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      • Published 30 Nov 2023
      • Last Modified 30 Nov 2023
    • 9 min

    Guide to Cable Trunking

    What is cable trucking, what does it do, and what are their applications in healthcare and industrial settings?

    cable trunking

    Guide to cable trunking

    In maintaining the upkeep of modern infrastructure, efficient cable management is essential. However, most of the time, this is the responsibility of building managers and engineers, and those who are not involved in it may not know what it is and how it works.

    In this guide, we take a deep dive into cable trunking to demystify the topic. Whether you are a component procurement specialist, business owner or a building manager, you will learn more about what cable trunking is and how to manage cables. We will also discuss the types of trunking options there are, their applications, and how to organise cables and install trunking.

    What is cable trunking?

    Cable trunking is a cable management method that conceals and protects electrical cables with a tray that is usually made of protective plastic or metal. The goal of cable trunking is to bring order to electrical landscape in buildings while protecting cables and providing space for other electrical equipment around them.

    How cable management works

    Effective cable management can come in the form of cable conduit and cable trunking. While these two methods are very similar, they have their own advantages and limitations.

    Cable conduit tends to be the cheaper and more basic approach to wiring protection. This is often used when smaller cable bundles or individual wires simply need to be hidden, protected or tidied up. Cable conduits often take the form of a long round tube, which can be rigid or flexible.

    Cable trunking, on the other hand, tends to be used in areas that have more complex installations and circuits. It allows users to create any shape of wiring pathway they need. Many workplaces and industrial settings use cable trunking to supply power to various machines and devices in different locations. Trunking sections can be square, rectangular, or flattened. They are also designed to slot together, often with angled joint pieces between them.

    Browse RS PRO Cable Trunking

    Types of cable trunking

    Cable trunking comes in many different materials, each designed with its own strengths and applications. Below are a few common materials.

    Browse Igus Cable Trunking


    Metal cable trunking is some of the most robust and heavy-duty options businesses can buy. They come in a range of diameters and cross-sectional areas for different types of cables and sizes of cables.

    Metal trunking is generally preferred for outdoor and underground cable runs, or in any other places where there is likely to be a degree of exposure to moisture. For instance, aluminium trunking is great for lightweight applications and when wiring needs to be run across ceilings, while stainless steel is preferred for its aesthetic.

    Metal cable trunking can be square, round, or slim and flat in profile. It can be fully enclosed or slotted to allow for better thermal through rapid heat dissipation. This also allows for easier identification and access of wires.


    Plastic cable trunking tends to be a popular and cheaper cable trunking option, but it is still robust enough to withstand hazards such as moisture and dirt. They can be both rigid and flexible, depending on the buyer’s needs.

    Plastic trunking sizes vary, with widths ranging from 3mm to over 300mm, while depth can go from under 10mm to over 100mm. Plastic cable conduits are commonly found in workplaces, particularly offices.

    Browse Cable Trunking


    Some types of installations may require businesses to have full Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) between the cable and trunking enclosures. Dedicated EMC cables can be bought to provide a screening effect for conductors, better earthing, as well as minimise interference. This helps to lower the risk of electromagnetic radiation and the risk of shorting.

    Applications of cable trunking

    Cable trunking finds applications in a variety of industries due to its versatile cable management capabilities. Here are a few common applications of cable trunking in different sectors:

    Commercial and office buildings

    Cable trunking can be used to conceal and protect data and electrical cables to maintain a clean and organised appearance. It also helps to prevent tripping hazards by routing cables under desks and along walls. Moreover, cable trunking facilitates cable access for IT and maintenance personnel.

    Manufacturing and industrial facilities

    Industrial cable management helps to protect cables from physical damage, such as exposure to heavy machinery or chemicals. Routing and organising cables also help to make areas safer and get rid of potential electrical hazards, in addition to making machine maintenance and operations more efficient.

    Healthcare facilities

    In healthcare facilities, maintaining a hygienic environment can be achieved by routing and protecting cables in cleanrooms and laboratories. Trunking for electrical cables also ensures the organisation of medical equipment and devices, including monitoring systems and diagnostic equipment.

    Food and beverage facilities

    Cable coating in the form of trunking is essential in food processing and manufacturing facilities, as cleanliness and hygiene are paramount. It also prevents the contamination of cables by keeping them off the floor and away from food particles and liquids.

    Cable trunking management – cable trunking coating

    Cable trunking coating is an essential aspect of ensuring the safety, durability and functionality of cables within cable management systems. There are different types of coating available, each with its own specific purpose. Below are some common types of cable coatings.

    Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

    Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is commonly used on plastic cable trunking. This is because PVC coating provides added protection against chemicals, moisture and impact.

    Powder Coating

    Powder cable coating offers a durable finish, is resistant to chemicals, and provides a smooth appearance. This makes them suitable for both indoor and outdoor cable trunking systems, and they also offer some protection against corrosion.

    Galvanised Coating

    A galvanised cable coating helps to offer excellent corrosion resistance, making it suitable to be placed in harsh environments. They are commonly used in outdoor or industrial settings where exposure to corrosion or moisture is a concern.

    Epoxy Coating

    Epoxy cable coating provides excellent protection against various chemicals and corrosion, as well as being durable. This makes them well-suited for industrial facilities, chemical plants, laboratories, and manufacturing settings.

    Hong Kong regulations on cable trunking

    Business buyers should choose cable trunking that follows the specifications for electrical installation in their country or region. In Hong Kong, non-sheathed cables are to be installed in a conduit system, with conduit boxes having to be securely fixed to ceilings, walls, or other parts of the structure.

    Steel trunking should be installed on the surface of the walls, columns, and beams or flushed with floor screeding. The complete trunking installation must also be mechanically and electrically continuous throughout and effectively earthed.

    For plastic trunking, PVC conduits are specified as heavy-duty and are not to be used for installation where the ambient temperature is over 60 degrees Celsius or below minus 5 degrees Celsius.

    Recently, Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority (HA) collected Kwong Wah Hospital cable trunking coating samples to test whether the materials met local standards for coating thickness. In a later report, the test data showed that the cable’s coating thickness measurement was less than the standard of 20μm, and the weight did not meet the relevant standard of 275 grams per square metre.

    In the incident, the cable trunking coating did not pose additional risks to the hospital. Nevertheless, meeting local engineering regulations and being compliant with them are essential, and failure to do so can lead to legal consequences or suspension of your business operations.

    How to install cable trunking

    Cable trunking installation can protect and organise the cables in your building. If you are unsure about any aspect of working with live trunking cables, always seek guidance from a qualified electrician. That said, installing the cable trunking itself should be straightforward. Below we have listed a few steps to keep in mind.

    The bottom line

    Cable trunking plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safe, organised and efficient routing of cables, contributing to the overall integrity of electrical systems. As businesses and industries grow, so does the demand for reliable cable management solutions.

    Adhering to best practices, staying informed about industry standards, and considering environmental conditions will help you facilitate optimal cable trunking solutions that align with compliance, functionality and safety.

    At RS Components, we have a wide range of high-quality trunking for electrical cables that you can choose from to meet your needs. Whether you are a civil engineer or part of a building management team, you can find the ideal materials to organise your cables.

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