Added value with added layers

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The new PMA multiple layer technology for cable protection corrugated conduits opens up the potential for completely new uses in railroad equipment

What do you imagine when you think of a corrugated conduit? The corrugated conduits traditionally used in industrial cable protection are mostly black, sometimes gray, leading so far to a rather sad existence.

This will change now — even if it means changing the corrugated conduit on the inside. Green, orange, blue, yellow: These are the new colors of the inner layers of the multiple-layer corrugated conduits made by PMA, which has been an ABB subsidiary since 2012 and has been producing cable protection solutions for over 40 years.

Completely new possibilities for the railroad industry
The new corrugated conduit types comprise so-called function layers, which can be made out of the most distinctive materials. For the railroad industry, this opens completely new possibilities to develop corrugated conduits for special uses — and far more than simply selecting the color scheme.

Whether it is for car transitions, outdoor uses, roof installation or electrical couplings: The multiple-layer corrugated conduits protect the most important areas of rail vehicles and the rail industry in general, preventing failures in the most important electrical devices.

One can compare cable protection with a safety belt in a car: We almost never need it — but who among us would dare make compromises in their quality? If an emergency occurs, the belt must function perfectly: The same applies to cable protection.

The new ABB multiple-layer corrugated conduits with the innovative wear indicator © ABB
The new ABB multiple-layer corrugated conduits with the innovative wear indicator © ABB

Multiple layers
The question “what material is the corrugated conduit made of?” was not so easy to answer before. The new corrugated conduit types from PMA generally have three layers: The inner layer, the middle layer (which is often made out of an adhesive material) and the outer layer.

For the inner layer, in railroad infrastructure, for example, a hard and cold-resistant material can be used. It makes the corrugated conduit more stable — and perfect for the strict requirements set for signal distributors on train routes. For the outer layer, a softer material with high UV and weather protection can be used, to be able to withstand the environmental conditions outdoors. At electrical couplings, not only UV protection, but also particularly high flexibility is necessary. Fire protection is an important matter for indoor uses in the railroad industry.

The thickness of a layer can vary, providing more or less the desired properties of the material. With the new corrugated conduit types, the advantages of different materials are easy to combine in a single cable protection. You will be able to find an appropriate corrugated conduit for any use.


The new ABB multiple-layer corrugated pipes with the innovative wear indicator © ABB
The new ABB multiple-layer corrugated conduits with the innovative wear indicator © ABB

Inner values count
Apart from making it possible to distinguish things easily in the installation, the differing inner colors have another advantage: If, due to use, yellow (for example) spots appear on a black corrugated conduit, it means that there is wear that under certain circumstances can lead to a failure in the electrical equipment.

Owing to this color indicator, proper measures can be taken in time to stop such wear until next maintenance: e.g. by installing special abrasion protection sleeves.

This so-called wear indicator adds real value that can save not only time and money, but also much trouble: A failure in the climate control equipment right in the middle of summer would be annoying, or if the indicator panel fails, or if a door does not work properly, there is frustration and chaos on the train. With the emergency brake or emergency lighting not working, it can be even more serious: now, the safety of passengers is on the line. Cable protection must thus be prepared for emergencies and work well at any time, like a goalkeeper who must be attentive for all the 90 minutes and make sure there are no goals scored.

Real added value from added layers!
Curious? At InnoTrans 2016, ABB will present the PMA multi-layer technology in Hall 15.1, Stand 212. Here, you can also find out about other new products for railroad technology: e.g. special solutions for rolling stock (including light rail), for fire protection according to EN45545, as well as for infrastructure.

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About the author

Volker Mühlstein

Since 2002, I have worked for PMA in Germany. In 2012, the company belongs to the ABB Group. My responsibilities include sales and marketing management. Since 2006, as managing director, I am also responsible for managing the company. Aside from my work, I have been an active handball player and trainer for more than 30 years. Today, my daughter and my son are the main focus in my life.
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