Dealing with a maze of cables and wires is a challenge for most businesses these days. Especially for large factories, warehouses, and offices, there is a real need to come up with a comprehensive cable management plan. Using labels is one of the most important ways to ensure that your employees and any third-party contractors are clear about the contents of each cable. Similar to pipe markers and safety labels, cable labels can be customized to meet the specific needs of your application.
In this buying guide, we’ll explain the main factors you should consider before purchasing cable labels for your facility. Cable management plays an especially important role in the telecom, utility, and healthcare industries, and you will find a wide range of unique labeling solutions being utilized.
Before thinking about the specific label itself, it is important to take a step back and consider any local or customer specifications that need to be accounted for. Especially when using barcodes, there may be specific needs for label identification that must be met. It is also important to match the barcode symbology on your label with any scanning equipment that will be used. Always ensure the proper compatibility with relevant processes and equipment.
There are also regulatory and industrial regulations to consider. When labeling particular types of cables, there may be certain hazards or other identifying information that must be present. Always review the necessary regulations to determine if any legal requirements exist for traceability of the cables you intend to mark. This is especially important for manufacturers, who often identify their cables and packages with multiple labels prior to shipment.
Where your cables will be transported and stored is another important factor. Any exposure to extreme temperatures, weather elements, moisture, or hazardous materials could all have an impact on the label integrity. You want to select a cable label that is durable enough to withstand local environmental conditions. It’s often useful to start by assessing the durability of the cable you will be marking. Choose a label that is at least as durable as the cable, with an appropriate adhesive that will hold for the expected useful life of the product.
Cables can be marked before or after termination, which essentially means before or after they are attached to their intended point of use. For instance, a cable could be terminated by attaching a connector, or hard wired directly to the input on a device. This is often an important consideration because it might determine where along the cable you would place any labels. Since cables are usually cut into various lengths during installation, your intended use of the label may require a flexible, wraparound label that can be moved or permanent labels that are affixed directly to the cable housing. The placement of a label is often important for identifying and differentiating between similar cables or wires.
The size of the cable will determine the proper label size in many situations. There may be specifications for label size based on barcode scanning capabilities as mentioned above but, when possible, it is a good idea to select a label size that is appropriate for the size of cable. In general terms, larger cables usually work best with a larger label size that makes it easier to locate and identify. You may also want your label to have a different orientation or placement if the cable has a unique form factor such as being split in certain locations.
One final consideration is the printing process for your labels. Based on your requirements, you may need to procure blank labels that can be printed on-demand to label your cables with unique information. In other cases, pre-printed labels may be a better and more economical choice for high-volume labeling of many cables with the same identifying information. You may also require pre-printed labels if you have selected a particularly durable label substrate that requires a specialized printing process. Always do a quick check of the printing and finishing process to ensure compatibility with your application and proper readability.
Properly labeling cables is a necessary step for manufacturers, contractors, and facility managers who work with them. The information above can help you select cable labels that will be able to meet the demands of unique wire and cable applications. Our line of pre-printed, durable polyester bar code labels can be customized in a number of ways to meet your needs.