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Bringing more structure to wiring

Wholesalers have a key role to play in educating their customers about the benefits of structured wiring systems, says Mark Redfern of Wieland Electric

Electrical contractors are under constant pressure to work smarter and more productively, adding more value to their customers as a way of differentiating themselves from competitors. Electrical wholesalers, therefore, have an important role to play in helping their contractor customers 'up their game'.

A good example of this is the opportunity to take advantage of structured wiring systems as an alternative to traditional cabling methods. The use of structured wiring with 'plug and play' connectivity has been shown to deliver significant savings in installation time. From the wholesaler’s point of view, these products also provide a better margin than standard cabling products.

Nevertheless, some traditionally minded electricians may need reassurance that structured wiring offers real benefits. So it's worthwhile pointing out that, based on dozens of different types of project, savings in installation time of 70% are typical when structured wiring systems are used.

When this data is analysed intelligently, by taking into account the slightly higher capital costs of structured wiring compared to traditional wiring, there is still typically an average 30% saving on final installed cost.

Whilst this is an average saving across all project types, there are some projects where the benefits are even greater. Obvious examples include high bay lighting in 'shed' type buildings where any work on the lighting will require specialist access equipment. In such cases, as well as reducing installation time and working at height, additional savings are achieved by minimising disruption of the operations at ground level.

All of which contributes to improved margins for the wholesaler, enhanced productivity for the contractor and a better solution for the end customer. And there are also other benefits.

For example, structured wiring systems enable contractors to make better use of their multi-skilled operatives. The plugs on such systems are configured so they can only be plugged in one way – the correct way. This means that a qualified electrician isn't required to make these connections. An obvious example is the use of mechanical operatives working at high level on pipework to also make the lighting connections.

Of course, it's essential that connections at the board are made by qualified electricians but a simple plug-in operation is well within the scope of any multi-skilled operative.