Electrical Contracting News (ECN) ECN-Nov2017 - Page 52

SPECIAL FEATURE The New Wear Crossing installation incorporated 252 specially designed assemblies The Ellis No Bolts cleat, designed in response a major safety concern voiced by Network Rail 52 | November2017 CABLING cables on HelWin 2 – a 690MW offshore HVDC platform that would provide low- loss transmission between the North Sea offshore wind farm, Amrumbank West, and Germany’s onshore grid. The end result was our Cable Guide Clamp – a product that first acts as a guide for the large HV cables, before being transformed into a fully-functioning HV cable clamp. At that time, delivering the Cable Guide Clamp was a huge achievement for us, but now, just three years down the line, that kind of work is a regular occurrence. This year we’ve designed, manufactured and helped install brand new cable cleat solutions for both the Severn Tunnel and the New Wear Crossing. The latter of these installations saw us called in by Balfour Beatty after its initial plan to secure cables running the entire length of the new bridge proved unworkable. Our response incorporated 252 specially designed assemblies, each comprising 12 standard 2F+172 clamps and a stainless steel support frame. Our ability to deliver such products has been enhanced by developing manufacturing technology and a recruitment focus that has seen both the skillsets and size of our product design team expand. Today we are able to do the design; guarantee a new product’s performance characteristics through a combination of finite element analysis, 3D printing and physical testing; produce tooling and then manufacture the product. All of which can done with a lead-time that can be measured in weeks rather than months, and at cost that is comparable to any viable off-the-shelf solution. The extent of our drive to become an industry innovator can be encapsulated by one product – the Ellis No Bolts cleat, which was developed in response to a major safety concern raised by Network Rail through our UK distributor, ETS Cable Components. The Network Rail problem was to do with outer sheaths of live cables being breached during the installation of new cable runs onto existing cleating infrastructure. The nub of the problem was that in order to accommodate new cable, and by extension new cleats, existing clamps had to be dismantled, and longer bolts fed through to allow for the stacking of new clamps. The existing live cable then had to be put back into the old clamps, and it was during this stage of the process that the long bolts were snagging the cable and allowing current to track into the containment system. This resulted in a number of earth faults and at least one engineer receiving a major electric shock. With the intention of resolving the issue, we designed a stackable product, which meant additional cable runs could be added quickly, easily and without any need to disturb existing live cables. “The Cable Guide Clamp first acts as a guide for the large HV cables, before being transformed into a fully- functioning HV cable clamp.” As the name suggests, the Ellis No Bolts cleat has no bolts. Instead it is fastened with two keepers that lock into the top clamp and secure it into position within the base clamp – a process that is tool as well as bolt free. The stackable nature of the cleats is made possible by a recess in the top moulding, and a twist fit foot on the base moulding, which lock together with a simple quarter turn hand operation. The chosen manufacturing material is a high strength nylon specifically formulated to have sufficient low smoke properties to meet London Underground 1-085 specification. Because of the non- metallic design, the cleat is impervious to the bi-metallic corrosion that causes problems in any number of harsh environments. The Ellis No Bolts cleat became the first cable cleat to be granted Network Rail’s PADs approval. Looking forward, I’m certain the industry will begin to catch up, meaning bespoke product innovations and problem solving solutions will no longer be the sole domain of industry trendsetters, but very much a must-have service for all. Of course, with developing technology, most notably advances in 3D printing, in-house manufacturing will become easier. All of which means we are already planning our next move in the on-going battle to stay a few steps ahead. Ellis Patents, www.ellispatents.co.uk