Why quality counts in a Modular Wiring System

Established in 1994, Modular Wiring Systems provides a complete design, manufacture and supply service for high and low level modular sub-circuit distribution systems prefabricated off-site. Modular Wiring Systems is a subsidiary of electrical cable manufacturer Tratos Ltd.
Essentially utilizing the circuit lines of a traditional distribution system, a modular wiring system is actually designed and prefabricated off-site in a plug and play format. When delivered to site, the system requires minimal hard wiring – every part of the system is connected using the provided installation drawings and product codes, making it extremely quick and simple to install. The systems are available as radial and ring mains up to 32amps.

The benefits of such a design are obvious: rapid installation is good for tight schedules and budgets; installation itself requires less labour and a lower skill level; the design makes for a flexible system which can be readily changed at any point in the building’s life; quality is improved as the system is manufactured under factory conditions, not on site; and the total cost of the installed system is reduced.
Selecting a quality modular wiring system is therefore essential if you are to reap the benefits of this modern building practice.
Each manufacturer will have certain features that are unique in some way to their product offering, we do not intend to perform a manufacturer / product comparison list. Instead, here we examine the aspects of fundamental importance to a modular wiring system that apply to all systems, regardless of manufacturer.

90% of a modular wiring system is composed of cable. By using poor quality cable, it’s not just 90% of that system that’s compromised – it’s 100%. It’s therefore vital the system uses quality cable and the only way of guaranteeing this is by third party approval through British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC). A non-profit making Government-nominated body, BASEC is a recognised sign of assurance of independent cable testing and approval. Cable that has BASEC approval is clearly marked with the BASEC logo.
In terms of choice of cable, a quality modular wiring system will be capable of being designed and manufactured from a range of cables types and armouring to meet the specific requirements. At the very least, low smoke and halogen cable should be available to use in buildings where smoke and toxic fumes may cause a threat to life and equipment (this is clearly important in buildings open to the general public); these cables produce non corrosive gasses when burnt. Going a step further, utilizing cable insulated with a robust cross-linked mineral filled type complying with BS7655 type EI5, renders the product non fire propagating and brings it in line with BASEC requirements.

There are two approaches taken by manufacturers: the first involves laying armouring over the cores; the second is where the core is threaded through the conduit. The former is better for the protection of cores, reducing the chance of damage and allowing for longer lengths. This in turn allows for greater flexibility in the individual system design for a project.

A modular wiring system may only be as good as the cable it uses, but if the interlocking parts are poorly designed or made, the system may lose continuity. The plugs should have a robust locking mechanism whilst at the same time be easy to connect at installation or refurbishment stage

Traceability in manufacturing has become a major issue in the drive to improve total quality control. But genuine – valuable – traceability practice has to include every component in a system; it can’t simply stop at who manufactured the cable as that has very little value and in reality tells you nothing of the system quality.
A leading manufacturer will be able to trace each and every system component. At Modular Wiring Systems we can trace all the way back not just to the cable, but to the source of copper within that cable.

Testing, is intrinsic to quality control, the more testing that takes place, the better and more reliable the system will be. Each and every component part – including the copper, the cable, the joins etc – should be tested individually, preferably using ATE (automatic testing equipment) that is fully calibrated, as this removes the human element which is susceptible to mistakes.
Systems which have undergone such rigorous testing are easy to identify. The manufacturer applies a test sticker with a serial number to every part of the system tested. This number enables the manufacturer to refer to detailed records for that component.
Bearing in mind the importance of testing in a system that carries electricity and powers building services, batch testing of that system and its components is not acceptable? Batch testing is obviously cheaper for the manufacturer and the system will most likely be cheaper as a result, but using such systems may be a risk.

The manufacturer of a modular wiring system has a key role to play and experienced manufacturer should be able to provide you with support and guidance throughout a project to ensure you get the most benefit from using a modular wiring system. That support will include detailed CAD drawings, the allocation of an in-house project engineer for one point of contact throughout the process and the ability to make bespoke product to solve any on site challenges that may arise.

With greater focus than ever before being placed on sustainability and ‘green’ building techniques and at the same time reduce costs, modular wiring systems score high. Wastage is reduced as there is no requirement for cutting and fabrication on site and costs are reduced as the system can be installed up to 80% quicker than traditional methods, utilising 70% less labour. But this only applies to a well-designed system, manufactured under strict control using quality components.
Modular Wiring Systems are the electrical equivalent of a modern readymade meal. All the hard work and the clever bits have been done for you, leaving you to stick the meal in the oven and enjoy the results in next to no time!

For more information, please contact Modular Wiring Systems on 01753 566700 or info@modwire.com

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