Think about it. Most people don't buy a product simply because it looks good--although that might weigh heavily in the final buying decision. Their first concern turns to what that product does, and how it will get the job done.
Still, behind the glamour and glitz of successful products, one thing stands out: a reliable enclosure. Here are some examples that illustrate the importance of enclosures that "breathe life" into products.
These aluminum enclosures get people talking. About 78 million people in the U.S. smoke. Many will develop throat cancer and, as a result, will have to undergo laryngectomies, leaving them with little or no ability to speak. To overcome this defficiency, speechless individuals often turn to devices like the Cooper-Rand electronic speech aid, an intra-oral artificial larynx from Luminaud, Mentor, OH.
The Cooper-Rand's electronic circuitry and batteries are housed in a Pulse Generator, which can be placed in a pocket or fastened to a belt. A cord connects the Pulse Generator to the Tone Generator, which delivers sound into the user's mouth through a slender plastic tube. To speak, the user places this tube into his/her mouth. A button on the Tone Generator starts and stops the sound for easy phrasing.
Inside the Pulse Generator resides a black plastic frame with a circuit board and battery holders. Drawn-aluminum covers from Zero Enclosures (N. Salt Lake, UT), held together by a screw, cover the front and back of the frame.
The Cooper-Rand aids have been made with these same enclosures since they were first manufactured. Says Tom Lennox, president of Luminaud, "Zero had a stock size that was very suitable for the instruments. They also had good quality metal that could take the kind of finishing the original manufacturer wanted."
These speech aids often serve as a person's voice on a daily basis, making them subject to a lot of abuse. Still, the Cooper-Rand's durability record is very good, says Dorothy Lennox, VP at Luminaud. The reason: the frame and enclosure's ability to protect the instrument.
"The devices have been banged and bumped and dropped and run over by cars. But we have rarely had an instrument that was too badly damaged to be worth repairing. These aluminum covers have held up so well that we are still hesitant, even with the newest plastics compositions, to think of changing something that is doing such a good job."
Modular enclosures take control of the future.
In the late '80s, a flood in Johns- town, PA, shut down several steel mills. Now, BRW Steel (Johnstown, PA) is bringing one of those steel mills back to life by installing the latest control systems and machinery.
Youngstown Systems, North Lima, OH, is designing the control system for the continuous caster at the mill. The caster makes liquid steel into a continuous square strand of steel that is cut to the required lengths.
Casters come in varying sizes, depending on the number of steel strands they make. If the steel company changes the size of the caster, the control system must accommodate that change. For Youngstown, that means its system design must be flexible. The solution: develop modular units using PS enclosures from Rittal Corp., Springfield, OH.
"These are the most flexible enclosures we've come across," says Howard Jenkins, executive VP at Youngstown. "If you look at the actual control units, they are neatly done in boxes. So, if we need to make an addition, all we do is add another piece onto the end of the system. Without this capability, we would have to keep rebuilding and redesigning the cabinets."
The flexibility of the enclosures also enables Youngstown to mix and match sizes to meet a customer's specific needs. Jenkins cites one example: "We have an electrical disconnect on one end, so we have to use a cabinet that accepts the disconnect. Then we put modular sections next to it that interlock all the doors so they cannot be opened without the disconnect being in the off position. If we had to use the old style enclosures, we couldn't do that."
Each unit in the control system measures from 10 to 12 feet long. When placed end-to-end, these sections reach 60 to 70 feet in length. At the mill, the units are assembled in different areas on different floors. The size and location requirements of the control system are another reason Jenkins likes the PS enclosures. He adds, "The flexibility and the modular aspect of the enclosures are what save the day."
Fiberglass enclosures foster growth.
A successful greenhouse requires just the right balance of heat, water, and light. Micro Grow Greenhouse Systems Inc. helps maintain a suitable environment with its GROWMATE and GROWMASTER control systems.
The GROWMATE is a simple temperature controller with an LED display; the GROWMASTER system, with its LCD display, regulates temperature, humidity, light, and carbon dioxide levels. It also has alarm outputs, and can open and close ventilation systems and control hot water heating.
Both units feature NR Series plastic fiberglass enclosures from Carlon Electrical Products, Cleveland, OH. The enclosures house control relays, load contactors, transformers, and microprocessor-based controlled circuitry.
"The enclosures are very easy to work with, especially when we punch holes in them for cable entry," says Tom Piini, president and owner of Micro Grow, "And they are very durable."
Another benefit: good looks. "We actually use the enclosures across the board for all our products," Piini adds. "When we do a greenhouse installation, the customer gets a nice looking control area. All the controls look the same, and it's obvious they came from the same manufacturer."