This informal CPD article, ‘GRP Cable Support Systems: A Sustainable and Cost-Effective Alternative to Traditional Steel Systems’, was provided by Mita powered by Wibe Group, a cable support systems company who work across different industries, from the food industry's super hygienic requirements to extremely vulnerable environments like offshore wind turbines.
Key Advantages of GRP Cable Support Systems
GRP (Glass/Fiber Reinforced Polymer) or FRP (Fiber Reinforced Polymer) cable support systems are increasingly being used as an alternative to traditional steel systems. GRP is a resin-based material reinforced with glass fibers that offers unique benefits for cable support systems.
In 2019, the global FRP cable tray market was valued at $618 million, with projected growth to reach $908 million by 20271. The use of GRP cable support systems has grown significantly in recent years, particularly in industries such as transportation, marine, oil and gas, renewable power, water and waste management, and pharmaceuticals.
One of the key advantages of GRP cable support systems is their durability. GRP cable supports are resistant to most chemicals, stretching, shrinking, mildew, abrasion, and fire. They also have extra durability to adverse weather conditions and UV stability, making them suitable for outdoor applications, such as offshore and marine environments, wind power, and oil and gas industries.
Another advantage of GRP cable support systems is their resistance to corrosion. Research has shown that GRP cable support systems have excellent corrosion resistance in harsh environments, making them suitable for use in the most humid and salinized environments. A study conducted by the University of Plymouth found that GRP cable trays offer excellent resistance to corrosion in a range of environments2.
They are also highly customizable and can incorporate various accessories and supports, including bends, tees, and risers, to create a complete cable support system. The pultrusion process used to manufacture GRP cable supports allows for bespoke designs and shapes, tailored to specific project requirements without compromising on the light weight and strength. This ensures that the cable support system is a perfect fit for the specific needs of the project.
BIM Software Integration
The integration of GRP cable support systems with building information modelling tools enables a complete layout, routing, and material estimating function in a single, integrated system. This makes it easy to ensure adequate space and clearances are available in confined locations, and for the detailed design and material requirements to be quickly and easily produced.
Compared to Stainless Steel
Further to their durability and corrosion resistance, they are also more cost-effective compared to traditional materials like stainless steel. A study conducted by the University of Kassel in Germany found that the use of GRP cable trays can lead to cost savings of up to 40% compared to stainless steel cable trays thanks to its lighter weight compared to steel3.
Research has shown that GRP cable support systems have a higher strength-to-weight ratio, making them a lightweight yet strong solution for cable support applications. According to a study by the University of Leeds, GRP cable supports can offer up to a 70% weight saving compared to steel, reducing transportation costs and making installation easier and quicker4.
Electromagnetic and radio-frequency interference
GRP is, by nature, resistant to electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio-frequency interference (RFI), making them suitable for use in the railway industry and tunnels.
GRP cable support systems are on the rise, as they offer unique benefits over traditional steel systems. Their durability, resistance to corrosion and chemicals, ease of handling, customization options, and integration with building information modelling tools make them a sustainable and cost-effective solution for a wide range of industries.
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1. Grand View Research on the market valuation and projected growth of the global FRP cable tray market: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/fiber-reinforced-polymer-frp-cable-tray-market
2. University of Plymouth study on the corrosion resistance of GRP cable trays: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1359835X17302491
3. University of Kassel study on the cost savings of GRP cable trays: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328981727
4. University of Leeds study on the weight savings of GRP cable supports: https://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/4072/lightweight_materials_innovations_help_to_reduce_rail_costs