the one to specify when you need robustness and aesthetics. That is because the enclosures combine a finely finished aluminum main case body with plastic end caps (UV-stable ASA+PC-FR with soft-touch TPV designer seals). Prefer an all-metal enclosure? Aluminum end plates are an option.

View SMART-TERMINAL range >>

Further Reading…

Get Expert Technical Help

Contact OKW for specialist advice on specifying high performance enclosures for IoT/IIoT.

And don’t forget to request a sample!