Monday, February 22nd, 2016
Emcor Enclosures designs and builds metal enclosures for sensitive electronics. Based in Rochester, MN, Emcor serves a variety of markets, including: security, government, test/measurement, aerospace, energy, and data communications (IT and data centers).
We recently had a chance to speak with Richard Grant, a designer and engineer on Emcor’s data center enclosure team.
Q: Can you tell us a little about what goes into building racks and cabinets for data centers?
RG: There are a variety of different rack/cabinet products (server cabinets, wall mount cabinets, switch cabinets, open frame racks, etc) that can be used for, or in conjunction with, a data center. Each one has something unique about the design/build. The underlying theme is that they need to protect the equipment they are housing and they need to be strong. They also need to accommodate the customer’s unique situation.
Q: You mentioned that you make them strong. Can you tell us a little more about that?
RG: Sure. Electronics and their components can get heavy and sometimes they need to be mounted on a wall to conserve space. That means they need to be sturdy! We use 14-gauge cold-rolled steel (you know, the same stuff in the Ford commercials). They are tough—able to handle 200 lbs. of load. In fact, we are getting ready to test our new wall mount cabinet for up to 500 lbs.
Q: Tell us more about how to test for load capacity
RG: We load test the frames in our facility right here in Rochester by attaching a load plate to the frame on a mounting fixture. We keep adding weight to it as we hoist the whole thing and watch for any deformation of the frame. It’s quite an ordeal!
Q: Tell us more what you mean about customer’s “unique situations”?
RG: Contrary to what most people think, data centers are often stuck away in a closet in an office building or within a company’s headquarters. Space is always an issue so we have been working to give people options for these tricky spaces. We have a variety of rack sizes and we can customize them to fit a space or specific needs.
Q: Can you give us an example or two?
RG: Absolutely. Sometimes data centers co-locate for companies, so one company’s servers will be in part of an enclosure and another company’s in another part of the same enclosure. The equipment needs to be separated and technical staff need to get at all the equipment, so we create racks that are extra wide so they can sit front to back; or, we also build extra tall racks (up to 9 feet) so several customers can sit in one enclosure.
When space is an issue and you are stuck with a certain size room, sometimes the best way to add capacity is by adding height. We have also designed a variety of hinges/door options to swing how they need in order to fit the space and offer the right access.
It seems like data centers are always needing to squeeze more stuff in the same size space, so it allows us to get a little creative.
Q: So you offer more than your standard enclosures?
RG: Absolutely! Our Guardian™ and Protector™ series are very popular, but sometimes people come to us with very specific ideas. As a designer, I work with these customers and our engineering team here to build exactly to their specifications. Sometimes we’ve taken a drawing scribbled on a napkin and turned it into an entire room!
Q: We know there’s more to these data centers than enclosures. What else does Emcor do?
RG: That’s correct. Of course all these electronics in a server room need power, and the cables can get out of control. It’s best when we know a customer’s power and cable needs right up front because we can build these right into the enclosure so everything is tidy and more streamlined. We have a bunch of components the customers can pick to add on to a rack or cabinet, like slide out shelves, doors, spaces for keyboards and monitors, fan panels; sometimes we add castors so the equipment can be rolled from one place to another. I could go on and on.
The other big area is in cooling. All of this equipment generates a lot of heat so we also help customers address cooling through clean room processes. This can save companies a lot energy and money.
Q: How long have you been with Emcor, Richard?
RG: I’ve been here over five years, but some of the guys on our team have been here thirty and forty years! We have a good time.
Emcor, a pioneer in the design and manufacture of enclosures for the electronics market, was purchased by and became a division of Crenlo in 1975. More than forty-plus years later, Emcor remains a leader in the enclosures market offering one of the largest selections of standard enclosure products and components in the industry. Crenlo has expanded that offering to include custom enclosure solutions building upon the Emcor brand.