Cable Cleats From Ellis Patents - The Innovation Game

By Chris Dodds on 24th August, 2015

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Cable Cleats From Ellis Patents - The Innovation Game

The Innovation Game 

At first glance, the cable cleat may not seem like a product ripe for design innovation. Its role securing electrical cables in the event of a short circuit seemingly straightforward enough to preclude it from such activity.

But look more closely and you’d quickly realise you were wrong.

Cable cleats, like pretty much any other product, are developing all the time.

Their manufacturers constantly seeking new ways to deliver products and solutions that are stronger, more reliable, and easier and cheaper to install.

Nowhere is this forward thinking approach to cable cleat design seen more than at Ellis Patents – where the globally renowned market leader is now very much reinventing itself as the industry’s trendsetter. 

“We spent close to half a million redeveloping our offices in 2013,” said Ellis’ managing director, Richard Shaw. “The aim being to create a space that properly reflects our position as a company with a global reputation and a reach to match. We were delighted with the results. 

“The market is growing increasingly competitive,” continued Richard. “There are more manufacturers making cleats, and in some cases producing more or less exact replicas of the most popular cleats, which means existing streams of opportunity are being squeezed."

“As we’ve done ever since I joined the business in the early noughties we’ve responded by subtly shifting our focus. Back then export was something we really only dabbled in."

"Today it accounts for over 50 per cent for our annual turnover and is still growing – we’re exploring new markets constantly and already this year have secured first time orders for specifications in the Philippines, Chile and Colombia."

“Export though isn’t the only way. In recent years there’s been a growing demand for project specific solutions – that is bespoke cable cleats designed and manufactured to a client’s exact specifications.If you have the ability and capacity to go that extra mile then there’s a lot of business to be won.”

Ellis has certainly not been slow in demonstrating its capabilities when it comes to project specific cleats.

Only a handful of months ago it sealed a major UK Power Networks (UKPN) specification after it became clear that cable being laid in a vital section of the new London Power Tunnels network couldn’t be satisfactorily restrained using a standard cable cleat.

While in 2014, they went even further by designing the world’s first two-in-one cable guide and clamp after Siemens came to them on a live offshore power project with a major installation headache.

The largest engineering company in Europe was seeking a way to feed, fix and then restrain seven 117mm diameter cables along a specified route within a fabricated structure, which featured a significant number of twists and turns. Ellis’ solution?

The Ellis Patents Cable Guide Clamp – an ingenious product they designed, developed and put into manufacture within weeks of Siemens outlining the nature of its problem. It works in two stages.

Firstly, cables are guided by it into their final location, while trumpeted entry and exit points ensure the cable is not damaged when fed through particularly sharp angled turns.

Once the cable is laid correctly, the top half of the guide is removed, a fixing piece installed directly onto the cable and the top half re-secured, thus turning it into a fully-functioning HV cable clamp.

Video : Ellis Patents Cable Guide Clamp for High Voltage (HV) Cables   

“We’re particularly proud of that one,” said Richard. “Not only did we come through having helped out Siemens, but we secured a major specification and had the foundations in place for an entirely new product range that has since been developed and is proving to be a roaring success.”

Ellis Patents cable cleat innovations aren’t limited to responding to client concerns. Its product development team is also tasked with bringing new designs to market.

Whether aimed at improving on existing solutions or fulfilling completely new requirements, the rate at which they achieve this and do so successfully is startling.

In recent times, they have developed the Centaur cable saddle for HV cables, which went on to secure the company it’s biggest ever single order; a tamper proof cleat designed to prevent the theft of copper cables from the railway network; and only last month, they launched Pegasus – a modular cable hanging system for the rail industry that is stronger, lighter and, because it is has been designed to be made to order, even more flexible than any other solution currently available.

Read : Ellis Patents Pegasus Cable Hangers For Rail Cable Support

“Getting to into the position where we were acknowledged as the world leader in cable cleats was hard work – staying there is even harder, but as long as we carry on innovating and being forward thinking in our approach to everything we do then I’m confident that the Ellis name will become as synonymous with cable cleats as Hoover is with vacuuming," adds Richard.

Pictured : Ellis Patents Centaur Cable Saddles

Ellis Patents Centaur Cable Saddles

 

  • Cable Cleat Class

When it comes to electrical installations no product causes as much confusion as the cable cleat, which when you consider it has its own International and European standards does beg the question “why?”

Andy Booth, Technical Director of the world’s leading cable cleat manufacturer, Ellis talks cleats and how to ensure their correct specification; every time.

“First things first, it’s vital to understand exactly what cable cleats are and the purpose they serve before we even consider tackling their specification. The International Standard, that’s IEC 61914:2009, states: A cable cleat is a device designed to provide securing of cables when installed at intervals along the length of the cables," Andy informs.

Read : IEC Standard 61914 : Cable Cleats & Short-Circuit Calculations For Electrical Engineers

"While, the British Standard (BS7671:2008) gives us: Every conductor or cable shall have adequate strength, and be so installed as to withstand the electromagnetic forces that may be caused by any current, including fault current."

"What these mean in layman’s terms is that for an electrical installation to be deemed safe, cables need to be restrained in a manner that can withstand the forces they generate, including those generated during a short-circuit."

"And that, in a nutshell is the job of the cable cleat. Take them away and the dangers posed by a short-circuit are plentiful; costly damage to cables and cable management systems, plus the risk to life posed by incorrectly installed live cables."

"And it’s important to bear in mind that it’s not just the use of any cleat that’s vital, but the use of a correctly specified cleat. Historically, the key issue surrounding cable cleats was that their importance was severely underestimated."

"Therefore, instead of being treated as a vital element of any cable management installation they were frequently lumped in with the electrical sundries – a practice that meant even if suitable products were specified, they were still treated as fair game for cost-cutting."

"At the time of their introduction, both the International and European Standards provided a welcome boost for everyone in the industry – most notably in delivering increased recognition of the need for secure and correct cable cleating."

"But looking back, it’s clear that they fell some way short of ensuring the cable cleat became universally understood and used correctly. The main reason being that both standards are advisory rather than regulatory, meaning the onus is on the manufacturer to self-certify – a situation that instead of clarifying things has led to a market awash with products of differing quality, which in turn means further confusion for both specifiers and installers."

So what exactly needs to be known to avoid confusion and ensure correct cleat specification each and every time? 

 

Mechanical Strength & Short-Circuit Testing

"Knowing the strength of a cable cleat prior to specification is imperative, but it needs to have undergone a short-circuit test for this value to be correct – and often this isn’t the case," adds Andy.

"Instead, a cable cleat’s quoted strength is arrived at through the use of a mechanical tensile machine, which can be misleading because the force is applied in a slow and controlled manner, unlike in a short-circuit fault, where forces are applied almost instantaneously and oscillate in every direction."

"In our experience, a short-circuit test is the only reliable way of proving that a cable cleat is capable of withstanding a specific set of fault conditions and is therefore suitable for specification and installation. In contrast, a cleat that passes a mechanical tensile test at a given force will not necessarily survive a short-circuit test at the same force."

"We always recommend that any claims of cleat strength should be supported by a short-circuit test certificate, which shows the test has been carried out in an independent and accredited laboratory. This should, as standard, be supplied with a full test report, including before and after photographs, and a table of results and conclusions so as to avoid any possible misinterpretation of headline results."

"A point of great interest when it comes to short-circuit testing is the required duration of the test, which the International Standard specifies at just 0.1 of a second. Although virtually impossible to envisage such a small passage of time, this is all it takes for the true strength of a cleat to be discovered. The first tenth of a second after a short-circuit being the period when the maximum destructive electromechanical stress will occur and also the time when an underspecified cleat will be found out."

 

Matters Of Corrosion

"The risk of material corrosion, either as a result of the installation environment or from other metals the cleat is in contact with, also needs to be given due consideration. Galvanic corrosion occurs when dissimilar metals are placed in contact with each other in the presence of an electrolyte, and there are two factors that affect its rate. The first being the distance between the two metals in the galvanic series, and the second the relative surface areas of the different metals."

"Unfortunately, galvanic corrosion is not easily predictable and can be influenced by the type of electrolytes present in the air – e.g. those coming from salt water or fresh water containing impurities – and so in general terms the safest course of action is to separate dissimilar metals with polymer separation washers. This separation should be carried out between the cleat and its mounting surface, and the cleat’s closure fixing and mounting fixings."

"Stainless steel is the material of choice for the vast majority of cable cleats and fixings due to its non-magnetic and corrosion resistant properties, with 304L and 316L being the most commonly used variants. The corrosion resistance properties of stainless steel are a result of chromium, which reacts with oxygen and forms a self-healing impervious layer of chromium oxide on the surface of the steel."

"In most circumstances this layer is extremely durable, but in certain locations, such as railway tunnels, the oxide layer can be penetrated as a result of mild steel dust in the atmosphere, which reacts with moisture to exaggerate corrosion. In such circumstances Aluminium products or electrostatic plastic coatings should be used. Contracts often require a guarantee regarding the life expectancy of a cleat."

"This is relatively simple if the installation is designed correctly and all other corrosion issues have been considered. Where it becomes complicated is if the cleat or its fixings are manufactured from galvanised mild steel.

"Other elements that should be considered when specifying cleats include:

  • Fire – there are no current standards for fire rated cable clamps, but common sense dictates the cleat being used should have the same fire retardancy as the cable
  • Operating temperatures – most cleats are designed for use in ambient temperatures ranging from –50°C to +60°C and with cable conductor temperatures up to 90°C
  • UV resistance – metal cleats are impervious to UV attack. Composite and polymer products aren’t. If they’re likely to be exposed they should be supplied in materials containing carbon black or other UV stabilised additives."

"As I’m sure you can tell by now, the cleat may be small, but its importance is mighty. As such, we recently published a technical guide to cable cleats, which aims to help eradicate the specification issues that have dogged the electrical industry for years. Safely cleated cables are a must for safe electrical installations, so let’s work towards a goal where safety always comes first," concludes Andy, Technical Director of Ellis Patents.

  • Further Ellis Patents reading

Ellis Patents Cable Guide Clamp - Video

Cable Cleats - The Ellis Patents Black Book Guide To Cable Cleats 

 

Ellis Patents Pegasus Cable Hangers

 

Invitation

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Category:  Cable Cleats & Cable Ties

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