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 on a commercial building — electricians who work in commercial construction often prefer custom-cut and paralleled cable.
But it isn’t always easy to evaluate one dealer’s paralleling services over another’s, and they are not necessarily all equal. Poor paralleling can cause tangles at the reel, which is a productivity disaster in any commercial construction job.
Here, then, are a few questions to ask any cable provider who offers custom paralleling services before making a purchasing decision on behalf of a commercial construction outfit:
Does paralleled cable ship on steel or wooden reels?
Wooden reels, when not kept in perfect condition, can splinter and damage cable. Because custom paralleling requires additional touches and more reel-handling, reels are subject to extra stress compared to their non-custom counterparts. This combination makes steel the more dependable option, when available.
Steel Reels with a strong, non-conductive powder-coat finish provide excellent durability during shipping and payout, especially when paired with an appropriate Reel Stand. Because steel reels are reusable again and again, they cut down on construction waste and associated fees compared to wooden reels.
Are multi-compartment reels available?
What’s wrong with paralleling directly at the jobsite?
Your dealer will probably tell you that nothing is wrong with paralleling at the jobsite, and they’ll be right — as long as you own cable-management equipment like a Parallel Reel Payout or the Parallel Reel Payout Wagon.
However, electrical installations are often short on the sort of space required for cutting custom lengths. Factor this into your decision to cut and parallel conductors on-site.
An April 2003 article from Electrical Contractor magazine illustrates why multi-compartment reels are generally preferable to single drums for paralleled orders. A representative of a major Washington D.C.-area construction company told the magazine about early examples of custom paralleling problems.
“Because the individual conductors overlapped each other during the spooling operation, we experienced problems unreeling the cable, causing difficulties pulling the cable into the conduit,” the representative said.
Fixed, multi-compartment reels keep an even payout during paralleling activities. Ask your provider if they have steel options with exactly as many compartments as you need.
When an electrical contractor makes purchasing decisions, any waste or over-buying cuts directly into the bottom line. Custom cutting and paralleling services can help protect electricians from such unnecessary expenditures.
At the same time, it also pays to investigate the dealer’s processes before making the final purchase. Custom paralleling can lead to great savings within the commercial construction industry, but only in the presence of high-quality reels and reel-handling equipment.
Chichester, A. Lee. “Wire Cutting and Paralleling.” ECMag. Electrical Contractor Magazine, Apr. 2003. Web. 10 July 2018.
Saucerman, S.S. “Making the Jump from Residential to Commercial Construction.” IAEIMagazine. International Association of Electrical Inspectors, 7 June 2016. Web. 10 July 2018.