David Folley at Rittal explores energy saving practises in enclosure designs

Usually efficiency is associated only with energy but the term efficiency means much more in view of increasing problems with the global climate and the environment. The topic of efficiency can be interpreted in different ways and could stand for profitability.

Public discussion about rising energy costs and discussions with customers demanding, more than ever ‘green products’, which offer better environmental practices, more energy efficiency and use less harmful materials have shaped the terminology greatly in recent years.

Manufacturers are listening and adapting their current practices and what shapes the future of enclosures are those manufacturers who have innovation through nature as part of their core strategy. At Rittal, however, the term efficiency is defined much more comprehensively. The company understand it not only as the efficient use of energy, but also the efficient use of time and materials in the form of more efficient assembly processes and more consistent engineering solutions.

We need to know today which equipment and which generations of servers and switching devices will be coming to market tomorrow, so that we can provide the corresponding infrastructure just in time. Customers can’t wait. They get a new server or new switching equipment and need the corresponding infrastructure solution.

Making sure that the components and modules our customers need for optimal solutions are in harmony has to do with efficiency. And this is where we come in with the company’s program ‘Rittal – The System.’ This means: We must be able to accommodate every trend in our enclosure infrastructure. In order to achieve efficiencies, intelligent partnerships are necessary. That is why Rittal is cooperating on the IT side with the big server manufacturers and in the industrial area with leading brand manufacturers, where we think in advance about the solutions or applications of the future. In this way we do not leave customers to face alone the complexity that will confront them in the future.

The topic of life cycle costs, which must be viewed in connection with efficiency considerations, has not yet been accepted everywhere. But the tendency is to think more and more in systems. However, it varies from sector to sector. In mechanical engineering and in the automotive industry, as well as in renewable energy, the cost pressure is so great that people are increasingly thinking about and looking for systemic solutions. Increasingly important is the question of how companies can use standardisation as well as platforms and processing that are uniform worldwide to be efficient actors in a world market.

Since we can not influence material costs, we naturally have to try to use the most intelligent design and production processes possible. For customers it is important that they can reduce their assembly costs distinctly in combination with our products. If these products can be assembled in a few minutes, then that is usually at least as valuable as material or energy efficiency.

In the area of climate control, the factors are energy efficiency through modern fan motors and intelligent control technology. In all areas, greater standardisation is needed, and here, too, we see that our standardised components make a significant contribution to efficiency.

Finally, everything must be software-supported. That is the next great challenge. The goal is to make it easier for users to work and to support them in the most efficient way possible, so that they always use the right components for the right application. One of the greatest areas of waste, for example, is excessively large climate control equipment. Particularly in enclosure construction, this was the practice in the past. Any climate control unit that is too large does not just cost more at one point in time but continues to incur greater energy costs throughout its life cycle. Falsely configured infrastructures are thus cost guzzlers throughout the complete life cycle of the product.