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The company also offers a configurable Art-Case range in four

base unit sizes. These are smaller instrument case solutions. It works the same way as the interface terminal platform, where the buyer purchases different front and back panels to create a different model, said Cox.

"In the past we developed new enclosures specifically for a

wall-mount, handheld or tabletop design.With the configurable enclosures you can use the base unit and the end customer can decide how they use it," said Cox.

With the plastic configurable solution, OEMs don't need to

redesign the board or displays to make it usable in a different environment or application," said Cox. As a result, they can save money on development by using common electronics parts, while just the housing changes to suit the end user, he added.

There also would be a time savings because they aren't

sourcing different enclosure ranges, said Cox. And they aren't holding stock for different versions, which makes it a bit simpler in both manufacturing and storage processes, he said.

Like most modular enclosure makers, Cox says configurable

solutions aren't perfect for everybody. "Some OEMs only make handheld units so they would buy a typical handheld enclosure and that would be their solution."

OKW's modular solutions are finding homes in building security systems and data logging units.

Quality matters Another enclosure maker focusing on enclosure modifications is HammondManufacturing.While the box maker primarily considers itself as a standard products company, Hammond

started to focus on value-added services in the form of modified and configurable solutions over the past several years to better meet the needs of its customers.

"No one buys a standard enclosure and uses it that way," said

Butts. "They have to add holes for cables, for example, so every enclosure we sell gets modified at some point. Customers have dealt with it themselves by drilling holes, which is an inconvenience and an added cost," he added.

"However, if someone is just buying one box and needs holes,

they're going to buy a standard enclosure and drill it out themselves. There really isn't much of a benefit for an enclosure manufacturer to modify it," said Scott Hammond, Hammond's regional product specialist.

"But if we are doing an enclosure the size of a refrigerator or

bigger, for example, often those are made out of thicker steel so it's easier for us to cut it. Stainless steel enclosures are thicker so there is a lot of wear and tear on the tools so it's an opportunity for us to do it with a laser," Hammond added.

Modifications typically start off with a Hammond design that

is modified with different holes, colors or sizes, said Butts. Hammond builds theses boxes from the ground up. "When

we do a mod, it's a standard design but we're building it and cutting it with our high-efficiency laser and stamping equipment and putting it through the process.We just don't take a box off the shelf and drill some holes in it. It's very high precision," said Hammond.

In the end, it's all about quality, he said. "When you cut it with a laser you can get a nice square corner

and the parts fit into it very nicely. That's one of the benefits

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June 2011 | 37 p38

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