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An electrician using a mobile label printer at his worksite

Labelling for electricians: Three crucial considerations

A high-quality, reliable mobile labelling solution is an essential tool for every electrician.

From domestic installers to highway system specialists, they need to be able to quickly print clear, durable labels in the field to ensure that all work complies with national wiring regulations.

That means having a label printer that is portable, easy to use, with a long battery life and that can withstand the rough and tumble of a construction site.

With the right solution in place, electricians can work faster, smarter and in complete compliance with the law, so the customer can have confidence the job will be done right first time.

Brother has a strong heritage of working with the industry to develop a range of labelling solutions specifically to meet the needs of electricians and network infrastructure engineers.

There are three core principles that we have followed to ensure that our products always meet and exceed the demands of the smart professional.
Simplicity As important as it is, labelling electrical installations compliantly can be a time-consuming task.

Some contractors still rely on using handwritten labels, which are slow, awkward and cause issues around legibility and durability – as well as the possibility of dangerous human errors.

Still more depend on sheets of preprinted labels, which means ordering and storing all of those that might potentially be needed for any job you attend.

Running out means a trip to the supplier to pick up more or a wait for orders to be placed and delivered, interupting workflow and impacting efficiency. 

And while some labels are provided in-box (installing consumer units etc.) in many areas of high use these labels are simply not durable enough to last alongside the life expectancy of the product. Relying on manufacturer provided labels also comes with the risk of them being missing from the box, meaning an unnecessary interuption to the installation. 

An altogether better alternative is to source a versatile mobile label printer that can create a whole range of custom labels anywhere, any time, at the touch of a button.

The Brother PT-E550W, for example, has a QWERTY keyboard and can be used as a standalone, hand-held device, or for added speed can wirelessly connect to a smartphone or tablet loaded with the free Brother Mobile Cable Label Tool app.

This includes common, pre-populated templates for cable, patch panel, faceplate and network equipment identification which dramatically speeds up the creation of labels and helps eliminate mistakes, while also enabling electricians to create customised labels on demand.

Compliance  Label printers are a key tool for contractors working to comply with the latest 18th edition IET Wiring Regulations and health and safety laws.

There’s an entire section of the famous ‘blue book’ that is dedicated entirely to labelling, from simple identification labels to more detailed guidance notices. It is from these that we have designed our app’s pre-populated label templates, meaning it’s easier than ever to create customised yet compliant labels. 

The Brother PT-E range has been developed to meet all identification requirements in the latest wiring regulations and their versatility means they can be used across a range of different components, from cabling to wires, fuse boxes, faceplates, distribution boards, switch gear, electric vehicle charging points and more.

The regulations state a minimum font size for some installations. That requires larger labels, so devices need to be able to work with a varity of labels from 6mm to 24mm to cover all bases. And while label length isn’t defined within the regulations, Brother’s continuous roll labels allow you to print to whatever length is required.

They come in a range of colours too, for quick and easy identification of wiring for inspection, testing, repairs or alteration.
Durability Wiring regulations dictate that all label tapes should be made from “durable material … likely to remain easily legible throughout the life of the installation”.

We know that indoor electrical installations can be subject to excessive heat, while outdoor labels must be able to stand up to the rigours of the great British weather for years.

And new types of installation, like electric vehicle charging points, introduce new challenges for electricians when it comes to ensuring they have labels that last.

To meet these challenges, electricians need laminated tapes that are tested to the extreme to ensure they are resistant to water, abrasion, chemicals, fading and temperature extremes.

Brother’s range of TZe Pro Tapes come in continuous eight-metre rolls, housed in a preloaded cartridge that slots into the back of the printer.

And for wire and cable labelling, heat shrink tube labels can be a real benefit. When the printed tube is placed over a cable and heated with a heat gun, the tube shrinks down at a ratio of 2:1, gripping the cable securely, with no adhesive needed.

For extra peace of mind, look out for tapes that meet the Underwriters Laboratories UL-969 standards, while heat-shrink tube tapes should meet UL-224 standards.

Label printers must be durable in themselves, too. The Brother PT-E range has a robust, rubberised body that can withstand knocks, scrapes and scuffs, backed up by a three-year warranty. 

We’ve seen how a comprehensive labelling solution can help an electrician work quickly, efficiently and safely in the field, while guaranteeing full compliance with wiring regulations is achieved.

But while the regulations indicate the minimum standards required, the right labelling solution enables contractors to ensure their electricians can go over and above to leave the mark of a true smart professional.

Find out more about the PT-E550W, the Cable Label Tool app and TZe tapes

 
 

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