Using the busbar to take the fast track

Oct 4, 2012 | Cables and Accessories

In today’s modern environment, speed of installation is crucial. This is applicable to every aspect of a job, right down to something as simple as busbar trunking. Here, Sue Wright of Schneider Electric offers some advice on the latest innovations in this area of cable management

Specifiers and engineers are under increasing pressure to meet tighter budgets and tighter timescales, meaning it is imperative to keep up with schedules, work more efficiently and be more cost effective, particularly with the threat of large penalties if installations run late.

Specifying products which are quick and easy to install is obviously one way to reduce the risk of complications and ensure projects are kept on track.

A different approach

This requires a holistic, acute approach. Engineers would once have given measured consideration to the larger items of the specification process, but nowadays it’s just as important to take smaller scale products into account. In many cases, these can have just as much impact on the safety and durability of the electrical installation.

With significant advances in recent years, cable management is an area where this approach can clearly be demonstrated. Previously aluminium and steel remained the dominant options for more arduous environments, favoured for being robust, strong and cost effective. However, there is a fast emerging new product that is becoming the preferred choice – busbar trunking.

Clearly busbar trunking has been around a long time (more than 50 years) but a stumbling block for contractors and engineers has always been the high cost involved.

Wind of change

However, the continued development of busbar trunking has seen the reduction of installation times due to the fact that the trunking eliminates excess cables and cable runs through the installation, while eliminating cabling errors. It is estimated that the use of busbar trunking lowers labour costs across the complete building. Given that time naturally translates into money for the busy engineer, this means drastically reduced cost.

There are other benefits of using busbars. Conceived as an alternative to conventional methods of electrical distribution, busbar trunking is built as a distribution system which uses cable and cable mounting systems. With an outer metallic casing which contains either copper or aluminium conductors, it is supplied in fixed lengths which can be quickly and easily joined together using joint kits supplied by the manufacturer. The result is improved flexibility, allowing the user to install a feeder without disruption.

If a business changes its layout or increases its power rating, a key advantage of busbar trunking is that it can be amended to accommodate these changes. The electrical installation can easily be upgraded as part of future investment projects and it’s possible to add or remove loads without cutting off power to the rest of the installation. This is particularly pertinent in the industrial and commercial arenas, which are subject to constant change.

Busbar trunking also reduces power losses in an electrical installation while lowering emissions, thus helping to improve energy efficiency. A busbar also boasts further environmental advantages as it can easily be recycled and reused as it can simply be removed from an installation where it is no longer needed and fitted somewhere else, thus reducing wastage and saving money.

What’s on offer

One emerging busbar product is Schneider Electric’s Canalis KDP, a system of busbar trunking for lighting and power distribution in all types of buildings. It is easy to fit in a suspended ceiling or raised floor, while access points are available wherever they are required. There is also a specific connector for lighting control.  The fixing can be adapted to building structures and clipped onto a wire basket, cable tray or concrete beams.

By using the latest in busbar trunking, engineers can provide a safe, secure, efficient and reliable cable management system which will continue to meet their needs now and in the future. And so, it would seem that, when it comes to cable management, the need for busbar trunking is certainly gaining momentum.

Schneider Electric

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