Harsh Environment Labeling in Manufacturing
In today’s international, just-in-time market, companies should be well informed on the ability to safely manufacture a product that is insulated from outside factors, such as excessive heat and frigid temperatures, damp or dry environments, or noisy environments. This also applies to harsh environment labeling of products. These factors can alter, damage, or even destroy a product. To best safeguard a company’s products, the manufacturer must protect against dust and other contaminants as well as water damage; especially important in this regard are products that contain electronics or electrical equipment. Electronic equipment such as computers or server equipment may be rendered unusable or damaged if dampness or icy temperatures are able to reach the product’s electrical components. There are two important standards of packaging that can assist in protecting the product from outside factors: NEMA and IP.
To better protect against outside containments, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, otherwise known as NEMA, developed a system to rate enclosure types of electrical equipment. There are various types of ratings, ranging from Type 1 to Type 13. It is important to note that the ratings are not presented in terms of product protection (e.g. Type 1 is the weakest and Type 13 is the strongest). Each type rating relates to a different type of protection application from outside factors. For example, a NEMA rating of Type 4 is used for enclosures to protect against the “ingress [of] solid foreign objects (falling dirt and windblown dust, …the ingress of water (rain, sleet, snow, splashing water, and hose directed water)); and … the external formation of ice on the enclosure”. In contrast, a Type 7 rating is used primarily for “enclosures constructed for indoor use in hazardous locations … designed to contain an internal explosion without causing an external hazard” (NEMA Enclosure Types).
On the other hand, the Ingress Protection (IP) Rating scale is another product protection standard for electrical enclosures. The IP scale consists of a two-digit number such as 65. The first digit “indicates the degree of protection from moving parts, as well as … from foreign bodies,” while the second digit “defines the protection level … from various forms of moisture (drips, sprays, submersion, etc.)” (IP Rated Enclosures Explained). Unlike the NEMA Types, the IP scale is presented in terms of weakest to strongest protection. The first digit ranges from 1 (no protection) to 7 (totally dust tight) and the second digit ranges from 1 (no protection) to 9 (protected against prolonged effects of immersion under pressure) (IP Rated Enclosures Explained).
NEMA Ratings and the Ingress Protection scale are convenient tools to gauge the product’s protection effectiveness for harsh environment labeling and manufacting. Companies should adhere to and develop their products to meet these requirements whenever possible to ensure the safe delivery of their electronic products.
“IP Rated Enclosures Explained .” The Enclosure Company. The Enclosure Company, n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.
“NEMA Enclosure Types.” www.nema.org. National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Nov. 2005. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.