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Looking into Power for Lockers

Lockers PDU with white sockets

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Looking into power for Lockers

Lockers PDU with white sockets

As we do more work with the locker manufacturers we appreciate the problems they encounter as they try to improve their offering and add value for their customers. The addition of not only power for lockers but USB charger points has no doubt raised the bar in providing an added facility to just providing the locker space itself. To be able to recharge devices whilst in the gym, when off shift or out of class can be such a benefit in our everyday busy lives. When it’s so easy to forget and sometimes so inconvenient, even critical when your battery indicator turns red!

  • Can I fit power sockets into Lockers?
  • What is the best way to integrate power chargers into lockers?
  • Lockers with power outlets?

Can I fit power sockets into lockers?

Yes, one conventional way of supplying power for lockers could be via a standard 13 A power sockets. This could even include USB charging outlets. However, this method requires the locker company to wire in and fit these items and then test, which is all time consuming and therefore costly.

Whilst the individual components are relatively inexpensive; socket outlets, cable, clips etc. the total cost is really determined by the amount of time it takes to assemble these items together. Some locker companies are set up and able to do this and we are delighted to supply the standard accessory products for this approach.

What is the best way to integrate power chargers into lockers?

Another method is to have a purpose made PDU produced. The unit will integrate into the locker structure and build. Purpose made PDUs for lockers are pre-wired, tested and ready to go. This admittedly is initially a more costly approach but can often be the more cost effective solution once all the time and labour cost is considered by carrying out the other way.

Lockers with power outlets?

Standard PDUs are manufactured in black as most often they are required to be blended into the background in such places as data cabinets, specialist furniture or display units. However, the back of locker cubicles are rather dark in themselves and by working with one of customers we were asked if we could replace the usual black devices with white alternatives to highlight their position by contrasting with their surroundings. This was simply achieved and provided a solution at no extra cost, enhancing the use of the locker for the end user.

Contact us to discuss providing power for lockers or alternatively visit our ‘Spec Your Own’ PDU page

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Compact Photo Booths

Shootcase Compact PDU

Shootcase provide photobooths for events and wanted to develop their offering. There new initiative was to offer compact ‘pop-up’ photo booths.

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When is UKCA marking taking over from CE?

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When is UKCA marking taking over from CE?

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When will UKCA marking take over from CE? With Brexit done the plan was for a new UKCA mark to take over from the current CE mark on all relevant products. This was to be implemented at the end of the transition period. Here will will look into what the UKCA is, how Covid 19 has affected to progress and when it will be introduced.

A number of key questions are:

  • What is UKCA?
  • When was UKCA marking to happen?
  • How has Covid-19 affected implementation?
  • When is UKCA marking likely to happen?
  • How does this impact on PDU Online?

What is UKCA?

The new mark UKCA stands for United Kingdom Conformity Assessed and would replace the CE which meant Conformité Europëene.

Following Brexit it was intended that change from CE to UKCA would be at the end of the transition period i.e. 1st January 2021.

When was UKCA marking to happen?

The massive disruption that has been the global pandemic has meant that readiness plans for changing over have been replaced with more pressing priorities both at governmental and company level.

In a joint letter the two trade associations EAMA [Engineering and Machinery Alliance] and GAMBICA [for Instrumentation, Control, Automation and Laboratory Technology] to the Prime Minister have set out the risk to switching off the CE marking too quickly.

They claim there is insufficient time now for all the necessary work to be completed as industries concentrate on getting their workers off furlough and trying to return to some sort of normality. Notwithstanding the financial burden implementation places upon businesses just at a time when there is so much insecurity and pressure to control costs.

How has Covid-19 affected implementation?

The request from EAMA and GAMBICA is for a 12-18 month extension where CE marking can continue to be accepted in the UK allowing time for industry to adapt to changes, recover from the effects of the pandemic and minimise the risks.

The UK government will also need to create its own directives to mirror those in existence from the European Union that the UKCA mark will signpost to. This in itself will take some time when other priorities are likely to take precedence as the country emerges back to work.

How does this impact on PDU Online?

Currently the UKCA mark technically has no existence and does not point anywhere for compliance purposes. The government withdrew its guidance on the use of the UKCA mark on the 30 January 2020 as it related to how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. At the time of writing the implementation period still expires at the end of the year.

In the light of the current ambiguity PDU Online will continue to CE mark its products and any action to adopt the new marking is being held in abeyance until further clarity from the government is forthcoming.

To view the various ranges we have on offer, click here.

To build your own PDU configuration, click here.

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5 Top Tips to Maintaining Electrical Safety in the Office

Office safety

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5 Top Tips to Maintaining Electrical Safety in the Office

Office safety

Here’s 5 top tips to maintaining electrical safety in the office from PDU Online. As many companies begin to return to work what electrical safety considerations do you need to be aware of?

Many companies are making necessary workspace changes as their employees return to work following the Covid 19 pandemic. Maintaining electrical safety when moving desks and work stations around is important. Alterations to create social distancing may be considered to be temporary. However, temporary should not equal dangerous when it concerns the health and safety of staff.

I.T. equipment and other electrical appliances may need to be moved and repositioned to create the necessary space. An assessment of the potential hazards should then be undertaken to ensure fit- for-purpose power distribution units (PDUs) are used. The considerations;

  • Ensuring Compliance to Legislation
  • Competency
  • Power Leads & Cords
  • Total Loading on Socket Extensions
  • Use of PDUs & Appliances

Ensuring Compliance to Legislation?

The Health and Safety at Work Act makes it the responsibility of employers to provide a safe and healthy working environment for their employees and to members of the public. There are also individual British and International product standards such as BS6396:2008+A1:2015 concerning electrical systems used in offices and educational furniture. Designed to create a safe environment by defining functionality and using appropriate materials. Additionally, there is the Portable Appliance Testing (PAT), which is set by the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). Whereby it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all appliances are maintained in an efficient working order.

Competency

If there are no electrically qualified people to undertake a risk assessment then someone should be appointed to undertake it and any necessary work. Ignorance is never a defence in the event of any legal claim.

Power Leads & Cords

All power leads should be checked for wear and tear. They should not be tangled, damaged by the legs of furniture, hidden under carpets or allowed to lie across walkways and present trip hazards. Any damaged flexes or cords should be replaced.

Total Loading on Socket Extensions

The standard plastic trailing socket is not designed for 24/7 use and does not comply with BS6396 for use in office or educational furniture. An injury or property claim as a result of the failure of this type of product in these environments potentially leaves companies vulnerable.

A common problem is overloading of power strips. Attention should be made to the total load required and a PDU provided to meet this requirement. Overload protection in the form of fuses, miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) or residual current breaker with overload (RCBO) can all be incorporated to provide various levels of protection to equipment and persons.

Use of PDUs & Appliances

PDU Online units are manufactured from resilient materials but power distribution units should wherever possible still be secured into a fixed position either within office furniture or on solid surfaces. Consideration must be made if secured within portable furniture to ensure safe and easy disconnection can be made. PDUs are available that interconnect with various lengths of interconnecting leads which is particularly useful now where furniture may need to be separated but connectivity maintained.

All appliances that are not in use should be unplugged ideally to avoid any unnecessary use or loading.

Conclusion

If returning to the office and work environment following the recent pandemic has meant changes to localised electrical power distribution then this presents an opportunity to ensure that such equipment and associated appliances all comply with the latest regulations. Even if such changes may be only of a temporary nature it would be a mistake to ignore these requirements for that reason. As they have been developed over time out of the experience of accidents and fires from often those very situations.

To view the various ranges we have on offer, click here.

To build your own PDU configuration, click here.

Above Desk PDU for Office

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Electrical Safety in Offices Following the Return to Work

Electrical Safety in Office

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Electrical Safety in Offices Following the Return to Work

Electrical Safety in Office

As the UK economy slowly and progressively resumes activity it is important that our places of work are safe places, not only as regards Covid 19 precautions but also that we consider the electrical safety in offices following the return to work. Going through this process there are some obvious questions and considerations. For instance:

  •  Electrical Safety in Offices, Why now?
  •  The Hazards Identified
  •  What are the standards and guidelines?
  • Compliant products for desks and office furniture

Electrical Safety in Offices, why now?

While none of us know what the “new normal” will be, we do know that safety will be a priority and while risk assessments are likely to be reviewed everywhere, electrical safety in offices following the return to work should be part of that process. The preparation for the return of staff as the furloughed period has an end date needs to happen now. For the benefit of people and to allay any natural concerns they need to feel confident when they arrive after such a long uncertain period that their company is prepared and has thought of their well-being. The social distancing measures in the workplace will often necessitate a physical restructuring of the spaces we work in. This will very often mean electrical supplies will need to be extended and or moved as desks and work stations are repositioned. This could be in general; corporate; private or commercial offices and include schools; colleges; universities and within the healthcare sector.

The Hazards Identified?

With the emphasis understandably being on the transmission of the coronavirus and all the necessary precautions regarding distancing, the washing of hands and identifying the early signs etc., electrical safety may not get the attention it perhaps deserves. To maintain the recommended distancing in the office environment will often necessitate moving desks further apart or introducing new desks, work benches or stations in areas perhaps where electrical supplies were originally not planned for. The temptation perhaps to fit plastic trailing sockets should be resisted as these DIY intended products are not typically robustly made and not intended for continuous use. Electrically overloaded plastic extension sockets notoriously cause many fires. They also offer limited overload protection and with set lead lengths can create trip hazards if left trailing across walkways and between desks. Whilst fatalities are thankfully rare, voltages of as low as 50 volts can cause an electric shock and very often the real injury is the result of a fall as a consequence of the shock.

What are the Standards and Guidelines?

There are several standards and guidelines that can be helpful in this situation. Of course there is the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations and where such organisations as the NICEIC can offer detailed guidance and services on all types of installation

The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 makes it mandatory for employers to provide a safe working environment and the best way of demonstrating compliance is to ensure that products employed meet any national or international standards.

When it comes down to introducing electrical products into office furniture requires compliance to British Standard BS6396:2008+A1:2015. This standard for electrical systems in office and educational furniture aims to define safe and proper materials for construction and limits power outputs to provide electrical safety. The temptation in many cases perhaps is to fit a plastic extension socket without heed to the requirements of the standard but then you are running the risks associated with any future injury claim not to say any consequential losses.

Compliant Products for Desks and Office Furniture

The British Standard BS 6396:2008+A1:2015 requires that such products need to be made out of robust materials and sockets are individually fused at no more than 5 A when four outlets are used and no more than 3.1 amps when six outlets are used. Power strips of more than six outlets should not be used. There should also be provision for external earth bonding to any metallic section of the furniture or structure and adequate segregation should be provided to protect transmission losses if data connections are present.

British made power distribution units from PDU Online are manufactured from aluminium extrusion with durable thermoplastic power, voice and data accessories. Many bespoke variations are possible due the clever design construction with additional facility of linking units together or hot-desking as it is sometimes known. This is particularly useful when desks need to be separated and special lengths of interconnecting leads are available to reduce risks of any potential trip hazards are available upon request.

The requirements of most offices and work stations do not only require 13 A power sockets. Other power and media devices are now common place, such as:

    • USB Charging
    • Surge Protection & RFI Filters
    • RCD Protected Bench Units
    • Data Outlets

By adding in USB charger ports and RJ45 data outlets the functionality of the PDU make them more than just what is sometimes disparagingly called a power strip. Units are available for fitting above or below desk depending upon the need for access. Desk top power units have the facility for direct fixing or rear desk clamps as additional features to the standard non-slip feet that are fitted as standard. Below desk units have outboard fixing brackets making it easy to fix the underside of the rear overhang on desks or any vertical wall surface.

Under Desk PDU Image

Surge protection devices that will even out voltage spikes or transients that sometimes can be found on the circuit can be incorporated into the design to protect vulnerable electronic equipment which is the majority in these types of applications. Alternatively RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) modules can be fitted if airborne frequencies are a potential problem.

Additionally the 18th edition of the wiring regulations requires all circuits to have RCD protection. It is however possible that a localised residual current device can be built into the PDU for a more immediate and local safeguard particularly if adding to an already extended radial circuit.

With industry lead times generally increasing of late, PDU Online as a UK manufacturer of quality PDUs are able to offer next day deliveries in most cases. All products are produced under an ISO 9001 Quality Management System are 100% tested prior to despatch and fully traceable.

If you are having to restructure your work space and it involves your power distribution then talk to us. There are therefore many safety considerations when implementing changes to the working environment but as regards power distribution units PDU Online have many solutions for you to choose the level of protection you need.

To view the various ranges we have on offer, click here.

To build your own PDU configuration, click here.

Office PDU

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Colourful Medical Sockets

Medical sockets

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Colourful Medical Sockets

Medical sockets

Providing electrical power in critical medical environments such as hospital operating theatres, wards and intensive care areas requires the need for quick identification of key and different power supplies. Different colour medical sockets are the perfect solution.

Here we will detail how PDU Online can help but first lets identify the following;

  • Types of Circuits
  • How can these circuits be easily identified?
  • The Solution

Types of circuits?

There are isolated power supplies that are to be kept entirely independent to assure that the failure of normal circuits, such as a ground fault or short circuit, will not damage or disable the emergency circuits. Separate circuits can also be present for emergency generator use should there be a mains failure. And then there are standard circuits for non-medical equipment.

How can these circuits be easily identified?

The ubiquitous 13 amp UK power socket is often the final outlet at the user end particularly throughout the United Kingdom and in areas of the world where the British standard wiring system has been adopted. Printing and labelling is often been used but this has various problems associated with the adhesion of labels or the durability of printing not say the choice of language and variable descriptions that may be used.

The Solution?

The blue “medical use only” sockets used in isolated power supply (IPS) applications have existed for some time but recently when a specialist German manufacturer of high quality medical equipment required UK standard 13 amp sockets in various colours to be incorporated into their manufacturing process for the instant visual recognition of one circuit to another, they reached out to PDU Online for a solution. As a specialist manufacturer themselves PDU Online’s sockets are usually supplied within their own products but they were delighted to satisfy this rather unusual and special requirement.

PDU Online as a core manufacturer of many of the components that are built within their own power distribution units also provide other services to their varied customer base that can includes subcontract wiring on harness assemblies, plastic moulding and presswork.

In this instance the thermoplastic injection moulded socket interiors were made in green, red, black, blue and the standard white to meet the customer’s requirements. Protocols within the installation determine which colour denotes which application use so obviating the need for further labelling or printing. Sometimes matters can transcend words!

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Charging Ports in Lockers

Locker charger PDU

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Charging Ports for Lockers

Locker charger PDU

Ever wanted to add value to your customer experience? And ensure each touchpoint your customer goes through exceeds their expectation? Be sure you stay ahead of you competitors and let PDU Online take care of the smaller details. We can provide Charger outlets within the lockers of you business.

With over 7,000 gym locations around the UK, in an industry that is estimated to be worth in excess of £5bn. It’s no wonder wonder that the kit inside has to be interesting, challenging and value for money. This is a perfect example of an industry that could incorporate charging facilities into their lockers.

And after taking you own kit off and leaving behind in a sports locker then why not get value for money there as well? Alongside storing the Breguet watch why not charge the phone while you work out?

More and more manufacturers are value adding their sports lockers by incorporating power distribution units within their own designs to enable access to power sockets and USB charging. 

As a specialist manufacturer we work with many companies to produce bespoke power distribution units in a simple and most cost effective way possible. With 100% testing on all units and manufactured under ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems the PDUs are guaranteed to be fit for purpose.

We can work with your design team to finalise drawings to your specification ahead of ordering. Or alternatively you can send you lockers to our midlands based manufacturing operation. Leaving us to design, manufacture and fit the purpose made PDUs for you.

 

The latter, hassle free approach is proving very popular amongst locker manufacturers. Our specialist teams can produce drawings, technical files and samples for you to approve.

 

 

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When to PDU – That is the Question

Rack PDU image

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Do I need a PDU or Extension socket?

There are some that think that Power Distribution Units (PDUs) are just another fancy extension socket. The reality is however that PDUs are often required to be fitted, powered up and left 24/7 for several years in many cases under varying loads and conditions. The build specification between the two types of product should therefore reflect the difference in use.

Furthermore, the nature of the procurement and supply chains often involved means that should a problem occur then it is not only a problem to you but also to your customer and, very often, your customer’s customer.

  • What is the risk?
  • What is the different?
  • Why PDU Online?

What is the risk?

When I buy a shirt for £10 and it lasts only three washes it’s a salutary reminder of the truism you get what you pay for. But can you take that risk with a PDU? Many PDUs are protecting personal data, business transactions, indeed people’s livelihoods depend upon them when sitting in data cabinets the length and the breadth of the land. A failure on one of these units has far wider implications than just your extension socket not working on Sunday when you want to vacuum the car.

Here at PDU Online we have been manufacturing for over 45 years in the UK. Discreetly developing our business over the period via the electrical trade and the OEM market. Price is always important in any commercial transaction but on commodities such as PDUs it should take its place alongside quality, reliability, specification, service and delivery.

Whilst global sourcing is a reality in most manufacturing businesses PDU Online, based in the Midlands, have actively mapped out its supply chain to try and buy locally. Buying from trusted local partners and operating a Quality System to ISO9001:2015, we can demonstrate a commitment to quality. Quality of manufacturing system is one thing but quality of before and after sales support is also important. Dealing direct with the manufacturer to provide a solution to meet individual needs, is what we have built our business on

What is the difference?

Most PDUs are made by hard wiring one socket to another and whilst a production line test will reveal whether the assembler has achieved this with no cross polarity connections it will not reveal whether all the connections are adequately tightened or all the strands of the conductors are correctly bundled. This manner of assembly is very labour intensive and therefore has been the reason why so many PDUs have been imported in recent times. As a result, we developed a unique clip-together socket 

system that ensures true connections are made simply by snapping the socket modules together. The bus bars within the design have a cross sectional area of 5.00mm2 compared to the cabled versions of either 1.5mm2 (16A) or 2.5mm2 (25A) which allows units to be simply made to the often required 32 A rating without significant upgrading of the assembly process. 100% testing and full product traceability that accompanies each product is not only meeting compliance to the ISO standard but is simply good practice.

Why PDU Online?

Distance selling does not necessarily mean being distanced from your customer. By having our own CAD design department we are able to enter a dialogue with our customers at the beginning of the process. Drawings can be produced which become a permanent record for any repeat business or be used as part of any technical documents for CE compliance.

Whereas importers can only stock standard ranges and be at the mercy of time and tides. The business model of PDU Online is that no stock of finished product is actually carried but its usual 24 hour turn round is achieved by a flexible manufacturing approach where all materials and sub-assembly variants are immediately available within the factory. Having design and manufacture under one roof enables a quick and efficient process which is essential in an age where ordered today, delivered tomorrow is the expectation.

Conclusion

So why compromise on what you actually want if it is physically possible to achieve it at an affordable price? In previous times a customised item invariably meant expensive as you very often expected to pay more, indeed were prepared to spend more, for the exclusivity of having a rare variant. This applied to cars, a new suit or a pair of glasses. With commodities such as PDUs however customised does not necessarily mean expensive. 

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