What You Need to Know Before Buying Cable and Wire Markers

Last Updated: September 30, 2020

When we think of asset management, we often picture the equipment that needs to be tracked, but the wiring, pipes, and cables that connect them are just as important. The average commercial building has an incredible amount of cables and pipes running throughout the facility, and most of them should be marked for safety, regulatory, or identification purposes.

In this post, we’ll review some of the most important considerations to weigh before purchasing cable and wire markers for your facilities. Since wires and cables are often placed in discreet locations that are most convenient for storage purposes, visibility and access to markers can be a challenge. Therefore, you’ll need to carefully consider the specific marking applications and the environments in which the markers will be used.

Understanding Your Application

What You Need to Know Before Buying Cable and Wire Markers

Cable and wire markers come in a wide variety of designs, and it’s always best to outline your application needs before going too far with a specific marker material. Changing your markers and labels after installation can be a costly and time-consuming process. In addition, markers could become damaged or detached over time if they’re incompatible with the environmental conditions. These factors are some of the most important to consider when considering a new wire marking application.

Durability

Take some time to think through the environmental conditions that are present both in the cable storage area and also anywhere the item may be transported. Factories and warehouses often have many potential chemical, impact, and moisture hazards. Exposure to extreme temperatures may be a possibility in some areas. Understanding these potential conditions will make it much easier to choose a label or marker material that’s durable enough for the environment.

Regulations

Many industries are governed by regulatory bodies that control standards for protecting employees, businesses, and the general public. One example is the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and UL 969, which is the standard for labels and markings required for many devices, appliances, and equipment units sold in the United States. In addition to industry standards and specifications, you should also check local, state, and federal government laws and regulations to see if your business may be subject to additional requirements.

Asset Inventory

Carefully review the diameter, length, and locations of all the cables and wires you intend to mark. The size of a particular wire usually dictates the proper attachment method and appropriate size for the marker. It’s crucial to match the size of your marker with the wire to reduce readability issues after installation.

Marking Locations

You’ll also need to decide the mark placement location on cables and wires. Some markers can be installed before the termination and installation of the wire. For cables that have already been installed, it’s usually best to avoid any major bends or curves and find a straight section for labeling. You should also consider what information is needed on the label, such as a barcode or safety warnings, and if the marker will be removable or permanently installed.

Reviewing Marker Types and Design Options

What You Need to Know Before Buying Cable and Wire Markers

With your requirements well defined, selecting a particular marker is a much easier process. Because of the curved surface of wires, it may be most convenient to select a flexible material such as anodized aluminum foil, vinyl, polycarbonate, or polyester so that the marker can be attached directly to the surface. For these installations, a high-performance, permanent pressure-sensitive adhesive is often recommended as the attachment method.

Additional cable marker styles, such as a flag or tag, can be connected to wires using straps. This option allows you to use a more rigid and durable material, such as Metalphoto® aluminum, while still securing a strong attachment. Sleeves and wrap-around markers are two additional styles that are popular for cable and wire labeling applications.

Selecting the size, colors, and graphics for your cable markers depends on your application’s specifications. Using a barcode or QR code for scanning is a useful way to automate your inventory and asset management workflows, allowing for streamlined documentation. Key parameters such as the scanning distance should be assessed to determine a proper label size. Colors may be used on cable labels and tags for aesthetic purposes or to clearly differentiate different types of cables and wires.

Choosing an optimal marker for your cables and wires is a simple process with some upfront planning and organization. With an effective cable management program, markers help to streamline cable maintenance and inventory processes. There are a number of different wire and cable markers available, so it’s crucial to confirm the design’s suitability for your particular application before making a purchase.

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