Oct 23, 2019 Last Updated 10:52 AM, Aug 14, 2019

How Unitrunk’s cable management solution aided an assisted living development

Published in Technical Focus
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Tim Brown from cable management specialist, Unitrunk, discusses the electrical installation at an assisted living development in Cambridgeshire.


Supporting the health and wellbeing of an ageing population is one of the most significant challenges we face as a society. While many older people might feel vulnerable in their own home as they get older, encounter health concerns and tackle reduced mobility, they are – understandably – reluctant to relinquish their independence and the normal routines of daily life by moving to a residential home.

The ‘extra care’ approach to social housing pioneered by Bedford-based housing association, bpha, provides the middle ground that many older people and their families are looking for. Constructed by Hill, a top-20 house-builder operating across London and the South East, bpha’s Mill View development in the Cambridgeshire village of Hauxton has been designed to provide a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments available for shared ownership or social landlord rental. The scheme is ideal for those who want to downsize from their privately-owned home or move from their existing social housing rental property to an environment that more closely matches their current and future needs.

Developed as part of the Hauxton Meadows residential development, Mill View offers older people the opportunity to live within a wider community and its broader demographic while benefitting from on site care staff, off site managerial staff and a Carelink alarm service. With a lounge, dining room, roof terrace, shop and hairdressers all located on site, residents can choose a level of independence to suit them.

The scheme has been specified to the very highest standards with an extensive electrical installation to provide for the varied facilities, common areas and each individual apartment. Building services contractor, Gowing and Hunt, was contracted to deliver the electrical installation and the company selected Unitrunk’s RIS (Rapid Installation Systems) range for all the cable management requirements.

Explains Kris Peck from Gowing and Hunt: “As a substantial residential scheme with a number of additional facilities, this is a complex installation involving critical deadlines to enable move-in dates to be set for residents.

“We needed a cable management system that could really help us save time on site while providing a robust solution that prioritises safety and extended service life. The UniKlip cable tray system we’ve used has reduced installation times by around 50% as compared to conventional systems, which has also helped to keep the project on budget by cutting labour costs.”

50% faster

The Hauxton Meadows scheme is a completely new development on the outskirts of the village of Hauxton with little existing electrical infrastructure. The Gowing and Hunt team first had to bring the HV supply into the building and create a dedicated plant room and switch room on the ground floor of the multi-occupancy building. There is just one main switch panel for the building with multiple distribution boards on all four levels. Additional resilience has been built into the specification with generator hook-up capability if emergency electrical supplies should ever be required and a battery-based standby facility for the communication systems.

The sub-mains cable distribution has been installed on Unitrunk’s UniKlip cable tray, with three risers of UniKlip taking the sub-mains network up to each level of the L-shaped building, where a central spine takes it down the main corridor and enables connection with local distribution boards.

This cable management infrastructure also serves the hairdressing salon and shop on the ground floor, which will be available for use by both residents and the local community, the residents’ laundry facilities, the management team’s offices and the open-plan atrium on the ground floor. Moving up the building, there will also be residents’ lounges at levels one and two with TV and kitchenette facilities and a restaurant on the third floor, with dual aspect roof terraces, which have also been designed for use by both residents and visitors.

Explains Kris: “The heavy cabling required for the sub-mains distribution required a robust and hard-wearing solution and UniKlip offers the ideal solution. The system simply clips together with specially-designed couplers that require no nuts, bolts or tools.

Not only is this much less fiddly and up to 50% faster than a conventional cable basket installation but it also means that screws cannot come loose over time or, due to post-construction, heave providing a faster and more secure installation.”

Cable tray

Unitrunk’s EasyConnect cable basket has also been used throughout the installation. The cable basket follows the route of the cable tray up the risers and down the central spine of each corridor. This system carries all the comms cabling, including the warden systems, door entry and data cabling, which provides Wi-Fi access throughout the building and also enables the CCTV systems to operate over a wireless IP network.

The EasyConnect cable basket infrastructure has also been installed to provide the cable management networks for the fire alarm systems.

Kris continues: “In an environment like this, safety is extremely important, and dual runs of EasyConnect tray have been installed to separate LV power and data cabling.

“EasyConnect offered us many of the same advantages on the project as the UniKlip cable tray. The system’s integrated couplers mean it can be installed without tools, and the speed and ease of installation make it much simpler to install in a tight void space while reducing labour requirements by around 25% as compared to a conventional cable basket.”

Cost savings

Gowing and Hunt has been on site carrying out the electrical installation at Mill View since October 2017, and the development is scheduled for completion by the end of 2018.

“The Unitrunk systems have really helped us to keep a complex and time-critical installation programme on track,” Kris adds.

“And, thanks to the speed of installation they offer, we’ve also been able to reduce the labour required on the job, generating substantial cost savings.”


'Cambridgeshire' buff brick with dark buff/brown brick at ground floor level
Eaves and attic storey to be clad with 'Falzinc' or simular standing seam coated aluminium cladding
Frameless glazed balconies with dark grey (RAL 7022) steel apron at base. Generally all balconies to be cantilevered except double and corner balconies.
All windows, doors and glazing systems to be powder coated aluminium, colour: RAL 7022 (dark grey)
All rainwater pipes and hoppers to be powder coated aluminium. RAL 7022.

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