Meeting standards for the future

When it comes to building for the future, safety is of paramount importance. Dr Jeremy Hodge, chief executive of BASEC examines how the region is meeting these challenges.

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By  Dr Jeremy Hodge Published  September 23, 2006

|~|4p17main.gif|~|The use of approved and quality assured products is essential to long-term safety issues. |~|To achieve safety we need products of a consistent high quality checked against up-to-date standards. British Approvals Service for Cables (BASEC) inspects cable manufacturing facilities and tests their products to ensure that such high standards of quality are maintained.

In the rapidly moving Middle East markets where the regulatory systems are still evolving, it is important that users, manufacturers and bodies such as BASEC work in close collaboration to ensure that installations meet internationally recognised criteria wherever possible.

By their nature, British and European Standards can be applicable anywhere and we seek to approve cables and associated products to those recognised standards no matter where they may be used. In the Middle East, BASEC is trying to reflect regional specifics as it would anywhere else.

It works across the region in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Abu Dhabi providing cable approvals for use in key sectors including construction, power and the utilities.
Regulations in the region are often structured at federal, district or municipal level depending on what is most appropriate locally.

For consistency, the BASEC mark of quality can be used by all of these and is known for its thorough, professional level of approval.

BASEC recognises that there are differing technical needs in the Middle East, not least to cater for the demanding environmental conditions. For example, cables with low smoke and fume (LSF) properties can be damaged by poor handling at higher ambient temperatures and need to be installed with greater care.

However, in most ways the same considerations apply in the region as they do in the UK or elsewhere in the world. Much EU legislation and their supporting technical standards are being revised and harmonised and, although it can be somewhat daunting, this can work in favour of many cable users and manufacturers in the region.

If Middle East-based manufacturers can produce products that meet these standards then the benefits are enormous in terms of opening up markets. As well as ensuring that local contractors have a supply of quality products to meet their demands, it provides additional opportunities and revenue streams in Europe and elsewhere that were previously unattainable.

This is an important aspect of the long-term economic development of the Middle East that can often be overlooked in the current construction boom.

We believe in fostering long-term initiatives to help business flourish through developing quality products that are safe within the parameters they are designed for. Where cable with specific fire performance is being specified for example, there can be no compromise. In our view users must specify cable that meets the needs of the application and meets the appropriate standard.

The pressure on time and speed of build can also lead to compromise of quality of product and we see a number of cables of inferior quality coming onto the market in this region, from a variety of sources.

Part of our role is to investigate problems and test cables in the event of disputes. Our message to manufacturers, designers and users is to get it right first time using approved products, which enables everyone to move on without worry.

BASEC is encouraging the local development of guidance, codes of practice and skills wherever possible and will provide help to manufacturers and end-users alike.We are working with a number of the larger cable manufacturers in the region such as Ducab and the Elsewedy group to support them and their customers in taking forward these initiatives.

Many new cable manufacturing facilities are being set up, which is encouraging news. These facilities are often built with purely local investment or as joint ventures with international partners and it is good to see the cable industry in the region taking shape in this flexible way.

The Middle East is a region of huge opportunity and BASEC aims to play its part and carry forward the same principles as we apply elsewhere to see that the building blocks are there to ensure cabling installations provide a safe, long-term future. ||**||

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