If the last few years and industry trends are any indication, the equipment protection product market is going to see notable and continued evolution over the next few years. Here are a few things I think we’ll see happening in the enclosure market in the not-so-distant future:
Rising cost of steel is one factor that will fuel a move away from stainless steel-made enclosures. In turn, more and more people will demand an alternative to fiberglass enclosures, such as polycarbonate, which doesn’t warp or splinter like fiberglass does (to name just a couple attributes). This shift will mirror what’s already been happening for a while in Europe, where the cost for steel has already risen.
Demand for enclosures will increase in the smart grid industry, to name one. Power companies have begun implementing and refining power distribution at the individual residence level. By placing controls inside an enclosure on the house exterior, utility companies can coordinate when power is served, and the dollar savings as a result are phenomenal. For example, by staggering when different homes’ air conditioning turns on, power companies can drastically reduce the energy draw. This example, while granular, shows just one way that the smart grid is adapting and finding new, creative applications – many of which will require reliable equipment protection solutions. These and other emerging technologies will be the primary driver for the enclosure market, in contrast to the days when the automotive industry and other big players set the course for enclosures.
OEMs will opt to work directly with enclosure manufacturers more than ever. As manufacturers provide the service and lead times OEMs need, more of these companies will choose to deal directly in order to benefit from cost savings.
Polycarbonate enclosures will earn a bigger share of the market in the coming years. As more engineers and industry professionals realize the benefits of the polycarbonate enclosure material—such as strength and durability—the demand for this non-metallic enclosure option will grow.
No question: the industries we serve are changing quickly, and we have to be nimble enough to adapt our enclosures to their applications. In any case, it’s an exciting time to be in the business of equipment protection. Feel free to share your thoughts and predictions in response!