When developing products for harsh environments a combination of knowledge and creativity is required.
It is usually best to start with one of the most important considerations (safety) and then look at other issues which may need to be taken into account. The ambient conditions in which the product operates can affect the product specification and must be determined in advance.
Tough environment # 1 Corrosive and damp environments
Water and humidity cause metal to rust, degrade chemicals and erode material. When mixed with salts and other chemicals, corrosion increases. This requires a material that can withstand these harsh conditions. A common material used is stainless steel which is available in different varieties, with acid-proof stainless being used to withstand chlorides. A more suitable name for stainless steel should be "rust slowly" as with all metals even stainless steel will evenyually corrode. The outer housing of the product will be affected by surface rust, but the important thing is that the strength or safety is maintained during the product lifetime. Sensitive parts of the product are protected with a high protection class, for example under a terminal box cover.
Elektra C, with IP65, still looks like new under the terminal box cover after long and hard use in a car wash.
Tough environment #2 Ships and offshore
Vibration on board ships and offshore platforms can cause devices and equipment to malfunction. Products in these environments must be very robust to withstand vibration. This can be solved with enhanced or flexible mounting. The choice of material is often important with a high protection class being required in these environments.
Tough environment #3 High temperatures
High temperature demands require consideration when selecting materials and components used for the entire product. All components must be able to withstand high temperatures, such as motor windings, terminal blocks and switches. These products are often required in environments where there is a need for a higher protection class.
Tough environment #4 Dusty and/or combustible environments
In combustible areas and dusty environments, such as joinery workshops, farms and industry, products with a very high protection class (minimum IP5X) are required, to prevent dust penetration and causing any malfunction or compromise in safety. Important parts which are not encapsulated must also be clogging resistant and dust must be prevented from accumulating in corners which may ignite. To avoid electrical fires heating products should have low temperature elements. The choice of material is also very important in these environments.
Tough environment #5 Potential explosive environments
Very high demands are required in order to develop products being used in environments where there may be risk of explosion. Products must meet the ATEX directives and should be controlled by an independent accredited certification institute.
Learn more about our robust products for harsh environments:
Indicates the mechanical protection against physical contact, solid objects and protection against water and moisture. Indicated by IP followed by two numbers where the first refers to touch protection and protection against solid objects and the second to protection against infiltration of water or moisture. Higher numbers mean more dense construction.