Roxtec UK looks at how innovative cable sealing solutions are being implemented across a wide range of industries to protect people and assets.
Effective cable management plays an essential role in any electrical system – from helping to maintain a tidy and aesthetically pleasing workspace, to protecting individuals, infrastructure and equipment. Wherever cables pass through walls, floors, foundations and bulkheads, as well as into cabinets, enclosures and junction boxes, the installation of safe, durable and reliable seals always needs to be a key consideration.
On land, at sea and underground
The range of applications for cable entry seals is huge. They are widely used across the power, marine and process industries, as well as within manufacturing, and the offshore oil and gas sectors. Indeed, anywhere cables are routed.
Cable seals are used to protect critical communication infrastructure within data centres and server halls, to create watertight seals at cable entry points onboard ships, and to help maintain the integrity of underground substations. They’re found in gas turbine power plants, aboard trains, and within food and drink manufacturing sites. In every situation they help to create a safe working environment and minimise the risk of downtime.
Protecting life and assets
One of the main functions of a cable transit is to keep people safe. At the same time they protect buildings and sensitive equipment from multiple hazards in order to ensure operational reliability. The potential risks vary depending on the environment in which the seals are being installed. Typical hazards businesses need to protect against include fire, flooding, pressure, vibration, risk of explosion and dangerous gases. Dirt, chemicals and fumigants can also pose a risk to individuals and equipment in certain situations, as can pests like rodents and insects.
A business in the marine and offshore sector might need its cable transits to be fitted with acid-proof stainless steel frames. A firm in the pharmaceutical sector is likely to require airtight seals at cable entry points within its laboratories. A mining operation may need cable seals that stop dust from entering its electrical rooms and causing damage.
Other sealing solutions are designed to protect against electromagnetic interference (EMI) and electromagnetic pulses (EMP). Cable seals offering this capability can be found aboard maritime vessels that are powered by electrical propulsion and rely on frequency converters to adjust their speed. In this situation, it’s critical that any unwanted high frequency disturbance isn’t allowed to affect the ship’s motors and cause damage. To prevent this, specialist seals are used to provide effective shielding for the cables.
Clive Sharp, Roxtec UK’s managing director, explains, “Cable transits are designed to cover an immense range of applications and can protect against an array of threats. If you take the example of switchgear located within an underground substation, it’s at risk from multiple hazards including water ingress and rodent activity.
“By installing suitable sealing solutions at points where cables enter the structure, it’s possible to mitigate these risks. As well as reducing the possibility of outages and the need for repairs, you’re guarding against the possibility of extended downtime and the considerable knock-on effects that can have on an entire operation.”
System maintenance and expansion
Cable routing can be complex and subject to constant change. The design of a new electrical system may need to be altered at the last minute, or perhaps completely overhauled in the years to come. For this reason it makes clear financial sense for businesses to plan for the future when installing new electrical systems and selecting sealing solutions.
Building spare capacity into cable transits makes it far easier to adjust to late design changes. It also simplifies the process of upgrading an electrical system at a later date – whether that involves replacing existing cabling or adding new cables. Regulations change, technology advances and building standards evolve. If a business has taken these possibilities into account from the outset, any future upgrades are far more likely to be time and cost effective.
Sharp concludes, “There are numerous factors that should be considered when selecting cable transits for an electrical system. Durability, adaptability and ease of installation are all key. The simpler a cable transit is to install, the greater the cost and time savings will be. If it’s openable and can be easily upgraded, a firm will save additional time and money further down the line when the electrical system needs to be updated.”