When it comes to selecting the right electrical enclosure for hazardous area applications, choosing a manufacturer that is in total control of its product quality on a global basis is essential, advises Richard Gipp of Cooper Crouse-Hinds Enclosures Division (UK) Ltd.
“For our Sheerness plant, customisation is the standard. 70 per cent of our output is specific to the customer. You could say we have a bit of a reputation for never saying no, regardless of how small the order quantity is,” says Richard Gipp, Operations Manager at Cooper Crouse-Hinds Enclosures Division (UK) Ltd.
“Batch size is not a problem for us at all, as we will customise the enclosure to suit any application. And just as important, we are in complete control of the process, from enclosure design and fabrication, through to electropolishing, powder coating, assembly, quality and despatch. And the label says ‘made in the UK’ which is very important to some of our customers.”
With more than 30 years’ experience in the industry, Cooper Crouse-Hinds Enclosures (UK) Ltd manufactures a wide range of enclosures for hazardous areas and general industrial applications. 70 per cent of enclosures are customer-specific and 80 per cent is exported. The manufacturing plant in Sheerness, Kent is now the single largest user of 316 stainless steel in the UK electrical industry, processing around 600 tonnes of the material each year for its enclosures.
Due to the flexibility, variety and enormous size range available (from 40mm x 40mm x 15mm to 1800mm x 1800mm x 600mm), the Sheerness plant is not highly automated but instead prefers to rely on the craft skills of its 90-strong workforce. “Each enclosure is essentially hand crafted,” says Gipp. “Our plant is a model lean factory and so we never make-to-stock. Every enclosure is made-to-order and we are therefore agile and flexible when it comes to providing solutions for customers. We’ve even been asked by our regional manufacturing advisory service to show local manufacturing firms around the plant, in order to help them visualise what a genuine lean manufacturing operation looks like and to learn from us.”
“Because of our agility, our lead times for custom enclosures are very competitive and our quality consistent, which is critical in hazardous area applications, where an enclosure failure can have serious consequences for the customer and could put peoples’ lives at risk,” he adds.
The Sheerness plant also prides itself on design innovation. The latest enclosure for hazardous dust and gas applications is the Ex-CELL range of ATEX-certified stainless steel heavy-duty enclosures. Fully compliant with the impact, thermal and ingress protection requirements for hazardous areas, these enclosures are ideal for protecting electrical devices and instrumentation in hazardous gas or dust areas.
With Ex-CELL, the customer gets to choose from a wide variety of service fittings, including terminals, cable glands, breather drains and blanking plugs. In addition, control apparatus, measuring devices, instrument transmitters and fieldbus modules can actually be installed in the enclosure in order to provide a fully certified OEM solution.
The Ex-CELL enclosure has some very neat design innovations. The enclosure is mounted by using four heavy duty, 3mm thick surface welded stainless steel lugs. Bottom lugs are slotted for ease of mounting. These provide a secure, reliable means of mounting the enclosure. There’s also a high integrity, one-piece sealing gasket, which provides an IP66 rating and excellent recovery and re-sealing properties for continuous environmental protection.
An integral drainage channel prevents liquids or other solid contaminants from running in or falling into the enclosure when the door is opened, which minimises gasket path contamination. The enclosure is available with up to four gland plates (3mm thick) on each side. Five possible combinations of 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 gland plates is available. All these are sealed to IP66 rating by a high integrity Chloroprene gasket and secured by rapid fixing ‘Hytork’ fixing bolts.
The standard cover on the enclosure has a quarter turn keyed lock fastening mechanism that provides a rapid means of achieving an IP66 rated seal for reliable environmental protection. A bolted cover and padlock option are also available. The enclosure is also supplied with an external and internal feed through brass earth/ground stud assembly, which enables rapid and reliable protective earthing connection. This is mounted on the side of the enclosure for ease of access.
“There are thousands of different options on the Ex-CELL enclosure, including window kits, a padlockable hasp, pockets for CAD drawings or rain canopy. We even provide special sloped or flush mount versions and large enclosures with double doors for protecting PLCs, large displays, air conditioning systems and fans. These are ideal for food and dairy producers, waste water treatment and harsh environment wash down applications.”