Flexible design and reliable application are essential features of hardware components for large enclosure OEMs such as Rittal. In order to set up control and switchgear systems as quickly as possible and to operate them safely, system engineers need a wide range of electro-technical components that must meet a variety of requirements in order to interact. This includes the locking technology, which should not only be easy to operate but must also protect against the ingress of water and dust. EMKA recently had the opportunity to develop such equipment of a special type and size for leading enclosure OEM Rittal, who completely relaunched their range of small and compact enclosures with the new AX and KX series. For EMKA, this meant focusing on the highest standards of installation convenience and IP protection.
Rittal is the world’s leading systems supplier for enclosures, power distribution, climate control, IT infrastructure, software and service. Their compact AE enclosure system has been one of the top sellers in its range ever since its introduction and with more than 35 million units produced to date, it is one of the most widely used compact enclosure systems in the world. Control cabinets of this type are vital to protect sensitive control electronics from external influences so as to ensure maximum functionality of systems and smooth process flows. This is vital in almost all industries and application areas, whether in highly automated production lines in the automobile manufacturing sector, in the engine room of ships, or for signal control in railway stations.
Due to changing requirements in terms of enclosure technology, Rittal had decided to fundamentally enhance its range of small and compact enclosures. For example, as a result of increasing digitalisation and automation – driven by Industry 4.0 – more and more sensors and actuators are being used in systems engineering. This inevitably leads to the need for a larger number of components to be mounted in the housing and consequently an increased number of cables must be accommodated via the gland plate.
In this context, Rittal further developed its tried and tested models and relaunched its entire range of compact enclosures with the AX and KX series, including small enclosures. The result: 30 percent less assembly time, 30 percent more space for cables and 30 new functions. In view of the fact that Rittal’s customers are active worldwide, the focus was primarily on the various protection classes and approvals such as IP protection and UL approval. These protection classes and approvals guarantee global acceptance, as the enclosures, including the homologated closures, do not have to be re-approved abroad. Protection class IK10 also proves the high level of shock resistance of the AX and KX series. The space in the housing is more usable due to modular designs and optimised cut-outs, and sizes of the new series. Rails and cam embossing on the AX, for example, simplify interior installation. The reduction in the number of parts ensures simple logistics and storage. The tool-free assembly of the doors and direct processing of the flat parts, which can be removed individually from the packaging, is just as easy, plus the new wall mounting bracket can be mounted quickly and easily from the outside in a matter of minutes at a later date.
In order to achieve the ideal combination of simple installation and high-quality protection, EMKA’s new quarter turn locks for the project had to be developed so as to ensure secure closing of the doors while integrating with the design of the housing. Primarily, the quarter turns were required to fulfil the following criteria: they must accommodate tolerances in respect of different thicknesses of sheet metal coating. Regardless of the assembly torque, the operating haptics should be optimised at low locking forces. Also, the assembly at the customer’s site should be process-safe, and an increased general impression of value should be created. After a detailed market survey, it turned out that EMKA’s quarter turns fulfilled all requirements for Rittal.
“The decisive factor for the award was the combination of innovation, solution of the challenge and component costs”, says Achim Bloh, Head of Product Development at Rittal. “Since Rittal and EMKA already have a long-standing partnership, the decision was not difficult given the quality as well as delivery and after-sales service”.
Initially, a modification of the EMKA quarter turn for quick mounting 1022/1000 was planned in order to be able to lock the steel and stainless-steel housings securely with one door as well as with two doors. However, this concept had to be modified once again which further demonstrated EMKA’s development competence. The lock engineers designed a new type of bayonet ring with which the fasteners can be tightened easily, securely, and without tools within seconds. Following the approval for the AX at the end of 2018, including the AX into the initial inventory was carried out in the second quarter of 2019. Since the start of sales in the first quarter of 2020, the EMKA quarter turns are now used in the different models of the AX and KX series.
“The closure is, so to speak, an essential piece in the mosaic of the interaction of all components of our compact housings,” emphasises Achim Bloh. “When relaunching our series, we were particularly interested in quick and uncomplicated installation. With the development of the bayonet ring lock, EMKA has succeeded in a clever trick”. Among the essential positive points are the problem-free installation and the simple maintenance of protection classes and approvals by the EMKA quarter turns. The latter increases the safety and allows for use in many markets and industries so that customers in North America and Asia can also be sure of UL-compliant application. The small enclosures, for example, have four to six closures to guarantee compliant use. They rest smoothly on the door and take into account all the tolerances of the sheet metal coating. This guarantees optimum protection against water and dust. Combined with the tool-less assembly of the quarter turns within seconds, the user benefits from time savings, especially with volume products such as the compact and small housings.
Efficient delivery is also supported, where all flat parts of the packaging can be removed individually and do not have to be dismantled for processing, which is time-consuming. In total, the new AX is available in about 40 different dimensions. Most models are available in both painted sheet steel and stainless-steel versions. The user can, therefore, select the housing that suits their requirements – including the innovative EMKA quick mounting quarter turn.
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