During festival season, contractors need to ensure equipment is installed efficiently, effectively and safely, explains Matt Collins of ide Systems.
06 August 2018 | Matt Collins
The UK events sector is booming. It's currently valued at £42.3 billion and, according to Eventbrite's 2016 pulse report, 67 per cent of event organisers believe their events will grow and 20 per cent expect their budgets to increase.
Growth brings pressure to make sure that operations run smoothly. With demanding applications and energy-intensive equipment, event organisers and electrical contractors are responsible for keeping everything functioning effectively.
Contractors must fit equipment properly and make sure that everything is installed in a safe and timely fashion. To do this, they must bear several factors in mind.
The UK's electrical safety standard is BS 7671 - better known as the IET wiring regulations 17th edition. Theoretically, any power distribution installation certified to this standard is safe for use. But this does not automatically make it compliant.
Electrical equipment used at an event must comply with BS 7671 and BS 7909 the set of standards for temporary electrical systems at events.
Power distribution equipment at events must be certified to both BS 7671 and BS 7909, although there are a handful of exceptions to this rule. For example, temporary power for fairgrounds is covered by BS 7671 alone without the explicit need for BS 7909.
Event organisers, who lack knowledge of electrics, can easily get lost in guidelines, making it essential that contractors understand the relevant legislation and double-check the compliance of equipment. This is done by consulting the certification that is supplied with the product.
In most cases, the installation process is straightforward, as organisers will have purchased plug-and-play power systems with simple assembly and connection. Yet there are several application and environmental factors that contractors must consider.
In the initial brief provided, the organiser should have supplied a diagram mapping where everything will be set up. Contractors use this to determine where each application is and to decide on the best means of distributing power to them.
The set-up process at an event can be hectic because many structures are being installed simultaneously. Electrical contractors can minimise disruption by starting the process of fitting distribution equipment after the initial set-up begins, allowing other fitters to have established the groundwork for structures first.
It is not uncommon for last-minute layout alterations meaning that contractors have to move equipment. They must be versatile and able to easily reposition equipment.
Consider the environment
Running cables long distances between stages at a festival is not advisable because of the number of vehicles travelling along trackways. Similarly, all cabling must be fitted safely and securely with minimal crossing of walking spaces to avoid posing a health and safety risk to attendees.
Environmental considerations are also important for power distribution units, which are prone to damage when setting out and packing because of the discreet colouring of enclosures. It is for this reason that we regularly urge organisers to use event power distribution units with bright enclosures to guarantee visibility.
The show must go on
Even once the event begins a contractor's work is not over. As anyone who attended the 2015 Nibley music festival in Gloucestershire - which famously lost power mid-afternoon on the second day and wasn't restored for the rest of the show - can confirm, problems with power distribution equipment happen. Contractors must be on hand to help quickly restore power.
The first step is ensuring that there are additional cable runs available to extend or replace existing lines. Cabling is a likely cause of failure during large-scale events, so having a backup will minimise the impact of power cuts. But the most effective way for contractors to resolve issues with other equipment, such as transformers and distribution units, is to have an emergency event power supplier on hand.
Matt Collins is business development manager of power distribution specialist ide Systems