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Re-engineered to provide a speedy solution

05 September 2016

Faced with a very tight timeframe in which to install a cable management system for ZF TRW's new site, electrical contractor, McNally & Thompson opted for Unitrunk’s Rapid Installation Systems (RIS) products

A global developer and producer of active and passive safety systems for the automotive sector, ZF TRW has production plants in 20 countries, including a manufacturing facility in Houghton-Le-Spring near Sunderland, which produces electric power steering motors.

A second, highly specified ZF TRW plant has now been constructed at Houghton-Le Spring to create a more clinical manufacturing environment. Funded by Sunderland City Council, the new facility required a cable management installation that would minimise the potential for dust and contaminants, while enabling additional equipment to be added at a later date. 

Dave Wealleans from electrical contractor, McNally & Thompson, explains: “We had used Unitrunk’s Rapid Installation Systems (RIS) products before and the challenging programme at ZF TRW made them the ideal solution for the scheme. That’s why we worked closely with Unitrunk to re-engineer the original specification using the Unitrunk RIS range.”

The new 90 x 45m production facility has 5m elevations on all sides and the pitched roof rises to 8m. The conventional layout in the office areas allowed a relatively straightforward installation of conduit and trunking for local distribution connected to a new switch panel.

Originally, the huge open plan production area had been designed with 18 service rafts, supported by a channel framework at high level with the light fittings suspended at a lower level to ensure the required lux level. However, the time needed to custom-manufacture the channel and install it was not available within the programme so McNally & Thompson worked with Unitrunk to re-engineer the design, which was then approved by the architects and consultants.

While Unitrunk manufactured some bends to order, the majority of the installation was constructed using 3m lengths of 1200mm galvanised ladder. Unitrunk says it took just four weeks to erect on site; less than half the 10 week installation time for conventional channel. This also reduced labour costs by 60 to 70% and lowered the cost of materials.

The original plans had involved suspending the service rafts from the ceiling using steel rods. Instead, G-clamps were connected to the roof steels and used to suspend the service rafts from the ceiling by suspension wire, saving more time and costs.

For the secondary containment, additional cable ladder was installed as risers for the sub mains cabling, but the majority of the distribution network was installed within the service modules.

Unitrunk basket was used for all data and fire alarm cabling and, to speed up the installation further and reduce material costs, Unitrunk suggested that a single run of basket should be used with a divider, rather than installing two separate runs for power and data cabling. 

Wealleans explains: “Unitrunk’s RIS basket requires no screw connectors and the quick fix couplers helped to make the installation of more than 2000m of Unitrunk much faster and easier.” 

For the 6491B power cabling, Unitrunk 50 x 50mm trunking was used, ensuring that there was sufficient capacity for future equipment supplies.

Busbar for the lighting installation completed the service rafts, with two primary runs down each side of the building feeding lighting busbar on each of the rafts. 

Wealleans continues: “Thanks to the revised fixing method the lighting units could be fixed directly to the underside of each service raft.”

Finally, all 18 rafts were clad with aluminium to aid a cleaner manufacturing environment and a minimalist aesthetic, with no surfaces on which dust can rest.  However, the services remain accessible should changes need to be made at a later date to adapt them to meet the changing needs of manufacturing equipment or processes.

Wealleans concludes: “By working with Unitrunk to re-engineer the installation using products designed for faster and easier installation, we slashed the number of man hours required, making the programme deliverable and reducing our material costs while completing a robust installation that met the brief.”