A lot of time goes in to determining how cable and connectivity will impact user productivity and efficiency, as well as support new technology as it’s rolled out. But cable and connectivity selections impact more than just the people who use your network: They can also have an impact on the technicians responsible for cable installation.
Selecting a solution that’s easier to install means that projects can be completed faster, there’s less room for error along the way due to complex processes, and techs don’t require as much training before they get started.
When selecting cable and connectivity, here are a few factors that may have an impact on installers … and, ultimately, your project schedule and budget.
Cable Weight and Diameter
Weight and diameter influence ease and speed of cable installation. The lighter and smaller a cable is, the simpler it is for technicians to transport, route and pull it. In some cases, lighter and smaller cable can reduce manpower, since fewer installers are needed to handle the cable.
Diameter can also impact bend radius. A smaller-diameter cable typically supports a smaller bend radius, so it can be used in tight spaces and workstation applications.
Over the past few years, customers have told us that it takes up to five minutes per connector to complete a traditional Category 6A termination (and that number doesn’t include time spent on rework)! Nearly 5% of Category 6A jacks and plugs need some rework after the first termination, which slows the process down even more.
Today, there are newer, faster ways to terminate. Belden’s REVConnect Connectivity System, for example, takes approximately one minute or less for UTP cables, and two minutes or less for STP cables. When you complete a termination up to four times faster, imagine how much more work could be done in a day – and how much faster your project can be completed.
Based on how they’re designed, some cable and connectivity solutions are easier (and more intuitive) to install than others. A product that’s simple to deploy requires less upfront training, gets technicians out on the jobsite faster and allows installers with less experience to complete the job effectively.
Termination is a good example to use here, too. Traditionally, an installer has to learn several challenging processes to be able to terminate different jacks and plugs. But new connectivity technology allows installers to learn just one methodology that can be used on any RJ45 termination style. That puts them out on jobsites faster, and reduces human error since there’s only one way to complete the termination.
Pre-Terminated vs. Field-Terminated Solutions
In the right situations, a pre-terminated copper or fiber cable solution can save installers a lot of headaches. The components are 100% factory terminated (or spliced) and tested before they’re shipped out: Technicians know they’re installing a product that will work. Especially for fiber cable installation, this can be beneficial in maintaining the quality of fiber connectors; they’re not exposed to temperature extremes or airborne particulates.
Pre-terminated solutions also install much faster than field-terminated solutions. They don’t require transmission-performance testing, either; the test reports are included with the pre-terminated assemblies.
In the past, pre-terminated solutions were reserved for data center applications due to large diameter sizes, cable bundles bogged down with RJ45 jacks on both ends and the difficulty associated with determining cable lengths early enough in the project. But REVConnect is changing that. Soon, you’ll hear about a new pre-terminated solution that can be used in enterprise LAN environments, transforming how the industry thinks of – and uses – pre-terminated cable.
Many of today’s cable solutions have built-in, time-saving features meant to support faster cable installation. Things like easier-to-separate pairs and easy-to-remove barrier tape make the entire cable installation process faster and easier. Even just a few seconds saved on a process that’s repeated over and over can add up to big time savings in the end.
Do you know how many tools are required to terminate one jack and one plug? Four, typically: a wire stripper, flush cutter, 110 punch-down tool and crimp tool (at the very least).
Some of today’s newer termination methods call for just one tool to fully prep the cable. The fewer tools that need to be used, the faster the process can be completed – and the less money that’s spent on tool purchases and replacements, too.
Looking for other ways to improve the cable installation process? We’ve got lots of ideas for you. Send us a note, and we’ll chat about them!
With more than 25 years of industry experience, Sean McCarthy serves as Belden’s sales director for the U.S. Central region, and also leads Belden’s North American Systems Engineering Team. Sean’s teams help define clients’ emerging technology needs, and deliver education, designs and specifications that enable emerging technologies. He’s responsible for developing and implementing sustainable programs that enable continuous technical education, skills development and thought leadership among Belden’s technical professionals.