Steve Slater, Product Manager at HellermannTyton, explains how installers and speciﬁers can help protect the commercial sector through effective cable management, while complying with the latest legislation.
One of the main priorities for business owners is securing, protecting and future-prooﬁng assets. Effective cable management and the use of ATEX-approved enclosures are just a few of the measures that can add value to businesses and protect them from unnecessary expenditure caused by downtime.
As with all installations, protection against possible ﬁre outbreaks is at the top of business owners’ priorities with insurance fees and downtime impacting businesses. Understanding how to protect customers assets are key for any installer and one way to ensure the commercial sector is secure is through the use of products that comply with relevant legislation and of the correct speciﬁcation and quality.
Enclosures are one of the ways businesses can protect themselves as they provide a secure place to house potentially dangerous cabling and equipment. However, businesses must comply with important legislation to ensure their wiring is operating in the safest environment to defend against the risk of ﬁre and explosions.
When companies perform risk assessments, they should identify what hazards exist and the next steps in managing these conditions. The European directive ATEX 94/9/CE states that it is compulsory to use ATEX-certiﬁed enclosures and equipment in potentially explosive, gaseous or dusty areas to reduce the likelihood of ignition and the danger of an explosion. Use of the correctly speciﬁed enclosures and accessories therefore offers a crucial solution to protecting electrical installations in high risk installations.
In deciding which enclosure is the best solution, there are many features to consider. Factors such as the location and the environment in which it will be installed, internal accessibility, the weight of internal equipment, operating temperatures, safety and security requirements highlight that all enclosure requirements are different. In most general-purpose indoor and outdoor installations mild steel is usually a suitable solution.
Mild steel offers a cost-effective solution for many applications and, when used with protective powder coatings, offers ingress and impact protection to provide resistance to corrosion when used in damp or wet environments. For continually wet and harsh environments, stainless steel enclosures have much better resistance to corrosion, while Glass Reinforced Polyester (GRP) does not corrode, has good UV resistance and offers ingress and impact protection equivalent to mild and stainless steel.
Enclosures are also secure and lockable meaning access can be controlled to a select group of people within a business. As some installations can often be dangerous and difficult to manage, having a secure enclosure means commercial buildings are protected against potential ﬁre risks and costly downtime, as well as any tampering or misuse.
The correct design and selection of cable management products is vitally important, not only for safety reasons, but for the longer term maintenance and reliability of an electrical installation. Ensuring that components are durable, have the correct ingress protection (IP) rating, resistance to corrosion, vibration and physical damage all lead to an installation that oﬀers long term reliability, be it in a factory, hospital, office, shopping centre or school.
In addition to ATEX-approved enclosures, businesses must also adhere to Amendment 3 to the BS7671:2008 Requirements for Electrical Installations. The changes to the IET Electrical Regulations last year were widely reported and it is vital that installers are aware and communicate the updates to customers to ensure they are complying with legislation.
The regulation BS7671 applies to all types of electrical installation systems in a building, including those of distribution circuits and final circuits, safety services and data and communications services. Installers and specifiers therefore have a duty of care in all sectors to ensure cabling and people are not exposed to preventable risks, especially if their customers are not aware of the regulation changes.
“Cable requirements for commercial installations vary from business to business and while all installations are different, installers need to ensure that they are providing the most secure solution that adheres to all relevant legislation.”
The updated requirements outline the need for cabling near escape routes to be supported by non-combustible fasteners and ﬁxings which are not liable to premature collapse in extreme heat. These changes mean that non-metallic cable ties, plastic wall plug ﬁxings, plastic trunking and plastic cable clips are no longer compliant with the new regulations. Fastenings need to be tested and certiﬁcated to the recognised standards, and while installers and speciﬁers will now be well aware of these updates, business owners also need to understand and potentially change their existing systems.
Cable requirements for commercial installations vary from business to business and while all installations are different, installers need to ensure that they are providing the most secure solution that adheres to all relevant legislation. Not only does this provide businesses with peace of mind that their building is compliant with regulations, but it also protects them against potential ﬁre and explosions.