Develop a cable gland strategy for hazardous environments
Tips on how to get maximum benefit from cable glands
A cable gland (often known in the U.S. as a cord grip, cable strain relief, cable connector or cable fitting) is a device designed to attach and secure the end of an electrical cable to the equipment. Cable glands are too often thought of as being commodity products, their importance undervalued by those who dismiss them as merely being bits of brass and rubber.
However, if decision-makers get their cable gland strategy wrong, the expensive equipment that glands are tasked with protecting, which is often worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, could fail. The fact is that an effective cable gland strategy helps firms to operate efficiently and safely. So, what do senior leadership teams need to consider?
If procurement teams select cable glands based on cost rather than listening to recommendations from engineering departments, projects end up with wrong or ineffective glands. This increases the risk of water and dust getting into the equipment the glands are tasked with protecting, which can have a catastrophic effect.
Also, it is important not to over- or under-tighten cable glands, for this can lead to cable damage. An over-tightened gland will compromise and stress a cable’s properties. This limits how well a gland offers ingress protection against dust and water penetration and presents an explosion risk. A gland that is under-tightened will also allow dust and water to damage equipment, in addition to being liable to loosening, creating an electric shock risk.
Thus, it is well worth investing in cable glands that have tightening guides integrated as standard. When it comes to installing the gland, this gives the individual responsible a simple visual indicator to show it has been tightened correctly to the outer diameter of the cable being fitted.
It is relatively easy for a cable to pull away if an incident happens with a gland. It is advisable to install a clamp or a cleat. Cable clamps should be installed within 300mm of the end of a cable gland. This ensures that if any extreme pulling, twisting, or tightening of a cable occurs, the clamp provides the strain-relief required so that no extra damage develops.
As it stands, many installations are not adhering to this standard, perhaps due to space constraints onsite. There are, however, innovations available that should be considered as part of any cable gland strategy. In fact, Hawke International has developed a new space-efficient clamp that can be applied within 50mm of the end of a cable gland.
Time is money. Business costs rise with every minute that an engineer is working onsite to install equipment. By choosing a gland that comes with a full training service, engineers will be quicker when installing it, saving money.
In addition to the costs incurred by lengthy installation times, it is also vital to consider the threat presented by poorly installed cable glands. Expensive equipment failures will happen because of negligent installation practices. Given that over the lifespan of a product, maintenance is one of the biggest expenses, as much as possible must be done to offer protection to valuable equipment.
Good inspection protocol ensures equipment is functioning efficiently. The implementation of regular and detailed inspections ensures that any faults in equipment are spotted before they have the chance to worsen and require money to fix.
To inspect a gland, equipment must be powered down. At this point, it is not doing its job and is therefore costing the business money. Decision-makers should choose cable glands that are easy and quick to inspect, limiting the costly downtime that is otherwise incurred.
Installers of hazardous area equipment want versatile products. Although standard cable glands are used more often than barrier glands, there are many situations where barrier glands are required. For instance, when a cable is less than 10 feet in length. What often happens is that a standard gland is specified and arrives onsite, only for installers to realize the installation requires a barrier gland. Any gland strategy needs to be mindful of this.
Therefore, Hawke International developed a conversion kit that gives installers the ability to order one gland with two applications. This provides installers with a usable cable gland, no matter the nature of the installation. One gland can be purchased for both standard and barrier gland requirements, contributing to major cost savings, stock flexibility and peace of mind.
Small part, big difference
In summary, hazardous environments present some of the most testing of conditions to operate in. Every item of equipment – no matter how small – must successfully play its part. That includes cable glands, which are typically tasked with protecting extremely expensive pieces of equipment. By developing a good gland strategy, organizations operating in such areas can safeguard against damage, save money on installation costs, inspection and maintenance, and provide installers with the versatility and training to work efficiently.