Smart Buildings

Can’t Find Cable Installers to Hire? Try This Instead ...

Daniel Charles
The labor shortage is being felt in almost every industry, from transportation to telecommunications. It’s hard to find an organization that hasn’t been impacted—and certain positions have taken an even bigger hit.

For example, as NSCA CEO Chuck Wilson pointed out in a recent conversation with Belden, it’s especially difficult to retain cable installers and technicians. These positions often serve as a good starting point for workers who want to find their way in to the industry. Once they’ve mastered that job, however, many choose to move to higher-level positions.


That trend—combined with the lack of available workers—is making it difficult to find cable installers.


4 Ways to Keep Cabling Projects Moving Forward


There are a few ways to ride out this storm. You can:

  1. Reduce the amount of work your company takes on
  2. Continue to increase hours for existing workers and pay overtime
  3. Hire additional workers to increase headcount
  4. Maximize the output of the workers you have
puzzle pieces employment open jobs

Decreasing the amount of work your company takes on isn’t something most integrators or installers want to do. There’s an ongoing demand for these services, and you want to keep your project pipeline full. Finding the work isn’t the problem—finding the workers is.

Increasing employee overtime is another approach to consider with caution. There are many studies pointing out the safety issues caused by overtime (not to mention the risk of people leaving due to burnout).


Hiring—while it may be necessary as experienced workers approach retirement—is difficult to do as well, especially in this environment. It takes lots of time, money and effort to recruit and hire team players who have skills to get the job done. It’s also interesting to note: While increasing the size of your team may allow you to complete more projects, it might not add dollars to your bottom line after you factor in the cost of salaries, vehicles, benefits, training, etc.

If hiring is the right answer for you, then that means you’re either bringing on experienced installers from other companies or welcoming a new generation of workers to the team. As industry initiatives like NSCA’s Ignite and AVIXA’s internship programs and Young AV Professionals Council work to attract young professionals to this industry, Wilson believes the number of younger workers in the talent pool will increase over time.


Regardless of their experience level, you want to empower installers to safely and properly complete as much work as possible within a certain amount of time—and to do so without sacrificing quality, which can lead to performance issues later.


If you’re hiring new installers, then you’ll undoubtedly need to provide training. This can create long ramp-up periods and requires seasoned workers to provide consistent oversight and hands-on help, taking away from the tasks they need to complete.


If you’re hiring experienced workers, then anything you can do to improve their performance will help the bottom line. For example: Shaving just a minute or two off the termination or testing of each cable drop can make a huge difference in how much work a crew gets done in a day.


Helping Installers Get More Done in Less Time


When you compare hiring, overtime, a reduction in work and maximizing existing worker productivity, the biggest impact you can make on your bottom line is to help your team get their work done better and faster.


One of the best ways to do that is to find products designed with easy installation and termination in mind—without sacrificing quality.


As an example, a few years ago—while we were designing our REVConnect® Connectivity solutions—Belden conducted a study that revealed startling information about rework: Nearly 5% of Category 6A jacks and plugs fail to meet standards after the first termination.


When this happens, installers must either re-terminate or undo the termination and replace the connector. If you have 4,000 terminations in a single project, then least 200 will likely need to be redone. With the traditional termination process taking anywhere between five and 10 minutes per connector, this translates to somewhere between 17 and 34 hours of additional rework. These extra hours add up fast.


Choosing a cable that’s faster and easier to install—and connectors that are faster and easier to terminate—saves individual workers hours every week.


Traditionally, copper cable termination involves stripping the cable jacket, separating pairs and conductors, seating each conductor to the proper IDC tower, punching each wire down to make the connection and cutting off excess. Belden’s REVConnect Connectivity solutions streamline the process. They offer:


  • Rework with a first pass yield of 99%—a major increase over the typical 95% we mentioned earlier
  • A major reduction in termination time, making installers much more efficientREVConnect Belden Enterprise Connectivity
  • A noticeable reduction in deployment and testing time, further contributing to labor savings


REVConnect Connectivity’s termination process is a simple one to learn; it takes about 15 minutes. It uses just one process, one tool and one set of components to perform any RJ45 connectorization. This makes training new installers simple—and no one has to check their work every 30 minutes. Even someone who’s never seen a connector before can figure this out. (In fact, I like to say it’s “Daniel-approved.” If I can do it, then I promise that anyone can do it!)


“I’m all for innovation like this that makes connectivity of network endpoints and termination more predictable from a time standpoint,” says Wilson. “Accurately predicting the timeline of a project avoids unplanned overtime, extra days on the jobsite, missing deadlines, etc.”


We’ve already seen installers benefit from installation time savings during recent projects that were under a time crunch and needed to find ways to save time to keep moving forward. Even with apprentices and new workers on jobsites every day, projects were completed on time—and even a few months ahead of schedule.


Want to learn more about the benefits of REVConnect? Start here.