Contractors afraid to embrace push-wire developments in cable management will miss out on cost, time and safety benefits, says Vince Pioli

It would be easy to assume that there is limited scope for innovation when it comes to cable management products, but manufacturers and designers are always looking for new ways to improve even the smallest everyday consumable

Whether it is improvements to the way a product can be used or advancements in its safety credentials, new solutions are in constant development in order to meet the changing needs of the electrical industry. Contractors will undoubtedly miss out if they are afraid to try something new.

It’s been nearly 70 years since HellermannTyton began manufacturing cable ties in Manchester. Since then, the design and manufacture of the firm’s cable ties has evolved and advanced to ensure they remain as essential to today’s electricians as they were then.

But it’s not just cable ties that have changed over the years – all sorts of cable management products have advanced to offer safer, higher-quality and easier-to-use solutions for contractors.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and this is largely true when we look at advances in cable management. As the specification process becomes increasingly more rigorous and driven by legislative changes, electrical contractors demand more high-spec products to deliver maximum performance.

Awareness of issues such as repetitive strain injuries and a greater focus on health and safety are also contributing to the evolution of products.

Take, for example, a connector. It’s a simple component on an electrical housing or on an application applied to the original equipment, yet after years of using screw-fix connectors, an alternative has now been introduced to the UK. Already popular in Europe, push-wire connectors offer electrical contractors a quick and secure way to connect solid and stranded wires.

These connectors use single or double-spring technology to hold the cable in place. The connector is securely fastened by pushing the wire into it. No screws are needed. As the connectors are more compact than standard terminal-strip connectors, a smaller junction box can be used.

Traditional screw-fix connectors can cause electrical contractors any number of headaches, so it was inevitable a new design was introduced. With the screw-fix connector, it can be difficult to tell whether the connection is secure, which can lead to costly call-backs and maintenance work.

With push-wire connectors, employed in HellermannTyton’s HelaCon Plus range, the transparent casing allows for a visual check that the wire is safely in position.

Already popular in Europe, push-wire connectors offer contractors a quick and secure way to connect solid and stranded wires

But the instability of the connection is not only a maintenance issue, it’s also a fire hazard. If cables are not properly secured under the screw and live wires touch the plastic junction box, this can easily melt the material and cause a fire. Contractors can be liable for damage caused.

However, the risk of fire with a push-wire connector is minimal. HelaCon Plus, for example, is claimed to have zero conductivity, be halogen-free and UL V-0 rated to minimise risks and maximise safety.

So we know that the design of push-wire connectors meets legislative and safety needs, but let’s look at the benefits to electrical contractors. I’ve mentioned that, in the past, securing screws in a typical screw-fix connector has been a fiddly job. The push-wire connector is easier to use.

In addition, a low insertion force is required so contractors spend less time and effort installing electrical housing.

In addition, as push-wire connectors don’t require a screwdriver to fix the wires in place, the new component is particularly good when working overhead. It also reduces the risk of repetitive strain injury from turning screws on a traditional connector.

The argument for push-wire connectors seems conclusive, but many electrical contractors are reluctant to try new products. Many are not receiving the cost, time and safety benefits as they do not want to consider alternatives that differ from the familiar products they have used everyday for many years.

With so much research and development going into better and more efficient consumables, electrical contractors will be working smarter, not harder, if they are open to trying them.

HellermannTyton recently launched HelaCon, a range of push-wire connectors, which features a double-spring system for even more secure installations.

The HelaCon Plus connectors are colour-coded for ease of use, can accommodate two to eight poles and are suitable for conductors between 0.5 and 2.5 mm2 in diameter. The product is appropriate for both solid and stranded wires.