By Erika Shaugnessy, Contributor
2020 was a year of unexpected and unprecedented circumstances, leading to a massive shift in priorities and trends throughout the electrical industry. The past year has seen drastic changes to the commercial landscape due to citywide shutdowns and the need for social distancing and other precautions. Because of this, it is more important than ever for electrical contractors to stay up to date with the latest trends and practices to ensure that safety remains a top priority for both contractors and visitors to commercial spaces throughout the country. Here are some insights on the newest trends and technologies that will impact the industry this year and for years to come.
Productivity in the Workplace
Perhaps the most important and all-encompassing trend to shape the electrical industry this year is the heightened awareness of productivity and safety. Efficiency is key in the workplace, and it’s even more important for large industrial and commercial spaces. A simple way to increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace is to install the proper electrical infrastructure system. Installing a well-designed electrical infrastructure system leads to lower initial and maintenance costs, and, more importantly, an increase in worker and facility safety.
When designing large commercial spaces like factory floors, consider installing an open cable management system. Ladder tray and wire mesh cable management systems are two easy-to-install options and allow for better access to electrical infrastructure, adding flexibility and functionality to the workplace. If the facility design requires overhead access to infrastructure power, choose power poles and retractable cord reels that allow contractors to easily place power access throughout a facility. In the event of a disaster, it is also important to consider installing temporary power solutions for recovery and restoration. Having temporary power solutions on hand will allow for a quick recovery with little interruption to production schedules.
Access to Flexible Power
The need for flexible power has been a growing trend throughout the industry for some time now, but the events of 2020 heightened awareness of the lack of flexible power options in commercial spaces. With people making their returns to offices and schools after working from home for much of the last year, it is important that the workplace is set up for standard health and safety protocols, including social distancing, to be implemented. With workstations needing to be spaced out by at least six feet, it can be a challenge to provide easy access to power throughout the workplace. The experts at Legrand recommend flexible power solutions like the Wiremold ModPower™ System, the first code-compliant modular power system that allows for six feet of separation and can connect up to six separate units to bring power where it’s needed. The ModPower System can be attached to desks or tables without requiring them to be fixed in place. Because it is code compliant, contractors will not have to resort to dangerous daisy-chained solutions for access to power.
Increase in Commercial Renovations
With the passing of the CARES Act in 2020, facility managers are now able to write off 100% of qualifying facility improvement costs in the first year of construction. Before 2020, facility upgrades were still qualified for tax deductions, but to take full advantage of the deduction, facility managers had to claim only a 2.5% write up each year for up to 39 years following the construction. Because of the new rule, expect an uptick in interest in commercial renovations. Facility managers should work with a tax advisor to confirm that their projects qualify for the write off. Some improvements that qualify for the tax deduction are the installation of air flow management accessories, HVAC devices, and physical security and access control solutions.
Following the unpredictable year that was 2020, the electrical industry is sure to be feeling the effects of the wave of changes. While we look toward the possibility of a return to normal, it is important for contractors and facility managers to continue to be aware of the newest trends and technologies set to impact the industry and provide for more safety, accessibility, and productivity in the workplace. ESW
Erika Shaughnessy is a product manager for Legrand’s Wiremold business and leader of the new technology initiative. She focuses on bringing power to new and existing spaces with advanced technology and product innovation. Shaughnessy specializes in solutions that increase collaboration, enhance productivity, and maximize guest engagement in a variety of commercial spaces, including retail and hospitality (www.legrand.us).