Cable glands are frequently an essential part of industrial systems, helping to ensure that a variety of setups operate reliably and safely. They can be important for reinforcing connections between cables, and for protecting them from the elements, particularly in high-pressure environments or applications that are exposed to heat or the weather. Many system designers consider cable glands vital components, but they must be selected and installed carefully.
A cable gland attaches to the end of a cable for the purposes of protecting and securing its connection to another cable, or to a device. It can reinforce this connection and prevent damage to cables by alleviating pressure, but also provides protection for these vulnerable parts of a system; connections are frequent points of ingress for dirt, water, dust and debris, which can pose serious risks to any network.
By providing grounding, bonding and sealing protection, cable glands can also ensure that signal transmission through cables remains strong. For these reasons, it is important to choose the right components when designing or building a system – both in terms of compatibility across the system and in terms of any specific advantages for your particular application – and to install cable glands according to industry regulations and installation standards.
Here, we will explain the considerations you need to make to ensure that you select the right cable glands for your applications, and to maintain the highest standards of safety and performance within your system.
Choosing the right product
When selecting a product or comparing cable gland options, there are a number of factors you need to consider relating to your application to ensure that you choose the most effective solution. It is always advisable to buy all of your components from the same manufacturer to ensure maximum compatibility, so if you are expanding an existing system you may want to start by identifying the manufacturer of your current components.
Your application will also have specific requirements that you should consider to ensure you choose the right product. For example, some glands are better suited to outdoor applications because they offer extra protection from the elements, while some are better suited to indoor applications; however, indoor applications in damp or dusty environments may also require additional protection. If your system will be exposed to high or low temperatures (or extreme temperature changes) you might also consider investing in a solution that will provide extra resistance.
Another important consideration is whether there is a risk of explosions, fire, corrosion or other system failures. In some systems, choosing the right cable glands can help to mitigate these risks, while in others, they can prevent any further damage to critical system components if such a failure occurs. As we will discuss later, ensuring that cable glands meet the relevant installation standards for your industry or application will often mean researching the degree of protection you need. By meeting these standards, you will be able to minimize the risk of problems with your network.
Outside of any high-risk environments, there are also the more simple technical considerations like the diameter of the cable you need to connect. Most components are available in multiple sizes, so you can usually ensure that if you have chosen a part that meets the relevant fire resistance or ingress protection standards you need, you can find it in a size that will be compatible with your system.
Cable glands, like all other electrical components designed for industrial applications, are subject to international design and safety standards. These standards are in place to ensure that components meet minimum requirements in terms of effectiveness, reliability and safety, and are set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), although individual countries may also have different standards to which products must adhere. IEC standards apply to the manufacture, installation and operation of components, so whichever part of your system you are responsible for, you should be aware of these technical requirements.
The primary standards that apply to cable glands in the UK are called EN 62444:2013, although additional standards apply for more dangerous or exacting applications. For example, the following standards may also apply:
- IEC 60079, which governs safety standards for environments where there is the potential for an explosion;
- IEC 61892, which is suitable for mobile and fixed offshore applications; and
- IEC 60092, which sets standards for electrical installations in ships.
Familiarity with these standards, and particularly how they apply to installation, is vital. Recognising which additional standards might apply to your application and which ones you should meet to ensure your system operates safely and efficiently is also crucial when planning and designing a system.
When it comes to implementing a new system or upgrade, it’s best to employ a professional with the experience, knowledge and skills to carry out the installation. This is the simplest way to ensure that the relevant installation standards are met, because experienced engineers will be extremely familiar with these standards and ensure they are met.
Cable gland installation safety
It should go without saying that all electronic equipment should be switched off and any live wires disconnected during installation. To avoid the risk of equipment accidentally switching back on while work is underway, any system parts that might pose this risk should be carefully isolated.
If necessary, perform a risk assessment as part of your preparation to install the cable gland or before you make any major changes to your system, as this can make the installation significantly safer, and also reduce your risk of legal liability should anything go wrong during the procedure. While it is often a fairly simple matter to install a cable gland, treating any installation of electrical equipment as routine can result in personnel taking much greater risks than is necessary. By preparing carefully, you can ensure that glands or other components can be safely connected without the risk of injury or damage to the system.
While electrical safety during installation is the most important consideration, there are other risk factors that can affect your system or equipment. Risks that are important to consider during installation include cable glands being exposed to solvents and other chemicals, or dirt and foreign bodies, all of which can act as contaminants and cause the gland to function incorrectly. If you are installing the gland yourself, ensure you do not use too much pressure when screwing it in place, as this can cause damage to the threads of screws and make it much more difficult to uninstall, replace or maintain a gland, should this be necessary.
With all of these considerations in mind, you should be well placed to assess the needs of your system and safely install the right components.