Cable Management and Electrical Safety

By: Adam Huang


Cable trays are an integral part of your cable management system, and as such, you need to take into account the electrical safety of your structure. When you have open spaces for cables, one way to organize them is through cable trays, fitting cable trays together to form a structure. When you plan your cable management structure correctly, you can avoid the safety hazards of overloading your trays.
No matter the material or configuration of your cable trays, be sure to plan a set up that will allow you to grow. Your cable management should be such that you meet and foresee both current and future trends. If you might add cables later, then you should account for that and fill your cable trays even less, anticipating the need later.
The National Electric Code (NEC) provides specific requirements to ensure you avoid safety concerns. Cable tray fill requirements will depend on the type of cable tray, whether you have solid, ventilated, wire or FRP trays. The proper cable management will ensure you do not overload your cable trays.
If you have ventilated trays will allow the most fill, because the airflow is better in these systems. However, if you are unsure what your requirements are specifically, then there are general guidelines that can help. In general, you should not fill your cable trays any more than 40-50 percent of the area inside the tray. You also need to consider the weight, as the specific cable tray will tell you the specifications.
Cable management is important because of the safety hazards associated with overloaded cable trays. Whether you overload or improperly secure the wires within the system, you could cause the entire cable system to break. This could break the tray itself, or any of the connecting points or supports, which can have catastrophic results.
If you do the cable management improperly, this causes a dangerous system for anyone operating underneath the cable system, in case the system breaks or falls. This in turn would leave other cables connected improperly, which could potentially cause electric shock or arc-flash.
In addition, this type of break would cause damage to the other cables within the cable tray. If you overload the cables, the heat build-up has no proper escape. When you overburden the current flows, you are inviting potential fires and shock hazards. This overburdening can also lead to toxic fumes spreading. Because of these reasons and more, it is essential that you plan your cable management well.
Be sure to recognize when a cable tray is overloaded and that you do your wiring methods correctly. This will help you avoid potential disasters in the future, saving you time, stress, money and even lives. Though cable management is not easy, and it can take time in the initial stages, cable management will benefit you in the end. With the proper usage of cable trays, you will stay in synch with the National Electric Code, and you will be doing yourself and your employees a favor.

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June Leuizamo is a writer who has special skills with Electrical Fittings

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