Friday, March 18, 2011

Non-Metallic Enclosure Reliably Protects Unattended On-Line Monitoring Unit

Non-Metallic Enclosure Reliably Protects

Unattended On-Line Monitoring Unit

By:Mark Rawlinson


EnviroTech Instruments LLC

EnviroTech Instruments develops and manufactures automated analytical systems for environmental and water quality applications. Our focus is implementing remote, low-power telemetry-enabled systems that continuously monitor nitrate, phosphate and ammonia concentrations in natural waters, agricultural run-off, wells and drainage systems.

The Challenge: Protecting our AutoLAB -Automated Chemical Measurement System

AutoLAB is an automated field-deployable nutrient analyzer system that utilizes standard approved methods. AutoLAB's highly modular design may be configured to measure between one and four nutrients in parallel and run in unattended auto-sampling mode for long periods.
Simple user maintenance and periodic self-calibration enables AutoLAB 4 to cost-effectively provide high-frequency nutrient data with minimal operator overhead. Data telemetry via low-cost radio or cellular modems provides the customer with complete real-time visibility of field conditions for monitoring and early warning.

Because AutoLAB's applications always require it to be placed in environments characterized by extreme conditions, the critical controls and instrumentation must be properly protected to ensure proper functioning and to maintain optimum reliability in the transfer of critical data from field-to-customer. To safeguard these essential instruments we rely on an enclosure to house the system and to do its job keeping everything free from damage.

When we first built the AutoLab system we specified an aluminum enclosure believing it would meet our needs. We soon discovered that even after several months in the field these enclosures became heavily impacted by both sun and rain. Specifically: their finish appeared to be failing --- which was both detrimental to AutoLAB's quality image an indication to us that the substrate was vulnerable to compromise. Also: metallic enclosures are subject to denting: an occurrence that can easily cause the gasketed sealing to fail. Once that happens, it is only a matter of time before damage within the enclosure takes place.

The Solution: Non-Metallic Enclosures from Stahlin

Stainless steel enclosures presented an option, but their higher cost and excessive weight was something we were unwilling to pass along to our customers. Interestingly, one of those customers had been successful using non-metallic enclosures from Stahlin for other controls systems they were protecting in extreme conditions. Their positive recommendation of reliable protective service led us to ultimately selecting Stahlin's J and N Series Line of nonmetallic enclosures to house AutoLAB.

For AutoLAB's typical field applications it was very important to us that that Stahlin's enclosures are molded from SolarGuard®, a patented sheet molded compound formulation that claims to provide superior molded-in UV resistance. We found those claims to be true and consequently are now successfully using the Stahlin enclosures to protect our control systems from UV damage as well as other environmental threats such as corrosion and moisture. In turn this protects the reputation and image of our products.

The Stahlin J Series product line was developed as an industrial enclosure for harsh, aggressive environments. Originally designed as an electrical junction box for the oil refining and petrochemical industries, the J Series has evolved over the years into a versatile industrial enclosure with varied applications for use from high-end electronics to extreme corrosive applications both indoors and out.The rugged design in combination of over fifty plus years experience has proven to hold extreme reliability in tough environments and is a key attribute of this series.

As AutoLAB is modular and has a broad range of applications the other J and N-Type enclosure features we appreciate are the vast choice of sizes, numerous cover and window options, various hinge and latch configurations and integral molded mounting flanges. Stahlin's enclosures are also NEMA rated type 1, 3, 4X, 6P, 12 and UL/cUL/CSA approved.

The Conclusion: Successful Switch to Non-Metallic Enclosures

Extensive field exposure for AutoLAB housed in Stahlin's non-metallic enclosures has demonstrated their ability to maintain a watertight seal, reliably protect our instrumentation from potential damage by corrosion, moisture, dust and other debris. In addition, the original enclosure finish and aesthetic appearance remains consistent even with extended exposure to elements and UV radiation. Incorporating Stahlin's enclosures in our product line has been another step forward within our policy of continuous improvement.

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