With our dependency on technology increasing in recent years, it’s more important than ever for installers to ensure a reliable and flexible power and data distribution system, as Emma Segelov, Head of Marketing at MK Electric, explains.
The ‘Internet of Things’ continues to have a transformative impact on the commercial world and is being increasingly used in all types of applications. In fact, it’s widely predicted that the world will have 50 billion devices connected by 2020.
Take, for example, the modern university. Less than a decade ago, pen and paper was the ‘go-to’ resource for taking notes in university lectures and seminars whereas today mobile devices are commonplace across campus, for both academic and recreational purposes.
Indeed, a recent study by St Andrews University found that almost 89% of students used their electronic devices for more than 50% of their study time; while 14% used them for the entirety of it.
This movement is echoed in all areas of the commercial environment. With flexibility and mobility becoming key trends in the workplace of the future, laptops are replacing traditional office PCs and we’re also seeing tablets become the new work tool of choice. In fact, according to a new study tablets have become the standalone business device for 40% of users and, while most still use another device for business purposes, the proportion relying solely on their tablets is rising.
The implications for a commercial building’s power and data distribution system are threefold:
Firstly, the sheer number of electronic devices means more power points are required to charge them.
Secondly, the distribution of power is different – users want the flexibility to use their mobile devices in large spaces – meaning conventional, wall-mounted switchsocket outlets aren’t always ideal as they don’t enable enough flexibility. Take for example, a bank of desks or a common room in a university or a meeting room table in an office – here it’s vital to get power data to the middle of the room where the sockets are fitted, so wall-mounted distribution simply won’t suffice.
Finally, in some cases, such as businesses with prevalent overseas relations or universities catering to foreign students, solutions are needed beyond the conventional, UK three-pin switchsocket outlet.
So, how can installers design a power and data distribution system to meet these needs? Generally, while wall mounted switchsockets are ideal when you’re in proximity and when your devices’ power lead will reach the wall, floorboxes are a must when it comes to distributing and accessing power across a wide room area, ultimately, into the middle of the room. Being located within the floor, they can provide access to hard-to-reach areas so users aren’t restricted to a wall mounted power supply.
Better still, floorboxes are incredibly flexible in the fact they can be moved; so if a university, for example, has a desk reshuffle, or an office changes its meeting room functionality, the floorbox can work with the new layout.
To meet the needs of overseas users, MK Electric offers certain non-British standard switchsocket outlets, as well as USB charging outlets to solve compatibility issues.
USB charging outlets offer the benefit of negating the use of adapters, convenient for all users who need power on the go, but don’t want to be restricted to carrying their bulky mains power chargers around. Also, by choosing a reputable manufacturer, installers can also be assured that safety is kept firmly at the forefront.
MK Electric floorboxes also have several features built in, such as self-closing lids, which help eliminate trip hazards and the risk of damage to the products. The use of tethered lids and robust cord caps ensures that the floorbox can withstand frequent usage and, as an assurance of quality and reliability, all MK Electric floorboxes also come with a reassuring five-year guarantee as standard.
For areas of high footfall, such as reception areas and corridors, a durable product is needed to withstand the pressure of high volume use. The Onix Plus range of floorboxes and power grommets are perfectly suited to hard floors such as laminate, wood, stone and marble. Available in several finishes, they can also be tiled over to suit the building’s aesthetic while floorbox lids with snorkel design allow for the floor to be washed, even while in use.