When it comes to control panels, people in the industry tend to refer to what is on the inside – the wires and connections – rather than the enclosure itself.

However, the enclosure should not be overlooked. It is just as important to the success of a completed panel as is the wiring.

Made of stainless steel, control panel enclosures are available with either a flat or slope top. This was not always the case. Flat top enclosures were the industry norm for many years.

Yet, for certain applications, flat top enclosures have drawbacks. Notably, dust, dirt, and liquids can accumulate on top and even infiltrate the interior components – necessitating frequent inspection and cleaning.

NATIONAL ELECTRICAL MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION PUBLICATION.Slope top enclosures, because they shed water effectively, are easier to clean than most flat top enclosures. They are also easier to inspect from ground level. These are important advantages for food, beverage, and pharmaceutical manufacturers – each of which require a high level of cleanliness and sanitation in their production facilities.

Responding to customer needs

Working with Industrial Enclosure Corporation, Simplex first began development of slope top enclosures in the mid-80s in response to some issues Kraft Foods encountered with flat top enclosures. They noticed, for example, a very human tendency of line workers to put beverages and/or their lunch on top of flat top cabinets – creating the potential for spills and damage to electrical components.

New to the market

Slope top enclosures are common today, but at the time, were new to the market. Initially, there was some trial and error involved in producing them. Early versions had a sharp (approximately 30 degree) ‘nose’ that proved difficult to form reliably. Customer requests to make wider cabinets using heavier gauge metal also challenged the production team.

Eventually, the design evolved into a ‘snub-nose’ style of slope top and a great many of the forming and welding challenges were resolved. The design also helped to shed water away from the door/gasket area. A new type of nonabsorbent extruded neoprene gasket made of closed cell material (developed in cooperation with a trusted supplier) further enhanced resistance to infiltration of liquids.

Photo: Slop top enclosure for custom electrical control panel.

Innovative solutions

Simplex’s role in bringing slope top enclosures to market is just one example of our ongoing responsiveness to the needs of our customers and ability to find innovative solutions to the challenges they face.

Innovation is never achieved in isolation, however. Since our founding in 1970, we have maintained 20+ year collaborative relationships with suppliers who are committed to innovation, quick delivery, and competitive pricing.

Thank you to John Palmer, President of Industrial Enclosure Corporation, for assistance with this article. Simplex is proud to work closely with Industrial Enclosure Corporation (IEC). Based in Aurora, IEC was formerly a division of Simplex.


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