Specials team delivers every time
These early systems were well-placed to make the most of the burgeoning computer industry, and as the computer became more sophisticated, so did the cable management.
Now function and form stand on almost equal footings, particularly for architects wanting to use cable management as an integral design element in more creative projects. A good example of this is Marshall-Tufflex’s Odyssey, the first completely curved containment system currently available in the UK. Its aesthetics are impeccable and have attracted much interest from designers wanting clean lines and a great performing product.
But what about function, form and flexibility? Marshall- Tufflex recognised that a growing number of clients wanted more than the ‘one size fits all’ approach and began producing ‘specials’ to satisfy customers who needed, for example, a 33° angle rather than a 45° bend.
The company may not have known it at the time, but this foray into special orders was to form the basis of a new section within the business dedicated to understanding and producing one-offs and bespoke solutions.
The Specialised Applications department (Specials for short) now has eight years and much experience behind it. It has evolved out of the changing needs of clients and is very much a customer-driven service.
Heading it up is Jeremy Dodge, who has worked for Marshall-Tufflex for 19 years across a number of sections, including sales & marketing, production, logistics and product development. He knows that to maintain success, his team’s focus has to remain fairly and squarely on delivering exactly what the customer wants and, just as importantly, when they want it.
“The work of Specialised Applications amounts to a problem-solving exercise that culminates in us manufacturing and fabricating a bespoke product or solution designed to solve a specific problem that a client is facing,” said Jeremy.
“We work with architects, design teams, main contractors, electrical contractors etc, understanding what issues they need to address and then taking those issues into our in-house design facility and coming up with solutions.
“The real beauty of our service is that our fabrication and manufacturing facilities are all very local to our offices, allowing us to work closely with colleagues making our designs a reality. Not only does this allow us to monitor progress and manage timescales, if problems occur we can be on the factory floor within minutes to iron them out.
“Contractors and engineering companies seeking a solution for their customer, the end-user, use the service we provide at differing levels. This ranges from asking us to resolve a last minute problem to coming to us at an early stage with detailed drawings in order that we can take their concept forward to a complete design solution.
“Time and time again clients find that it is far more cost effective to have us provide a factory finished, pre-wired product ready for installation than paying a highly qualified electrician or technician to cut and install when on-site.”
One customer impressed by the specials service is the BBC, which called upon Marshall- Tufflex to assist in Broadcasting House going digital. So successful was that project that the Specials team was invited back to supply further transmission centres with power distribution units based on the original design.
Working with Interserve Engineering Services, the team adapted the system for the most recent refurbishments at Television Centre, White City and the BBC’s Woodnorton Training Centre, Evesham, as the sites prepare for UK TV’s switch to digital.
The overhead power distribution system is constructed from a combination of Marshall-Tufflex’s PVC-U Maxi trunking and Mono 10. The complexity of both sites necessitated the building of hundreds of units of varying shapes and sizes, some as long as six metres. The requirement for clean earthing and a large number of sockets and cables in relatively short spaces was also addressed by the cable management solution.
A spokesman for the Interserve’s engineering team at the BBC White City installation said: “We met what was a complex, and very quick, programme on time. The standard of Marshall-Tufflex’s pre-manufactured units was good and helped us to reach timescales when under pressure.”
Another good example of a specialised application was an installation into a university, where a room was to be used both as a laboratory and as a lecture hall. The laboratory installation required good access to power points throughout, while the lecture hall facility needed to be more open-plan. The Specials team set about designing an answer to this conundrum, coming up with hinged PowerPoles. These deliver power when the lab is in use then simply fold up and out of the way when the room switches to a lecture hall, a simple but highly effective solution.
The department has also recently completed a totally bespoke project into a highprofile and huge new commercial development. Working closely with the scheme’s engineering team, Marshall-Tufflex produced bespoke stainless steel floor boxes (some lockable) in varied sizes and shapes (rectangular, round and square). These units have been installed into a highly demanding exterior environment and have been designed to withstand far more weight than is normal. Those boxes installed inside sit flush in the floor screed, so needed to be aesthetically appealing, meet Health & Safety requirements for pedestrian traffic, cope with wheeled vehicles and be strong enough to protect the cables inside.
“Nothing about this contract was standard, apart from the need to supply to a tight timescale,” said Jeremy. “It was a fast-track project that required impeccable time-keeping and logistics management, and we had to work closely with the main contractor and their client to ensure it all ran to plan.”
But not all jobs are high volume. A recent one centred around providing a unit to recharge staff communication handsets in a high street retailer. A design was put forward by the network contractor and fabricated by the Specials department. The result? A wall-mounted system with docking stations to recharge a large number of handsets safely and tidily.
Cable management solutions are, increasingly, wide ranging and anything but standard. Architects are designing more creative buildings and solutions for cable containment are becoming an integral design element and not purely a function of a building, which is why Marshall-Tufflex launched Odyssey. Customers now say that if they have to have something on the wall, they want something that looks good.
Cost, although important, can be secondary to the solution, especially as it is a timesensitive business where contractors face penalty charges for over-running on site.
“Regardless of the project, the customer relies on us so it is about providing the right solution and providing it on time,” said Jeremy. “We are well equipped with qualified people across in-house design and manufacturing, with technical people and electricians as part of the team. We can react quickly and we can save people on site a lot of time and a lot of hassle.
“We receive a wide range of requirements, from simple to complex, but we say there are no rules, so give us a call – if we can’t do it we’ll say so, but nothing has beaten us yet!”