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Your Questions Answered: The How, What & Where of Edge Industrial Enclosures

August 06, 2020

During a recent webinar titled, Edge Data Center Infrastructure Systems, hosted by Cabling Installation & Maintenance, I had the opportunity to discuss how NEMA Type industrial enclosures help protect and support equipment at the edge, and engage in a lively Q&A with some of the more than 700 attendees of this recent virutal event.

Now we can all agree to the general assumption that if one individual has a question, it's likely others do, too. And sure enough, the Q&A included several questions regarding edge deployments, and more specifically, the function of NEMA Type industrial enclosures. In an effort to answer what are likely a few of the questions you have, too, here’s a compilation of the most popular inquiries:

Q1. Where exactly is the “edge”?
A1. The “edge” is a term that has been and still is, quite elusive in the IT industry. Defining where edge computing begins with where the data is processed. In edge applications and remote locations, where reducing latency, bandwidth costs and data privacy issues are key objectives, processing data over an often-unreliable WAN is not edge computing.

That said, CPI does have a perspective on just where the “edge” is.

Consider this: the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G wireless and Industry 4.0 all require network connections to be stretched beyond the boundaries where electronics are normally deployed. Whether in a public or private space, a record number of devices are collecting real-time data in medical and academic campuses, sports stadiums and harsh and/or non-traditional environments.

These edge locations can either be in environmentally controlled colocation facilities, or in non-controlled environments that can include varying conditions such as heat, snow, humidity, rain, corrosive agents and dust. As a result, deploying compute and automation control equipment in such environments requires innovative methods of storage, support and maintenance. 

Simply put, the “edge” is a physical location; one in which operators are placing ICT equipment at or very close to the origin or source of the data or those end users consuming it.

Q2. Who would benefit from using these NEMA Type enclosures? Who are they made for?
A2. NEMA Type enclosures protect sensitive IT equipment at the edge. This means they are made for any organization pursuing the promise of intelligent, data-driven business decisions outside of a traditional data center, in harsh, nontraditional or outdoor environments. A better way to describe this may be through a list of those businesses adopting, or soon adopting, IoT:
Discrete manufacturing Process industry Transportation & logistics
Retail Health care Utilities/energy and natural resources

Top use cases include:
Demand response (adjusting power use dynamically) Fleet management Distributed generation & storage Smart meters
Track & trace Connected cars Automated inventory management Predictive maintenance
Self-optimizing production Remote patient monitoring Security  

Q3. Do these enclosures have a NEMA rating, and what do these ratings mean exactly?
A3. In the United States, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) publishes NEMA Standard 250 Enclosures for Electrical Equipment (1,000 V Maximum), which identifies 16 types of enclosures for nonhazardous locations, each providing a different level of protection against dust and liquid penetration.


Q4. What’s the difference between IP Codes and NEMA ratings?
A4. There is no direct comparison between IP code and NEMA types. Each standard includes specific design and testing protocols, and each has unique variations of requirements and tests. However, the following comparison table, based on a NEMA conversion table, is generally accepted as the minimum NEMA equivalence. This means the listed NEMA Type enclosure exceeds the listed IP Code requirements.


Q5. How do these enclosures keep my equipment cool and performing reliably?
A5. The sealed design of industrial enclosures does not allow for needed ventilation to cool internal electronics, so a filter fan or cooling unit is typically required to exhaust or reject heat from the enclosure.

Filter fans are a good choice where the amount of dust is minimal and when equipment within the enclosure can operate at higher temperatures than the temperature of the ambient air. Filter fans draw filtered air into the enclosure and exhaust air through a matched filtered exhaust or a second filter fan. They are available in a variety of sizes to provide different amounts of airflow based on equipment needs.

Cooling units, or enclosure-mounted air conditioners, should be used to keep the enclosure completely sealed in areas with a lot of dust or where internal temperature must be tightly controlled. They mount through the door or side of the enclosure and provide closed-loop cooling.

Q6. Does CPI offer pre-configured enclosures for edge applications to help reduce time-to-deploy?
A6. Yes, CPI offers a variety of services to not only ensure you have the right type of enclosure for your application but provide a total solution that helps improve your deployment cycles. CPI’s team of application experts will work alongside you to ensure you build your enclosure with the power management, security, cable and thermal management accessories you need and can pre-configure these at our manufacturing locations across the globe to ensure they arrive at your doorstep ready to install.

In addition, CPI offers a variety of complimentary, online selection resources and tools to enable you to compare, select, build and order your ideal enclosure, complete with accessories, all under one part number.

Ready to Learn More?

To learn more about NEMA Type industrial enclosures, and any of the resources mentioned in today’s blog, please visit our industrial website.

Additional Questions?

Please add your questions to the comment box below. Our team of edge solutions and enclosure experts will connect with you, wherever you’re at in your journey to aid you as you prepare to successfully deploy your edge network.

Posted by Sam Rodriguez, Sr. Product Manager, Industrial Solutions at 8/6/2020 8:43:47 AM
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