Three key take-aways from the first anniversary of Construction Products Regulations for cables

By Dario Giordani, European Product Manager of Fire Safety at Nexans

CPRIt has been one year since the introduction of Construction Products Regulation (CPR) enshrined safety at the heart of the cable market.

CPR is a common technical language that enables buyers of construction materials to compare like with like. Being mandatory across Europe, these regulations offer uniform assessment methods for construction products. For cables, CPR covers at the moment reaction to fire and the release of dangerous substances during normal operation, dismantling, and recycling. As of July 1st, 2017, all cables must have a Declaration of Performance (DoP) and need to be CE marked.

Let’s have a look at how CPR impacted the European construction market, the cable industry and Nexans in particular during its first year of mandatory application.

Increasing transparency and safety for end users

The first and most important outcome of the application of CPR is that the cable market is becoming increasingly transparent for end users, as the common technical language means that end-users know exactly what they are buying. In fact, the manufacturer must issue the DoP and make it available electronically or in print along with the product. This represents better value for money for end-users.

The introduction of CPR has also led to a higher level of safety as a system of classification ensures the harmonisation of fire performance in technical specifications. This means that all end-users across the European Union  have the same level of safety. In fact, national authorities of the 28 countries can now rely on a sophisticated classification of performances to push for safer solutions for critical applications and even impose the withdrawal of unsafe cables non-compliant with the regulation. As a result, response from the market has been very positive with buyers having more reassurance over the safety and consistency of their cable.

Generating added value for the cable market

As part of Europacable, an association of leading European wire and cable producers, Nexans has been actively working with the European Commission, Member States and CENELEC, the European standardization body for electric products, to drive higher fire performance requirements for cables and guarantee an improved safety level for European citizens. Nexans’ Lars Josefsson is a chairman of the CPR workgroup at Europacable, driving the associations’ work on the four key topics: reaction to fire, fire resistance, market surveillance and communication about CPR.

Today, compliance with CPR is mandatory for all cable manufacturers, both European and non-European. The application of CPR to cables has been welcomed and promoted by the European cable manufacturers themselves as coupled with market surveillance, CPR is expected to help the cable industry fight with counterfeit products.

Also, as a result of CPR for cables, business has boomed for test and certification laboratories since June 2016 when multiple companies required certifications of their construction products. Since there are only a limited number of laboratories equipped for this, the demand for these certifications is ongoing. These labs also need to be closely monitored by European Authorities and involved in the standardization process.

Innovation and collaboration in the spotlight at Nexans

Long before CPR came into force last year, Nexans worked hard and invested in research and development projects to ensure a smooth transition for its customers. This included moving 400 product families into CPR formatting and by July 1st, 2017, 97 percent of Nexans sales were CPR compliant.

This achievement was thanks to exceptionally hard work across the Nexans units, and the work is still ongoing with consolidation in 2018. The goal is to exceed CPR standards by investing in new technology to prepare a future generation of cable from 2019. What has been great to see is the clear example of teamwork combining 20 Nexans sites, the R&D team, logistics, and IT contributions throughout this process. Five of Nexans’ facilities, located in Sweden, Germany, Norway, France and Turkey, have focused their research on testing for products for CPR standard compliance. These facilities have been used to update Nexans’ product range to meet new requirements administered by the regulation.

Going beyond CPR

To anticipate the ever-stricter CPR for cables, Nexans has lead several innovative internal research and development projects internally to ensure that all its products were CPR compliant and that customers experienced a smooth transition.

One example of how Nexans has redesigned its product range and developed a new generation of high performance cables is the Alsecure Low Fire-Hazard range. To guarantee that all products meet the requirements of Euroclasses, the EU standard for assessing the qualities of building materials in the event of a fire, Nexans has implemented procedures to comply with System 1+ of Assessment and Verification of Constancy of Performance (AVCP). System 1+ is the most demanding system of AVCP, ranging from 1+ to 5. Being the most strict and implying the continuous surveillance by a third party laboratory, system 1+ applies to the most safe and performant cables.

Overall, here at Nexans, we find that the introduction of CPR for cables has been a great success. However, there are still challenges to overcome. For example, local reporting and compliance in different countries is not yet fully established. The new regulation also comes with some obligations, such as the complex labelling and marking, where the value is not clear. There are also some gaps in the regulation, such as no specific cut-in length for cable which leaves it open to interpretation.

Nonetheless, we are determined to continue working hand in hand with the European Commission and our peers to overcome these challenges for the benefit and safety of all end users. Which is why we look forward to what the new year will bring for CPR and the cable industry.