Pump Control Enclosure Selection


Written by:
Jim McWilliams, Integra Enclosures

Guidelines for choosing the ideal enclosure for any application.

Choosing the right enclosure to protect pump monitoring equipment is paramount. However, when the time comes to make a selection, many engineers and purchasing agents do not have a good grasp on the many enclosure options available. Enclosures are not typically noticed or thought about until a problem arises, and the instrumentation stored inside has been compromised.

The cost of inadequate protection can be tremendous. Not only can damaged equipment represent significant replacement costs, but the inability to monitor a pump for any length of time can be devastating to the pump and the process in which it is involved. 

Whether this means that the monitoring of a pump at an oil field is interrupted or a pump leak is not detected during chemical processing because a sensor panel has been damaged, it is easy to see how monitoring disruption exacts real consequences if an enclosure is compromised.

Often,  a pump operator may want to monitor a variety of conditions. These conditions include monitoring levels in fuel tanks or water towers; high- or low-pressure conditions that may lead to pump failure or system damage; high-current conditions or power loss; or high- or low-voltage conditions. Actual pump failure may lead to significant losses in production or possibly damage to the system or surrounding property in the instance of water or wastewater systems.

Pump applications in which remote monitoring has been implemented include almost any liquid medium such as oil, natural gas, petroleum, water, wastewater and varying chemicals. 

Previous to wireless remote monitoring, the pump could only be inspected onsite by a technician. In the case of a pipeline or a remote well, days or weeks could pass before a problem is discovered. With remote monitoring, the well or pipeline can be monitored 24/7. 

Often a problem can be detected before the pump has been damaged or fails, saving thousands in downtime, production and repair. For this reason, remote pump operators know that the monitoring system is as important as the pump system itself, and the enclosure is one of the most important components of the monitoring system.

Protection from a Distance

Pump monitoring and control enclosures are used in an endless range of industries including:

  • Oil & gas
  • Water treatment
  • Petrochemical

When choosing the right protection for pump monitoring and control equipment, end users should be aware of the unique environmental and protection challenges that the enclosure must overcome. Perhaps more true in the oil and gas industry than in any other, remote monitoring applications need their highly sensitive communications equipment and antennae to withstand extreme environments in isolated locations. Remote monitoring enclosures must be ready for all extremes including: 

  • Desert plains
  • Alaskan landscapes
  • Heavy rain
  • Saltwater environments

Choosing the right remote enclosure solution can often be reduced to a handful of factors that—when considered carefully—can guide the selection of the best equipment protection and eliminate the stress involved with the enclosure purchasing process. In addition, selecting the correct enclosure ensures longer life, for the box and for the equipment safely stored inside. 

Since an enclosure will likely need to withstand and protect sensitive equipment for several years, research and consider which enclosure option will be most reliable. 

Considering these important factors will help clarify the selection:

  • Manufacturer
  • Interference
  • Security
  • Mounting options
  • Material strength and impact resistance
  • Aesthetics 
  • Hinges
  • NEMA rating

Manufacturer

An important way to ensure that the right enclosure is chosen for a pump monitoring application is to select an experienced manufacturer as a partner. A seasoned enclosure manufacturer will expertly assess the application and help select the best equipment protection. The key is to provide the manufacturer representative with as much information as possible. 

  • Where will the enclosure be mounted? 
  • What temperature range will it need to withstand? 
  • Will it be exposed to impact or water? 
  • What holes and/or modifications will the application require? 

All these details will help an enclosure expert make an educated recommendation that will provide optimal protection.

Interference

Unique to the needs of remote monitoring applications, most pump monitoring instrumentation in the oil and gas industry is accompanied by an antenna to transmit data collected to the pump and system operators. One of the first considerations should be to determine whether the antenna—the vital centerpiece of a complex electronic system—will be stored inside or on top of the enclosure box. If the antenna must be protected from extreme weather and other conditions by storing it inside the enclosure, the type of enclosure material chosen will be paramount. A non-metallic box will be needed in this case, since the walls of metallic enclosures interfere with the antenna’s radio wave signal transmission.

Security

In tandem with antenna interference, security should be an important selection consideration. This is particularly true with pump monitoring applications, which are by nature remote and often not quickly accessible. 

Attention from would-be vandals and thieves should be avoided at all costs. Storing an antenna on top of an enclosure can often signal that valuable equipment is stored inside. The more secure option is housing sensitive and expensive equipment—including the antenna—safely inside the enclosure. 

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See also:

Upstream Pumping Solutions

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