Home » Blog » Archive by category "Electrical"

Electrical

These posts provide resources for electrical contractors, cable suppliers, construction electricians, and anyone else involved in the industry. Browse through our coverage here.

Topics

  • How Electrical Wholesalers Grow in 2022: 5 Strategies from Top Performers

    After a rough couple of pandemic years, electrical wholesalers came out swinging in 2022. But the new environment is not without its own challenges: ongoing supply chain disruptions make it hard to keep shelves stocked; the “Great Resignation” has left its mark on the labor supply; and runaway inflation is making it more expensive to run a growing electrical distribution... Continue Reading
  • How to Sell Electrical Products with Value-Added Services

    The electrical wholesaling business is changing, with e-commerce giants encroaching on territory traditionally held by local operations. In a 2018 survey, a full third of the electrical wholesalers said Amazon Business was the biggest threat to their business. That’s more than twice the respondents who said “economic instability” or “inability to attract top talent” were their greatest concerns. In the... Continue Reading
  • May Is Electrical Safety Month: 3 Ways for Wholesalers to Participate

    Every May, Electrical Safety Month raises awareness about particular safety issues related to electricity in North American homes and workplaces. But what exactly is Electrical Safety Month? More officially known as National Electrical Safety Month, this campaign is sponsored by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), a nonprofit that works to expand knowledge about preventing electrical fires, injuries, and worse.... Continue Reading
  • IIoT Security for Electrical Wholesalers: Mitigating the Risks of Industry 4.0

    Every week, more low-cost sensors, devices, and analytics platforms hit the market. This is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) — industrial equipment that tracks its own data, connects to a network, and transforms information into insight. And IIoT isn’t limited to high-profile use cases like smart manufacturing or asset tracking in the supply chain. It can also help electrical... Continue Reading
  • Reviewing OSHA Trends and New Rules for 2022

    What’s new with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2022? Quite a bit — the administration is widely expected to increase inspections and use new enforcement mechanisms to ensure safe and healthful conditions for workers. For employers, the new year is an excellent time to review compliance considerations and make necessary improvements in equipment, training, and processes. Below,... Continue Reading
  • Cable Take Up Machines: An Introduction for Every Industry

    Manufacturers of cable and wire are always looking for ways to fill orders faster and more safely, which often boils down to one type of equipment: cable take up machines. Available in a wide range of designs and configurations, these devices rotate cable wheels to fill them with product, automating what would otherwise be a labor-intensive and ergonomically disastrous task.... Continue Reading
  • Reel Rack Axle Brackets: Converting to Electrical Wire Reel Racks

    Warehouses are usually rich with pallet racking. But what happens when they start to stock wire and cable—or even rope, chain, and other coiled materials? Dedicated electrical wire reel racks are expensive, and there may not be space in the facility to add whole new racking systems. These warehouse operators need a way to convert existing pallet racking into reel... Continue Reading
  • Temporary Wiring: OSHA Rules for the Construction Industry

    Electric hand tools. Lights. Building information modeling (BIM) systems. You need them all for a construction job, and they all require power — electrical power in spaces that may not yet have permanent wiring in place. Temporary wiring is the solution. Most construction sites depend on some form of temporary wiring, to be removed on completion of the job. Building... Continue Reading
  • Manhole Openers and Ergonomics for Utility Workers

    Manhole covers can weigh from 90 to 250 pounds or more, which is essential for ensuring safety: Heavy materials like cast iron and concrete are less susceptible to damage or accidental displacement. However, when workers need to move manhole covers, they often undertake the task without specialized equipment — which creates a serious ergonomic hazard. While the Occupational Health and... Continue Reading
  • Inventory Optimization (IO) for Cable Inventory Management

    In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world entered a new era of supply chain disruptions, some of which introduced new challenges for electrical wholesalers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Commercial Construction Index for the third quarter of 2021 found 93 percent of contractors faced material shortages for at least one product. While those shortages were mostly for steel,... Continue Reading
  • Material Handling and Supply Chain Trends to Watch in 2022

    As we enter a new year following repeated shocks to global supply chains, analysts are listing the supply chain trends they expect to dominate the near future of industry. Many of these trends are focused on the promise of artificial intelligence and other digital technologies — blockchain, robotic process automation, growing data visibility. Other experts (including a few at the... Continue Reading
  • HDPE Conduit Installation: 3 Tips for Faster, Safer Conduit Pulls

    Originally, HDPE pipes were developed to carry water in municipal systems and industrial facilities—but in the 50-plus years since this material was developed, HDPE conduit has also become a valuable ducting option for telecommunications and electrical cables in outdoor, underground applications. That makes HDPE conduit a valuable material for utility and infrastructure electricians as well as plumbing installers. So what... Continue Reading
  • Running Data Cable While Minimizing Product Loss

    Running data cable can be a tricky job, particularly in high-volume installations. Electricians may find themselves pulling network cable through branching conduit, complete with difficult twists and turns — and it’s not enough simply to make the pull. Installers must also be careful not to damage cable. Damaged cable can remain hidden all the way up to the certification check,... Continue Reading
  • Moving Light Fixtures Without Waste or Breakage

    Moving light fixtures in bulk can be a significant material handling challenge. Fixtures are fragile. That’s why they often arrive at installation sites wrapped and boxed — packaging that adds considerable job-site waste. Fixtures are awkwardly shaped, and don’t fit neatly onto most of the carts electricians keep around. And for big projects, like a new construction or a total... Continue Reading
  • Construction E-Commerce: Contractor Preferences for Omnichannel Sales

    As e-commerce continues to grow across verticals, construction contractors have begun to expect it from their distributors, too. In one survey from HMI Performance Incentives, 75 percent of contractors in the electrical, building, plumbing, HVAC, landscaping, and roofing industries said they bought at least some of their materials online. Perhaps more alarmingly for traditional distributors, 66 percent said they patronized... Continue Reading
  • Industrial Cable Spools and Cable Reels: Choosing Reels and Cable Handling Equipment

    In most industries, the terms “cable spool,” “cable reel,” and “cable drum” are used interchangeably.  Some manufacturers use “reel” to refer to the full unit, while “spool” refers to what’s left behind after the cable has been exhausted. For others, a “spool” refers to smaller units — for instance, data cables — while “reel” refers to larger drums. Regardless of... Continue Reading
  • Cat 5 Vs. Cat 6 Cable: Tips for Electricians

    Network cables can be tricky, particularly for industrial electricians. Cat 5, Cat 5e, and Cat 6 cables are essential, but cable spools are expensive; larger reels of network cables create vulnerabilities for material loss. Without appropriate reel handling equipment, installers might find themselves revisiting (and reinstalling) cable towards the end of a construction project. In this article, we’ll highlight several... Continue Reading
  • Installing Data Cable: Wire Spool Turntables, Jack Stands, or Reel Rollers?

    Electricians who install low-voltage wiring face two material handling challenges to handle at once: First, they have to move data reels throughout the facility. Then they have to pull the cable. For the second of these challenges, installers have a choice between wire spool turntables, reel rollers, or traditional jack stands. But which provides the greatest benefits, in terms of... Continue Reading
  • Wooden Reel Dimensions for Wire and Cable Orders

    The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is North America’s leading authority on standardizing cable and wire reels. The group published a specification guide called the Binational Wire and Cable Packaging Standard in 2008, and it remains a top source for cable packaging manufacturers in the United States and Canada. In addition to providing specifications for plastic and steel cable reels... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Pallet Rack Anchor Requirements

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations for workplaces that fail to adequately anchor pallet racks, leading to structural failure — and it’s likely that they’ll continue to do so. However, OSHA pallet rack anchor requirements aren’t among the clearest regulations on the books. At least two OSHA rules may be applied in citations of workplaces that... Continue Reading
  • Intralogistics: What Is It And Why Is It Important For Warehousing?

    Intralogistics is today’s top buzzword in manufacturing and warehousing — but in some cases, buzzwords live up to the hype. Different companies define “intralogistics” in different ways, but the core concept is always similar. In short, intralogistics refers to optimization and automation of every piece of information within a distribution center or warehouse. It takes the lean methodology to its... Continue Reading
  • Coping with the Skilled Labor Shortage in Manufacturing, Electrical, and Other Industries

    The skilled labor shortage isn’t going away anytime soon, and industrial employers need innovative solutions to address the problem. Per a report from the American Action Forum (AAF), employers in nearly every state will face significant shortages of qualified workers by 2029. These shortages are not confined to skilled trades, but industrial employers — warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and electrical distributors,... Continue Reading
  • Cable Reeling Equipment: What It Is and Why It Matters

    Electrical wholesalers are always looking for ways to fill cable and wire orders faster and with less risk to workers. And while cable reeling equipment has come a long way since the days of hand-cranked reeling machines, it’s still highly varied, without the sort of industry standardization we see with, say, the industrial truck market. The Occupational Safety and Health... Continue Reading
  • 5 Key Principles of a Workplace Electrical Safety Program

    According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), there were 1,900 nonfatal electrical injuries involving days away from work in 2019 — a 22 percent increase from 2018. Clearly, we can all stand to improve electrical safety on the job. That effort starts with developing a comprehensive workplace electrical safety program, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)... Continue Reading
  • Steel Reel Sizes for Bulk Cable Orders

    In 2008, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association published a new set of standards describing ideal steel reel sizes, along with other specifications for cable and wire reels of all materials. That was NEMA Standards Publication No. WC 26-2008, the Binational Wire and Cable Packaging Standard, and it remains the authority on sizing cable reels in North America today. This publication... Continue Reading
  • Industrial Reel Racks: 3 Key Factors to Consider

    Without proper storage, wire and cable reels can quickly become unmanageable. Industrial reel racks improve organization and maximize floor space, and they’re essential when workers pay out cable or wire from a consistent location. While shelving is a functional option for long-term storage, racking is the best option for reels that are used regularly — and the quality of racking... Continue Reading
  • 5 Electrical Sales Tips for Distributors

    Whatever salespeople learned in 2019, much of it didn’t apply in 2020, as the unconventional year changed most industries in profound ways. For electrical distributors, many of those changes were difficult; according to one April survey, the electrical distribution channel diminished 10 percent during the lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic, with particularly steep declines in metropolitan areas and... Continue Reading
  • The Electrician Shortage in U.S. Industry: How Material Handling Equipment Can Help

    This is a great time to be an electrician, but it’s not a great time to hire one. There’s a shortage of electricians in the United States, and electrical distributors should provide additional products and value-added services to help contractors get more done with fewer workers. How serious is the electrician shortage? According to the National Electrical Contractors Association, 10,000... Continue Reading
  • Cable Drum Winding Machines for Delivered Solutions

    Traditional cable drum winding machines require a complex series of set-up actions before you can even begin filling the take-up drum. For cut-to-length wire and cable distributors, who repeat the process with every order, these additional steps add up to substantial lost productivity. For instance, take a standard shaftless, pintle-loading cable winding machine. In order to fill an order using... Continue Reading
  • Reel Jack Stands and How to Handle Cable Reels Without Them

    Are reel jack stands necessary? Reel jack stands are the prevalent technology used for cable pulls, and for good reason. They’re relatively economical, easy enough to handle, and they usually get the job done. Electricians position stands beneath the reel, jack the reel hooks upward to clear the ground, and pull. But in this era of technological revolution, is this... Continue Reading
  • 5 Parcel Locker Uses for Industrial Distributors

    Electronic parcel lockers are all around us, whether we’ve started using them or not. With the rise of e-commerce, many consumers are looking for a secure, convenient pickup location for their orders. The parcel locker fills that niche. These units are much more than simple secure storage. They provide a simple way for recipients to pick up orders 24/7, without... Continue Reading
  • What Is a Parcel Locker and How Can It Help Your Business?

    Parcel lockers are bulkstorage units with multiple lockable compartments, designed to facilitate delivery and collection of orders at any time of the day or night. This 24/7 accessibility makes parcel lockers a powerful tool in an era of increasing e-commerce. A customer can order an item online, for instance, and travel to a nearby parcel locker to retrieve their order.... Continue Reading
  • Wire and Cable Inventory Management for Cut-to-Length Distributors

    There was a time, early in the advent of cut-to-length wire distribution, when you couldn’t enter an electrical warehouse without hearing that familiar call: “How much wire is left on that reel?” Cut-to-length imparts tremendous value to electrical contractors, but it introduces logistical headaches to distributors. Rather than purchase a whole reel, contractors ask only for what they need to... Continue Reading
  • Material Handling Costs in Electrical Construction and How to Lower Them

    One major study on material handling in electrical contracting came up with a shocking statistic: Around 40 percent of the work electricians do in the construction industry is consumed by material handling. Not cable pulls, installing conduit, or wiring light fixtures: simply moving materials around the work site. Even highly trained, highly paid union contractors end up spending nearly half... Continue Reading
  • Safety and Health Programs for Electrical Contractors: Preliminary Research

    Electrical contractors may have been working in the field for decades, remaining injury-free the whole time. They might go on to train their staff in the common-sense protections that have kept them safe through countless installations. But despite this admirable preparation, employees can still be injured on the job. In 2016, for instance, workers sustained more than 1,600 electrical injuries... Continue Reading
  • What’s New at the 2019 NECA Convention in Las Vegas?

    If you attended last year’s NECA convention, hosted in Philadelphia by the National Electrical Contractors Association, you already know that the event is on an upward trajectory. Between 2014 and 2017, just over 6,000 people attended each year. In 2018, the number of participants exploded to over 10,000! If anything, NECA 2019 promises to be even bigger. So what can... Continue Reading
  • Store Electrical Materials for Easy Access at Job Sites

    Where do you store electrical materials during a construction project? As just one contractor sharing space with all the other trades, electrical firms can quickly run into storage limitations. Add to that the challenge of sharing elevators, navigating narrow aisles, and the multiple trips usually required, and the scope of the material-handling challenge becomes apparent. You don’t want access to... Continue Reading
  • Why You Should Always Keep Electrical Materials Off the Floor

    During the course of a long, complex electrical installation, the fastest, easiest way to store tools and building materials is to pile them up on the floor. It may be messy, but you can’t argue with the efficiency…or can you? In fact, stacks of conduit, connectors, circuit breakers, light fixtures, and other electrical products may do more harm than you... Continue Reading
  • NEC Adoption by State: A State-by-State Guide to Compliance

    Updated April 20, 2021 Contrary to popular belief, the National Electrical Code is not, in itself, a legally enforceable document. The National Fire Protection Association, which publishes the NEC in a document coded NFPA 70, is an international nonprofit organization; it has no authority to create laws or legally enforceable regulations. The code changes every three years (we’ll address some... Continue Reading
  • Electrician Safety in the Forklift Battery Room

    The unique power demands of forklift battery rooms create singular electrical hazards. Electricians can’t simply cut power to the system and proceed without caution; batteries remain energized even when separated from charging systems. Additionally, unless the battery room was designed with working clearance and guarding around all live components, it can be a particularly dangerous place for workers to enter.... Continue Reading
  • Safety at the Electrical Supply Warehouse

    We spend a lot of time discussing electrical safety at the jobsite, in the home, and even in schools. But what about safety programs for the workers who make electrical systems possible? Long before electricians begin to observe their strict lockout/tagout protocols or double-check the NEC, the electrical-material supply chain is hard at work, manufacturing, storing, shipping, and distributing the... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomics for Electrical Workers

    Some electricians deride the term “ergonomics” as a meaningless buzzword, pointing out that marketers use it to describe everything from wire strippers to work boots. Other electrical contractors are always up to their elbows in the latest biomechanical research, looking for ways to save their lower backs. Either way, the fact is that ergonomics can help create a safer, more... Continue Reading
  • Workplace Electrical Safety: Setting a Baseline with Injury Statistics

    In honor of National Electrical Safety Month, we’re looking at electrical safety in the workplace throughout May. We’ll start with an examination of the current state of electrical safety, particularly as it relates to those most exposed to the risks: construction electricians themselves. You can’t figure out where you’re going until you know where you are, after all. In the... Continue Reading
  • Energy Savings for Green Warehousing Operations

    Whether you run a warehouse, a cold-storage facility, or a regional distribution center, odds are you’re pursuing aggressive sustainability goals. The fastest way to reduce your business’ carbon footprint is to invest in energy efficiency — and that doesn’t necessarily mean costly redesigns. Here are a few ways you can cut your warehouse energy bill while also contributing to a... Continue Reading
  • Green Supply Chain Management for Electricians

    It’s hard to create a more sustainable electrical firm without cleaning up the supply chain while you’re at it. But how can electricians make the move toward a green supply chain? First, of course, it’s helpful to have a working definition of “green” in the context of supply chain management in the electrical industry. According to an early paper on... Continue Reading
  • LED Retrofit Tips for Electricians

    There’s no quicker way to save on electricity costs at a commercial or industrial building than springing for a total LED retrofit job. There are plenty of great reasons to switch to LED; they can use up to 75 percent less energy than incandescent lighting. They also last 25 times longer. That’s all according to  U.S. Department of Energy. These... Continue Reading
  • Gantry Crane Disconnect: Compliance With the National Electrical Code (NEC)

    Construction electricians are occasionally called upon to install a gantry crane system. The National Electrical Code provides specific rules for such an installation in Article 610, but gantries differ from other electrical installations in one particularly surprising way. Specifically, we’re talking about disconnecting means for the power supply. The NEC is pretty clear on the subject as it pertains to... Continue Reading
  • Cable Paralleling and Other Value-Added Services for Electrical Suppliers

    What sets your electrical supply operation apart from the big online retailers? The rise of omnichannel retail and mega-e-commerce outlets means electricians can buy their cable, wire, and material handling supplies from pretty much anywhere, often at bargain-basement prices. But, as a dedicated electrical materials supplier, you have something the big companies don’t: expertise. If you can translate that expertise... Continue Reading
  • E-Commerce Strategies for Electrical Supply Companies

    Toward the end of 2018, just 42 percent of U.S. electrical distributors offered their customers an e-commerce experience. That’s according to a surprising study from credit management platform Apruve, which released a report comparing e-commerce in the electrical supply industry. Providers that operate e-commerce sites tended to be larger and more established — again, a surprise, when the narrative of... Continue Reading
  • Rising Construction Material Prices: Tips for Electrical Contractors

    Market forces have aligned to create rising construction material prices, and electrical contractors in the industry are faced with a dilemma: Do they pass those prices onto builders, and, ultimately, the customer? Or do they take the hit themselves? A handful of trends combine to create these price increases. There are the tariffs on steel and aluminum, of course. New... Continue Reading
  • Electricians and Musculoskeletal Disorders: Common Symptoms and Prevention Tips

    For electricians, musculoskeletal disorders remain a serious occupational hazard. Electrical installation teams aren’t alone with this risk; workers in most construction trades face a higher risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders than those in other industries. Between 1992 and 2014, the rate of occupation-based musculoskeletal disorders remained higher in the construction industry than in all combined industries. This disproportionate rate of... Continue Reading
  • Building a Culture of Electrical Safety in the Construction Industry

    Electrical safety in the construction industry has been studied, argued over, and refined since Thomas Edison started burying copper wires beneath the streets of Manhattan in 1882. From the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) — which publishes NFPA 70, otherwise known as the National Electrical Code (NEC) — to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all sorts of safety organization offer important insights into electrical safety. No matter how well a construction electrician understands the NEC or OSHA regulations, though, the key to keeping every employee safe on every jobsite is to build a culture of safety into every workplace task — especially for those who install electrical systems. Safety cultures start at the top. Everyone in a leadership... Continue Reading
  • Custom Paralleling Cable and Wire for the Commercial Construction Industry

    Cable and wire dealers frequently offer custom paralleling as a value-added service. The benefits of wire-cutting and paralleling at the point-of-purchase do look pretty good: Custom-cut lengths prevent waste, and pre-paralleled combinations of product save time during installations. Given the volume of cable and wire involved in a large building — and the code-compliance and strict scheduling you’ll find working... Continue Reading
  • The Electronic Logging Device Rule and Faster Truck Turn Times at Docks

    Pretty soon, the federal Electronic Logging Device rule that (mostly) went into effect on December 18 of last year will unleash full penalties for violations. As you’ll recall, late last year, truck drivers protested the oncoming mandate, which requires drivers to track all hours in the truck through electronic logging devices. Officials with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hope... Continue Reading
  • Electric Forklift Fleet Costs Over Time

    If this is the year you switch to an electric forklift fleet, costs are bound to be a major topic of conversation in your office. The expense of a capital investment like a forklift fleet can’t be limited to the purchase price alone, of course. You need to consider the future costs, as well, and those can be hard to... Continue Reading
  • Year-End Budget Planning: Invest in Electrical Equipment

    As the year draws to a close, growing companies may find that they still have the budget for a capital investment or two. The end of the year is a great time to invest in new equipment to make the coming year more productive. Any operation that depends on electrical work, whether that’s in the construction industry, the electrical supply... Continue Reading
  • Electrician Safety in Cold Outdoor Environments

    Electrical contractors can’t simply pack up and wait out the winter weather; eventually, electricians just have to work in the cold. Extreme temperatures create special hazards, especially for electricians, and staying safe in the depths of winter requires special efforts on the part of employers and employees alike. The Occupational Safety and Health Association breaks down their safety rules for... Continue Reading
  • Measuring Electrical Conduit Sizes at the Job Site

    For electricians, pulling cable is only half the job. Before they can even begin installing the cabling, they have to create vast networks of electrical conduit. Electricians typically run multiple cables through a single raceway, so it’s vital that they know how much space is available inside the duct. That isn’t always apparent at a glance. The trade sizes of... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomic Solutions for Electrical Contractors

    The risk of shock isn’t the only occupational hazard that electrical contractors face on a daily basis. Like many construction trades, electrical work is full of ergonomic hazards that can cause serious injuries. Spools of wire, bundles of conduit, and tools themselves can cause significant stress on muscles when workers try to lift them. In fact, the Occupational Safety and... Continue Reading
  • Solving the Forklift Battery Room Power Puzzle

    A lot of disparate pieces go into an efficient battery charging area, especially when it comes to power distribution. Facilities should be free to add and remove chargers whenever they need to, without the expense and delay of bringing in electricians for every change. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just plug in a forklift battery charger like a... Continue Reading
  • Electrical Distribution for Forklift Battery Rooms

    Every battery room has distinctive power requirements, but these can change as operations grow. Don’t just wire the charging areas for your current needs; plan ahead for future changes — or, even better, ongoing expansion. Powering The Fleet’s Power Source Think of the battery charging area as the power source for your entire forklift fleet. In a way, charging systems... Continue Reading