Managing cables, not just a matter of containment



Cable containment has come a long way over the years. The days of it being just a bit of steel or plastic pipe to shove some cable down have developed into an industry of not only accommodating power but also data, voice, video and all manner of cables and wires for the current technologies. These are all to be safely bundled, segregated and controlled in materials that minimise pollution, fail to burn and even kill bugs that land on them! uPVC, the current material of choice has good sustainability and is fully recyclable and most manufacturers utilise a percentage of recycled materials into the products for commercial and environmental reasons.

As the traditional round conduits and sheathing gave way to mini and multi-compartment trunking so the move in recent times has been away from the box shaped, purely practical styling to designs that are more visually appealing whilst still maintaining the virtues of easy installation and improved functionality. To offer improved cable capacities whilst appearing shapely and discreet has been the objectives of the designers.

Such a design is the new Meridian three compartment dado range from Centaur Manufacturing. The stylishly curved outer covers not only do not allow the placing of the obligatory cup of coffee on the top panel with all the inherent safety implications of that habit but the lower cover cleverly hinges down to assist in laying in the cables during installation before being clipped up into position.

Contemporary designs with curved appearances reduce the likelihood of dust collection which is perhaps more important within the healthcare sector where the addition of silver based biocides in the uPVC compound can provide an anti-microbial protection against MRSA and Klebsiella Pneumoniae. To comply with Part M of the Building Regulations centre compartment lid can be manufactured in contrasting colours to the electrical accessory products to be fitted, such as in dark grey to highlight the switching positions. As a primary manufacturer Centaur can provide the Meridian range in colours for purely aesthetic reasons; to complement intended decorations or match corporate colours.

To assist the installer to quickly and easily fit to the wall surface the three compartment base of the Meridian range is pre-punched during its extrusion process. With the knowledge that not all buildings have true 90 degree corners, perhaps more likely the older the building, most modern designs have adjustable internal and external corner units to allow for a certain adjustment which avoids the need for on-site cutting and using of filling compounds. All corner unit covers and indeed all trunking lids of the Meridian range are simply clipped on, providing a quick, neat and easy to clean finish. The design has a provision for optional direct fixing of covers with screws and associated plastic cap covers where perhaps additional security is deemed necessary, such as in schools, universities and hospitals.

Of course the majority of cables fitted are for data transmission and the need to preserve the integrity for Category 6/7 compliance is of paramount importance. Cables are gently swept around corners and T’s to not impact upon transmission values, whilst maintaining suitable segregation from any power cabling. Additionally internal steel sections can be fitted by sliding strips into the base section or by conductive nickel coating of internal faces. Either system can provide the necessary screening to avoid the possible interference generated when laying power cables near to those of data transmission.

Attempting to consider everything for the installing contractor and end user, most manufacturers even offer protective film that is laid on the outer covers during the extrusion process and peeled off following final decoration. The Meridian range by Centaur demonstrates just how far cable management has progressed from the early days when the contractor’s experience and the end user’s opinions were nobody’s business!