Innovation is something that we hear about every day and in the building services sector it is perhaps more important than ever.
Some clients will call for inventive solutions to fit with the character of their business or the desired ‘look and feel’ of the end result. Others will focus solely on the bottom line cost. However, if there is one need that drives innovation more than any other factor on the vast majority of projects, it is cost – or more precisely, the cost of labour.
Man-hours spent on an installation contribute a healthy chunk of a project’s costs, and so products that ensure a professional installation, which is carried out in the minimum amount of time, are a welcome addition to the equation.
One solution that ticks this time saving box as well as offering a contemporary, elegant way to perform a simple task, is a wire rope suspension system for the overhead suspension of static loads such as luminaires, HVAC equipment and cable tray.
One of the first things to note about his type of system is that independent reports suggest that it can reduce installation times by as much as 60% when compared with conventional systems such as channel and threaded rod fixings. For example, if the installation is carried out using threaded rod, the contractor would need to factor in the time which is taken to measure, cut, screw and adjust bulky channel and studding materials. The need to work with numerous nuts and bolts alone increases the installation time and there is always the danger of additional problems, such as damage from minor burrs to the thread, which cost additional time and money during the project.
Jack chains are another traditional method but although they perform the function well, they are limited in their load capacity and, should one link in the chain fail, the entire system must be re-installed. From a time and reliability standpoint, a wire rope system is already out of the gate and ahead of its more conventional rivals.
A 60% reduction in installation time is certainly an eye-catching figure and it is little wonder therefore that this type of system is growing in popularity in the M&E sector. But the benefits don’t end there because the versatility of this type of solution also makes it a more attractive option as the modern way to suspend overhead loads.
If you take DobyGrip as an example, the galvanised wire rope can be loop-ended, fitted with a carabina, eye bolts or used in Y-shape formation depending on the application. This, together with the precision-engineered gripping mechanism such as the patented design used by this system, makes the entire installation significantly easier to complete. For example, the whole solution comprises very few components and can be accurately adjusted with nothing more complex than a pair of snips to remove the excess wire once the height has been adjusted to the correct setting. In comparison, traditional threaded rod solutions require a fairly complicated installation procedure and specialist tools to complete the installation.
There is no question that a wire rope suspension system provides the client with a contemporary look and feel, which is why it is proving to be more of an ‘on trend’ way to suspend overhead equipment in a wide variety of applications.
On-show fixings that, essentially, do no more than hang services, are simple in function but can make a major impact on the end appearance of a space where ‘exposure’ of these services is all part of the design.
Retail and display applications are a good example of this, where the union between form and function provided by a wire rope suspension system comes together effectively. Creative lighting rigs, for example, need preferably to hang where the design team specify as opposed to where the location of the existing brackets and beams specifies – the only way to make this possible is through the use of such a system.
But it isn’t just about aesthetics because there are a number of practical benefits which also need to be taken into account.
Firstly there is no heavy, bulky channel and rod to manufacture and transport, which means that reductions in CO2 emissions are achieved in both areas. The use of galvanised wire rope rather than rods and clamps also reduces the overall weight of the installation.
The issue of bulk and weight also comes into play from the perspective of the project site as a whole. It may sound obvious but the materials used for traditional systems clearly take up more space while they lay dormant on site awaiting installation and where kit is sitting around there is an increased health and safety risk of trips and falls. In addition, when using traditional methods it is always possible for the threaded rod to become bent out of shape and as a result it must be replaced. Wire rope on the other hand has no memory and thus it is easy to return it to its original position without any damage occurring.
If you also factor in the hot work that must be carried out to cut components to size in traditional suspension methods, the time spent applying for the necessary permits and the time spent by installers working at height, then you can begin to see why a wire rope suspension system is fast becoming the popular choice.
Safety and strength
The services that crisscross the ceilings in so many of the buildings that we live, learn and work in are essentially the veins and arteries of those spaces which keep the heart of the building beating. This places a huge amount of importance on the quality and safety of the installation and it is one area where the installer cannot afford to cut corners.
Perhaps one of the main benefits of a wire rope suspension system is that installers can have complete confidence that the system will meet the demands which are placed on it – providing the correct installation procedures are followed and the Safe Working Load is not exceeded.
The DobyGrip system for example is independently safety load tested to a 5:1 safety factor and as such it is a safe, fast and efficient method for suspending static loads such as HVAC equipment. But as a company we would urge contractors to ensure that they are properly trained to carry out this type of installation and that they are fully aware of the correct selection and installation procedures for each application.
Wire rope suspension systems are safe, fast and efficient and the benefits of using such products versus more traditional channel and threaded rod solutions are clear.
High quality components will certainly provide confidence in the installation and will ensure that any adjustments can be carried out easily and safely – both of which make a valuable contribution to the speed with which the installation can be completed.
If you combine this confidence with the heightened aesthetic appearance which this solution can offer a project it is easy to see why its popularity is on the rise.
This feature was published in the May 2015 issue of Building Services & Environmental Engineer (BSEE). If you would like to commission a similar feature please contact Tracey Rushton-Thorpe.