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[ Focus: Cable management ]

more data and information cabling, cable management solutions have become a signifi cant part of the planning and specifi cation process.’ This has placed demands on manufacturers to produce systems with greater capacity and flexibility. Three- compartment uPVC trunking can accommodate power, data and voice cabling, and it usual to see two of the three compartments being used for cabling, with the third centre compartment providing cable segregation as well as room for easy termination. While traditional steel tray is also popular, wire tray is

continuing to gain market share as it is fl exible, quick and easy to install. The range of different fi nishes available also means that the type of wire tray used can be tailored to a specifi c application. Despite the range of products on offer, Paul Diggins, sales

director at Marco Cable Management believes that some contractors are failing to use appropriate products. He says: ‘All too often we see the latest structured cabling solutions being installed within inadequate containment solutions, which will have an adverse effect on the integrity of the client’s data throughput for years to come.’

Grand designs Category 6, 6A and 7 four pair twisted pair cables have precise manufacturing tolerances. The distribution of these cables requires specifi c and careful management, including greater separation between power and data and, in some circumstances, aluminium or steel screening. A key challenge for cable management solutions is to

ensure that they maintain the minimum bend radius through which the cable needs to travel. This dictates the size and design of both wire and uPVC systems, with special attention to both the internal and external bends along with the entry to the back boxes for termination of the data points. Jim Fletcher, managing director of Marshall-Tufflex,

explains: ‘The advance in category standard requirements means a demand for increased bend radius in trunking to facilitate installation and the development of systems with larger capacity data compartments.’

Features and benefi ts Cable management has evolved in line with the needs of the marketplace and over the last decade a much wider range of uPVC and wire based products have become available. Lee Jones of Schneider Electric believes that contractors

must recognise the unique features of these products. He says: ‘Contractors have shifted their way of viewing cable management, and the general consensus we are seeing is for the products to be treated as a commodity. This has meant value has started to erode from the market as contractors look for the lowest priced option and often neglect the features and benefi ts that vary between products.’ One area that has grown enormously is the use of wire

mesh cable tray. It is easy to cut and shape on-site using simple hand tools and a few nuts and bolts, meaning there is virtually no wastage, even on complex cable runs. It can offer signifi cant time and total cost savings compared with traditional heavy sheet steel products. Wire mesh tray also allows an installation to be modifi ed easily. Cablofil’s managing director, Paul-Edouard Courson,

The distribution of IT network cables requires specifi c and careful management

With modern working environments containing more data and information cabling, cable management solutions have become a signifi cant part of the planning and specifi cation process

In the news

The BBC is nearing completion of a massive project to redevelop and extend Broadcasting House in central London. The building will house 5,000 people, and as part of this scheme the Marshall-Tuffl ex MT-32 power distribution system is being utilised. The project is highly time-sensitive and power

installation work has to be carried out as quickly as possible. The new system had to be compatible with one already installed in the original Broadcasting House as part of the shift to digital broadcasting. The bespoke solution was designed and pre-

fabricated at Marshall-Tuffl ex’s manufacturing base. It has eliminated hardwiring on site at the BBC and permitted much faster installation times for electrical contractor, Phoenix Electrical. The modular power distribution system is delivered to site in cable management bays complete with pre-wired cable sets marked with circuitry and ready to feed into distribution boards. The system has gone into the initial fi t-out of the central apparatus area (CAA) and local apparatus rooms throughout the new 12-storey building, including three basement levels. Ivan Phelps, operations director at Phoenix Electrical, comments: ‘The initial CAA alone has required 81,000m of power cabling, 2,000 sockets and 32 pre-wired units contained within 513 bays supplied by Marshall-Tuffl ex. A further 322 bays are being installed throughout the building. The supply of cable sets pre- wired and ready to attach to the mains has made life a lot easier and fi tting far quicker.’

About the author

Rob Shepherd Rob Shepherd is a freelance journalist who has worked in the electrical contracting industry for over 10 years, most recently as editor of Electrical Contracting News (ECN).

May 2011 ECA Today 49

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