Article
In the previous article, we talked a bit about low-voltage cable management. And while I enjoy talking about and using those types of products, my heart remains in a more commercial and industrial setting. For over 30 years, I've worked in that environment. And cabling and cable management has been a large part of my work background.

Cable Management For Fun and Profit – Part 2

Steve Maurer, IME
In the previous article, we talked a bit about low-voltage cable management. And while I enjoy talking about and using those types of products, my heart remains in a more commercial and industrial setting.

For over 30 years, I've worked in that environment. And cabling and cable management has been a large part of my work background.

Now first, we'll discuss some office work, a more commercial endeavor. But rest assured, we'll get to the processing plants and factory forms of cable management. At times, the two locales intersect as far as techniques are concerned. But there can be some marked differences as well.

Commercial cable management
In the office setting, cable management doesn't always mean routing cables neatly. While that's a part of it, providing accessibility for users of that power, data, and communications is also important.

Two fairly recent innovations are powered furniture and wireless control.

The powered furniture intrigues me. I can't count the number of times I've searched for a table or chair near a power outlet while on the road, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. Most times, I was accompanied by my trusty companion, my laptop that I named The Road Warrior.

Sure, laptops have batteries, which is one reason they're the mobile computing device of choice, particularly for service techs, sales people, and others who spend time away from the office.

Even in offices, many workers aren't chained to their cubicle, but must move around to different areas of the facility. That's where powered—and even connected—furniture shines like a new penny.

Almost any type of furniture can get the powered treatment, from desks to tables to overstuffed chairs. For chairs, the outlet and cable connectors are often located in the armrests. They can sport anything from 110 VAC outlets with USB chargers to ethernet connections for networking connectivity.

Of course, this is usually a two-step process. While the chairs, tables, and desks may be outfitted for all types of connectivity, they must be, well, connected to something.

That means floor boxes, poke throughs, and beneath the floor cables must be installed strategically, in most cases, to allow for configuration changes of the area.

While back in my early days this meant power receptacles hidden under a round floor cover, things have changed in this digital age in which we live. While round poke through boxes can be upgraded and retrofitted, newer and larger rectangular floor boxes increase the potential for additional cabling.

Many are outfitted with more than just power receptacles. USB power, network cabling, and even AV ports are now contained in the same enclosure. Some are relatively deep, containing ample room for everything to be accessed easily. The enclosure covers, in many cases, are made to close around the cables.

And when used with powered furniture, that's a plus. Any rearrangement of furniture, whether planned or on the spur of the moment, is made easier with the thoughtful placement of under the floor boxes.

Then, there's this. Doing away with cabling through wireless tech. This is often done with lighting, and motorized blinds. Instead of running wires and cables to control these devices from different locations, one hardwired switch is used that can be controlled by wireless remotes. The remotes can be installed on the wall in dummy boxes. Or even placed on a desk or table for easy access from anywhere.

The ultimate cable management? Do away with the conductors.

Industrial cable management
Now we're back on my home turf. In workshops, warehouses, factories and processing plants, cable management is paramount.

In a shop, one of the most efficient forms of cable management is the cable reel. Rather than having extension cords running all over the floor (a source of hazardous trips, spills, and falls), a reel is easily attach to ceiling joists or walls, and hardwired into overhead conduit runs.

I've even seen them in factories and warehouses. One thing to consider is the environment where they're used. If damp or wet conditions exist, make sure the reel is rated NEMA 4.

Another option for industrial use is the cable tray or basket. Of course, these are designed for cables, not individual conductors. But with all the tray options available, it's almost like creating a roller coaster or race track for cables. Whether a straight run tray or ladder, a curved sweep, or even tees and elbows, they make laying in cables so much easier.

And should the floor machines' configuration change, moving the cable is much simpler than running new conduit and pulling a new circuit.

I've done both… in my opinion, cable trays are much more efficient and cost effective for locations that may change.

Cable management, no matter where it's used, is a vital part of operational efficiency, safety, and productivity.
Photo courtesy of Legrand North America
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