Working in an environment saturated with cables, machinery, people and various other obstacles is difficult at best and impossible at worst. These objects can get snagged, tangled, twisted together and make the task even more stressful than it might already be. Compound this with a high stress; high risk task that requires extreme attention to detail and accidents are bound to happen. Professions that operate in this type of highly focused but cluttered environment might be a doctor. It might even be a doctor who is operating on someone close to you who has a heart, brain or spine complication. Large energy systems might fall into this category as well, such as: bombs, nuclear reactors, storage capacitors or high voltage circuits. You wouldn’t want to get a poor incision or suture due to a cord that got tangled on a machine or person; something that could have been avoided with better planning. You also wouldn't want a large energy device going off near your home.
Cables are typically the last consideration in a design since they tend to be an afterthought of the designer. A typical scenario is: "we have this great machine with this great set of equipment... now what will carry all this information and fluid?" Cables are usually considered universal enough that they get pushed aside in the design cycle. We rarely consider how to specify a wire to best fit the application and environment. Typically, a design focuses on the revolutionary technology and everything else is an afterthought. In our ever shrinking and changing world, the international standards and guidelines to which anufactures adhere to are moving away from do’s and don’ts and toward risk consideration and reduction. A risk based approach is now the standard for medical certifications and likely many other fields like military, automotive and aerospace. They consider how the entire system works together as well as how it might not with consideration to environment. OEM’s consider failure mode effects analysis (FMEA) charts; a series of failure scenarios and what the result of the failure would be. One way to alleviate risk of cable tangle and jerk would be to combine the signals and fluids into one cable
Cables have become very sophisticated and can be used to provide various conduits for electricity and fluids. It is standard practice to jacket multiple signals into one cable; it is becoming more common to incorporate fluid along with the signals. The fluid could be saline, oil, blood or whatever is required. Like signals, fluid is not limited to a single transport or return; if you can dream it, we can do it. In situations where the environment is already cluttered or the location needs to be clear for the professional to perform his duty, then combining multiple conduits into one may be the best mitigation of risk.