3M has been supplying products to the UK’s rail industry for more than a quarter of a century and have considerable rail experience across other countries too, including France and Germany, who have gone through similar network improvements over the past few decades.
At any one time, there are a variety of rail installation or upgrade projects going on throughout the British Isles. While there are lots of factors involved, projects typically involve hundreds of miles of electrical cable and so efficient and fast jointing and terminating of those cables is vitally important to keep projects on track.
3M have a proven track record of working on a diverse range of rail projects, including Channel Tunnel Rail Link and West Coast Main Line. Plus, with 200 PADS approvals – across joints, terminations, resins, heat shrink and Cold Shrink, connectors, tapes, tools and other accessories – rail operators, contractors and distributors can be sure 3M are a safe choice. Most of 3M’s work with the rail industry focuses around 52kV, but they can also provide both LV and HV Cold Shrink products, plus variety of accessories.
3M work closely with rail customers and partners to continually look at how we they can innovate and help them meet their objectives. For instance, to allow compliance with the LUL fire regulation standards, 3M has developed a universal joint protection system to manage this, known as the Smoke, Toxicity, Fire and Fume joint sleeve (or STFF for short).
The rail industry does of course have some very unique requirements. Comments from customers about Cold Shrink have included the fact that they like there is no need for hot work permits or to take gas bottles and torches down tunnels and along tracksides.
Cable preparation may be the same, but installation of the actual joint or termination is a fraction of the time compared to other methods and less cable is needed overall, which can add up when talking about hundreds of miles of cable. Plus, there is reduced room for error and installation quality is more consistent. Since cables can be sealed in the horizontal plain, they are easier to accommodate in confined spaces.
All these benefits add up to being able to install more joints and terminations, more quickly and reliably, with less waste and with an eye to the overall project cost. Additionally, many of the joint bodies are comprehensively factory tested before release – something simply not possible with heat shrink due to its’ material nature. Finally, as a result of continuous development and refinement over more than 40 years, only 3M can offer you such a choice in Cold Shrink technology in terms of product cost and flexibility in its application.
Together with 3M’s excellent electrical technical back-up team here in the UK, 3M has dedicated resources working with the rail industry right now on some exciting projects, ones that will ultimately improve overall power within the UK’s networks.