You wear gloves to protect your hands and hard hats for your noggin. And you make darn sure you have the right gear on to protect your body and your livelihood. The same consideration should be given to the wiring that powers your machinery and equipment to protect your plant's livelihood, which means you should choose the right conduit for the job.
Just like you'd wear latex gloves when you need a little protection but lots of dexterity and Kevlar gloves for heavy-duty tasks, electrical wiring may need a little or a lot of protection.
Two common options are nylon and galvanized steel. Each has a place on the factory floor, but you want to make sure it's the right place. Here are the advantages of each, along with what industries and applications they work best with:
Flexibility: Nylon, a type of polyamide fabric, started out as replacement for silk; Du Pont, which created the material in 1935, used it for stockings. The riot-inducing slogan of the time says all you need to know about nylon: It has the "strength of steel and the sheerness of cobwebs."
That means it's tougher than the wires it houses, but just as flexible. Nylon conduits are able to wrap around tight turns and stay loose even if connected to rapidly moving and swinging equipment or robots.
|Nylon conduits are flexible, cost-effective, and good in washdown applications. Pictured above is Sealcon's new Poleon line.|
Nylon fibers are non-absorbent, so they can be used in hose down and splash applications. Sealcon says their Poleon Nylon conduits are popular with car washes because they can withstand the rigors of splash from water, foam and wax, while moving back and forth multiple cycles a day.
Quick Installation: The good news for electricians and installers is that some polyamide conduits can come with pre-cut slits in them making them easier to replace if damaged. So you just wrap the conduit around the wires like a watch, as opposed to feeding the cables through.
Where to use: Because of their natural ability to go with the cable flow, while standing up to occasional liquid splash, nylon conduits work great in food and beverage packaging and material handling operations, such as palletizing systems and scissor lifts, says Sasha Dudnikoff, conduit product manager for Sealcon.
Two additional reasons to use nylon: They are cheaper and non-conductive.
Durability: Despite 1940s-era Du Pont's copywriters' claims, sometimes there's really no substitute for steel. A factory floor can be a rough place, with work pieces and sparks flying all over the place. And galvanized steel is coated in zinc, providing an extra layer of protection from damage and corrosion.
Oftentimes, steel conduits are used for static machinery, because they have incredible impact resistance and can withstand the toughest industrial environments. And some tiems they can be just as flexible. Sealcon says that Meleon A is just as flexible as nylon.
High Operating Temperature: The American Galvanizers Association says that even in temperatures between 390°F and 480F, the zinc coating still will protect the underlying steel from corrosion. Sealcon's new Meleon A and Melon Pro B conduits, both released in the last year, can operate between -148°F and 572°F.
|Galvanized steel conduits, such as the Sealcon Pro B, are impact resistant, can withstand high temperatures, and have zinc coating to protect from corrosion.|
That's why Sasha Dudnikoff, Sealcon product manager, says galvanized steel conduits are the perfect fit for plastic manufacturers.
"You have a lot of moving parts with those molds, but also, you have hot plastics moving through and there might be some splash," she says.
Snag Resistant: Like we said at the beginning, the main reason to use conduits is to protect your factory floor. Most important if all, though, is protecting the people walking that floor.
For that reason, Sealcon's Meleon line includes the Pro A, which features a smooth PVC coating to prevent snags.
Sealcon says the smooth surface of the conduit makes it less prone to catching on items such as clothing or items being moved around the factory floor. Damage to cables is expensive, the company explains, and this smooth coating allows objects to glide over the surface if they come into contact with the conduit, rather than being caught on the ribbed surface.
Where to use: The toughest industrial industries, including machinery, steel processing, smelting operations, and military applications.
For more information on conduit options, please visit: www.sealconusa.com/products/conduit-systems/