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The 'system' works

5 October 2020

The ‘system’ works: Safe & secure electrical connections

There are manufacturers of crimp compression terminals from all over the world. Each will manufacture their lugs to different dimensions, using a variety of material standards. In the final instalment of an exclusive three-part “tools special”, Klauke asks, as the dimensions of the tube can vary greatly between manufacturers for the same cable size, how do you know the compression crimp that’s made is safe and secure?

Quite often, contractors and installers will see the cable lug as a small, unimportant part of the entire build, with little time spent considering the consequences. If this component is not correctly specified and installed using the correct tools, the cost to rectify the equipment or send engineers to the site will far exceed the cost of using a correct crimping ‘system’ in the first place.

More often today, the crimp style made to install cable lugs is hexagonal (rather than indent). This means that when the jaws of the crimping tool have met, there is no further compression of the cable lug. So, the correct selection of cable lug is very important to match the crimping tool in use and guarantee the connection made is safe and secure.

The only way to ensure a safe termination is to use a matched system where the same manufacturer’s products – a cable lug, die set and crimping tool – are used throughout the connection. This is the recommendation throughout the world and will give you peace of mind that the connections made will be safe for years to come.

Manufacturers like the German tool specialist, Klauke, produce all the components required for a system and are in full control of dimensions, tolerances, material spec, and after-sales service. Pure electrolytic copper, traceable back to the mill, is used to produce low-resistance joints, which is annealed after manufacture to ensure it is compressed evenly and easily onto the cable strands. This optimises the electrical properties and reduces wear on the compression tool. In recent years, top-class manufacturers have included features in their crimping tools which enable the user to be sure the full compression has been achieved, before downloading and printing quality certificates from the tool to certify the installation to clients.

Productivity improvements have been made through designing smaller, lightweight tools which can be used in confined areas to make crimping an easier task than was the case in past years. Many crimping tools have become battery operated, meaning the installation process can be achieved at the push of a button, with the force generated through compact hydraulic pumps built into the power-driven tools.

Battery operation has meant crimp connections can be achieved from 0.1mm2 up to 1000mm2 by a single person; many crimping operations in the past at larger cable sizes would have required two people. As the manual input to the crimping process is greatly reduced, the installer can take more care with positioning, reducing errors and speeding up their operations.

The smallest battery tool on the market has just been released by Klauke – ‘The Micro’. Times change, and so do requirements. Up until now, manual ratchet tools have been used for years without significant innovation. The new electromechanical crimping tool can take the place of existing manual ratchet crimping tools currently used for pre-insulated connectors (0.5 – 16mm2), Cu tube and sheet metal connectors (0.5 – 25mm2) and cable end sleeves/bootlace ferrules (0.14 – 50mm2). The compact and ergonomic design features ‘PowerSense’ technology, allowing users to pre-clamp connectors using the tool’s trigger, as you would with a mechanical tool, before the powerful motor drive unit performs the crimping process. Many OEMs and panel builders will see productivity improvements and reduction in RSI issues when using the new Micro.

So that crimping solutions can be developed for every cable type on the market (from very old cables, unusual designs, heavily compacted and AWG sizes), Klauke offers to engineer and underwrite a technical solution for every combination. Samples of the cable in question are assessed by the Application Engineering department and tensile tests are performed to confirm and certify suitability. 

If you are looking to upgrade your cable termination equipment or just require advice on a better way to crimp or cut cables, please contact Klauke UK Ltd which stocks a wide range of suitable products.

Complete October issue of Panel Building & System Integration Magazine.