Flexibility for the future

Achieving cost reductions, spending less time on site and ensuring flexibility for the future are all challenges which this industry faces in both new-build and refurbishment projects.

Mark Redfern of Wieland Electric explains why the introduction of Metalynx², a second generation, structured wiring system will help to meet these challenges.

We are all familiar with the scenario where the construction programme dictates that the electrical installation has to be completed in the fastest time and most cost effective way possible. That is even before we start to address the issue of constantly changing technology, the need for the installation to be adaptable and flexible – and of course it needs to be correctly installed.

In the past the inevitability of missed deadlines and projects going over budget has been all too evident in many large and small installations due to the factors listed here and as a result the issue of structured wiring has risen in popularity. It is now increasingly being adopted as the most efficient approach to the distribution of power within a building and it has become the fastest, most cost effective and flexible alternative to traditional wiring.

Making savings

A structured wiring system allows you to achieve a complete installation for the distribution of lighting and power, from the distribution board through to the farthest point of the circuit by simply connecting a number of system components together.

On the face of it this may sound fairly straightforward, but what many people fail to realise is that a structured wiring system can offer many benefits and cost efficiencies both during the installation phase and throughout the lifetime of the building.

Traditional fixed installations are labour intensive, offer very little in the way of flexibility and remain very costly. There is also a greater potential for error as all of the work is carried out on-site, often in a very stressful environment, with tradesmen working around each other in a bid to get the job completed as fast as possible.

Metalynx² on the other hand offers faster installation times and a higher degree of accuracy over the traditional approach and through the use of several different products from one manufacturer a complete end to end system can be designed.

If we start with the basics; the system is a 6 pole, circular, metal armoured structured wiring system which provides flexibility and cost savings over a traditional fixed installation. That in itself ticks many boxes for many people, but with this type of plug and play solution there are other factors which work in its favour.

One of the obvious examples is the reduction in the amount of time it takes to complete the installation because time savings of up to 70% can be achieved as a result of the fact that the entire system is manufactured in a factory controlled environment. What this essentially means is that it arrives on site in a format which simply requires connecting together through the simple plug and play technology, drastically reducing not only the installation time but also the margin for error.

However, what is probably of greater importance is the fact that the system is specifically designed for the UK market and therefore meets the requirements of all of the relevant IEC and British Standards including BS EN 61535 and BS 8488. In addition it is continuously tested throughout the manufacturing process which guarantees the safety of the installation and minimises the likelihood of call backs as a result of system failures.

Cost certainty is another major benefit of a structured wiring system because it is an engineered solution and therefore comes with working CAD drawings to ensure that the installation is completed to the original specification. As far as the budget is concerned this means that there are no nasty surprises when the installation gets underway and therefore the costs can be managed more effectively.

The environmental benefits also stack up in its favour because deliveries can be arranged to meet the requirements of the project timescales, there is zero waste on site because it is manufactured to the exact specification and all of the cable drums are collected from the project and returned for recycling.

Look to the future

We are all familiar with the phrase ‘office churn’ and it is estimated that British businesses spend somewhere in the region of £2 billion a year on moving people or departments around a commercial building in response to organisational change.

As a result of this, although the cost of the installation is always a major factor for any project, we are being asked more and more to take into account the use of a building throughout its lifetime. Put simply clients do not want a building which will restrict their growth in the future and therefore flexible building services are proving to be of vital importance at the design phase.

Metalynx² provides a very easy and cost effective solution to future proofing a building as it enables system changes to be made, with minimum downtime, at every step both throughout the installation and in years to come. To make the installation simple and trouble free, there are a wide range of codings available for different applications including power distribution, lighting control, DALI, and KNX installations. In addition, Metalynx² components can be customised for special projects.

But it isn’t just a cost effective solution in the commercial office environment because it is just as appropriate for other applications including retail, public sector, airports, hospitals and in particular schools, where completion deadlines are often very tight as the work must be carried out during school holidays.

Simple decision

The fundamental aim for any project is for it to be completed on time and within budget, but quite often this is easier said than done. It therefore makes sense to remove some of the challenges through the installation of a structured wiring system.

The time and cost savings alone will provide a good enough reason to go down this route, but if you also take into account the ability which it provides to design future changes into a building and the way in which it addresses the sustainability issues, then the decision becomes even more straightforward.

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