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Packaged convenience from Flexicon

Contractor packs for flexible conduit are fast, simple and convenient, but it pays to stop and think about the cable protection needed before selecting the correct pack says Tim Creedon, sales and marketing director for Flexicon.


A typical contractor pack contains ten metres of flexible conduit and ten fittings all in one pack, what could be simpler for the contractor considering cable protection?  Introduced more than a decade ago, this one stop shop approach is certainly convenient and has much to commend it.


Specifying such packs on price alone however, is a dangerous game.  Flexible conduit is there to do a job, protect cabling.  This begs the question what does the cabling need protecting from?  If the contractor gets the answer wrong, then they could be liable for a potentially unsafe installation.


In response, reputable manufacturers have introduced a number of different contractor packs; Flexicon for example has seven to choose from.  This means that you can still have all of the convenience found in such a pack and also pick the most appropriate protection for the job.  Chances are that by picking the correct pack you can cater for most of the installations that you are involved on.


For other installations, the best advice is to contact the manufacturer who should be able to provide you with the correct conduit and fittings.


Don’t get me wrong, for some jobs where the conduit is buried in a wall then a cost effective system may well be suitable.  Such packs typically contain all that is needed for a fast and simple installation with fast fit connectors, such as our own Flexilok, that simply push into place and twist to lock. 


Even with these installations, you may need to consider other factors.  For instance if the cables are not protected by RCDs, do you need to specify something offering more mechanical protection?  Also what happens to the product in the event of a fire?


What hazard?                                                                                                               

So what hazards do you need to consider when specifying conduit?  It is not possible to list every possible hazard, but there are some that you are likely to come across more often.


If the cables are outside then you will need to think about ingress protection and UV resistance.  You will find a number of options offering IP66 rating which would be fine for most external applications. UV resistance is important because over time the sun could degrade the protection offered by the conduit.


Fire is another potential hazard, particularly in public buildings.  Here you will need a low fire hazard solution that is self-extinguishing, halogen free, has low smoke emission and low toxicity.


If the conduit is left in an exposed situation, where it could be crushed or something could be dropped on it, then you’ll need a flexible conduit with a medium or heavy compression and/or impact strength.  A steel conduit with a PVC coating may be the answer.


Other factors might include temperature, resistance to oils and solvents and the degree of flexibility needed by a system. 


Also don’t forget that a conduit system includes fittings and these can have an effect on its performance.  Generally most fittings provide a reasonable pull off strength, but you may need a higher strength option if extra potential stress is a problem, for example from vandalism.  You may also need to consider resistance against vibration, for example if the conduit is being used on a machine.


There are of course several other hazards that you may come across; this list is far from exhaustive. 


As with all cable protection, the best advice is to consider the potential hazards that it may face and then buy the most appropriate protection.  Use this approach to select the best contractor pack.  If there is not a suitable answer from a pack, then ask the wholesaler or manufacturer for advice; there will be a solution.


For more information regarding Flexicon’s comprehensive range of products please contact us:  Flexicon Limited, Roman Way, Coleshill, Birmingham, B46 1HG.  Telephone 01675 466900.  Fax:  01675 466901.  Email:  sales@flexicon.uk.com.  Web:  www.flexicon.uk.com.

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