Building in capacity for future growth and flexibility pays dividends over time
There is a renaissance occurring in American manufacturing. Factories are returning to domestic production for a number of geo-political and strategic reasons. When a company decides to bring manufacturing “home” and build a new facility, they can now do so with more pre-planning and forethought. Not only can engineers take advantage of the latest technologies to build products more efficiently, but the plant itself can be designed using techniques to speed completion, minimize cost, maximize energy efficiency and build in the subsystems that will accommodate future growth during initial construction. All of this contributes to reducing the cost of goods sold, which lowers the trigger point for bringing manufacturing back to the USA. One such example is the elimination of running pipe and wire on the factory floor in favor of an overhead grid of high strength cable pathways.
Not every factory opens its doors operating at 100% capacity. Most ramp up production over time, reserving space to add more machines or expand assembly lines as demand increases. Rather than installing fixed EMT pipe to run power across to each new machine, established cable pathways are ready to drop power and data cables from overhead at predetermined locations. While EMT isn’t expensive, the labor to bend and install it is. And once in place, it is difficult and costly to move. As an alternative to running pipe and wire, Snake Tray offers a number of cable conveyance systems designed to provide unmatched flexibility and cost savings when installing equipment – any kind of equipment that requires a power and/or data connection – on the modern factory floor.
Mega Snake is designed in grid components (straights, Turns, Ts and crossing modules) to accommodate current and future changes to machine locations on the factory floor. Turns and elevation changes are managed using prefabricated tray components that maintain proper spacing and bend radii for maximum cable safety and performance. Data drops can be carried along the same pathways, as well as non-electrical services such as water, compressed air or vacuum lines using color-coded under tray loop accessories. A laced vertical grid holds risers running down the wall from the cable tray. The cables are attached to the power distribution box using a modular twist-lock NEMA or pin-and-sleeve IEC disconnect. Each drop-off is secured to the cable tray above with a strain relief mechanism.
The benefit is that when adding a new machine to the factory floor, it can be powered up and ready for use at minimal expense in a matter of hours rather than days. Moving equipment for repairs, retooling or replacement is also a lot easier and does not involve lengthy delays associated with moving EMT pipe and wire to new positions.
And if you think your next construction project is not to the scale required to justify an overhead cable conveyance system, think again. Snake Tray has installed Mega Snake systems in manufacturing plants occupying hundreds of thousands of square feet, as well as smaller “factories” like your local fast food franchise. Look toward the kitchen ceiling the next time you place an order at the counter. You’ll likely see a powder-coated wire grid with drop-offs over the deep fryer, grills and ovens with cables running directly to each piece of equipment. Pin-and-sleeve connectors allow for fast power disconnect so the machines can be easily moved to accommodate food preparation workflow changes and for periodic sanitizing purposes necessary for food handling establishments.
Whether your environment is large or small, making cars or making burgers, we at Snake Tray would be happy to show you how to design a manufacturing plant cabled for today with the capacity and flexibility for tomorrow. Contact us today to learn more.