November/December 2020 | Vol. 25 No. 6
by Steve Killius, Vice President, Contractor Industry Affairs and Programs, Electrical Wiring Systems, Legrand
There are many things that help us become more efficient where we work, live, and
play, and production and industrial facilities are no exception. By carefully selecting your electrical infrastructure, you can boost efficiency, enhance productivity, and cut down on costs. Whether it’s planning for a new space or rehabbing
an older one, the electrical infrastructure can make a big difference.
Benefits of a well-designed electrical infrastructure include many top-of-mind items, including lower initial cost, lower lifetime maintenance cost, operational productivity and efficiency, and overall facility and worker safety.
To begin, it’s wise to take a closer look at open cable management systems like ladder tray and wire mesh cable management systems. These options provide lower installation and lifetime costs, which can help anyone designing a factory floor. Additionally,
open cable management is highly flexible and installs easily. This means that you can quickly repurpose the space, making changes when you need to.
Once installed, a grid of ladder or wire mesh tray gives a facility an open system with better access to electrical infrastructure. It also permits greater flexibility in where you place machinery, conveyors, and workstations.
A properly designed cable management system will yield benefits for the life of the facility.
For new construction projects, consider in-floor systems, which provide easy access to power and communications wherever you want them. They also offer the flexibility to move, add, or change your system activations at any time without added cost. In-floor
trenches and ducts are a trusted, reliable system for flawless performance in open spaces. With extremely large cable capacity and many different widths/depths, these systems can accommodate all jobs.
Trench ducts are installed flush with the finished floor and provide easy access to cabling after installation via removable cover plates. Duct systems provide wire management while maintaining the right look and feel
in a space. Because they’re buried in the floor, cables are out of sight and safe from abuse. Duct runs provide a range of capacities to suit any situation and to future-proof the wire management system. Ducts can be used individually or combined
with other ducts or trenches to deliver power and communication services to workstations wherever needed.
If your facility design requires your infrastructure to serve from overhead, power poles and retractable cord reels let you easily place power access throughout a facility.
For permanent installations that are unlikely to require frequent change, power poles are an optimal way to run power and communications down from the ceiling. This neat and efficient method blends right into the space around it. Power poles also allow
in-field modifications such as device and height changes. You can select from many receptacles to deliver whichever services you need, right to the point of use.
Retractable cord reels protect and organize cables, so they’re ideal for assembly and fabrication workstations. Cord reels also help factory workers save steps and time by putting safe, reliable power and static
discharge right by these workstations. They also increase the flexibility you have when setting up workstations. Because they’re so simple to add, you can place them wherever they’re needed. Cord reels are durable and rugged, providing
years of reliable service with little maintenance and few components. You can also specify and configure them to meet the specific needs of your facility.
Interlocks, safety switches, and disconnects at the point of use are easy to apply. Their compact dimensions and flexible wiring complement the versatility you have with installation; they also offer adjustable mounting options. Once installed, they’ll
withstand tough conditions like water in washdown areas, accidental impact, furnace or welding heat, vibration from equipment, and contamination from shavings, dirt, and dust.
Interlocks can be fusible or non-fusible. They also feature a tamper-resistant activating assembly and cover-integral switch mechanism to protect against unauthorized overrides. Highly visible ON/OFF designations make statuses easy to read with just a
quick glance. Many interlocks can also meet OSHA lockout/tagout requirements.
Fusible and non-fusible safety switches deliver many of the same features and benefits of fusible and non-fusible mechanical interlocks. They provide maximum protection against water, dirt, heat, and vibration—as
well as just about any other harsh condition you’ll encounter. You get the same installation flexibility, too. Safety switches put control right at the point of use. With multiple amperage capacities, there’s a fusible or non-fusible safety
switch that’s ready to provide safety and functionality for you in any industrial environment.
If you have a harsh environment, consider stainless steel industrial switches, which won’t corrode. Type 316 steel should be used in these switches to withstand repeated exposure to salt, acids, and chemicals—even washdowns at extreme temperatures—
without corrosion or breakdown. Choose switches with handles that can be padlocked to meet OSHA lockout/ tagout requirements. It’s just another way to commit to keeping your plant and employees safe and compliant.
Corroded electrical devices are simply not an option. They open the door to electrical failure on your line. Especially in the case of food and beverage plants, they can become a breeding ground for contaminants that can cause food-borne illnesses.
As you know, downtime is expensive. In the industrial environment, select properly rated plugs and connectors for your environment that resist dirt, water, oils, lubricants, and soaps while maintaining NEMA 4, 4X, 6,
and 6P and IP65, 66, and 67 ratings. Using rugged dust-tight or watertight plugs and connectors can protect your system integrity and help prevent outages.
Portable ground-fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs, can be used where needed for equipment and personnel protection. Choose rugged housings that stand up to impact and hard use. You can also select water- resistant designs for wet and corrosive indoor/outdoor
environments. Units with automatic reset ensure continuous power for pumps, freezers, refrigerators, and more.
Temporary power solutions for recovery and restoration may become important in the event of disaster. Keeping some temporary portable power solutions on hand will permit quick recovery, protecting production schedules and profits. Power distribution units
can be set up throughout the facility, wherever you need them. In addition, heavy-duty cable protectors ensure your facility remains safe and that all connections are secure.
Design flexibility, efficiency, productivity, and safety right into the electrical infrastructure of your facility. There is plenty of innovation in this space, so don’t accept the arguments to build subpar systems because that’s what has
always been done. You can save money upfront and during operations with an electrical system that delivers efficient use of space, flexibility in operations, better reliability, and easy maintenance—all while helping to ensure worker safety
and comfort. ei