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Data Center Facilities Infrastructure
4 minute read

Why NEMA 12 Enclosures Are Needed for Edge Computing in Harsh Environments

Let's discuss solutions to support edge deployments in harsh environments.

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Anyone who manages IT environments is all too familiar with the 3 Ds of Doom – dust, dirt and drips. Any server, storage or uninterruptible power supply (UPS) device exposed to enough contaminants can suffer serious damage.

It’s something organizations in the midst of converging IT and operational technologies (OT) have to contend with. Ignore the 3 Ds and the result won’t be pretty. But there’s a solution: ruggedized enclosures designed specifically for harsh environments such as factory floors and warehouses.

Consider an auto assembly line. Once a fully assembled car reaches the end of the line, an intricate system of cameras scans every element of the vehicle to ensure it was put together correctly. Data is captured and analyzed in real time, which requires deploying servers and applications near the assembly line for processing and analysis.

While the equipment has to be close to the action, it also needs protection. Increasingly, organizations are housing their edge computing solutions in ruggedized NEMA 12 enclosures. NEMA stands for National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which defines construction standards for enclosures placed in industrial environments.

The NEMA 12 rating is specific to indoor use. Enclosures are made of rigid plastics or steal to protect against dust, dirt, and drips. Rubber gaskets on doors seal contents from airborne contaminants and non-pressurized fluids.

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Complete solution for edge computing

When organizations deploy a solution at the edge for automation, Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, or other purposes, it's important to consider the physical space. In pre-Industry 4.0 environments, equipment typically was housed in a closet or separate room but as edges solutions proliferate, companies quickly run of safe spaces for them.

We work closely with industrial clients to build complete solutions for the edge, including the enclosure. We source technology from our vendor partners to create best-of-breed solutions for specific customer needs. For turnkey edge solutions, we are working with Schneider Electric to provide ruggedized NEMA 12 enclosures purpose-built for low-density deployments of up to two servers. 

The enclosures accommodate Schneider Electric's power management hardware and monitoring solutions, as well as hardware from partners such as Dell and Cisco. These standardized, sealable compartments provide a ready-made solution for industrial customers’ automation, data-capture and analytics needs. The NEMA 12 enclosures deliver multiple benefits:

  • IoT/edge support – Otherwise inadequate spaces in harsh environments can be safely used to support distributed, connected networks.
  • Deployment flexibility – Enclosures come in several sizes – 16U, 24U and 42U – giving customers various options for installation. For maximum flexibility in tight spaces, 16U units can be wall-mounted.
  • Affordability – NEMA 12 enclosures cost a fraction of building dedicated server closets with all the necessary wiring and equipment, saving companies tens of thousands of dollars. In addition, deployment is fast and easy to replicate across multiple sites.
  • Simplicity – Delivering a complete edge computing solution in NEMA 12 enclosures simplifies deployment and management. Companies can monitor and manage all the equipment and applications from a single pane of glass. Without the enclosures, equipment likely would be split into different compartments.

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Get started

To add to the simplicity of deployment, WWT configures and tests customer solutions at our North America Integration Center (NAIC) in Illinois. Customers have virtual access to the center 24/7, so they can keep up with the progress of each project. When a solution is delivered, customers know that everything will work as expected because of the configuration and integration work completed at the center.

As industrial organizations implement Industry 4.0, they need simple, quick ways to deploy technology across their distributed environments to compete in a dynamic market. Follow WWT’s Facilities Infrastructure Practice or request a Facilities Workshop to learn more about how we can ensure successful edge computing deployments in harsh environments.