From multiple modes of transportation to oil and gas rigs to wind turbine farms, electrical cables are crucial to many industries and the safety of their operations. For the aerospace industry, cables transmit electricity and data to make the plane work properly and allow pilots to communicate with on-the-ground personnel. In the food industry, cables keep factory lines moving while also boosting production efficiency. For miners, cables are necessary to keep everything from shuttle carts to mining pumps running smoothly. Why does this matter? It means that, whatever your specific industry, you probably have a need for working electrical cables that can withstand various temperatures, pressures and situations in order to protect you and your work environment. How do you choose the right kind?
To help answer that question, here are some elements of your business to keep in mind when choosing cables — so you can be sure you pick the best, safest options for your business and employees:
Temperature: In situations where circuits must keep running even under extreme temperature changes, such as in furnaces, ovens, cooking equipment or lighting fixtures, cables must be resistant to heat. If the cables aren’t properly fire-resistant and/or high-temperature rated, they could be severely damaged, which would then cause major damage to equipment and personnel. So when looking at cables, ask yourself the following questions relating to temperature:
- How hot or cold will the cables get in my application?
- Could these cables withstand the temperatures involved in this job?
Pressure: For industries that must utilize high-pressure sprays on equipment, such as the food industry, for example, the continual pressure on cables can wreak havoc over time. That’s why these situations call for tough, durable cables that can withstand abuse without threatening your business operations. To know you’re choosing durable cables that can withstand pressure, ask the following:
- What sort of pressure will these cables be exposed to?
- Are the cables I’m purchasing specially designed to hold up to high pressure?
Environmental Changes: Think about the specific environment into which your cables will be placed. Is it on a moving piece of equipment? Will it be exposed to chemicals on a daily basis? Will they be exposed to wash downs? Is your cable hanging and exerting tension? Do you need it to remain flexible in all situations? Is it buried underground? If so, you’ll need cables that are specifically designed to stay functional in any environment. Whether for a large ship or at an oil site, cables that can’t withstand environmental changes could cause disaster. Ask yourself:
- What sort of environmental changes will these cables experience?
- Can the cables I’m buying handle swings in temperature, movement, chemicals, tension, etc.?
Costs: As with any aspect of business, budget is always an important factor to keep in mind. Part of choosing the right cables for your budget is understanding how much “replacing” failing cable costs your production schedule from a pure cable cost and lost production hour cost. If your cable is failing over and over again, chances are you may be choosing the wrong cable product for the application. This costs your company money. The initial investment in choosing the right cable for your application can save your company money since it will last longer and require less replacements, hence saving production and labor costs.
Before selecting the cables for a given application, think through these questions:
- How often am I replacing cable in this application?
- How many employees does it take to replace the cable? How long does it take them to do? How many applications are changed out per day?
- Is it possible that there is a longer lasting cable available to me?
- Could I save my company money by investing in a longer lasting cable?
How are cables used in your industry? Whether it’s mining, utilities or government, there’s a good chance cables are involved. When selecting cables for your next project, use the elements listed above to know which to choose.
About the author:
Carol Sabovik is the Marketing Manager of TPC Wire & Cable Corp. (http://www.tpcwire.com/) in Macedonia, OH. TPC Wire & Cable is a leading wire and cable manufacturer for many markets, including industrial manufacturing and the automotive industry. TPC’s products are designed and engineered to withstand harsh conditions including abrasion, chemicals, constant flexing and extreme temperatures.