Label your cable

Cables are the arteries through which most businesses’ lifeblood flows. One small cabling error can result in an entire organisation being out of commission.

Johannesburg, 01 Jul 2019
Read time 3min 20sec
Mark Broude, Head of the Commercial Division, Kemtek Imaging Systems
Mark Broude, Head of the Commercial Division, Kemtek Imaging Systems

Cables are the arteries through which most businesses’ lifeblood flows. One small cabling error can result in an entire organisation being out of commission.

However, as much as they enable the various processes that keep the organisation in business, the downside of cables is that when there’s an issue, it can be difficult to identify which cable is doing what. Rapid changes in technology result in ongoing installations, which can in turn result in multitudes of similar-looking cables all crammed into a small space. Imagine trying to trace one specific cable to address one specific problem.

Unless its electrical installations are labelled properly, a business can waste valuable time and money trying to discover where a problem lies before they can work on fixing it. A properly labelled cabling system will assure increased efficiency, profitability and reliability. Mark Broude, Head of the Commercial Division at Kemtek Imaging Systems, says something as simple as labelling cables at both ends reduces the time needed to track down and isolate a problem. “Maintenance is much easier when you can still clearly read the information left by a previous contractor, the labels have remained visible and stayed in place.”

Markings on cables can be used to show the type of cable, the size, the type of equipment it supplies as well as the point from which it is connected. There are even sector-specific regulations around the labelling of electrical cables that have to be complied with and that could impact your choice of labelling device and material.

Broude adds that a label must be permanent, legible and able to sustain normal weather conditions. “It’s also imperative to always use genuine consumables, ie, labelling materials, to ensure compliance with regulations.”

He says SANS 10142-1 – the Wiring of Premises, Clause 4.2 – states: "Any notices, labels or rating plates… shall be durable and not removable, except by determined and deliberate action. The inscriptions shall be legible and indelible."

Here are some general good practice guidelines when it comes to clear and long-lasting cable labels:

  • Labels should be machine generated – handwritten labels are illegible at best and don’t improve with time.
  • Labels should be placed on both ends of the cable.
  • Labels should be legible.
  • Labels must be clearly visible when the infrastructure is being maintained.
  • There should be a periodical check to ensure the quality of the labels.
  • The cable identification system must be updated to reflect upgrades.

Choosing a label printer – hints and tips:

What makes a good label printer? “When choosing a label printer, it’s all about horses for courses,” says Broude. “So, depending on various factors, including location, ambient temperature and the types and sizes of cables to be labelled, you might need to print shrink-wrapped labels, laminated or unlaminated labels. You might need a portable handheld label printer to use on site; industrial label makers are also available for onsite application. Basically, you want a label that won’t fade or peel off, that’s UV resistant and comes in a variety of colours and widths.”

It’s important to bear in mind the environment in which the labels will be used, so if they’ll be in contact with water, oil, chemicals, heat or cold, and choose the right type of labelling material for the job.

Here are the main benefits of clearly labelling infrastructure components:

  • Productivity – simpler and quicker troubleshooting and maintenance procedures.
  • Profitability – reduce costs by making it easier to track and deal with issues.
  • More effective audit compliance and quality assurance – in terms of manufacturer and installer warranties.