An innovative approach
Largely driven by the changing needs of electrical contractors and engineers, cable management and identification products have come a long way over the past few decades. This has been the result of a number of factors. Firstly, as the industry has continued to evolve, new builds and refurbishments have become more complex, leading to a greater need for innovative cabling solutions which assist in the design element rather than acting purely as a function of the building.
Also, innovation in cable management has been further coerced by legislative changes, triggered by the need to raise standards within the sector. Amid an increasingly rigorous specification process, while the ‘one size fits all’ approach might have once sufficed, the sector has adapted to become more flexible.
A good demonstration of how far the industry has advanced can be found by looking at the cable tie. Once a relatively simple product, HellermannTyton first began manufacturing cable ties in Manchester almost 70 years ago. Since then, the design and manufacture of cable ties has evolved and advanced to ensure they remain as essential to engineers today as they were back then. For example, to meet the challenging requirements of cable management in extreme applications, we now offer the heat resistant tie, which has the ability to operate for 10,000 hours at 150°C, as well the Peek Tie, an extraordinarily durable cable tie able to withstand temperatures of up to 260ÞC. These, however, are but two of an increasingly wide-reaching and innovative range of the product choices now available, many containing specific properties or particularly suited to certain industries, which has meant that cable ties are increasingly regarded as high specification products.
But it’s not just cable ties which have changed over the years, all sorts of cable management and identification products have advanced to offer safer, higher quality and easier to use solutions for those working in the industry which can save time and, in turn, money.
As a business committed to championing innovation, we are constantly working alongside industry experts in a range of sectors to develop and adapt our portfolio of fixings, identification, insulation and protection products to meet new standards and requirements.
Following increased interest from clients working in rail engineering, for instance, a special outside serrated tie which combines high tensile strengths, low insertion forces and a smooth surface was developed to reduce damage and wear on a cable caused by vibrations. Reducing the need for replacements, these ties are now being used in a number of areas where thin-walled or soft insulation wires and cable are being installed, including data cable installations and electronics. Another good example of innovative approach to product development is the Wall Plug Tie (WPT). Designed specifically for the construction industry, this time saving and versatile product effectively performs both the functions of a fixing and a cable tie and can be applied to brick, cement or wood.
This year has seen the arrival of the HelaCon Plus. Offering a faster, easier and more reliable solution to the traditionally used screw fix connector, HelaCon Plus features an advanced double spring system, which allows engineers to simply push solid or stranded wires into a connector without the need for screws. The low insertion force required means it takes less time and effort to do even the most complex of electrical applications, making it particularly suitable for use in tricky installations such as when working overhead.
In addition to improving efficiency, HelaCon Plus also offers optimal security. The innovative double spring technology ensures durable fixing that can be optically checked through its transparent housing while a separate voltage test entry on the front of the connector offers increased safety. HelaCon Plus also offers high strength, security and zero conductivity and is Halogen Free and VO rated. This provides a much safer alternative to the screw fix connector which can have fire risk implications due to the fact that if a connection is not secured correctly and live wires touch the plastic junction box, it can melt the material and can cause a fire. Consequently, using HelaCon Plus greatly reduces the likelihood of installation failures and costly call backs.
And it’s not just cable management products which have seen major innovation over recent years. Cable identification is also an important everyday consumable that has been advanced to make marking cables easier. TIPS (Thermal Identification Printing System) is a revolution in identification, allowing users to put more data onto a cable marker than ever before in a fraction of the time necessary when using traditional methods.
More recently, a utility client requested the development of a marker with a single hole on one side for it to be easily affixed to identify valves. The research and development team came up with the V Tag, which could effectively meet this need. Similarly, in response to incredible demand for a simple system to allow on-site printing of durable labels, our dedicated research and development team have designed the ADTAG. In huge demand, this printable adhesive tag offers quick, easy and flexible identification of assets such as enclosures, control panel components and cable racks that are not suitable for cable fastenings.
Aside from these specific product examples of innovation, one of the most important developments which has impacted on all areas of the field of cable management has been in the use of materials. In 2005, the RoHS Directive highlighted the need for improved standards of materials and how, as an industry, greater attention must be paid to the quality of the components used in installations.
When looking at materials used in early cable management products, it can be seen why innovation was essential. In 1987, the Kings Cross disaster became the greatest loss of life on the London Underground in almost a decade, killing 31 people. Fumes from melting ties, fixtures and cables were a key contributor to the number of fatalities so following the tragedy, new requirements were introduced for zero halogen (HF) and limited fire hazard (LFH) products to be used in public buildings.
In response, manufacturers at the time were required to develop suitable products to meet HF, LFH and V0 standards and test them for toxic smoke generation, flammability and flame propagation so that should a fire occur, the cable management products used will not contribute to fatalities. Driving innovation in material properties, this has helped to promote safer, more sustainable installations and raise industry standards.
Plus, as well as cable ties themselves, HellermannTyton has also developed a wide range of application tooling. The tools which tension cable ties and cut off excess tie, also reduce operator fatigue, speed assembly and ensure consistency. Particularly important in this time-sensitive business, each different tool is designed for a particular type of tie so that it works at maximum efficiency, accuracy and consistency.
Even though the cable management and identification products are often seen as easy to use essentials, there is much to consider before simply picking something off the shelf or out of a catalogue. In order to take full advantage of the latest products and attached benefits available, engineers and specifiers need to not only keep abreast of changes within the industry but take the time to seek more tailored solutions where applicable. Only by working together is it possible to develop and improve products to ensure that those involved not only have the most effective solutions at their fingertips but continue to improve industry standards.