Why M&E contractors are specifying wire suspension systems?
With over 40 years of experience, Tim Brown (ZipClip) in today’s podcast discusses why the M&E industry is recognising wire/zip systems as the preferred choice over traditional methods of threaded rod suspension.
- What are the key reasons why M&E contractors are not specifying wire/zip systems
- Why accountability and performance data is helping contractors to change their perception of wire systems
- What the future of wire systems looks like
What are the key reasons why M&E contractors do not specify wire/zip systems?
- Inferred perception – how can a threaded rod hold less than a wired system
- Natural reluctance – experience tells us that change is risk and risk is cost
- What is in it for me to try something new from a contractor/installer perspective
I have been in the industry since 1978 and there has always been resistance to change. A good example is the industry changed from angle iron to channel, why? because change introduces risk and risk introduces a cost.
Why should we change from threaded rod to wire/rope systems?
It is only through complete transparent accountability that contractors and installers begin to change their minds. Contractors and installers need to trust that a new product is superior both in achieving the job and costs less. This can only be shown through a product demonstration and performance data.
That is our job as manufacturers to provide our customers with confidence and accountability. To show them that the product we are offering is of benefit to them. We have had the CIBSE (Chartered Institute of Business Services Engineering) Accredited by CPD, carry out some performance data in comparison to the traditional steel suspension method and they found the following differences.
Wire systems v traditional steel suspension systems:
- 33% saving in components
- Reduced wastage
- 50% saving in installation time
- First prime cost is reduced
- Guaranteed weight loadings from 10kg to 500kg per support
- Carbon footprint reduced as it is easier to store and transport
- 100 metre coil of wire is equivalent to 33 x 3 metres of threaded rod
CIBSE (Chartered Institute of Business Services Engineering) Accredited by CPD, 2020
When you show a new contractor the complete system solution the first thing they assume is that the wire can’t have the same tensile strength as traditional components but that quite simply is not true. I have shown a 2mm wire to potential contractors and shown them that the tensile strength is identical in performance. That makes people gradually move away from traditional methods of suspension onto our zip wire complete system solution. It is imperative that as a manufacturer we hold the customer’s hand all the way every step of the way, to give them the reassurance that the product is strong, lightweight, and stands up to traditional steel support systems.
Q. Visually wire is not as rigid as rod, so again what’s your argument around the rigidity of a wired system?
A: Although visually wire is not rigid as a rod, the most important factor is the flexibility and the tensile strength. Sometimes rigidity is a double-edged sword – you want the strength which a wire suspension system can offer but you do not want the rigidity.
If you are putting the cable basket onto brackets with 1200mm centres and you have specified threaded rod brackets, when the cable basket goes onto the channel and the beam wire of the cable basket sits on the middle of the channel you have to apply pressure to the basket or the channel bracket to make it fit.
If the contractor or installer has specified a wired system you don’t have to do that, you just have to move it enough to accommodate the hold-down clamp or clip. With traditional channel brackets, you are introducing stress into the system.
Therefore flexibility is a strength, especially when you get the natural expansion and contraction of pipe, as the wire can take that up. Regardless of the flexibility once you get ductwork onto the brackets and you start coupling them they introduce rigidity to the system.
Another key advantage is the time saved through installation – this is often clearly shown when working in retail – when using a wire suspension system, what you can do when you install brackets on wire is to push the bracket out the way if there is something coming in that needs to put around it.
Q: Tell us why accountability is so important?
A: With independent data we can prove the safe working loads from 15kg to 500kg per wire from 30kg to 1000kg per bracket, when you go to your local supermarket, lookup, you will often see threaded rod hanging at an angle. The performance data supplied does not state what the change in load-bearing capacity is when the threaded rod is suspended at an angle. With wiring suspension system you can, this is why accountability and performance data will help change our contractor’s minds.
People overlook accountability and have this in-depth acceptance of what a product does but doesn’t think of the ramifications of forcing a rod against a surface – with wire you can feed it through the gaps.
Q: Do wiring systems comply with the BS 7671:2018 18th edition?
The 18th edition requires a full metallic suspension solution so yes we are complaint to that, there is no plastic in any of our products, obviously with the catenary we have a lot of flexibility and options to use wire compliantly and in that respect no problem at all.
Q: Do you find the weight difference between a wiring suspension system and a traditional fabricated system sway a customers preference?
If you wanted to put in 100 x1 metre trapeze brackets you would have 200 metres of rod and 100 sections of channel but we could put the equivalent wire in a rucksack – they could pick it up on their bike and bring it to site.
You could pick this up on a pushbike on the way to work (you can see it made a difference) – its difficult to that on a bike with 200 metres of rod – you can bring it to the backpack.
Q: With environmental concerns becoming a major issue within construction with the net zero 2050 target around the corner – how can wire/rope suspension systems contribute towards that goal?
It is important that as a manufacturer we don’t want to waste material, when we speak to contractors it is important that we discuss that we could be hanging up less, less suspensions especially as the load bearing capacity does not reduce.
“One container of 2mm wire with a total length of 1.44million, in order to get the same length and load bearing capacity you would need 32 containers full of 10mm rod”
The reduction in C02 is massive for wire, if more and more contractors were using a wire system it has a good impact on the environment especially for reaching the net zero 2050 target.
Q: So, from your point of view what is the future for wire suspension systems as a whole?
- Environmental and the sustainability of suspensions and supports will help wire systems become a go to solution
- Accountability and traceability – with the increasing regulations and standards contractors want to see the performance data and wire systems can provide that
The future for wire systems – end users are more likely to use a wire system than a threaded rod purely because you have engineered it as one complete bracket with complete accountability and traceability to back up the performance.
The industry will embrace new technologies and once they can see the cost savings, environmental concerns and performance testing then the industry will naturally move towards wire systems.
Thank you Tim for your time today, it is always great to hear from an industry expert.