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Wireville.com

Issue: November 2007
By: Frank Bisbee


Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces


BISBEE’S BUZZ

Most business operations keep diligent records of their money, assets, and liabilities. This inventory holds true for almost all areas of operation, except TRAINING. Many of the businesses involved in communications infrastructure are woefully negligent in tracking the training of their staff. The problem is exacerbated by the rapid development curve of technological advancements in information transport systems.  Unless an accurate and up-to-date inventory of the technology training is maintained, the company losses the vital competitive edge and becomes, at best, just another “me too!” purveyor.

Some companies try to keep up by hiring trained staff instead of developing the staff. This usually leads to lower employee loyalty and dedication, because many of the technical staff feels like there are no long-term opportunities with the employer. “Use them up and throw them away when they fall behind the current market technology requirements.” This is a sad commentary on management strategy. What makes this scenario even worse is that many operations that are clueless on their training inventory and have almost no plans to stay competitive and current.

Just look around at the vast affordable resources for training. The excuse of “we can’t afford the training now” is absolutely false. You cannot afford to fall behind on the training front.

Training resources

Trade Publications

  • Electrical Contractor Magazine
  • Communications News
  • CNS – Cabling Networking Systems Magazine
  • Cabling Business Magazine
  • Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine
  • Lightwave Magazine
  • TED (The Electrical Distributor) Magazine
  • Power Outlet Magazine
  • Heard on The Street monthly column on www.wireville.com
  • Plus a host of newsletters

Industry websites

Association training and certifications

Vendor training and certifications

Trade Shows

Conferences

Live training sessions

webinars

ON-LINE Training

Newton’s Telecom Dictionary, 23rd Edition is a crucial reference material in a constantly changing world of techno-terms, buzzwords, and alphabet soup. Don’t leave home without it.

BICSI -- Industry association providing knowledge transfer and educational resources for information transport systems/cabling installation and design professionals. BICSI offers a wide variety of educational tools and outlets including reference publications, conferences, regional meetings, breakfast clubs, training courses as well as exams. Currently, all industry professionals are invited to the 2008 BICSI Winter Conference, January 14-17, in Orlando, Florida, promising excellent education and networking opportunities. Go to www.bicsi.org to find out more about BICSI offerings.

We found a real affordable gem from Cabling America. You can get the latest How to Books (self-paced training) in Cabling Installation, CCTV, Fiber Optics and Security. http://www.cablingamerica.com/

It might surprise you to know that VDV Works are probably the world's largest source of training materials and support for cabling through our VDV Academy. Of course, it starts with "Lennie" and "Uncle Ted" - the definitive online guides to fiber and structured cabling, where it seems everyone gets started. Using our texttbooks, "The Fiber Optic Technician Manual" and "Data, Voice and Video Cabling" and over two decade of training experience, VDV Works has developed instructor training materials used by over 300 instructors worldwide in colleges, professional training organizations, IT companies government agencies and end users to train their students and personnel. According to Jim Hayes, President “VDV Works even has self-study programs that guide people through learning the technologies and even learning the "hands-on" skills needed.”

VDV Academy training curriculum is used by schools for preparing students for FOA and SCA certification and many offer BICSI CECs.

Information is available at http://vdvacademy.com/

Ready To Learn Online Training Opportunities

Training is the best and only way for electrical contractors and electricians to stay ahead in a world filled with changing markets, technologies and methodologies. However, training can be expensive, and it certainly is time-consuming to travel to another city to attend a seminar on new products or new techniques. The advent of personal computers, company networks and the Internet has taken some of the economic sting out of training. This technology provides online distance learning opportunities for electrical contractors and their employees. They can learn at their own pace, without leaving the office or job site.

For more than a century, Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), Northbrook, Ill., has provided technical expertise to manufacturers in 35 countries to enable the building of safer products. Through a combination of online training, books, safety videos, live Web-delivered programs and facilitated workshops, UL University (www.uluniversity.com) now offers training for a broad range of subject matter customized to fit specific educational needs.

Self-paced online courses include Hazard-Based Safety Engineering (HBSE), which is targeted for design, product safety and regulatory compliance engineers. It is designed to help balance safety requirements and guidelines against other parameters, such as usability, cost and customer satisfaction. Courses also include the National Electrical Code (NEC): a Practical Application, which provides a detailed examination of the history of the NEC and the Code proposal process, with an emphasis on how to use the NEC to locate and interpret Code requirements. UL University also has a course on neon lighting, which is designed to provide a detailed examination of the history of neon lighting and how it evolved, and it focuses on the design, application and installation of neon systems in accordance with the NEC.

StandardsLearn.org (www.StandardsLearn.org) is the portal to online standards and conformity assessment education and offers free, self-paced e-learning courses as a public service of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Washington, D.C., (www.ansi.org). The resource provides easy-to-use educational tools for anyone who wants or needs an introduction to standards and conformity assessment activities. Courses include Through History with Standards, an introduction to how standards and their impact on commerce and society have evolved over a span of several centuries; Why Standards Matter, a general introduction to standards and conformity assessment activities, designed to provide a basic initiation to standards for management and technical personnel in business, industry association management, engineers, purchasing staff and consumers; U.S. Standards System, which provides an overview of the U.S. standards development environment, demonstrates the value of participating in standards development, reviews the key questions to ask before standard development is initiated, and explains how standards development relates to national and international business; and Legal Issues in Standard Setting, which provides a simple review of antitrust laws and patent policies and how they may apply to the standards development process.

Understanding and correctly applying the NEC is vital to electrical contractors’ continued success. So the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Quincy, Mass., which publishes the Code, offers its Online Learning Center (www.necdirect.org), where contractors and electricians can learn valuable new skills or stay up-to-date on current standards and recommended best practices. Courses are designed to provide access to convenient, cost-effective training anywhere, anytime. Offerings have been expanded to include nearly 40 hard-hitting educational sessions, including four online certificate programs. When all the courses within a program are concluded, users get a certificate of completion, and CEUs are awarded for programs with eight or more courses.

The four certificate programs offer courses in automatic sprinkler systems, electrical installation in hazardous locations, fire alarm fundamentals, and fire and life safety in healthcare occupancies. Individual courses include sprinkler system repair, automatic sprinkler inspection, testing and maintenance, sprinkler design, identifying materials and equipment for hazardous locations, protection methods concepts, zone classification, Class II wiring methods, introduction to specialized fire detectors and supervisory initiating devices, fire alarm functions and power supplies, basic circuit design, heat and smoke detectors, and notification appliances. Other courses include handling flammable liquids and an overview of the principle workplace fire extinguishers.

BICSI Inc., a Telecommunications Association, Tampa, Fla., (www.bicsi.org), supports the information transport system (ITS) industry with information, education and knowledge assessment for those individuals and companies that provide the fundamental infrastructure for telecommunications, audio/video, life safety and automation systems. BICSI’s Web-based training courses offer a mix of conceptual and procedural learning experiences through reading and user interactivity. Online courses include local area networks (LAN) with an introduction to LAN stations and servers, LAN operations, and LAN standards; Remote Access Technologies, including components, operations and standards; and Network Storage, including fundamentals of high speed interfaces and system backups. Simulated tests form a databank of more than 600 questions to test one’s knowledge before sitting for the Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) specialty exam.

To further help its members, the Management Education Institute (MEI) of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Bethesda, Md. (www.neca-mei.org), focuses its curriculum on the business, technical and project-management disciplines that are essential to success in the electrical contracting industry. The institute brings a wide range of resources to bear in the continuing development of its education services program and now offers online training. One MEI online course provides clear instruction on the proper application of the NECA Manual of Labor Units when estimating electrical construction projects. Through this course, contractors and estimators will learn how to properly apply the labor unit data to a specific material installation. It contains helpful information about the origin of the labor units, the proper application of the data and how one can use these labor units to competitively bid electrical construction projects. In addition, the new Practical Guide to E-Mail in the Workplace focuses on improving the management of a company’s e-communications and helps contractors reduce e-mail risk by encouraging employees to think carefully before sending e-mails. It explains how e-mails can come back to either haunt or defend the company in any liability action, and it emphasizes the need to keep a professional tone and quality in an organization’s e-mails.

The National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC), Upper Marlboro, Md. (www.njatc.org), offers electrical training through its on-the-job and classroom apprenticeship programs for both traditional electrical and low-voltage installations. However, it offers online training (www.njatctrainingonline.org) that provides access to quality, cost-effective safety training materials. Lessons are self-paced and cover safety issues for the electrical worker, including bucket truck rescue, clearances, enclosed spaces, excavations, hand and power tools, overhead lines, first aid, underground installations, grounding, personal protective equipment (PPE), chemical and chlorine safety, asbestos hazards, environmental management and handling hazardous waste. Courses in employment law also are available online.

In partnership with Blue Volt, Portland, Ore. (www.bluevolt.com), the NJATC offers state-approved continuing education courses that allow electricians to keep their licenses current while training on their own schedule. Subjects include negotiating skills, building lasting customer relationships, fundamentals of marketing, effectively closing a sale, significant changes to the NEC, grounding and bonding, industrial safety, motors and controls, communication skills, government contracting, human resources and workplace issues, knowledge management, information technology, and the Internet and computer basics.

Manufacturer-offered training

Training on major electrical manufacturers’ products; information about installation methods, safety and standards; and manufacturer certification courses are only a mouse click away for anyone who is interested. Manufacturers recognize the need electrical contractors have for this valuable training and, in today’s ether-world, are able to provide it easily and cost-effectively, allowing the contractor to gain the knowledge required to add value to its offerings.

Fluke Corp., Everett, Wash. (www.fluke.com), offers online calibration and metrology training courses, including a certificate of completion that satisfies documentation requirements.

Square D/Schneider Electric, Palatine, Ill. (www.squared.com), provides online training for its DigestPlus Selector and other productivity-enhancing eTools that let the contractor get the most out of the company’s time-saving, productivity-enhancing tools.

Panduit Corp., Tinley Park, Ill. (www.panduit.com), provides training for its cable support, copper, fiber, raceway, connector, structured cabling and wiring accessory products.

Leviton Manufacturing Co. Inc., Little Neck, N.Y. (www.leviton.com), offers ez-Learn, which provides lessons in structured wiring products, life-saving electrical safety devices, and the latest advances in lighting control and energy management.

ElecTech, from Pass and Seymour/Legrand (P&S), Syracuse, N.Y.

(www.passandseymour.com), allows electricians and others to learn all about the company’s products and earn credits towards P&S merchandise.

Advance Transformer Co., Rosemont, Ill. (www.advancetransformer.com), welcomes Advance University online registrants to its  accredited courses on ballast components, operation, troubleshooting and new technologies.

Siemens Energy and Automation Inc., Alpharetta, Ga.

(www2.sea.siemens.com), has self-study courses that range from free, online courses to its new pay-per-view Safety Series and include foundation industrial electronics knowledge and basic automation system skills.

Learning on the Go from Eaton Corp./Cutler-Hammer, Cleveland, Ohio (www.eaton.com), is designed to provide a solid foundation of industry knowledge, from the fundamentals of electricity and electrical distribution, to basic information on product groups such as adjustable frequency drives, panelboards and motor control centers. Each learning module focuses on a specific product group and contains general information, such as common terms, product theory and operation, codes, and real-world applications.

Cooper Bussmann Inc., Ellisville, Mo. (www.cooperbussmann.com), offers e-training modules that cover listing and labeling, arc-flash hazards, overcurrent calculations and protective devices, voltage ratings, and electrical hazards, as well as industrial control panels, safety basics, and technical training manuals.

This is just a short list of all the training opportunities offered by manufacturers. In addition, more will likely offer online training in the future.

Taking advantage of online training is easy, cost-effective and enables electrical contractors to stay on the cutting edge of rapidly advancing and evolving technologies.       EC

BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 or darbremer@comcast.net.

http://www.ecmag.com/

Reprinted with permission from Electrical Contractor Magazine (October 2007)

Remember; SAFETY IS TOO IMPORTANT TO IGNORE.

Happy Thanksgiving.

But that’s just my opinion,

Frank Bisbee
"Heard On The Street" Monthly Column
www.wireville.com
4949 Sunbeam Rd, Suite 16
Jacksonville, FL 32257 (904) 645-9077
frank@wireville.com


3Com To Be Sold for $2.2 Billion To Bain Capital, Taken Private

3Com Corp., a maker of networking hardware and software, will be sold to affiliates of private equity firm Bain Capital Partners LLC for $2.2 billion and taken private, 3Com said Friday.

The cash deal also gives Huawei Technologies, China's largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, a minority stake in 3Com that the American company hopes will improve its growth prospects in Asia.

By going private, 3Com hopes to free itself from markets' short-term financial expectations, Edgar Masri, president and chief executive of Marlborough, Mass.-based 3Com, told analysts in a conference call.

"As a private company, we will be able to focus on our long-term strategic objectives," Masri said.

Shareholders will receive $5.30 in cash for each share of 3Com stock, or a premium of about 44 percent over the stock's $3.68 closing price on Thursday.

3Com is a maker of network equipment for data and telecommunications systems, with more than 6,000 employees in over 40 countries, and annual revenue of $1.3 billion. The company's fortunes rose sharply during the late 1990s amid the technology boom. 3Com's stock price briefly rose above $100 in 2000, but later plunged as boom turned to bust.

3Com had recently been the subject of buyout speculation, and entertained competing offers. Masri did not identify other bidders, but said the company decided the offer from Boston-based Bain was the best, in part because of Bain's reputation as a leading private equity firm with deep financial resources and ties in Asia.

He said the premium that Bain is paying "validates the tremendous opportunity for growth 3Com has ahead of it," particularly overseas.

3Com said its board had unanimously approved the deal, and recommended shareholders approve it. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

3Com would be required to pay a break-up fee of $66 million if it backs out of the deal, while Bain would pay at least $66 million and up to $110 million if it backs out, depending on the circumstances.

Masri declined to specify how large of a minority stake that Huawei would have in 3Com after the deal is completed, but said that information would be made public in coming weeks.

Huawei also will become a commercial and strategic business partner of 3Com, Masri said.

The companies previously teamed up in a networking products joint venture called H3C, but 3Com bought out Huawei's 49 percent stake for $882 million in November 2006.

Trading of 3Com shares was halted early Friday after the Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site that 3Com planned to announce a sale to Bain and Huawei later in the day. Shares rallied $1.20, or 32.6 percent, to $4.88 -- within range of the reported purchase price -- before trading was shut down.


University Of Nebraska Deploys EKINOPS 360 Platform For High-Capacity Optical Network

The University of Nebraska (UNL) has installed DWDM equipment from Ekinops, a leading provider of optical transport and DWDM solutions, that massively increases connectivity to its campus in Lincoln and is critical to the university’s participation in an international physics research project, Ekinops announced today.

The new optical network took part in a demonstration on Tuesday at the opening session of the Internet2 Member Meeting in San Diego. The demonstration showed how an 8 Gigabits per second stream from the UNL physics lab, transported by the Ekinops equipment to the Internet2 network, was dynamically switched across the Internet2 backbone.

To enhance its participation in the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) CMS project, the university has deployed the Ekinops 360 platform, using multiple DWDM channels, each running at 10 Gigabits per second. It increased the university’s available bandwidth more than 48 times compared with its previous connectivity speed.

The Ekinops 360 is a carrier-class optical transport platform designed for metro, regional, and long-haul networks. The platform can aggregate and transport any Ethernet, Fibre Channel, SONET, or SDH client protocol.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a 22,000-student campus that is part of the University of Nebraska system, is a Tier 2 site in the CMS project, one of the ongoing experiments at the CERN particle accelerator in Switzerland. The CMS project generates massive amounts of data, which is distributed to different computing centers across the world for processing.

To fully participate in the project, the university needed a network capable of carrying massive amounts of data to its supercomputers. Approximately 200 Terabytes (200 trillion bytes) of data are transported weekly.

Dale Finkelson, the university’s network engineer, was tasked with finding a solution with greater transport capacity to the university. “We evaluated different options but building our own optical network and utilizing DWDM promised the greatest increase to our capacity and was extremely affordable at the same time,” Finkelson explained.

The network span is 230 miles and links the university campus in Lincoln to the Internet2 in the Kansas City node. Benefiting from the Ekinops 360 long haul transponders, the requirement for amplification is minimal. The installed configuration occupies a small number of slots in the chassis and allows for adding a much greater capacity in the future.

Although the primary requirement was to transport 10G data from the university’s routers, the university is also using Ekinops aggregation technology for aggregating and transporting multiple Gigabit Ethernet inputs over a 10G wavelength.

The university’s IT staff has also found that despite the platform’s enormous capacity, the Ekinops 360 was easy to install and operate. “Once the power and fibers were ready, installation took half a day. People started using it 20 minutes after we plugged it in, and it has run solid ever since,” said Finkelson.

Since deploying the new optical network, the University of Nebraska has seen tremendous performance improvements and cost savings. “Having our own optical network gives us a lot of flexibility,” Finkelson said. “We can add capacity at a minimal cost and in a very short time. If we need another 10G wavelength for another large project, it would be as easy as plugging another card in the chassis.”

“Academic and research collaboration requires moving tremendous amounts of data and puts heavy demands on the transport network,” said Jonathan Amir, Ekinops’ vice president of sales. “A growing number of universities are relying on Ekinops for a simple, high-capacity and cost-effective DWDM transport solution and we are very proud of our work with the University of Nebraska and with other academic organizations.” www.ekinops.net   www.acuta.org


APWMayville™ To Show Turnkey Rack Solutions At VON

APWMayville™, a division of Mayville Products Corporation and a leader in rack and enclosure solutions for the telecommunications, broadcast, audio/visual, security, and data communications industries, will display a complete range of turnkey rack solutions for Telcos at the upcoming VON Show starting October 29th at the Boston Convention Center.

APWMayville’s turnkey rack systems for the telecommunications industry leverage the company’s strengths in broadcast and IT datacom, providing complete grounding systems and the ability to effectively manage large volumes of cables for Telcos as they build out IPTV headends for delivering broadcast TV services to the home.

APWMayville, exhibiting at VON for the first time (Booth #564), will bring its E-Rack™ and Pioneer™ Seismic Rack to the show along with a variety of power, cabling, lighting and cooling accessories.  All products are fully customizable with either rack to enhance functionality for Telco integrators and engineers, and eliminate the need to purchase essential components from multiple vendors.  Both the E-Rack and Pioneer Seismic rack are NEBS-compliant and UL listed to meet all required telecommunications industry standards.  The Pioneer Seismic rack is also seismically rated.

“As more Telcos prepare to launch IPTV to add television to their bundle of existing services, they will require at least one central headend to house equipment that will receive, encode, and transmit video on the way to the subscriber’s TV set,” said Dan Eder, President of Mayville Products Corporation.  “This equipment requires a sturdy, reliable and flexible rack solution that can accommodate the cabling and power requirements that comes with video headend equipment.  APWMayville’s experience in the broadcast industry is a benefit for Telcos that are building out IPTV headends, whether it’s a single headend for a local or regional bell company, or a network of central and localized headends for national Telcos.”

APWMayville racks come in full range of heights, widths and depths to accommodate any integration requirements.  All E-Racks and Pioneer Seismic racks come with vertical and horizontal lacing bars for cable management; shelving options in the form of heavy duty, cantilevered and rollout shelves; top and rack-mountable fans for moving cool air through the racks; customized filler panels for a consistent appearance in empty rack spaces; and overhead lighting for easier adjustment of front-panel equipment settings.

The company also offers its PowerOptions™ range of thin power strips, which will be on display at VON.  The PowerOptions family is a full range of isolated-ground and standard-ground power strips and power distribution units that increase versatility in the design and integration of rack systems.  PowerOptions receptacles can be rotated 90-degrees to accommodate transformers, which would otherwise block adjacent outlets on the power strip. The rotated receptacles allow all outlets on the strip to be utilized regardless of transformer presence, all while keeping the length of the power strip to a minimum.

The PowerOptions range offers horizontal power strips for rackmounting, and vertical power strips that are installed using the company’s PowerMount system.   PowerMount systems carry out the basic function of holding power strips in place, while providing the flexibility of affixing power strips in virtually any location inside the rack.  They offer a 180 degree swivel feature to rotate the power strip during maintenance or integration procedures, reducing bends in cabling and providing easier access to power cords.  The entire strip can face the front, middle or back of the cabinet.

APWMayville also offers grounding solutions for its racks.  This includes banana jack receivers at the top of the racks, built-in ground lugs to ground the rack frame, and grounding wire to connect with outside earth.
www.APWMayville.com


Network Video Technologies Joins NetClear ESS Affiliate Program

Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, and Ortronics/Legrand are pleased to announce that Network Video Technologies (NVT) Inc. has been added as an approved affiliate vendor for the NetClear ESS (Electronic Safety and Security) program.

Through IP convergence, previously disparate disciplines, including data, video and power, are now being connected together over one standardized structured cabling network to allow the sharing of resources, which provides a higher level of network efficiency, while increasing the network’s return on investment.  Together Ortronics/Legrand and Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, have expanded their NetClear structured cabling solutions for enterprises to include security and surveillance applications through the new NetClear ESS program.  “As part of NetClear ESS, Berk-Tek and Ortronics are teaming up with associated vendors in the CCTV realm, such as camera manufacturers and active component manufacturers to offer proven integrated solution sets for both I.T. managers and security integrators,” notes Chris Adams, Marketing Manager for Ortronics/Legrand.  “Our goal is to offer our customers a group of like-minded technology affiliates that can bring solution sets and system experience to those ready to embrace IP technology for security applications.”

NVT is in the business of transmitting CCTV video and supplying camera power over unshielded twisted pair wire via structured cabling networks. “As an affiliate vendor, NVT provides products, solutions and support to Berk-Tek and Ortronics/Legrand to educate the market on the transition as analog CCTV moves from a coax-based infrastructure to UTP-based,” states George Wojtan, Datacom Market Manager, NVT. “Together our products will allow installers and end-users to benefit from the performance, cost savings, simplicity, and future proofing of structured cabling,” he adds. 

Through NetClear ESS, Ortronics/Legrand and Berk-Tek provide industry leading copper and fiber optic structured cabling systems to assure scalability and performance for all types of networks and technologies. “NetClear ESS solutions demonstrate a progressive path to security over IP, from analog to hybrid to total IP, including running data, video and power (PoE) over the same UTP cable,” notes Carol Everett Oliver, RCDD, Marketing Analyst for Berk-Tek.  “Companies like NVT, are instrumental in providing that bridge for CCTV and as convergence encompasses future building automation functions,” she adds.

As part of the NetClear ESS initiative, educational programs, such as full-day seminars, on-site training classes and webinars will be created for both security integrators and cable installers.

About the NetClear Alliance
NetClear is a Technology Alliance between Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, and Ortronics/Legrand to provide advanced, end-to-end co-engineered solutions for enhanced Category 5e, Category 6, Augmented Category 6 – 10 Gigabit and optical fiber channels - all backed by a 25-year warranty. For more information, visit www.netclear-channel.com

About Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company
For more than 45 years, Berk-Tek has been a leading manufacturer of more than 100 different network copper and fiber optic cable products designed to transport high-speed voice, data and video transmissions. For more information, visit www.berktek.com.

About Ortronics/Legrand
Ortronics/Legrand is a global leader in high performance structured cabling solutions, services, and support. Ortronics offers a complete range of Category 5e, 6 and 10 Gig copper, fiber optic, wireless and residential/MDU connectivity solutions. In addition, Ortronics offers Cablofil® wire mesh cable tray and Wiremold® pathways. For more information, visit www.ortronics.com.


BICSI MEMBERS ELECT NEW OFFICERS

BICSI members have chosen five officers to serve two-year terms on the Board of Directors in voting that ended October 15.

Brian Hansen, RCDD/NTS Specialist has been elected BICSI President-Elect. Hansen pledges to work side-by-side with incoming BICSI President Ed Donelan, RCDD/NTS Specialist, to make BICSI the leader in global standardization and ensure greater membership benefits. He maintains residence in Rosemount, Minnesota and is a specification engineer for the Voice & Data Division of Leviton.  

Elected to the position of Treasurer is James (Ray) Craig, RCDD/NTS Specialist. Craig is owner of Craig Consulting Services in Coppell, Texas.

Also selected in this year’s election are the following Region Directors:

§         U.S. Northeast Region Director: Brian Ensign, RCDD/NTS/OSP Specialist

§         U.S. North-Central Region Director: Jerry Bowman, RCDD/NTS Specialist (incumbent)

§         European Region Director: Brendan (Greg) Sherry, RCDD/NTS/WD Specialist (incumbent)

The new officers will officially be inaugurated in January 2008 during the BICSI Winter Conference at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida.

###

BICSI is a professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry with information, education and knowledge assessment for individuals and companies. BICSI serves more than 23,000 ITS professionals, including designers, installers and technicians. These individuals provide the fundamental infrastructure for telecommunications, audio/video, life safety and automation systems. Through courses, conferences, publications and professional registration programs, BICSI staff and volunteers assist ITS professionals in delivering critical products and services, and offer opportunities for continual improvement and enhanced professional stature.

Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, BICSI membership spans nearly 100 countries. www.bicsi.org


Building Green News

Prefabricating Green: Building Environmentally Friendly Houses Off Site

For a home in Walpole, New Hampshire, Habitat for Humanity chose to build a prefabricated home with precision-cut timbers and panels constructed at the Bensonwood factory by volunteers; the panels were later assembled on site, also with volunteer labor. The resulting house produced less waste material than a site-built house, thanks to cutting equipment programmed to maximize the use of each piece of wood. It was also built faster than a site-built house, including the time spent assembling panels at the factory, and it featured a well-insulated building envelope with strong attention to construction details. The house included Bensonwood's unique measures designed to "disentangle" the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems from the structure, making them easier to install and modify.

One of the benefits of prefabrication is that waste materials from one house can be stored for later use, limiting the amount of material that ends up in the landfill. According to Andrew Gianino, owner of modular house distributor The Home Store, in Whately, Massachusetts, building in a factory has another advantage: houses are built from the inside out, making insulating and air-sealing easier.

Prefabricated housing has long been touted as a cost-saving building process, particularly in areas with high labor costs. This cost savings makes prefabricated housing a good choice for affordable housing, but green options such as increased insulation or environmentally friendly finish materials can currently raise costs, since the assembly line must be changed for a single house.

Prefabricated housing has come a long way from the metal-skinned trailer of the past, in design, construction, and energy efficiency. Some companies are using the efficiencies of prefabrication to bring green design and materials to more affordable homes, but the industry as a whole has a long way to go to address environmental building concerns.

To see the full feature article:

http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=161001a.xml

The full article requires a log-in to view, and is NOT available for re-publication. If you would like to read the full article, and do not have a log-in, please contact Jerelyn Wilson at Jerelyn@BuildingGreen.com.

You are welcome to post the summaries and links from this email on your website(s), provided that you make it clear that the stories are coming from Environmental Building News and that the full article is available at www.BuildingGreen.com. Please include this byline: From Environmental Building News, www.BuildingGreen.com.

BuildingGreen, Inc. owns the copyrights to all material contained in this email and to the full written articles. All rights are reserved except those explicitly granted herein. Contact Jim Newman at BuildingGreen, Inc., Jim@BuildingGreen.com with questions or for additional information.

Other Current Stories from Environmental Building News:

When It's Greener To Build

Tristan Korthals Altes

Our architecture, no matter how efficient, will always exact some environmental costs. But concern about resource consumption should be a lens through which we examine buildings, not the definition of green itself. We should also consider our fundamental ethics of building: Why do we build? In what ways is the act of building green? When there is a need for a building, and the design and construction team remains loyal to the expression of that need, we see ecological and humane buildings rise from the earth.

To read the full article:

http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=161002a.xml

Binders in Manufactured Wood Products:

Beyond Formaldehyde

Backpage Primer from Environmental Building News

Two glues, or binders as they are called in the industry, dominate the manufactured wood products industry: urea formaldehyde (UF) and phenol formaldehyde (PF). For interior-grade products, including particleboard, MDF, and hardwood plywood, UF binders have long been more popular because of their low cost and light color compared with PF binders. For exterior-grade applications such as plywood and OSB, PF binders are favored because of their better moisture resistance. While UF binders are significantly less expensive than PF binders, they give off a lot more formaldehyde -- a volatile compound that is classified as a known human carcinogen.

To read the full article:

http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=161016a.xml

Websites Explain Energy Tax Incentives

Rachel Navaro

The existence of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) is well known; the fact that it was extended through 2008 might also sound familiar; the financial and environmental opportunities that the Act, and other policies, create for builders, homeowners, and commercial building owners, however, are less understood. This article provides an annotated list of websites that offer a variety of information.

To read the full article:

http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=161015a.xml

http://www.buildinggreen.com

BuildingGreen provides information outlets such as Environmental Building News (EBN) that cover the most pressing issues in environmental design and construction with a clear approach to all sides of an issue, keeping our readers informed on building for sustainability. This email brings you, as a news editor or website owner interested in sustainable design, an excerpt from our top story for the month, as well as links to other stories currently posted in the free area of www.BuildingGreen.com

All materials Copyright BuildingGreen, Inc. 2007


Benefits Of Hosting The CABA Exhibit

  • Your Company Brand will appear on the CABA Exhibit  

  • Complimentary Registration as a CABA Exhibitor to attend the show

  • Display your Brochures and Flyers at the CABA Exhibit

  • Opportunity to Network with thousands of Industry Professionals

  • Receive the contact information of all visitors to the CABA Exhibit

  • Opportunity to provide a Draw Prize from your company (Optional)

  • Complimentary Entry into the HOST'S DRAW for a FREE CABA Research Report (Valued up to $4,200.00)

Due to CABA's large membership we are scheduling members interested in hosting on a first call basis.

EHX Fall 2007 HALL HOURS                                             

Wednesday, November 7, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM    
Thursday, November 8, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM     
Friday, November 9, 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM

If you are interested in being a Host with the CABA exhibit
at this year’s EHX Fall 2007 show please contact:

Ken Gallinger
Marketing Director
Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA)
gallinger@caba.org


Participate In A CABA Survey About iHOMES & Buildings Magazine

CABA is inviting all members of our industry to participate in our short online survey on iHomes & Buildings magazine. Taking the survey will allow CABA to improve the quality of its publication to the benefit of both the industry and CABA memebers. All those who participate in this survey will be automatically entered into a draw to win a $500 discount on CABA research. The discount will be applicable to either CABA's Connected Home Roadmap or Intelligent Buildings Roadmap.

TAKE THE CABA SURVEY NOW!

REDESIGNED CABA MAGAZINE TO OFFER AFFORDABLE NEW ADVERTISING PACKAGES

CABA is pleased to announce that a redesigned version of iHomes & Buildings magazine will debut in late October. The last edition can be accessed here.

CABA's magazine is designed to reach the multi-billion dollar home system and building automation industry. It is a leading source of industry news, opinion and research for industry professionals and the general public.

Now it will be easier to read and specifically targeted to promote your company's products and services. The new advertising packages will be multi-platform, getting word out about your product on our Web site, in printed format, and at highly targeted events.

Download our new media kit to ensure that your company is featured in the CABA magazine at both EH Expo and CES 2008.


CABA Invites You To The Family Ecosystem Forum

You are invited to a CABA Internet Home Alliance Research Council (IHA-RA) special event. The Family Ecosystem Forum will be held Oct. 30 at the Whirlpool Corporation Center for Partnership Development in Benton Harbor, MI.  This informative event will examine groundbreaking market research on consumers and their spending intentions concerning technology in the home.  The Forum will explore major research projects (over $270,000 in value) undertaken by the IHA-RC (http://www.caba.org/iha) in the last year, including:

Digital Kitchen, a study that investigated consumer electronics and appliances in use in North American kitchens and determined which new products and services homeowners would like to see added to their kitchens in the future; and

Senior Living, a study undertaken with the National Association of Home Builders, which identified the solutions consumers over the age of 50 want most in a home to keep them safe, comfortable and living independently.

The event will be special, because not only will the market research be discussed but also tangible strategies to increase retail sales!  Speakers are lined up from CABA, Crestron Electronics, Exceptional Innovation, Home Automation, Inc., Whirlpool Corporation and Zanthus Research.  Further, the one-day meeting will provide an opportunity for you to network with leading market researchers, retailers and manufacturers who are targeting the multi-billion dollar home technology marketplace.

Registration fees start at $195. and you will receive an instant discount on IHA-RC research.  All delegates will receive the Executive Summaries of the "Digital Kitchen" and "Senior Living" Reports, plus $500 discount coupons to purchase the full research reports.

To register, go to http://www.caba.org/iha/ecosystemforum.html.  Contact Fred Bryson, CABA's Business Development Manager, at 613.686.1814 x226, 888.798.CABA (2222) or bryson@caba.org for more details.

The event is limited to 50 participants - so register quickly to confirm your spot!  If you can't attend, please pass this information to a colleague that may benefit from this research.

Regards,

Ron Zimmer, President & CEO

Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) Your Information Source for Home & Building Automation http://www.caba.org


Time is Now to Shore Up Office Building Vacancies in Chicago

  Published on 10/10/2007 at www.MidwestBusiness.com where you always read real perspectives

What needs to be done in order to bolster downtown Chicago and suburban office building leases?

There is more economic fallout from the sub-prime mortgage market crash and other mortgage credit issues as real estate markets see an increase in vacancies at various office buildings. Crain’s Chicago Business recently ran an article that pointed out some of these trends in the suburban Chicago market.

Downtown Chicago is also feeling some vacancy problems as several high-profile buildings are being put onto the sales block in the East Loop area. Two towers within the Illinois Center are for sale as several large building owners in that area are thinking it’s a good time to sell.

Some tenants are migrating to newer buildings. What are their reasons? Are the amenities different? Are the older buildings technologically obsolete?

Discount Rates or Sell?

Vacancies are rising in older buildings and rents have to be discounted according to conventional wisdom in the industry. Too many real estate executives panic in a market like this. They go to the lowest common denominator: price per square foot.

This “strategy” (and I use the term loosely) has been used all over as everything else goes out the door. The way to try to entice a potential tenant is to drop from the market rate of $20 a square foot to $17.50 until Harry across the street drops his to $14.95. You then have to throw in six months of free rent on top of his new “market price”.

While that was the way to do it 30 years ago, times and strategies have changed. If they haven’t changed in a real estate organization, they better because just dropping the price isn’t going to work any more. The tenant market is much more sophisticated (especially for class “A” office space).

If someone is selling a building, the buyer better do much better due diligence. Most real estate investment trusts (REITs) don’t look at the technology supporting the building. The traditional approach for reviewing a building’s attributes has to be augmented. Otherwise, they will pay too much and this market will soon become a multimillion-dollar game of hot potato.

Building systems have to be reviewed. How “smart” the building is has to be asked and answered before any realistic price can be offered. A list of due diligence questions on technology is not what most REIT executives have in their back pockets.

Strategies, Buildings Have to Be Updated

If they are looking for blue-chip tenants, I can assure you the idea of selling space as a commodity is not going to work any more in attracting and maintaining a solid tenant mix. This is part of my white paper that will be published later in 2007 in the Intelligent Engineering Consortium’s annual review of communications:

“Intelligent Business Campuses: Keys to Future Economic Development” is a thought leadership paper that was finished after working on several planning issues with the DuPage National Technology Park. Key industry people were also interviewed from across the country along with several people from the Asian market.

The need to understand how to position real estate is a much more sophisticated approach than many traditional real estate and property managers have had to tackle. Corporate site selection committees are looking for different amenities than when a building may have been leased up five or 10 years ago.

This fact should be taken into consideration when making an offer to buy one of these buildings.

Define Class ‘A’ Buildings

The definition of a class “A” building has always been a building offering top-notch amenities and being in the right location. Many real estate executives have yet to figure out that the old real estate adage they still adhere to (“location, location, location”) has changed to “location, location, connectivity”.

While broadband connectivity was not on anyone’s criteria list 10 years ago, it is in the top three today. If you think you are in a class “A” building today, it better have broadband connectivity. That means fiber-optic connectivity and gigabit speeds. That doesn’t mean DSL or T-1 connectivity.

In doing research a while back while looking for class “A” buildings in DuPage County, there were more than 60 buildings that had vacancies. As soon as you put “broadband connectivity” in as a necessary amenity, that number dropped to six.

If a site selection committee was looking for corporate space, 90 percent of the properties that property management companies think are class “A” would be overlooked and therefore do not “rate” as a class “A” rating.

What did I just say? You read it right. Class “A” buildings are quietly being rated again just from a standpoint of connectivity. To some, that sounds too radical.

If property managers don’t have it as an amenity, they will be looking a long time for a replacement tenant. While they can discount and discount and perhaps they will snag someone, it won’t be a blue-chip tenant. That’s the reality of the market. This is the quiet revolution that has been happening.

Many in the real estate market have not seen it because they still have a lot of tenants on lease. As leases end and tenants turn over for whatever reason, you will see more class “A” buildings become less desirable. They won’t be able to attract and maintain the blue-chip tenants that are looking at connectivity as a required amenity.

It’s already happening. Unless developers and property management firms understand what needs to be offered to attract and maintain quality business tenants, they are losing tenants to new developments that may have been farsighted enough to add broadband connectivity. This also affects the regional viability to sustain economic development.

While traditional approaches are good in traditional markets, this issue is changing tradition. If you don’t think so, look at where corporate facilities are being located and relocated. The buildings and surrounding community offer broadband connectivity. This is true not only in the United States but in Asia as well.

Places like Far Glory Park in Taiwan and Cyberport in Hong Kong are examples of campuses offering high-speed connectivity as a common amenity for business tenants. As for organizations buying existing buildings, they better understand what they are buying. They don’t want to be playing hot potato in this market.

Carlinism: Intelligent buildings have been clustered together to create intelligent business campuses.


Jim Carlini will be speaking at Rural TeleCon ’07 in
Springfield, Ill. from Oct. 14 to 17 on intelligent business campuses.

He will also lead a half-day seminar on the same topic at the Building Industry
Consulting Services International’s winter conference from Jan. 14 to 17, 2008 in Orlando.


Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.


James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He is also president of Carlini & Associates. Carlini can be reached at james.carlini@sbcglobal.net or 773-370-1888.
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

Copyright 2007 Jim Carlini


WiMAX World At McCormick Place In Chicago: Nothing Today is Free


  Published on 10/3/2007 by www.Midwest

Carlini’s Comments, MidwestBusiness.com’s oldest column, runs every Wednesday. Its mission is to offer the common mans view on business and technology issues while questioning the leadership and visions of pseudo experts.

WiMAX will be a big alternative to big cities especially after the “free” Wi-Fi business model has fizzled, writes James Carlini following WiMAX World in Chicago.

Attending WiMAX World at Chicago’s McCormick Place last week should have been an eye opener to anyone who attended. There needs to be some big investments in network infrastructure. This can’t be delegated to a third-party service provider offering a “free service,” according to some of the executives who spoke in the panel discussions.

Nothing is free. Still, several cities thought taking a hands-off approach from an investment standpoint by bringing in a third party to build a wireless network would give them the benefits of ubiquitous wireless connectivity without putting any money into it. It doesn’t work that way. As I pointed out in columns back in June and August:

Anyone thinking third-party Wi-Fi is the ultimate answer is fooling themselves. There is no getting around the issue that a network infrastructure is a big capital investment that can provide great results if implemented correctly.

In many cases, cities didn’t turn to seasoned professionals. They would have told them to get something more substantial or that the network topologies being cited were inadequate. Instead, they bought off on the hype of a new wonder technology along with its evangelists.

Just as you wouldn’t expect fire fighters to use garden hoses to put out fires, you can’t expect network infrastructures to deliver huge amounts of bandwidth if you’re using a wireless network that was never designed to be a fire hose of bandwidth.

If we explain it that way, perhaps people will “get it right” instead of “getting burned” by inadequate network designs.

The people advising these cities to get a “free service” to add into the infrastructure without any investment while keeping the rights to control and oversee the services are just wrong. Their RFPs are also worthless because those who respond will match it with a worthless network.

It was clearly pointed out at one of the sessions that both providers and cities are “reassessing” their “free network” concept, which actually killed some “first deals”. Some service providers have gotten more selective in looking at municipal opportunities.

The bottom line is RFPs coming out from various cities that want something for nothing are being passed over. You need a real commitment from a municipality. It was also interesting to see that some industry executives were more apologetic for the fizzling out of municipal Wi-Fi projects.

Cutting Edge? Guess Again

One keynote speaker gave a good overview of why we are slipping in the United States. While he didn’t say it or directly imply it, that’s what I got out of it.

Won Pyo Hong, who is the executive vice president of Samsung’s telecom systems, pointed out some interesting developments in Korea, which seems to be more advanced in its networks as well as devices that people can already use.

He focused on the fact that the Korean market is very demanding for wireless connectivity and they already have external mobile WiMAX devices. Korean early adopters can be categorized with this information:

·  74 percent are individuals

·  80 percent are males

·  66 percent are in their 30s and 40s

·  26 percent are entrepreneurs

Here are some other interesting facts he pointed out:

·  First click on the Internet is at 3 years old

·  51.6 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds access the Internet 4.3 hours a day

What did I get out of his informative speech? We need to catch up and in a hurry.

We are well beyond the Information Age and even past the Internet Age. I would say we are at the Mobile Broadband Age where people have high-speed access from a mobile device that includes rich video capability. Aiming for anything less than that is like saying we want to move from records to eight-track tapes in the age of downloads.

There has been a big shift from searching the Web for text-based information to adding video content and social networks that mix all of this content together. Access for this type of content has to be capable from handheld devices and not just desktop or laptop computers.

Going the extra mile in development of network architecture and applying technology to enterprises has always been a strategic directive from my standpoint.

My philosophy has always been you have to spend money to make money. Unfortunately, most executives would rather cut corners or not even undertake a major technology upgrade for their organization. That is very shortsighted in light of what is being generated worldwide.

Being on a cutting-edge project and creating something no one else has is a great endeavor. Those endeavors are probably the best investment a public or private organization can undertake.

Sprint’s Xohm WiMAX service looks to be very promising and was discussed by its CTO (Barry West) at one of the discussions. They have partnered with Motorola and Nokia to offer a total solution for users who want both mobility and broadband. This is an endeavor they are currently working on and have committed to offer in many markets by next year.

Worthwhile Exhibits

Many of the exhibitors at the trade show had some interesting products and services that will have traction in the industry. You can tell the wireless services are behind in the U.S. because products like the handheld, folding Samsung Butterfly (SPH-P9000) are available in Korea today but are not yet available in the U.S.

It has a decent-sized video monitor as well as a keyboard. It is WiMAX enabled and has Bluetooth, a camera and a miniature Windows XP computer. It is the second device on this video. Simply put, the Butterfly will obsolete the Treo, Blackberry and other devices with a miniature keyboard.

Carlinism: Just as one course in first aid doesn’t make you a brain surgeon, one course in networks or a certificate doesn’t make you a network infrastructure consultant.


Jim Carlini will be speaking at Rural TeleCon ’07 in
Springfield, Ill. from Oct. 14 to 17 on intelligent business campuses.

He will also lead a half-day seminar on the same topic at the Building Industry
Consulting Services International’s winter conference from Jan. 14 to 17, 2008 in Orlando.


Check out Carlini’s blog at CarlinisComments.com.


James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He is also president of Carlini & Associates. Carlini can be reached at james.carlini@sbcglobal.net or 773-370-1888.
Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

Copyright 2007 Jim Carlini


NBC Universal To Serve As CES’ First Official Broadcast Partner And Showcase Multi-Platform Content

New content developments from major players in the entertainment industry will connect with the latest distribution platforms at the 2008 International CES®, making CES the global hub for all that’s new in digital entertainment. The 2008 International CES, the world’s largest tradeshow for consumer technology, returns to Las Vegas, January 7-10, 2008.

As CES’ first-ever “Official Broadcast Partner,” select NBC Universal broadcast and cable entities will be broadcasting live from the CES exhibition floor, covering the many exciting product debuts and special events.  In addition, NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies, will debut an interactive and multi-faceted show floor exhibition at CES, highlighting the wide range of digital programming produced by its television, cable and motion picture properties. 

“The collaborative relationship between consumer technology and the content industry remains stronger than ever, as consumers crave their content and entertainment across multiple platforms, whether it’s in the living room, in the car or on the go,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO for the Consumer Electronics Association®, owner and producer of the International CES. “With major content exhibitors, a keynote address from Comcast’s Brian Roberts, Digital Hollywood and dozens of other educational conference sessions and several exciting content attractions, the 2008 International CES is the year’s must-attend event for Hollywood and the content community.”

"For over eighty years, NBC Universal's powerful storytelling has drawn consumers to the latest and greatest technologies and devices, from radio to television and cable to broadband and mobile," said Beth Comstock, President, NBC Universal Integrated Media. "We are proud to serve as the first-ever broadcast partner for the International CES, the world's premier consumer technology tradeshow, allowing us to showcase how powerful the partnership between quality content and consumer electronics can be."

Also at the 2008 CES, the Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards will take place for the second year, honoring achievements in two areas: Science & Technology for Television, which includes broadcast, cable and satellite distribution and Advanced Media Technology, which includes interactive television, gaming technology, the Internet, cell phones, private networks and personal media players.

“It has never been more clear that exploding demand for high quality content, of all kinds, on all platforms, is a key factor driving the unprecedented growth in consumer electronics today, " said Mark Lukasiewicz, Vice President of Digital Media for NBC News and one of NBCU's project leaders at CES. "Our presence on the CES show floor this year gives us a unique opportunity to show the CE industry the rich content that NBCU has to offer worldwide, and to cover this pivotal industry event for consumer and business audiences on all our platforms.”

This year’s International CES will house more than 175 conference sessions, including various sessions focused on the content and entertainment industry. CES attendees will hear from top industry professionals on emerging trends focused on the latest developments in the content market.
Conference sessions with a focus on content and entertainment include:

  • Hollywood and the Digital Consumer: How Technology, Content and Services Establish the Next Level of Consumer Entertainment Experience Part of the Digital Hollywood Partner Program, attendees will learn about the entertainment industry’s next "golden age" of production, and gain insight into how the industry is anticipating and responding to consumer needs in an on-demand, fully integrated world of television, film and gaming.
  • All Video All the Time: Broadband, IPTV, DVD and Mobile – In this Digital Hollywood session, attendees will hear predictions from industry experts on the future of IP delivery and its impact on the film industry.
  • Movies, TV and Video for Mobile: Original Entertainment & Information Programming Jump-Starts the Revolution – As consumers worldwide begin tuning into a mobile video universe, attendees will learn about the challenges facing the transformation of the communications world.

For more news on the 2008 International CES before, during and after the show, including information on CES exhibitors, conference sessions and TechZones, visit www.CESweb.org.

Note to Journalists:
General press and analyst registration, as well as detailed press conference information, is available at www.CESweb.org. Journalists are encouraged to arrive in Las Vegas by Saturday, January 5, to take advantage of all the CES press events, including CES Unveiled from 4-7 p.m. on January 5.


New MetroScope™ Carrier Ethernet Analyzer Reduces Deployment Costs For Service Providers Rolling Out Differentiated Services

Portable analysis and troubleshooting tool with unique LinkReflector far-end device helps carriers reduce CapEx costs up to 40% over competing solutions

Fluke Networks, provider of innovative Network SuperVision Solutions™ for the testing, monitoring and analysis of enterprise and telecommunications networks, today announced the availability of MetroScope™ carrier Ethernet analyzer.  This new portable analysis and troubleshooting tool offers savings of up to 40% for service providers deploying carrier Ethernet services.  MetroScope’s cost savings are provided through a unique, low-cost, gigabit Link Reflector that allows end-to-end RFC 2544, jitter, and bit-error-rate (BERT) testing without a second MetroScope at the far end of the link.

New far-end device offers testing alternatives
MetroScope includes a first-to-market, low cost, gigabit LinkReflector remote tester that lets carriers perform complete SLA testing with full control from one end of the link. This offers carriers several testing alternatives.  Carriers can deploy multiple far-end devices on complex networks for a fraction of the cost of existing solutions.  They can leave reflectors at customer sites or points-of-presence (POPs), ready for testing when needed.  Alternatively, carriers can use the MetroScope as a centralized tester, deploying technicians with LinkReflectors.  In addition to working with the MetroScope to qualify links, the LinkReflector offers powerful troubleshooting functionality for Ethernet links.  All of these testing alternatives offer improved test results while reducing costs.

“Fluke Networks helps carriers achieve two critical business needs: migrating from legacy to next generation services, and implementing process improvement solutions that improve productivity and lower operating costs ”, said Ed Sztuka, Vice President for Fluke Networks’ Communication Service Provider business. “MetroScope helps with both.”

MetroScope lets carriers define custom tests to demonstrate compliance with service level agreements (SLAs) associated with new, differentiated service offerings.  MetroScope also conforms with testing standards, including RFC 2544.  By offering carriers a low-cost means of proving SLA and standards compliance, MetroScope addresses two of the biggest hurdles carriers face with carrier Ethernet deployment.

Experience in network testing applied to carrier Ethernet
MetroScope takes advantage of more than a decade of Fluke Networks IP expertise to a battery of in-depth IP tests including, traffic monitoring, VLAN discovery and monitoring, SNMP monitoring, and TraceSwitch Route™.  High-accuracy jitter measurements let carriers certify Ethernet links for VoIP and IPTV delivery.

MetroScope can easily be carried in one hand, but it is also designed with web-based remote control.  Used remotely, a technician at the customer site can consult with remote experts within the organization and resolve complex problems. This not only saves money by putting expert knowledge closer to the source of the problem with less travel cost, but solves the customer’s problem faster.

Product availability
The new MetroScope Service Provider Assistant is available for immediate delivery from Fluke Networks carrier sales channels worldwide.  More details can be found at www.flukenetworks.com/metroscope.

www.flukenetworks.com


OptiView Integrated Network Analyzer

Fluke Networks, provider of innovative Network SuperVision Solutions™ for the testing, monitoring and analysis of enterprise and telecommunications networks, today announced major new capabilities for its OptiView Series III Integrated Network Analyzer.  This market leading, portable monitoring and troubleshooting tool now offers network engineers a new application troubleshooting expert option that dramatically reduces time to problem identification.

Users can now see new views of network traffic, including round trip network latency, plus the response time of the far end server.  Traffic data is presented via a new graphical transactions chart, presenting results in an intuitive, visual format.  This makes identifying the true nature of a problem much easier to see and understand.  The transactions chart includes drill-down capability, providing the fastest, simplest means of capturing packet level detail.

“Our customers tell us they have to constantly prove that application problems are not network problems,” said Dan Klimke, Fluke Networks Marketing Manager for Portable Network Analysis.  “They need to provide evidence to other groups within IT showing where the real source of the problem resides. The new Application Troubleshooting Expert gives them that proof.”

Network documentation without manual labor Also new to the OptiView Series III Integrated Network Analyzer is OptiView Reporter, which turns automated network discovery into complete network documentation using Visio based mapping.  This greatly simplifies and reduces the time to complete documentation tasks, which used to take weeks of manual labor, to a matter of minutes.

Increased VLAN visibility

The OptiView Series III Integrated Network Analyzer can now see all VLANs on the network by analyzing all VLAN tagged traffic.  This helps in identifying and resolving VLAN configuration questions, and balancing traffic loads between VLANS. With the deployment of VoIP VLANs all the way to the desktop, ensuring correct configurations is vital for voice quality.  This increased VLAN visibility helps users manage their network more efficiently, saving both money and time.

The OptiView Series III Integrated Network Analyzer supports four primary IT initiatives:

• Deploying new technologies and applications

• Managing and validating infrastructure changes

• Solving network and application performance issues

• Securing the network from internal threats

This is accomplished by using extensive discovery capabilities and providing visibility into every piece of hardware, application  and connection on the network. 

Product availability

The new application troubleshooting expert option for the OptiView Series III Integrated Network Analyzer is available for immediately from Fluke Networks channel partners worldwide.  Upgrade details for existing Integrated Network Analyzer owners can be found at www.flukenetworks.com/optiview

www.flukenetworks.com


Graybar Awarded New General Services Administration contract

Company will provide more than 28,000 products through MRO Schedule 51V

Graybar, a leading distributor of communications and electrical products and related supply chain management and logistics services, has been awarded a new, five-year General Services Administration (GSA) contract. 

The MRO Schedule 51V Hardware Superstore Contract GS-21F-0003U opens the door for government buyers to purchase from Graybar more than 28,000 products from 49 suppliers for their electrical, lighting, power management, safety, plumbing and other MRO needs.

"Government customers face the challenge of improving operational efficiencies and procuring more material – all within compressed time frames and with limited resources,” commented Graybar Senior Vice President – Sales and Distribution Dennis DeSousa. “This contract win is the result of Graybar’s strategic investment in serving government customers that includes specialized sales and service support, an expanded product offering and advanced e-business tools.”

In combination with Graybar’s communications and data products contract, GSA IT Schedule 70 Contract GS-35F-0374M, this new agreement gives government organizations access to a wide breadth and depth of products from Graybar’s 230 U.S. stocking locations.

The U.S. Department of Defense, federal agencies such as FEMA, NASA, and the FBI, and authorized government contractors are among the organizations that may purchase through the GSA contracts.

# # #

About Graybar
Graybar, a Fortune 500 corporation and one of the largest employee-owned companies in North America, is a leader in the distribution of high quality electrical, telecommunications and networking products, and specializes in related supply chain management and logistics services.  Through its network of more than 250 North American distribution facilities, it stocks and sells products from thousands of manufacturers, serving as the vital link to hundreds of thousands of customers.  For more information, visit http://graybar.com
or call 1-800-GRAYBAR.


Graybar Opens In Collinsville, Ill.

$5-billion distribution leader expands its presence in the bi-state area with 12th location

Graybar, a leading distributor of electrical and communications products and related supply chain management and logistics services, has opened a 10,000-sq.-ft. distribution facility in Collinsville, Ill.  An open house featuring electrical, comm/data and security solutions will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 3, to mark the official opening.

With the addition of this facility, the company now has 12 locations throughout Missouri and Illinois, including regional distribution centers in Joliet, Ill., and Springfield, Mo. 

Located at 2800 Eastport Plaza Drive near the intersection of Interstate 255 and Horseshoe Lake Road, the branch inventory is backed by a $4.5 million inventory in the St. Louis distribution center and a $10 million inventory in the Springfield, Mo., regional distribution center.  Graybar Collinsville features a counter operation and one-hour will-call service Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with after-normal-business-hours emergency service as needed.  The phone number is (618) 343-1745. 

Leading Graybar Collinsville is Branch Manager Tim Schaeffer.  He and his staff have more than 37 combined years with the company and 61 years of industry experience.  Staff members include John Biermann, supervisor counter sales, Amy Brooks, senior counter sales representative, and Don Wessel, material handler.

“With the opening of our new location, Graybar can better serve the growing Collinsville community,” said Branch Manager Tim Schaeffer.  “We are ready to help our customers power and network their facilities, offices and housing with speed, intelligence and efficiency.”


Harger’s Signal Reference Grids

Harger Lightning & Grounding proudly introduces their Signal Reference Grids (SRG). Their SRG is a low impedance network of conductors, which establish an equipotential plane for high frequency, low voltage digital signals. Proper grounding and bonding of sensitive electronic systems including computer installations require careful consideration of all frequencies. Recommendations on Harger Signal Reference Grids are in full agreement with IEEE Std. 1100-2005, IEEE Recommended Practice for Powering and Grounding Sensitive Electronic Equipment. The flat strip SRG is the highest performance and most economical solution to high frequency grounding for a facility with a new raised floor installation. For more information or to request your free copy of the SRG brochure, contact our Sales Department at 800-842-7437 or email at www.hargersales@harger.com.

Harger Lightning & Grounding is a leading manufacturer of lightning protection and grounding equipment, as well as exothermic welding materials for the communications and electrical industries. Harger also provides design and engineering services and specializes in offering total systems solutions for their customers. Let Harger apply its systemic approach to total system protection to provide you the most cost effective solution to protect your personnel and equipment against the effects of electrical transients. hargersales@harger.com


HellermannTyton Is Regonized As "Supplier Of The Year" By The Genie Group

HellermannTyton, a global manufacturer of cable management, identification and network solutions, announces that the electronic marketing organization Genie Group Inc. has acknowledged HellermannTyton as "Supplier of the Year" at their annual conference August 26-28th in Franklin, TN. 

This award recognizes outstanding customer service and field support, innovative products, on-time delivery and exceptional partnership policies.  "We were very pleased to acknowledge HellermannTyton's standards of excellence with the 2007 Supplier of the Year award", remarked Becky Max, President of the Genie Group. "Since the beginning of our business partnership, they've been with us every step of the way. 

The award is voted on by the membership, so HellermannTyton is held in high regard throughout our entire organization."  The Genie Group was founded in 1984 and has 78 members with over 175 branch locations. Genie provides independent distributors opportunities to enhance revenues and compete successfully in the market place, while presenting premier suppliers with additional distribution avenues and solutions.

Dan Martin, Vice President of Sales for HellermannTyton, comments, "We are honored to receive this award.  At HellermannTyton, we strive to provide customers with excellent support and service, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with the Genie Group." http://www.hellermanntyton.us/.


Light Brigade To Coordinate FTTx Resource Center At OFC/NFOEC 2008

The Light Brigade, Inc., the world’s leading provider of fiber-optic training and training resources, has announced that they will again coordinate the FTTx Resource and Demonstration Center at the upcoming Optical Fiber Conference/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference. OFC/NFOEC 2008 will take place from February 24-28, 2008 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.

The FTTx Resource Center will feature live demonstrations, displays, and educational mini-sessions from a wide variety of organizations and manufacturers involved with every aspect of FTTx from components to systems. Visitors can meet with industry experts and manufacturers, attend live demonstrations, view products, or browse through related literature.

The Light Brigade will be on-site to demonstrate the company's world-class line of fiber optic training options, FTTx/passive optical networks computer-based training (CBT) module and training DVDs. Staff members will be available to discuss FTTx products, applications, standards and technology.

In September 2007, The Light Brigade partnered with Nexus Media Communications, Ltd. to provide the second annual FTTx Resource Centre at the European Conference on Optical Communications (ECOC), held in Berlin, Germany. The Centre featured 45 participating companies and nine live FTTx demonstrations.

Company Information

Since 1987 The Light Brigade has instructed over 30,000 attendees in its public and custom classes. The company offers courses nationwide covering basic fiber optic design, maintenance and testing plus advanced courses such as FTTx, DWDM, SONET/SDH, and fiber characterization (PMD/CD), and ITS. The Light Brigade produces educational DVDs, videos, CDs, and a self-paced FTTx computerized training module. The Light Brigade's training materials are non-vendor specific. www.lightbrigade.com


McCormick’s New V9.0 Reveals A New Face

“If you haven’t seen McCormick lately, you haven’t seen McCormick.” That’s the company’s new slogan – and the new Version 9.0 of its estimating software delivers on the promise.

            Among numerous upgrades and enhancements in V9.0 are:

  • Modifications to the Proposal Sheet included in the software enable contractors to take data directly from an estimate and put it in a proposal to be sent to a client – along with job notes, documents, photographs, and more.
  • A unique capability on NetPricerTM and McCormick. Estimators can see material prices – updated instantly – from multiple vendors on one screen. McCormick offers this combination of the ability to see real-time prices AND side-by-side comparison.
  • Sharing information – McCormick’s new software includes the capability to share information with increased number of construction accounting programs, making the contractor’s job easier.

            Those are only some of the V9.0 enhancements, all made with McCormick’s usual focus on improving productivity. The goal: To help electrical and automated building systems contractors produce faster estimates with increased accuracy – allowing more time for estimator creativity.: www.mccormicksys.com


NAHB T Launch National Green Building Program At International Builder’s Show

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) announced that it will launch the much-anticipated NAHB National Green Building Program Feb. 14 at the 2008 NAHB International Builders' Show in Orlando. The program launch will be the highlight of a day of green-themed activities at the convention, which last year attracted more than 100,000 building industry professionals.

The national initiative will link dozens of successful state and local green building programs with a universal online certification tool, national registry of green homes and green builders, and a wealth of educational tools and resources for home builders and home buyers. To date, about 100,000 green homes have been built through programs run or supported by local building associations around the country.

"We are bringing green building into the mainstream," said NAHB President Brian Catalde, a home builder in Southern California. "The NAHB National Green Building Program isn't a new way to build green. However, it's a low-cost administrative and certification system that will help keep green affordable - and that's the key to market acceptance. Where better to announce it than during the largest trade show of its kind in the world?"

In addition to the national program, NAHB's Certified Green Professional designation will debut at the 2008 show as well as significantly enhanced educational offerings for green builders, developers and remodelers.  The Certified Green Professional designation is awarded after 24 hours of course work and requires regular additional continuing education credits. 

New survey data backs up the need for the new program. The vast majority of Americans are willing to pay more for a green home - as long as lawmakers are willing to offer incentives or rebates to help defray the extra costs, said the results of a survey conducted last week by the firm Public Opinion Strategies for the National Association of Home Builders.

The survey of registered voters showed that 78 percent of respondents would be more inclined to purchase a green home "if the government offered incentives or rebates," according to the results.

"In fact, 44 percent of respondents say they would be much more inclined to buy a green home if incentives were available," said Neil Newhouse, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies.  "That's a pretty strong indication of the power of state and federal support for energy and resource efficiency in new homes."

"This survey strengthens our resolve to continue to work with environmental advocates and encourage Congress to extend the Energy Efficiency Tax Credit," said Catalde.

Such findings also corresponded with the results from another survey question asking how much respondents would be willing to pay for a green home. Among those who said they'd be prepared to pay more for a home with green features, fully 74 percent said they'd be willing to pay no more than an additional 10 percent, highlighting the need to keep green building affordable.

"NAHB has been in the forefront of the green building movement, ensuring that our customers, America's home buyers, have choices. They prefer to spend money on green features, not excessive fees. That's the home buyer that the NAHB National Green Building Program is designed to benefit," Catalde said.


New Safety Feature in Coleman Cable Metal Halide Temporary Lighting Products

Coleman Cable, Inc. (Nasdaq: CCIX) recently introduced added safety protection for its high-performance Luma-Site® metal halide temporary lighting line used in commercial, industrial and large residential construction projects. The new safety feature consists of a completely enclosed 10” pyramid-shaped wire guard that protects job site workers and the light’s high-powered 400W bulb from accidental contact. The Luma-Site units, suitable for damp locations, are UL/cUL and CSA Listed, as well as OSHA and NEC 2005 compliant.
 
The Luma-Site fixture installs quickly and easily with a spring-loaded hanger and quick plug-in 6-ft 15 amp cord. Its 400W bulb lasts over 20,000 hours and emits up to 36,000 initial lumens. These re-usable metal halide temporary lights from Coleman Cable emit more light and use less energy than traditional stringlights. In addition, the open-air, quad-tap ballast, with two knock-outs, allows for hard-wiring applications.
 
“At Coleman Cable, we continue to drive product innovations that meet the changing needs of the market for performance and safety,” said Tom McCollum product manager at Coleman Cable, Inc. “The Luma-Site metal halide temporary lighting fixture is no exception. Our aim is to protect workers and equipment while providing the highest performance lighting products available.” www.colemancable.com
 


Scte Foundation Awards Two Major Grants

The SCTE Foundation is pleased to announce today that it recently bestowed major grants upon a pair of Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) members who are also Cox Communications colleagues in support of each individual’s educational pursuits.

Chris Tate, a technical trainer for Cox in Oklahoma City, has received a grant of approximately $12,000. The funds will enable Tate to achieve his bachelor of science in organizational leadership from Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Okla., later this year.

Tate’s co-worker, Chris Gutel, who is also a technical trainer with Cox in Oklahoma City, has received a grant of approximately $3,500. With the help of this disbursement, Gutel is looking to achieve a bachelor’s in networking management. Gutel, like Tate, is enrolled at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Okla.

The SCTE Foundation’s primary purpose is to provide expanded educational opportunities for SCTE members to assist them in accomplishing their professional development goals.

The SCTE Foundation Board of Directors recently approved both Tate and Gutel’s applications for major grants following preliminary approvals by the Foundation’s Major Grants Subcommittee and the Foundation’s Awards Committee.

Complete details about the SCTE Foundation, including the grant and scholarship application, are available at www.scte.org by clicking on the About Us section of the website.


Mike Holt's Code Forum

Top 30 New Topics - September 2007

Another great resource from Mike Holt Enterprises! The following is a list of the top 30 topics discussed on our code forum in the past month. Simply click on any topic that interests you to read or join in the discussion. If you’re not already registered as a code forum member, click here to sign up now!

*       1: $500.00 ground rod with 133 replies in the Electrical Contracting and Estimating/Management forum

*       2: Why ECs shouldn't do voice and data wiring. with 116 replies in the Low Voltage and Limited Energy forum

*       3: Whats your Idea for Installing Under Cabinet Lighting? with 95 replies in the NEC forum

*       4: Wiring recptcl & switch technique -- legal? with 86 replies in the NEC forum

*       5: disconnect required?? with 83 replies in the NEC forum

*       6: Spot the violation(s) with 79 replies in the NEC forum

*       7: Are all Elctricians Insane? with 79 replies in the Safety forum

*       8: amps on h2o line with 78 replies in the Grounding versus Bonding forum

*       9: Working Clearance with 67 replies in the NEC forum

*       10: 210.52 (f) with 61 replies in the NEC forum

*       11: red devil...? with 60 replies in the NEC forum

*       12: detached garage with 59 replies in the NEC forum

*       13: Spot the violation, Part III with 55 replies in the NEC forum

*       14: Here's a New One on Me with 55 replies in the Electrical Contracting and Estimating/Management forum

*       15: 12 gauge to the room, 14 for lights and 3-way with 52 replies in the NEC forum

*       16: Ceiling fan Down-rod with 51 replies in the NEC forum

*       17: Why SABC in Dining Rooms? with 50 replies in the NEC forum

*       18: Range/Microwave Circuit with 50 replies in the NEC forum

*       19: pipe vs. romex??? with 49 replies in the Safety forum

*       20: testing fuses with a wiggy with 48 replies in the NEC forum

*       21: Taping Or Coloring White Wire with 48 replies in the NEC forum

*       22: Using SER (Or a Pipe Guys Nightmare) with 48 replies in the NEC forum

*       23: Kidde i2060 and KN-COSM-IB with 45 replies in the Electrical Contracting and Estimating/Management forum

*       24: Under cabinet lights with 44 replies in the Electrical Contracting and Estimating/Management forum

*       25: Grounding with 43 replies in the Grounding versus Bonding forum

*       26: Save me $0.40 (Code question) with 42 replies in the NEC forum

*       27: Lets see... with 42 replies in the NEC forum

*       28: Inspector requires AFCI with 42 replies in the NEC forum

*       29: ‘Bid Chiseling’ and ‘Bid Shopping’ with 41 replies in the Electrical Contracting and Estimating/Management forum

*       30: Derating a B/C after a conduit run -- Necessary? with 40 replies in the NEC forum

www.MikeHolt.com


Nominations Open For NAED Annual Awards

Submission Deadline is Dec. 10 for Recognition of Outstanding Companies, Individuals  

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) announces is inviting nominations for the association's top honors, the NAED Annual Awards. The awards will be presented at NAED's 2008 National Electrical Leadership Summit, May 17-21, 2008 in San Francisco.

The NAED Annual Awards recognize the companies and individuals who have made significant contributions to the electrical industry and NAED. Submissions for the 2008 awards are due by Dec. 10, 2007. Nominations for the following awards will be accepted:

  • Arthur W. Hooper Achievement Award—presented to an individual who has had an exceptional career in distribution that covers the span of many years.
  • Distributor Distinguished Service Award—recognizing a distributor for outstanding and dedicated service to NAED and the electrical distribution industry.
  • Associate Service Award—given to an individual associated with an electrical manufacturing firm, who has consistently been active in promoting and supporting the tenets and goals of NAED.
  • Industry Award of Merit—honoring an associate company that has been exceptionally active in promoting, supporting and/or improving the electrical distribution channel.

To submit a nomination, go to www.naed.org and download the award nomination form. NAED's Web site also lists additional award criteria as well. After the nominations are received, NAED's Awards Committee will review the submissions and decide on the final award winners. For more information, contact Sandy Hanebrink at 888-791-2512 or shanebrink@naed.org.

NAED is the trade association for the $70+ billion electrical distribution industry. Through networking, education, research, and benchmarking, NAED helps electrical distributors increase profitability and improve the channel. NAED's membership represents approximately 4,100 locations internationally.

http://www.naed.org


Coleman Cable Converts All Its Road Power® Battery Cables to Maximum Energy™ Lead-Free Models

Coleman Cable, Inc. (Nasdaq: CCIX) recently announced the complete removal of lead and other hazardous materials from its Road Power line of universal battery cables. The lead-free, RoHS Compliant battery cables, now sold under the Maximum Energy™ brand name, also provide superior starting power for car, truck, or marine applications when compared to leaded models.
 
Maximum Energy Battery Cables are constructed with tin-plated brass terminals that supply the highest-level of corrosion protection and without the dangerous threat of lead contamination. The cable jacket is manufactured from high temperature PVC designed to resist water, oil, and chemicals. These cables feature full gauge stranded copper that extends through the entire length of the flattened lug insuring complete capacity conductivity.
 
David Smith, Coleman Cable National Sales Manager, commented about the line, “These cables are a win-win-win situation for everyone.  We’ve removed lead from the product, improved its performance, and priced them very competitively!”
 
Maximum Energy Battery Cables are available in 6, 4, or 2 gauges. Lengths vary from 10 inches to 78 inches, jacket colors include black or red, and some models feature a single or dual lead wire. These cables are available in top post, side post, switch to starter, and lawn & garden models. www.colemancable


Entrust(tm) Line Interactive UPS Systems introduced Entrust UPS

Entrust(tm) Line Interactive UPS Systems introduced Entrust UPS products are designed to support desktop/laptop workstations, small business phone systems, VoIP handsets, DVRs, cameras and network devices

Cost-conscious users can now get the full features of larger, more expensive uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) with the compact, feature rich, Minuteman Entrust(tm) Line Interactive series. It has the features necessary to fully protect valuable and power-sensitive equipment and provides voltage regulation, spike and surge protection and battery backup.

Packed with features typically found only in higher-priced UPS products, the Entrust Line Interactive UPS series is available in four sizes:

1.      ETR500 UPS rated at 500VA/300W - 8A

2.      ETR700 UPS rated at 700VA/420W - 10A

3.      ETR1000 UPS rated at 1000VA/600W - 12A

4.      ETR1500 UPS rated at 1500VA/900W - 12A

Each unit has four outlets that provide backup battery support along with spike and surge protection. There are an additional four spike and surge protected outlets for accessory devices that don't require battery support.

In addition, two of the outlets are specifically spaced to support equipment with transformer blocks.

The small, uniquely designed footprint of the Entrust UPS is ideal for placement on or under a desk. All models in the series can also be installed vertically on a shelf in a rack or cabinet.

Additionally, Entrust UPS products come with the award-winning service and support capabilities offered by Para Systems/Minuteman UPS. This includes a three-year limited warranty (two-years on the battery), and a $75,000 Platinum Protection Plan (U.S.A. and Canada only).

Entrust Features

·       USB Communications - HID compliant USB communication that is

automatically recognized by all Windows(r) software versions and requires no special drivers.

·       Buck/Boost Voltage Regulation - Provides a stable AC source during

less than optimal power conditions without constant use of internal batteries.

·       Slim-line Profile - Provides users with the ability to install the

Entrust UPS in a variety of settings (rack or floor, desktop, etc.).

·       RoHS Compliant - Compliant with European Union's directive on the

reduction of hazardous substances (RoHS) in electronic equipment.

·       SentryPlus(tm) Software - SentryPlus auto-shutdown and monitoring

software is included with every unit. No special downloads or coupons are required.

·       Larger Load Capacities - Para Systems has increased the capacities

of all models in the Entrust UPS line, allowing the units to support larger power requirements.

Entrust Line Interactive UPS products have already started shipping to customers and are priced to sell to end users in the $109 to $300 range.

For over 25 years, Para Systems/Minuteman UPS has provided quality power products and offers excellent personalized service and direct human response to all service and support calls.  Minuteman products pass extensive quality control testing before being shipped to customers.

[Photos of the new Entrust Line Interactive UPS are available at our

website: www.minutemanups.com/media or contact Bob Martin at 972.446.7363 ext. 240 or bmartin@minutemanups.com] Background Para Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of power technologies including the Minuteman® unninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) for mission-critical equipment protection such as computers, telecommunications systems, security systems and Internet devices.  Minuteman® UPS products range from 400VA standby units to true sine wave, line interactive, and on-line models rated up to 10kVA.

Para Systems provides SentryPlus(tm) remote power and network management controller software for all popular operating systems including Microsoft® Windows®, Novell, Unix, and Linux. Para Systems also sells power distribution units (PDU), power management software, keyboard-video-mouse

(KVM) systems and surge suppressors.

Additional corporate and product information is available at the Company's website www.minutemanups.com. A free UPS sizing and selection tool is available at www.sizemyups.com that can determine which Minuteman® UPS units can best meet your application's power protection needs.  The website www.sizemypdu.com can determine which PDU is the appropriate product and www.comparemyups.com can compare UPS features to competitive products.

Minuteman® UPS and Minuteman Platinum Protection Plan are registered trademarks and Entrust and SentryPlus are trademarks of Para Systems, Inc.

Other trademarks are registered by their respective companies.


Punitive Phase Begins In DuPont Lawsuit

For decades DuPont deliberately misled people in and around the small town of Spelter about threats that a high-polluting zinc smelting plant posed to their health, lawyers argued Tuesday in Harrison County Circuit Court.

In the final phase of a liability and medical monitoring trial, plaintiff attorney Mike Papantonio said the chemical giant showed "wanton, reckless disregard" for the safety of its neighbors, who should now be awarded punitive damages.

"We're not talking about something that might hurt you," he argued. "We're talking about something they know will hurt you."

DuPont's own documents prove it knew, since 1980 if not earlier, that it had a problem but chose to do nothing. The plan, he argued, was to delay a cleanup for as long as possible to save money.

But DuPont attorney Dave Thomas said jurors have punished DuPont enough during earlier phases of the trial, and the company's conduct does not warrant more.

"It's one thing to conclude DuPont is responsible for these damages. It's another to determine they should pay punitive damages," Thomas said. "DuPont does not deserve to be punished here."

Thomas argued DuPont did the right thing by working with state regulators after 2001 to demolish factory buildings and clean up a 115-acre waste pile by covering it with a plastic cap and fresh soil.

"These kinds of activities should be encouraged, not punished," Thomas said.

He pointed out that DuPont operated the plant for less than 25 percent of its 90-year history yet is responsible for 100 of the damage awards and other costs.

"DuPont stepped up and took responsibility for the cost of remediating this site," he said. "... DuPont didn't skip town."

Ten residents of Spelter filed the class-action lawsuit against DuPont in 2004.

On Monday, the Harrison County jury decided the Delaware-based chemical giant should pay about $55.5 million for property cleanup. That figure includes nearly $27.7 million for houses, $2.8 million for mobile homes, slightly more than $1 million for commercial property and $18.4 million for managing the cleanup. The soil remediation cost was set at nearly $5.7 million.

Papantonio said Monday's award is "not even a blip on their screen."

He urged jurors to send a message to DuPont that its disregard for human safety will not be tolerated. He also recommended the award be sizable, noting DuPont makes $300 million a month in profits.

Spelter residents won the first phase of their case Oct. 1, when jurors found DuPont liable for and negligent in creating the waste site. The 11-member jury also found that DuPont created a public and private nuisance and that its pollution trespassed onto private property.

In the second phase of the lawsuit, the jury required DuPont to provide medical monitoring for 40 years for about 7,000 people who were exposed to arsenic, cadmium and lead contamination from the former smelter site. The medical monitoring is to include voluntary testing for lung, skin, stomach, bladder and kidney cancer, as well as for kidney function, cognitive problems and lead poisoning. Lead is not a carcinogen but can cause such problems as spontaneous abortions, low birth weight, memory and learning problems, fragile bones and cardiovascular disease.

A Harrison Circuit Court judge will determine how the plan will be set up.

The lawsuit was filed against DuPont and New York-based T.L. Diamond & Co., which ran the plant from 1975 to 2001, when regulators recommended the site be declared an imminent and substantial threat to public health.

DuPont has been involved with the property since 1899 when it bought the land for a gunpowder mill. The company reassumed ownership when the zinc plant closed.

While Diamond is a defendant, the company isn't actively participating in the trial. The judge in the case ruled previously that DuPont is responsible for Diamond's conduct because of the 2001 sales agreement.


Wesco At Nine Months: $4.5 billion In Sales

Wesco International’s Q3 ended on Sept. 30 and, as the company reported last week, it’s been a pretty good year. Sales at the nine-month period were $4.51 billion, up 14.4% over year-earlier results. Sales in the most recent quarter were $1.55 billion, up 15.1% over 2006’s Q3.

“We further improved our position as a low-cost operator,” said Stephen Van Oss, senior vice president/CFO, “and recorded our best-ever SG&A expense ratio for our core operations.”

Q3 gross margins were 20.3%, vs. 20.5% one year ago. For the nine-month period, margins came in at 20.4%, vs. 20.3% in the same period in 2006.

Note that the sales increase from last year’s Q3 was $203 million. Of that, the company said, sales from recent acquisitions contributed $183 million. Without the contribution of those acquired companies, then, Wesco’s sales increase would have been 1.5%. The same applied to the first three quarters: Sales increase $569 million year over year, of which the company said $524 million was the result of acquisitions added recently—without which Wesco’s nine-month increase would have been 1.14%.

Going forward, Wesco will buy back $400 million in stock, shrinking the number of shares outstanding. That’s on top of what’s already happened in 2007—6.4 million shares bought back.

From Roy Haley, chairman/CEO: “We have added personnel to a variety of longer-term sales and marketing initiatives, and these programs are beginning to yield positive results. We are early in this cycle of investment in vertical market segment initiatives, and we expect to see new opportunities being converted into higher levels of sales performance over the next several quarters.”

From a “Wall Street” point-of-view, Wesco’s diluted earnings per share are at $3.62 through 2007 thus far, vs. $3.04 in the same period last year. WCC stock closed trading last week at $47.15, up almost 21% from the recent low of $38.98 hit at the close of Sept. 27.

Other news—Wesco was one of three companies identified in a Oct. 1 FORTUNE magazine article that advised readers to “cash in on the rebuilding boom” (General Cable and Greenbrier were the other two). According to the article, “Wesco and its top three competitors account for only 20% of all sales, but Wesco’s aggressive acquisition strategy (29 deals since 1995) has made it the only national player.” That’s what it says. Reason to buy: “The stock looks cheap, trading at just eight times next year’s estimated earnings.”

www.rexelusa.com


Up to Speed - Ethernet goes green

by Mike Bennett and Bruce Nordman

Network-capable IT electronic equipment consumes at least 75 terawatt-hours per year in the United States alone, producing roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide emissions as 12 million cars. In an attempt to reduce that energy consumption, the IEEE has formed a study group to determine the need and feasibility of producing a standard for energy-efficient Ethernet (EEE). The study group envisions developing a protocol to rapidly change speeds during periods of low link utilization in order to reduce energy use.

Lower-speed physical layer devices (PHYs) use less energy than higher-speed PHYs. The group estimates that approximately $300 million per year can be saved through the use of EEE in the United States, assuming existing copper Ethernet devices were replaced with energy-efficient ones.

Changing speeds is not new to Ethernet. The existing Ethernet protocol for changing speeds–auto-negotiation–selects the highest speed in common between link partners. Once the speed has been determined, it cannot be changed without dropping the link.

In contrast, dynamic EEE speed changes should be transparent to upper layers and should happen quickly. Additionally, for EEE to be successful, the frequency of changes and duration at a particular speed must be controlled in such a way that it is non-disruptive. The study group has been exploring mechanisms for speed changes, but the policies to control those changes will be developed by vendors or other standards organizations.

The study group examined developing energy-efficient versions of Ethernet that operate on unshielded twisted-pair cabling and backplanes. The key question to be answered is how fast does transition time (i.e., the transition between speeds) need to be?

The group used one millisecond as a starting point to study the problem. Initial tests, simulating changes from a lower speed to 10GBASE-T as the worst case, suggested a millisecond was too aggressive and the transition time would have to be in the order of tens of milliseconds. Concern that the longer transition time would be noticeable in latency-sensitive applications motivated more in-depth study of the problem.

There are two mechanisms under consideration for EEE twisted-pair PHYs. The “fast start” mechanism is based on existing PHYs and would require minimal changes. Reduction of transition time would come from optimizing the training time–the period when the master and slave link partners exchange information about their states and link characteristics. Additional experiments simulating the low-to-high worst-case speed change suggest transition times in the order of a few milliseconds are feasible.

The second mechanism, known as the “subset-PHY,” requires modification of an existing PHY to operate at a lower speed. For example, a 10GBASE-T PHY would be adapted to operate in a gigabit mode by changing the line code, reducing the number of channels and using rate-matching techniques such as zero stuffing. The signaling would remain the same to minimize changes in crosstalk characteristics.

Initial studies of this mechanism suggest transition times in the order of microseconds are feasible; however, more work would be required to produce the standard and new components. The mechanisms under consideration for backplane Ethernet are similar to their twisted-pair counterparts; however, the comprehensive work to develop the standard is just beginning.

The study group has examined the markets in which EEE could be used, as well as the economic and technical feasibility of developing the protocol. In addition to studying the issues related to transition time, the group studied the impact EEE might have on higher layers.

If the IEEE standards associate new standards committee approves the project, the first meeting of the IEEE 802.3az task force will be in November. The focus of the work will shift from feasibility study to determining the technical baseline proposal for the standard. Once this proposal has been accepted by the task force, the process of writing the standard will begin. The estimated completion date for IEEE 802.3az is March 2010.

Bio: Mike Bennett is a senior network engineer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the chairman of the IEEE 802.3 energy-efficient Ethernet study group. Bruce Nordman is a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with more than 20 years of experience in energy use and efficiency in electronics and buildings. For additional information: http://efficientnetworks.lbl.gov/.  

Reprinted with full permission of Communication NEWS – October issue 2007 www.commnews.com


Network Monitoring - Performance Analysis ‘tapped’ In

by Robert Finlay

Effective IT security and performance management relies on visibility. IT departments need visibility of production network data to identify security vulnerabilities and violations, as well as network and application performance. Often, this involves the deployment of analysis devices capable of examining a vast quantity of data traversing critical network links. Intrusion detection, intrusion protection, network monitoring, application monitoring, Web monitoring and protocol analysis are some of the solutions increasingly deployed on the network to ensure IT compliance and performance.

When planning to deploy analysis solutions on the network, two questions should be answered: How will the network data be accessed, and where will the access points be placed? The answer to these questions will often determine the effectiveness and value these solutions provide to IT groups.

There are several techniques that answer the question of network access. Typically, a network-security or performance-analysis device utilizes an in-line hub, a plain switch port, a mirror/SPAN port or an in-line tap. Not all of these techniques, however, are equal.

The use of in-line hubs and plain switch ports are the least-desirable access method for critical-link security and performance analysis. This leaves mirror/SPAN ports or in-line taps as the primary means of network access for IT analysis.

Where security and analysis devices get deployed is the other significant question. There are three locations at the center of performance and security analysis that require planned network access–the network’s edge, the data center and the distribution layer.

A common attribute of these three critical locations is the use of redundant, high-availability network architectures that rely on multiple paths and devices to ensure resiliency and performance. With the need for 100 percent visibility across the multiple links in a trunk, this architecture represents a challenge for security and performance analysis. Deploying multiple security and network-analysis devices on each route is one solution, but this is expensive and can involve complex, or inaccurate synchronization between monitoring solutions.

In-line taps recommended

In-line taps connect between two end-points on the network, typically a switch, router, firewall or server. Once installed, taps provide instant plug-and-play access to the network, with full visibility into link traffic, errors, security threats and applications.

Pre-installed taps on critical network segments are one solution, giving engineers instant access to data they need without configuration risks or contention issues for switch/router resources. Traditional in-line taps are best suited for use with dual-interface analysis devices.

Aggregating in-line taps combine full duplex traffic, or multiple mirror/SPAN ports into a single data stream for use with single interface security and performance-monitoring equipment. Aggregating taps offer a viable new option for analysis solutions originally intended for mirror/SPAN port deployment. Remember that full-duplex Fast Ethernet and gigabit links have data rates of 200 Mbps or 2 Gbps, respectively.

Just like a mirror/SPAN port, aggregation taps can become oversubscribed. While many organizations do not encounter data rates that lead to oversubscription, it is still an issue to consider when planning the use of aggregation taps or mirror/SPAN ports. (Note: Fast Ethernet links are fully supported with an aggregation tap when a gigabit-capable analysis device is monitoring.)

The extension of full-duplex link-aggregation technology allows taps to combine data from multiple links. A dual-link, aggregation in-line tap installs on two links and combines traffic into a single gigabit data stream. For organizations utilizing redundant and asymmetrical network design, this tap provides a single access point for security and performance-analysis visibility across multiple network paths.

Instead of purchasing a security or performance-analysis device for each link on a meshed trunk, an IT department can now spend less on monitoring solutions, while still maintaining full visibility across the critical network fabric. Packet timing issues are also resolved with dual-link aggregation taps since tricky clock synchronization between multiple monitoring devices does not skew packet timestamps.

oversubscription a problem

Link aggregation extends the ROI of network security and performance solutions, but also submits them to greater data rates that can cause overloaded CPU processing. In addition, as a greater number of links are aggregated, the chance of oversubscribing the monitoring ports used by security and performance-analysis devices increases.

Filtering link-aggregation taps resolve these two issues. These taps have line-rate filtering built into their architecture that offloads the processing of extraneous data normally sent to analysis solutions. Filtering aggregation taps allow the user to filter on specific traffic within the tap.

For instance, a tap can be used to block all broadcast and multicast traffic before aggregation, employing a second level of filters specific to each of the four analysis devices attached to the tap. This technique has two major benefits: It eliminates the chance of oversubscription during aggregation and frees up valuable processing cycles with the elimination of irrelevant packets.

In-line models of filtering link-aggregation taps can be used on up to two links, while mirror/SPAN models can process up to four connections. Each model also allows for media conversion and remote configuration within distributed analysis environments. With four monitoring ports on each tap, there are plenty of access points for several IT groups and users.

While modern network architectures make analyzing critical traffic across meshed architectures difficult, the latest generation of multilink aggregation taps eliminates this complexity and reduces the cost of analysis-solution deployment. Data regeneration offered by the latest generation of taps offers greater connectivity options and reduces the contention for data access often found with mirror/SPAN ports.

Finally, new filtering aggregation taps improve the performance of network analysis devices by limiting CPU processing spent on unnecessary packets. IT groups that spend resources on security, application and network analysis will benefit by understanding how the latest generation of taps provide greater visibility with lower overall cost and less complexity.

Bio: Robert Finlay is product manager, network management, for Fluke Networks, Everett, Wash.

Reprinted with full permission of Communication NEWS – October issue 2007 www.commnews.com


Ready For Anything - Company Optimizes Its Future With 10-Gig Deployment

When LBX Co., headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was moving into a new corporate campus, John Chumney, LBX IT manager, faced the task of building a new data center–with a completely new laundry list of communication and data center needs to support the media selections and performance requirements needed for the company’s future growth. High-performance connectivity solutions were at the top of his agenda.

To accommodate its rapidly growing business, LBX purchased nine acres to accommodate an office building, as well as a separate distribution and training campus location. The challenge posed with the construction was not limited to floor plan designs; LBX also had to determine its communication equipment needs and design a data center to support current and future company growth. LBX is a global provider of Link-Belt earthmoving, forestry, scrap and material-handling equipment.

Chumney, who was responsible for the planning and installation of the data center, worked with Bristol Group Construction to design the building, including the size of the new computer room, with computer, printer and telephone connection locations. Following numerous blueprint revisions and internal meetings, LBX chose a final drawing and utilized a bid process for its communication needs.

During this process, Chumney worked with U.S. Voice and Data, and ultimately retained the company for its services. U.S. Voice and Data’s Donnie Colvin, infrastructure division manager, was assigned the project oversight and planning process. Colvin assisted with LBX’s cabling design layout and blueprint creation, and enabled Chumney to ensure the company would meet its communication and data center goals.

The headquarters and remote building floor plans determined the location of system components, including telecommunication closets, spaces and pathways. A key element was the ability to grow into multimedia streaming video capabilities. The final consideration to meet communication and data center needs was the cable choice to support the media selections and performance requirements.

With LBX’s technical requirements identified, Colvin turned to strategic infrastructure partner Mohawk for high-performance cable needs. Since the plans integrated future bandwidth growth, cable choices reviewed included Mohawk’s 6LAN (Category 6 UTP), AdvanceNet (Category 6e UTP) and GigaLAN 10 (augmented Category 6 UTP) products.

10-Gigabit Ethernet selected

Although 6LAN and AdvanceNet offered superior technical characteristics, Mohawk’s GigaLAN 10 was chosen. According to Chumney, “The main reason we chose GigaLAN 10 was for future high-speed (10-Gigabit Ethernet) requirements and to eliminate the need to replace cable in the future.”

GigaLAN 10 provides capacity for LBX’s demanding data center networks requirements–from voice applications to network storage. The Category 6A UTP cable supports 10G BASE-T applications over a full 100-meter channel and provides 750 MHz confirmed stability. The cable’s FlexWeb, combined with a patented fluted jacket construction, isolates cable pairs and offers pair-to-pair balance for superior headroom.

Designed specifically for 10G BASE-T applications, GigaLAN 10 is also fully backward compatible for 100 BASE-T (Fast Ethernet) and 1000 BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet) applications. The cable design exceeds the Category 6a draft-specified component stipulations.

With the cabling selected, U.S Voice and Data provided LBX with communication equipment and an Inter-Tel 5000 communication system. These offered LBX a configuration consisting of tightly integrated presence management, collaboration and messaging tools to enhance employee productivity and mobility.

Inter-Tel 5000 provides full network support and feature transparency for LBX’s multiple locations via existing WAN infrastructures. Inter-Tel’s Unified Communicator software was chosen to provide voice and audio conferencing, Web conferencing, and desktop videoconferencing. The software includes tools to assist LBX with communications management and improve business processes with the LBX call center. The software also allows users to manage the status and forwarding information for their multiple devices, such as office phones, IP phones, SIP devices, cellular phones and wireless devices, as well as personal computers and handhelds.

a detailed network layout

Upon selection of GigaLAN 10 and the Inter-Tel 5000 communication system, Chumney and Colvin established the data center layouts, including required cabinets, drops, outlets and workstations. The backbone was built once the preliminary construction was completed. To support the campus applications to the remote building, details were included for routes, support systems, conduits, duct banks and manholes.

The data center consisted of GigaLAN 10 installed from the distribution frame running vertically to the cable tray and then running horizontally along the ceiling, and connected to conduits throughout the building to each desktop location. The process ran into a hurdle with the ladder trays constructed for the GigaLAN 10 product. Since the diameter size was larger than traditional Category 6 products, the original setup of 12-inch ladder trays resulted in a shortage of conduits for fill space. Despite the unplanned delay, the team was able to resolve the problem by reconstructing 20 four-inch trays and adding the additional conduit required.

The primary change to the company’s system was replacing all Dell 100-megabit Ethernet switches with updated Dell 2724 and 5324 Gigabit Ethernet switches. LBX also installed several fiber-optic modules in selected Dell power-connect 2724 switches in order to connect the entire campus. The updated network server included Dell 2850 PowerEdge servers and Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

After construction was completed on schedule, multimedia communication applications were available at desktops and conference rooms. A state-of-the art presentation system was installed in LBX’s training room with a high-definition television screen. Employees were equipped with advanced communication tools, including remote-access capabilities.

With its choice of cable and communication equipment, Chumney says, LBX gained advanced communication abilities and capacity for increased technological capabilities without incurring future costs. “We are ready for anything that may come along,” he claims. “It is much easier to install it initially than to have to replace cabling in the future.”

Bio: For more information from Mohawk Cable, Leominster, Mass.

Reprinted with full permission of Communication NEWS – October issue 2007 www.commnews.com


NECA 2007 San Francisco Wraps Up Successful Convention, Trade Show

Over 5,000 Participate in Event; New Focus on “Green” Building

For Immediate Release: BETHESDA, MD -- NECA’s 2007 Convention and Trade Show recently wrapped up several exciting days of education and exploration at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center. Over 5,000 attendees enjoyed inspiring presentations from record-setting 49ers quarterback Steve Young and reluctant hero and survivor Nando Parrado, plus over 300 exhibitors from across the electrical construction industry.

“I’m just amazed at the energy and excitement everyone had this year in San Francisco,” said NECA executive director for meetings/exhibition Beth Ellis. “We did a lot of new things this year in order to reflect how electrical contractors’ businesses have changed and what’s new in the electrical construction market.”

One new feature that Ellis promises will return at NECA 2008 Chicago will be “Think Green Day” and the “Green Alley” at the NECA Show. “These were great opportunities to showcase the sustainable building electrical contractors are doing and let them connect with alternative energy product manufacturers,” Ellis said.

“Green is the color of the future," said Jan Carradine, director of engineering for Baker Electric, Inc. Escondido, Ca., a long-time NECA member company. “This prepared me to better communicate with my customers when it comes to design-build and green construction.”

The 2007 convention also featured the first-ever Labor Relations Town Hall, an open panel discussion with NECA and IBEW leaders sharing the stage and taking questions from the audience. Moderator Mark Breslin – a well-known and candid arbitration specialist who has worked with numerous trade associations and labor unions – described the meeting as an "open and honest" forum for "truth and trust."

Town Hall participant Geary Higgins, NECA vice president for labor relations, remarked, “While I found the exchange to be encouraging and reflective of the cooperative feeling at the core of the NECA-IBEW relationship, I think it showed that we still have a lot to work out together.”

Comedian Dana Carvey closed out NECA 2007 San Francisco with a special “Master of Disguise” show. Best known for his appearances on Saturday Night Live, Carvey has recently limited his public performances to focus on his role as husband and father, so NECA 2007 San Francisco attendees were especially appreciative of his appearance at their meeting.

NECA’s next Convention and Trade Show will be held in Chicago, Oct. 5-7, 2008. Preliminary meeting information for NECA 2008 Chicago attendees and exhibitors, plus highlights from NECA 2007 San Francisco, can be found on www.necaconvention.org .

The National Electrical Contractors Association is the voice of the $100 billion industry responsible for bringing power and communication systems to buildings and communities. NECA’s national office and 120 local chapters advance the electrical contracting industry through advocacy, education, research and standards development. NECA celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2001. For more information, visit www.necanet.org

** Event photos are available for press use. Contact Beth Margulies, NECA, Director of Public Relations, 302-215-4526, beth.margulies@necanet.org for additional information. **


AVAYA Is Bought For $8.3 Billion By Silver Lake And TPG Capital

Avaya Inc., Silver Lake and TPG Capital today announced that Silver Lake and TPG Capital have completed the acquisition of Avaya in a transaction valued at approximately US$8.3 billion.

"Today marks the beginning of an exciting new era for Avaya," said Lou D'Ambrosio, the firm’s president and CEO.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which was adopted by Avaya's stockholders at a special meeting held on Sept. 28, each is entitled to receive US$17.50 in cash, without interest and less any applicable withholding taxes, for each share of common stock they owned immediately prior to the effective time of the merger.

Avaya common stock ceased trading on the NYSE before the commencement of trading on today and will be delisted from the NYSE


Here’s To Change

Anumber of differences have surfaced in the 10 companies that are listed in this month’s receivables table, including:

• Quanta Services has completed its merger with Infrasource Services, another powerline contractor.

• AETI (American Electric Technologies) was added to the list. AETI was formed by the merger of M & S Industries and American Access Technologies.

• Belden has acquired more small companies. One result of this has been higher sales, with the company’s second-quarter revenues up 34%.

• Cooper spent $22 million to buy io Lighting of Illinois and Powerline Communications of Vermont, which together expect 2007 sales to total $17 million; io makes LED-based lighting fixtures.

• Thomas & Betts completed two acquisitions (including a $280 million buy of some electrical operations from Danaher), and then announced that it would buy Lamson & Sessions.

• Suppliers and distributors are generating significant free cash flow. Many are using some of it to buy back stock on the open market. Companies doing so of late include Belden ($100 million), Genlyte Group (1.4 million shares), and Grainger ($500 million).

Distributor details

• Grainger’s sales in the second quarter increased 8%, the company boosted its guidance on end-of-year earnings per share by a nickel (to $4.90/share on the high end), and trends were encouraging. Grainger reports daily sales changes on a monthly basis, and in the most recent four months available, was up 7% in April, 8% in May, 9% in June, and 7% in July (the comparisons include 2006).

In other news, Grainger reports that it has added 60,000 products to its mix in the plumbing, fastener, material handling, and security product areas. Its sales in Mexico rose 26% in the second quarter. In the quarter before the accelerated $500 million buy-back was announced, the company bought back 562,300 shares of its stock at a cost of $49 million.

• Wesco’s end-market activity was slower during the second quarter, with core sales about equaling last year’s second quarter, according to Stephen Van Oss, senior vice president and chief financial and administrative officer. The company’s $182 million sales gain in the quarter was due to its 2006 acqui­sition of Communications Supply Corporation.

In other Wesco news, the company purchased Cascade Controls, which reportedly had $11 million in sales last year in automation and controls in the Northwest United States. The company repurchased 5.2 million of its shares at $335 million between February and June (and had $65 million of unused board-authorized repurchases as of June 30). The stock market has punished Wesco for its flat sales, driving its stock price down from a close above $66 on April 18 to less than $47 on Aug. 30.

Manufacturer highlights

• AETI’s Aug. 29 release carried the headline, “American Electric Technologies Accelerates Penetration of E&I Construction Market” (E&I being electric and instrumentation). As of the end of its second quarter, the company was still at work integrating the two companies that recently merged to create AETI.

• Belden’s adjusted operating margins have expanded 350 basis points year over year and 150 basis points sequentially, according to John Stroup, presi­dent and CEO.

The company also sold off a copper telecom operation in the Czech Republic, completing its exit from the copper telecom cable market. Still, Belden’s revenue rose roughly $140 million compared with the year-earlier quarter—of which $149 million came from business acquired during the quarter and another $8 million from favorable currency translation. In other words, Belden’s pre-existing operations had a slightly down quarter.

• Cooper’s second-quarter revenues rose 14%, with four basis points of that coming from acquisitions and currency translation adding almost 2%. The electrical products segment revenues flew up 15% in the year’s first half thanks to continued strength in the utility and industrial markets, strong international growth, and solid growth in U.S. nonresidential construction markets, according to Cooper.

• Genlyte. In November, Genlyte’s stock price soared above $86 at one point. Then the company hit a bump in the road—the price on Aug. 30 was below $72. In the meantime, first-half earnings per share in 2007 were $2.49, down from $2.94 one year earlier. Essentially, Genlyte represents a minor case of a turnaround: The year’s first half saw sales increase 15.5%, and first-half earnings per share (excluding various items) actually increased by 29%.

Larry Powers, chairman, president, and CEO, said, “Our focus on higher-margin product lines and the price increases helped us achieve higher sales and gross margins for the second quarter.” Gross margins in the second quarter came in at 40.6%, compared to 39.4% in the second quarter of 2006.

• Thomas & Betts’s second-quarter results were fine, but it’s other recent company events that are of real interest. Here’s what’s happened: In a July 25 release regarding the buy from Dan­aher, T&B reported that it also had purchased Drilling Technical Supply SA of France for $20 million. On July 26, the company filed an SEC form declaring it had completed the buy of the Joslyn Hi-Voltage and Power Solutions businesses from Danaher at a reported $280 million.

On Aug. 15, the company reported that it would invest $450 million to acquire Lamson & Sessions, and that it might sell the Lamson PVC pipe business. If that happens, the acquisition might add $500 million to full-year results. 

So where is T&B going? It recently committed to invest $750 million to add three companies. First-half sales came in near $982 million without these additions. In calendar year 2008, T&B’s sales might well come in near $3 billion; as recently as 2003, they were $1.32 billion.

Salimando is a contributing editor to TED. Reach him at wordsmith@verizon.net.

Reprinted with full permission of TED Magazine –2007 www.tedmag.com


Eyes everywhere

Companies everywhere are taking a closer look at the safety and security of their facilities.

Just how safe are we? It’s a question people are asking themselves more and more often. Forward-looking suppliers and distributors will have a ready answer—in the form of product lines that are able to provide increased physical safety, facility surveillance, and improved communication.

Selling security products requires not just a certain amount of technological savvy, but also an ability to discuss potentially frightening topics in a reassuring, confidence-inspiring way. The rewards here are twofold: the satisfaction of securing a long-time customer while garnering a healthy profit margin.

Broadly defined, the security market can include everything from the most common indoor/outdoor surveillance cameras to simple card-based access systems to explosives detection systems and biometrics.

But what’s really taking off? Integrated systems that allow users to make better use of the products they have, rather than just buying individual items that have to be installed and monitored separately.

“For us, integration is critical,” said Bob Patnaude, director of marketing of industrial systems for Federal Signal. “Systems should be designed so that they integrate things like visual alarms, intercoms and voice messaging, outdoor warning, and even access control and perimeter detection.

“The market is moving increasingly toward anything that involves communicating with people in order to keep them safe and secure,” he continued. “When one is designing a total solution, all products can play a role, so it’s important that we don’t think about just the singular products themselves.”

That viewpoint was echoed by Keith Drummond, CEO of LenSec, a provider of custom software surveillance solutions. “The foun­dation of video surveillance is the video management system. Enterprise class video surveillance systems—Internet protocol [IP] or network-based systems—are growing in popularity.”

Drummond explained that these systems utilize the same equipment and IT standards as all other network applications, such as the Internet and e-mail, and can be scaled to support even the largest organizations.

“We are seeing strong growth in the integration of other network applications with video surveillance like access control, video analytics, and wireless network connectivity,” he said.

Helping to integrate safety and security products into an existing facility is where electrical distributors can make the biggest impact for their customers. “It’s very important to think about the process one follows when designing a system solution and the products that come into play. The products used and how they are used will vary from system to system,” Patnaude said.

And it goes far beyond just hanging up some cameras. For example, does the customer want the security system to be unobtrusive and unseen by users—or is higher-visibility security that acts as an additional deterrent desired?

In either case, security is achieved by choosing the right security op­tions and reconsidering related or nearby electrical items. For example, lighting may need to be adjusted in brightness, intensity, and/or location to get the best possible results from new surveillance equipment, or to help direct people to and from secure entry points.

If the job is new construction, the obvious advantage is that those adjustments can be taken into account during the building process. In an old building, however, improved security is still a relatively achievable goal.

“In new construction you have the ability to eliminate some safety issues before they exist, such as columns or pillars placed in poor locations that create potential blind spots for a video surveillance system,” said Drummond. “However, a properly designed system with the appropriate number and types of cameras can be just as effective when dealing with a retrofit.”

“The key thing to do here is to take the customer back to his or her fundamental interests and the purpose of the security system,” said Pat­naude. “What are the reasons behind the methods to be employed? What are the objectives and how are desired results going to be quantified?

“As an example, with a notification system for employees to take cover in a life-threatening disaster,” continued Patnaude, “It would be essential to know things like whom to notify, where they’d be located, and what they are supposed to do. 

“It has to be a consultative process,” he added. “It is important that we understand the goals and needs before we recommend any solution. If you approach it that way, the differences between the two types of jobs are immaterial; they are just different applications of the same kinds of products.”

Hard facts—soft touch

While no one can deny that there’s definitely a need for increased security in almost any facility, this certainly does not mean it’s something that people want to spend a lot of time thinking about. At a time when many feel that people have become paranoid, distributors can run the risk of seeming to overhype threats that are very real.

“Most everyone ac­knowledges that safety is important and an issue that needs to be addressed,” said Ari Tamman, vice president of channels for Promisec, a provider of security solutions. “But at the same time, no one wants to admit what tragedies could happen. It’s even harder when you’re selling additional or expanded security. Companies know they have to have the basics, but for them to move to the next level of security—it’s not always as obvious to them that there’s a definite need to do so.”

This may be more common in markets such as medical, educational, and residential, where more minimal security measures used to be standard operating procedure.

To get a customer’s buy-in, Tamman suggested doing a walk-through of the facility, pointing out potential weaknesses, and recommending the types of products that could eliminate those weaknesses. “You have to really show them the specific benefits,“ Tamman noted. “It’s most effective if you can demonstrate the product in use.”

For those who are more aware of the risks, it may be safer to take a more matter-of-fact approach. “We rarely have to explain the risk to our customers,” said Drummond. “They already know they have a risk—which is why they are talking to us.”

Patnaude agreed that the risk of appearing to exaggerate the threat is minimal in at least some markets. “When it comes to safety and security, we need to face the fact that they can be compromised every day; it’s our job to deal with that,” he said. “When you use products and know-how to explain this, it’s no longer about hype—it’s about solving serious problems.” He also noted that existing relationships with customers can go a long way in helping them trust the information given to them about potential threats and potential solutions.

Keeping pace

Be aware that the technology in most security applications is changing rapidly. What was state of the art a year ago may very well be old hat today. Keeping on top of those changes, and supporting end-users as they adapt to them, will be an ongoing challenge for distributors.

“A distributorship’s salespeople need to know not only things about the products and technology available, but also the resources that are available to them when they are in the early-discussion stage with a customer,” advised Patnaude. “Be sure that all of the right questions are asked before recommending a particular product or type of product. This ensures that the products follow through on what is really most important: the right systems solution.”

This constantly changing technology poses another potential problem: a glut of products. “Overall, the budgets for security tools are expanding,” Tamman said. “As such, there are so many products available that end-users must pick their priorities and stick to them. These will determine where, and on what, they spend their dollars.”

“In IP-based video surveillance, technology is changing at the same high rate of speed at all other processor- and storage-driven applications.” added Drummond. “Anyone who is involved in this space should spend as much or more time on research and development as any other area.”

Katarsky is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She can be reached at ckatarsky@earthlink.net.

Reprinted with full permission of TED Magazine –2007 www.tedmag.com


Offer Datacomm Cabling Support Options

Three ways to help communications cabling installers save time and money.

1. Fasteners hold and guide com­munications cable dur­ing installation. There are four common types:

J-hook fasteners are used to suspend cables, can be added without disturbing an existing installation, can maintain a 1˝ bend radius, and provide mounting options. Nonmetallic J-hooks are suitable for use in air handling spaces, per applicable codes.

Cable pulley fasteners free up a second pair of hands when pulling cable, maintain proper bend radius, and protect cable during installation. Once the job is completed, the pulley and pin assembly can be removed, leaving the J-hook as a cable support.

Bridle ring fasteners look like metal hooks that screw into supports and are used to support cable and increase installation convenience. Bridle rings can be easily attached to many structures, speeding installation of communications cabling. Some bridle rings come with plastic saddle inserts that provide a wider surface to support voice and data cables running through the ring. The saddle edges can provide cable protection during installation.

Cable tie fasteners are used primarily for binding several cables together and organizing them. Generally made of nylon, they come in different sizes and strengths and can be designed for use within specific environments.

2. Cable trays and surface raceway systems are designed to support, protect, and manage cable. Cable tray is usually open, while raceway is closed. Cable tray options include:

Ladder cable trays offer the ability to permit the maximum free flow of air across the cables and rungs that serve as anchors for tying the cables down in a nonhorizontal tray. Cables can exit or enter the ladder cable tray through the top or bottom of the cable tray, and moisture can’t accumulate in ladder cable trays. There is also hand access through the cable tray bottom to help with the installation of small-diameter cables.

Ventilated trough cable trays provide more support for cables while keeping the drooping of small cables out of view.

Solid bottom cable trays provide some shielding if there are no breaks or holes in the completed installation.

Three types of cable tray systems sum up the advantages of using them:

Perimeter systems route wiring and cabling securely along walls, are accessible at all times, and are easy to expand or reconfigure.

Overhead systems are flexible in their location and accessibility. The trays are available in a variety of styles—in­cluding wire mesh, center spine, solid bottom, and ladder.

Vertical distribution units can bring power and datacomm from the ceiling directly into workstations. These units conceal wiring and cabling, as opposed to the earlier generation service poles.

Surface raceway systems are used for low-voltage cables. These have a sleek de­sign and are labor saving and durable. They are also tamper resistant—with self-locking covers and hidden positive latches that permit quick re-entry and provide a secure installation of premise wiring. They are designed to incorporate a minimum 1˝ bend radius per TIA/EIA 568-B and TIA/EIA 569-A standards.

Surface raceway systems conform to any surface with rubber-based foam tape adhesive with high ultimate bond strength. They are flexible, allowing the raceway to have numerous openings without creating discoloration or stress cracking, and are available in different lengths and widths for varying cabling requirements. The raceway can be one piece and nonmetallic, with an adhesive backing that aesthetically organizes and routes communications wires from the telecommunications room to the work area.

3. Support systems can hang or suspend cables or certain equipment and offer a way to quickly suspend static loads, some at an angle. There are two versions available:

A wire rope system that may be used to support cable tray or conduit according to TIA-569-B

A system that is fire rated (to an international DIN standard for building components vs. the NFPA 251 that is for building construction and materials) 

Advantages of support systems include speedy installation (they install without drilling or tools); a small, aesthetically pleasing locking device that completes the assembly; and the fact that simple height adjustments can be made by releasing the clamp's adjustment pin.

In addition, support systems are able to accommodate sloped ceilings; can support loads at up to a 60° angle from vertical; and can be used to support lighting fixtures, HVAC ducts, signs and banners, wire basket cable tray, and air handling equipment.

Michelson is president of Business Communication Services. She writes for major technical publications as well as www.BCSReports.com. She can be reached at randm@volcano.net.

Reprinted with full permission of TED Magazine –2007 www.tedmag.com


Specialists, Samples, And Demos

Increasingly, specialists are expected to collect, provide, and manage demos and samples.

When an important sale is lurking on the horizon, often, getting a sample or demo into the customer’s hands is crucial to closing the deal—and salespeople are increasingly turning to sales specialists for help. Here are a few tips to help ensure that what is needed is on hand when salespeople come knocking:

• Ensure a proper product launch. For a low-cost product launch where sam­ples are appropriate, the message should be clear: no samples, no launch. (The same rule applies to literature: No product launch should commence without at least five to 10 pieces of literature for every salesperson.)

These early samples can often be had on a no-charge basis from the factory. Product specialists often enjoy a unique relationship with factory-based marketing people, and oftentimes these people operate under a different budget from the field sales force. Try exchanging information about samples—marketing people are starved for information for real-life distributor sales efforts. Also, they want specialists to succeed—sell more and then tell them about it; rest assured they’ll keep the demos coming.

(Tip: Keep track of the sample products received via this method. A running tally of products brought into the organization using personal clout comes in handy when sitting down with a manager. And, more importantly, having a good record of free samples acquired puts the specialist in good stead when the time comes that one must buy one out of stock.)

• Carefully manage the expensive stuff. When it comes to “try before you buy” samples, customers, especially the good ones, expect to compensate for a product that is consumed in an evaluation, if it’s a clear-cut case of consumption. Herein lies the problem. Many times products aren’t consumed, but they are no longer new.

Case in point: A hardworking distributor offers to let a customer try a variable frequency drive. The drive is put into an application on the factory floor. Things work well, but after several weeks the customer discovers that he can fix the problem very inexpensively with a slightly different mechanical coupling. The drive is returned for credit—but it’s caked with dust and dirt, holes are punched into the enclosure, and the lugs are worn and discolored from the installation. Consequently, the incident causes bad feelings on both the customer and the distributor sides, and the distributor ends up eating the loss.

In order to avoid this kind of problem, an agreement needs to be reached with all levels of the customer prior to handing over the product.

Then, the order should be placed with a special addendum defining all of the parameters—in detail and in writing.

Avoid embarrassment for both parties by building an official “try-before-you-

buy” checklist, and be sure to sign it together. Some points to include on this checklist include:

Has a definitive time period been discussed and established?

What is the ultimate sell price?

Is there a PO number so that the product can be tracked?

Who owns the product while it’s in the customer’s plant?

Does the order become final at the end of the time period?

What is the definition of success?

What happens if the product works but another solution is found?

Who will be held responsible for ending the test?

• Take control of demo dealings. A visit to the demo closet of most electrical distributors reveals a disaster zone—a hodgepodge of twisted wires and unorganized piles of parts. Salespeople borrow parts for customer emergencies. Specialists build special demos. Both parties plan to return the borrowed items, but tomorrow rarely comes.

The typical scenario often begins with a salesperson grabbing a demo unit from the storage area and giving it to his or her customer for a week. Upon returning, another salesperson sees the first carrying the demo into the building and says, “Hey, let me save you some steps, I wanted to show that to my customer next week.” Three weeks later, a specialist tries to locate the demo. After hours of frustration, he or she decides to just pull another unit out of stock. And so the cycle goes, until thousands of dollars in product are lost.

Here are a few ideas to improve the demo equipment process:

• Assign a price sheet for every demo; be sure to let everyone know the replacement cost.

• Set a procedure for demo sign-out.

• Establish a basic configuration for each demo.

• Regularly review demo equipment for future obsolescence—get rid of it before it becomes worthless.

• Build a spreadsheet with all of the distributor-owned demo equipment; share it with vendors.

• Take advantage of any and all vendor demo support programs.

• Treat it like cash. Ultimately, the root cause of most loss issues comes from a lack of tracking. So think of samples and demos in terms of money—most agree that it’s extremely important to keep close track of cash and look for new ways to bring in more. So why not do the same for samples and demos?

Begin by building two spreadsheets—one for demo units and one for samples. Use these spreadsheets to track progress in harvesting free samples and measure the cost of demos used in the business. After all, measuring is half of knowing.

Hurtte is a consultant to distribution and the sales channel at River Heights Consulting. Reach him at 563-514-1104 or via www.riverheightsconsulting.com.

Reprinted with full permission of TED Magazine –2007 www.tedmag.com


12 For Life Teaches “The sky’s the limit”

Initiated by Southwire and the Carroll County School System, 12 For Life opens closed doors.

In the fall of 2006, Dustin Todd began his third year in high school, and Joshua Thomas started his second. Due to family obligations and challenges, both had earned fewer credits than required to graduate on time.

“I just wanted to get my diploma and start my life,” said Todd.

“I didn’t have any career in mind after high school,” said Thomas. “I just knew I had to graduate.”

The young men’s lives changed in January when they were selected as two of the first 71 participants in the jointly sponsored 12 For Life program, initiated by Southwire and the Carroll County, Ga., School System. With the program’s help, Todd and Thomas finished the 2006 to 2007 school year and caught up on their credits—all while earning paychecks and learning workplace skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

The 12 For Life partnership ensures that participants receive a balanced education, work regular hours at a specially designed manufacturing plant, receive both school credit and a paycheck, and learn on-the-job skills—such as team­work, workplace ethics, tolerance of diversity, and workstation quality and pro­ductivity. Both Southwire and the school system brainstormed the program to address a significant drop-out rate in the region (30%). To participate, at-risk students must be 16 years of age and must agree to stay in school until they receive their academic diplomas.

“Anywhere you go, any job you get, you have to have a good work ethic,” said Thomas. “If you have a positive attitude, are on time, and are able to work with other people, you’ll be okay. The 12 For Life program has taught me these things.”

“Most of what is taught is com­mon sense,” added Todd. “Simple stuff like dressing appropriately for work and turning out good work is reinforced—all things that fit into a bigger picture beyond what is typically taught in high school.”

The 12 For Life program opens many doors for its participants. In addition to the benefits, Southwire offers students who finish the program $1,000 signing bonuses if they move on to one of the company’s regular man­ufacturing facilities after graduation. With the regular employment benefits mentioned, Southwire offers tuition reimbursements to qualifying employees.

“We let the students know that the sky’s the limit,” said Gib Grooms, 12 For Life supervisor. “Having a diploma, learning teamwork skills, and understanding the expectations of today’s workforce—these qualities will serve our students well no matter what their future career choices may be.”

Chichester can be reached online at falconer@swva.net.

Reprinted with full permission of TED Magazine –2007 www.tedmag.com


Hitachi Cable Manchester Announces Promotion

2007 has been a banner year for Hitachi Cable Manchester (HCM).  HCM continues to exceeded sales goals and increase its market share in the copper and fiber optic data communications industry.  The continued growth of the company has allowed HCM to increase its sales force and promote a number of employees. 

Brian Johnston was recently promoted from Process Engineering Manager to Engineering Manager.  Brian will now oversee engineering for premise, fiber and electronic cable. Brian’s manufacturing experience in the cable industry has and will continue to permit HCM to develop the highest performing communication cables on the market.

About HCM:

For over 20 years, HCM has been manufacturing high performance copper and fiber optic cables for the communication industry.  Located in Manchester, New Hampshire, HCM manufacturers over 3,200 different cable products at it 300,000 square foot facility.  To learn more about other HCM products, you can also visit the corporate website at http://www.hcm.hitachi.com.


BICSI Establishes Affiliate Agreement

BICSI announces the establishment of its first affiliate agreement with the South Pacific district, now called BICSI South Pacific Ltd. The affiliation agreement recognizes that BICSI South Pacific Ltd. has met qualifying criteria to be a self supporting not-for-profit legal entity under Australian law.

BICSI South Pacific Ltd. operates from Melbourne, Australia with staff servicing the needs of over 300 members in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Guam, and Papua New Guinea as well as 11,000 Australian registered cablers.

Under the affiliation agreement, BICSI South Pacific Ltd. can make decisions that meet the needs of the local membership. "The need to localize BICSI and put its ownership and success into the members' hands is increasingly important in the global marketplace," said John Bakowski, RCDD®/NTS/OSP/WD Specialist, BICSI President. "Members in the South Pacific district will now have direct local representation through the election of their own leadership."

Until full and open election are held, Mr. Bakowski appointed the founding board from the ranks of the current steering committee including Colin Browitt, RCDD, David John Dormer, RCDD, Wayne Bogart, RCDD, Tony Luke Khoury, RCDD, Christopher John Molloy, RCDD, Peter Alan Hamilton, RCDD, Paul Stathis, Alex Salicrup, RCDD, and Margarite D'Cruz, Executive Director-BICSI South Pacific Ltd. Also, John Bakowski, RCDD®/NTS/OSP/WD Specialist was appointed to a term on the Board by the BICSI Board of Directors.

Members will find value in having a greater voice through their local leadership on issues that affect them whether it is partnerships with other local organizations, local legislative initiatives affecting the industry, and educational and networking opportunities such as conferences and regional events. BICSI South Pacific Ltd. members continue to receive essential services from BICSI Headquarters including credentialing management, database administration and forums, educational materials, member publications, annual conferences, BICSI Gear merchandise and BICSI Connect web-based training.

###

BICSI is a professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry with information, education and knowledge assessment for individuals and companies. BICSI serves more than 23,000 ITS professionals, including designers, installers and technicians. These individuals provide the fundamental infrastructure for telecommunications, audio/video, life safety and automation systems. Through courses, conferences, publications and professional registration programs, BICSI staff and volunteers assist ITS professionals in delivering critical products and services, and offer opportunities for continual improvement and enhanced professional stature.

Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, BICSI membership spans nearly 100 countries. www.bicsi.org


International Fiber Systems Joins NetClear ESS Affiliate Program

New London, CT and New Holland, PA (October 26, 2007)…  Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, and Ortronics/Legrand are pleased to announce that the International Fiber Systems (IFS) product line from GE has been added as an approved affiliate vendor for the NetClear ESS (Electronic Safety and Security) program.

The rapid rate of IP convergence, previously disparate disciplines, including data, video and power for security installations, are now being connected together over one standardized structured cabling network to allow the sharing of resources.  This architecture provides a higher level of network efficiency, while increasing the network’s return on investment.  In response to this industry demand, Ortronics/Legrand and Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, have expanded their NetClear structured cabling solutions for enterprises to include security and surveillance applications through the new NetClear ESS program.  “The industry is demanding interoperability and packaged solution sets, confirmed by the manufacturers that it all works.  As part of the NetClear ESS program, Berk-Tek and Ortronics are teaming up with appropriate vendors in the video surveillance business, such as camera manufacturers and active component manufacturers to offer proven integrated solution sets for both I.T. managers and security integrators,” notes Chris Adams, Marketing Manager for Ortronics/Legrand.  “The NetClear ESS objective is to offer our customers a group of like-minded technology affiliates that can bring solution sets, system experience and teams of industry experts to those ready to embrace IP technology for security applications.”

IFS designs, manufactures and markets active fiber optic video networking using IP and Ethernet protocol.   “Our association with NetClear ESS as an affiliate vendor provides products, solutions and support to Berk-Tek and Ortronics/Legrand to demonstrate the value of digital, optically linked security devices as proprietary analog networks move from a coax-based infrastructure,” states Skip Haight, Director of Marketing, IFS. “Our two companies and product solution sets will allow integrators, installers and end-users to benefit from the performance, simplicity, and single-team support needed for deploying fiber-fed security networks,” he adds. 

Through NetClear ESS, Ortronics/Legrand and Berk-Tek provide industry leading copper and fiber optic structured cabling systems to assure scalability and performance for all types of networks and technologies. “NetClear ESS solutions demonstrate a progressive path to security over IP, from analog to hybrid to total IP through a copper and fiber structured cabling environment,” notes Carol Everett Oliver, RCDD, Marketing Analyst for Berk-Tek.  “The IFS products allow copper media to be converted to fiber to use as either a backbone between closets or even between cameras, which often involves long runs. This way, both copper and fiber can reside on the same Ethernet switch to allow IP convergence,” she adds.

As part of the NetClear ESS initiative, educational programs, such as full-day seminars, on-site training classes and webinars will be created for both security integrators and cable installers.

About the NetClear Alliance
NetClear is a Technology Alliance between Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, and Ortronics/Legrand to provide advanced, end-to-end co-engineered solutions for enhanced Category 5e, Category 6, Augmented Category 6 – 10 Gigabit and optical fiber channels - all backed by a 25-year warranty. For more information, visit www.netclear-channel.com

About Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company
For more than 45 years, Berk-Tek has been a leading manufacturer of more than 100 different network copper and fiber optic cable products designed to transport high-speed voice, data and video transmissions. For more information, visit www.berktek.com.

About Ortronics/Legrand
Ortronics/Legrand is a global leader in high performance structured cabling solutions, services, and support. Ortronics offers a complete range of Category 5e, 6 and 10 Gig copper, fiber optic, wireless and residential/MDU connectivity solutions. In addition, Ortronics offers Cablofil® wire mesh cable tray and Wiremold® pathways. For more information, visit www.ortronics.com.


Significant Changes for the 2008 NEC —Part 2

By Mark C. Ode, James G. Stallcup and James W. Stallcup

There were 3,688 proposals for changes to the National Electrical Code (NEC) and approximately 2,500 comments processed by National Fire Protection Association staff at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, Mass. The following is part two in a series of significant changes for the 2008 NEC. Part one appeared in the July issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. The 2008 NEC was formally adopted in August 2007, and new copies were available as of September 2007.

The following are some of the most important changes. Strikethrough text shows deletions, and underlined text shows additions. Commentary denoted by red text also follows some changes for explanation.

2008 NEC—210.52
Dwelling Unit Receptacle Outlets.
(E) Outdoor Outlets. Outdoor receptacle outlets shall be installed in accordance with (E)(1) through (E)(3).

(1) One-Family and Two-Family Dwellings. For a one-family dwelling and each unit of a two-family dwelling that is at grade level, at least one receptacle outlet accessible while standing at grade level and located not more than 2.0 m (6½ ft) above grade shall be installed at the front and back of the dwelling.

(2) Multi-Family Dwellings. For each dwelling unit of a multifamily dwelling where the dwelling unit is located at grade level and provided with individual exterior entrance/egress, at least one receptacle outlet accessible from grade level and not more than 2.0 m (6½ ft) above grade shall be installed. See 210.8(A)(3).

(3) Balconies, Decks, and Porches. Balconies, decks, and porches that are accessible from inside the dwelling unit shall have at least one receptacle outlet installed within the perimeter of the balcony, deck, or porch. The receptacle shall not be located more than 2.0 m (6½ ft) above the balcony, deck, or porch surface.

Exception to (3): Balconies, decks, or porches with a useable area of less than 1.86 m2 (20 ft2) are not required to have a receptacle installed.

The new item (3) the panel added requires a receptacle be installed on any porch, deck or balcony where the porch, deck or balcony is accessible from inside the dwelling unit. The panel intends this receptacle to be in addition to those that are installed to meet (1) or (2).

Comment 2-225 adds text to clarify that at least one receptacle must be accessible while standing at grade level. The word “located” was added to make the language more technically correct.

Comment 2-227 clarifies that porches, decks and balconies accessible from inside the dwelling units must have at least one receptacle outlet installed within the perimeter of the porch, deck or balcony. The receptacle also must be located at not more than 6½ feet above the porch, deck or balcony.

Comment 2-230 adds an exception to not require that a receptacle be installed for a porch, deck or balcony that has a usable area of less than 20 square feet, expecially if these areas are used for decorative or architectural purposes.

2005 NEC—210.62
Show Windows. At least one receptacle outlet shall be installed directly above a show window for each 3.7 linear m (12 linear ft) or major fraction thereof of show window area measured horizontally at its maximum width.

2008 NEC—210.62
Show Windows. At least one receptacle outlet shall be installed within 450 mm (18 in) of the top of a show window for each 3.7 linear m (12 linear ft) or major fraction thereof of show window area measured horizontally at its maximum width.

Requiring show window receptacles to be placed at a height of not greater than 18 inches above the show window will provide easy access to the receptacles and will limit the use of extension cords in these applications.

2005 NEC—215.12
Identification for Feeders. (C) Ungrounded Conductors. Where the premises wiring system has feeders supplied from more than one nominal voltage system, each ungrounded conductor of a feeder, where accessible, shall be identified by system. The means of identification shall be permitted to be by separate color coding, marking tape, tagging, or other approved means and shall be permanently posted at each feeder panelboard or similar feeder distribution equipment.

2008 NEC—215.12
Identification for Feeders. (C) Ungrounded Conductors. Where the premises wiring system has feeders supplied from more than one nominal voltage system, each ungrounded conductor of a feeder, where accessible, shall be identified by phase or line and system. The method utilized for conductors originating within each feeder panelboard or similar feeder distribution equipment shall be documented in a manner that is readily available or shall be permanently posted at each feeder panelboard or similar feeder distribution equipment.

Requiring identification of each ungrounded conductor of the feeder by phase or by line in a single-phase system and identification by system will help electrical installation and maintenance personnel identify each phase of the system. The last line in this section has been revised to require the identification posted at the panelboard or be documented in a manner that is readily available to identify the conductors that originate at each panelboard.

2008 NEC—225.39
Rating of Disconnect. The feeder or branch-circuit disconnecting means shall have a rating of not less than the calculated load to be supplied, determined in accordance with Parts I and II of Article 220 for branch circuits, Parts III or IV of Article 220 for feeders, or Part V of Article 220 for farm loads. Where the branch circuit or feeder disconnecting means consists of more than one switch or circuit breaker, as permitted by 225.33, combining the ratings of all the switches or circuit breakers for determining the rating of the disconnecting means shall be permitted. In no case shall the rating be lower than specified in 225.39(A), (B), (C), or (D).

Adding the word “calculated” agrees with changes made throughout the Code in 2005. The second change involves an added sentence for dealing with multiple disconnects. Since a disconnecting means is a device or group of devices, permission is inherent to add each device to reach a total rating in compliance with this section. The new revised text will eliminate any confusion regarding the inherent permission for breakers to be additive in calculating the rating of a disconnecting means. For example, where the feeder or branch-circuit disconnecting means is required to be not less than 60 amperes, the ratings of each of the multiple disconnects can be combined. Two 30-ampere disconnects would satisfy the minimum 60-ampere requirement.

2008 NEC—230.44
Cable Trays. Cable tray systems shall be permitted to support service-entrance conductors. Cable trays used to support service-entrance conductors shall contain only service-entrance conductors.

Exception: Conductors, other than service-entrance conductors, shall be permitted to be installed in a cable tray with service-entrance conductors, provided a solid fixed barrier of a material compatible with the cable tray is installed to separate the service-entrance conductors from other conductors installed in the cable tray. Cable trays shall be identified with permanently affixed labels with the wording “Service-Entrance Conductors.” The labels shall be located so as to be visible after installation and placed so that the service-entrance conductors may be readily traced through the entire length of the cable tray.

Text has been added to the exception where conductors other than service-entrance conductors are installed in cable trays with service-entrance conductors. Where these other conductors are added, they must be separated by a fixed solid barrier, but now, in addition, labels must be installed with the wording “Service-Entrance Conductors” readily visible after installation and placed so the service-entrance conductors can be easily traced through the entire length of cable tray.

2008 NEC—240.24
Location in or on Premises. (F) Not Located Over Steps. Overcurrent devices shall not be located over steps of a stairway.

New 240.24(F) does not permit overcurrent protection devices to be located over the riser steps of a stairway since anyone trying to work on the devices would not be able to have a level workplace, and it may be dangerous. However, many stairways have horizontal landings that could prove suitable for installations where appropriate working space exists, so this new section applies only to the riser part of the stairs.

2008 NEC—240.86
Series Ratings. (A) Selected Under Engineering Supervision in Existing Installations. The series rated combination devices shall be selected by a licensed professional engineer engaged primarily in the design or maintenance of electrical installations. The selection shall be documented and stamped by the professional engineer. This documentation shall be available to those authorized to design, install, inspect, maintain, and operate the system. This series combination rating, including identification of the upstream device, shall be field marked on the end use equipment. The marking shall be readily visible and state the following:

CAUTION – SERIES COMBINATION SYSTEM

RATED         AMPERES.

REPLACE WITH:             TYPE BREAKER
                        TYPE FUSE

For calculated applications, the engineer shall ensure that the downstream circuit breaker(s) that are part of the series combination remain passive during the interruption period of the line side fully rated, current-limiting device.

The new sentence that was added provides some clarification to the overall application of calculations for existing installations. Devices that are part of the series combination system must be passive downstream during the reaction time of the upstream device, and the engineer must be able to ensure that the downstream devices are passive as part of the overall calculation. The passive downstream device ensures increased impedance will not occur due to arcing between the contacts of the downstream device. EC


ODE is a staff engineering associate at Underwriters Laboratories Inc., in Research Triangle Park, N.C. He can be reached at 919.549.1726 or at mark.c.ode@us.ul.com. James G. STALLCUP is the CEO of Grayboy Inc., which develops and authors publications for the electrical industry and specializes in classroom training on the NEC and OSHA, as well as other standards. Contact him at 817.581.2206. JAMES W. STALLCUP is vice president and senior editor at Grayboy.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine –  2007 www.ecmag.com


A Give and Take Proposition

Like many others involved in technical education, I have been guilty of continually telling you that you need to get more training. The best way to keep up with technology, products or the industry; enhance skills; or network with peers is to attend training seminars. Training seminars often allow you time to reflect on your work and give you insight to new opportunities. Many are free, and some even include lunch.

But training is a “give and take” proposition. Not only should you look to acquire knowledge and skills through training, but you also should share your knowledge and skills with others. You may not think of yourself as a teacher, but you probably

Act as a tutor all the time. You assist less-experienced less-experienced coworkers to understand how a job should be done correctly and help them practice to develop the necessary skills. You probably need to occasionally explain technical issues to people in your company who are more business-oriented.

One area you might not have considered, and one that could have a positive effect on your business, is training your customers. Sure, I know the pressure is on you to get the job done and move on to the next job. But some time spent with the customer doing some low-key training can have big benefits. It can make your relationship with the customer better, enhancing chances of future business. It can make your customer more self-sufficient, reducing the need for service calls. And it can reduce tension when the customer simply doesn’t have a clue what you are doing and seeks clarification from other sources.

The last point is an important one. Whenever you do VDV cabling work, fiber or copper, your customer may have no clue what you are doing. IT managers often consider cabling a necessary nuisance, a small part of their budget that causes many problems. Even business owners and managers tend to see cabling as simply a connection to their computers that they don’t need to understand. Plug and play is all they care about. This can cause problems for the cabling contractor when things don’t work exactly right.

For example, I have had end-users contact me many times asking if their installer is doing the job correctly or asking any of the following questions: What do they do now that the installation is complete? Why is the installer leaving big loops of cable behind racks? Shouldn’t the cables be routed more neatly? Why are they cutting holes in my floor? What should I expect for test results on these cables? What kinds of patchcords do I need with this cabling?

And, perhaps the most important question: Can I upgrade my systems using this cable? This is an invitation to educate your customer and perhaps get another big order.

I’m not advocating that you create and present formal training programs. Customers would rarely be interested in that, unless it is a large company with many employees involved in or affected by the project. More appropriately, you can have discussions with your customer in which you explain what you are doing and provide them with reference materials, either printed or Web-based, where they can go for more information.

These discussions should begin as soon as the sales process gets serious. It’s a good way to make sure the customer understands what your company does or what is involved in the project proposals you make. It also builds confidence in your work. During the design and installation phase, involve the customer by explaining what you are doing and when appropriate, why. Component selection is another opportunity, as you can explain why particular components are used and manufacturers are selected. Testing is a big issue for most users, as they want assurance they are getting the cabling performance for which they paid. It’s an even bigger issue if they are getting an upgrade from an earlier system, with a goal of higher performance.

Once the installation is complete, provide the customer with some training on how to use the cabling with their equipment, such as how to connect hardware, choose the proper patchcords to maintain cabling performance, document where patchcords go, keep the telecom rooms neat (and remember that they are not janitor’s closets).

Don’t make it seem like training. It should be informal discussion, and the customer should feel free to ask questions. If you have a big crew on a job, a designated contact for the customer who provides the information and answers probably will keep the user from interrupting your other workers, making them more productive. Create some basic educational materials oriented toward your customers, using some of your projects as examples. They can be printed and excerpts posted on the company Web site for promoting your business. Provide links to relevant Web sites where they can go for background information, such as “Uncle Ted’s Guide” (www.vdvworks.com/UncleTed) and “Lennie Lightwave” (www.lennielightwave.com).

The goal of providing this training is to enhance customer satisfaction. And satisfied customers are the best referrals you can get for future business. EC

HAYES is a VDV writer and trainer and the president of The Fiber Optic Association. Find him at www.JimHayes.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – 2007 www.ecmag.com


NEMA Publishes New Standards

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published two new standards that concern electrical contractors. ANSI_ANSLG C78.380-2007 American National Standard for Electric Lamps—High-Intensity Discharge Lamps, Method of Designation is a proposed revision of ANSI C78.380-2005. And LSD2A-2007 is an application note in regards to T8 lamps.

 ANSI_ANSLG C78.380-2007 describes a system for the designation of high-intensity discharge lamps, including compact, enclosed-arc discharge light sources such as mercury, metal halide, high-pressure sodium and similar types of lamps. For convenience, low-pressure sodium lamps are included.

The standard incorporates two significant changes. The first is a proposed addendum to use the National Electric Code as a normative annex to assign physical codes for lamp and luminaire attributes. The second involves the administration of the lamp designation program.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) also has published LSD2A-2007 Application Note: Wiring Requirements for T-8 Fluorescent Lamps with Instant-Start Ballasts. The NEMA Lighting Systems Division reminds original equipment manufacturers and installers that adherence to wiring and other requirements contributes to the safe operation and optimum performance of T8 lamps when used with instant-start ballasts. Improper wiring may cause field problems related to installation and retrofit of T8 lamps with instant-start ballasts. LSD2A-2007 includes examples of correct and incorrect wiring.

Standards are available for download at www.nema.org. EC

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – 2007 www.ecmag.com


Using Copper for More Than Signals

By Jim Hayes

Copper communications cabling now is used for transporting power as well as increasingly faster signals. Are you familiar with the options?

1.     The IEEE 802.3af standard for Power over Ethernet (PoE) was developed to power _______.

A. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones

B. Security cameras

C. Wireless access points

D. Any device that operates over unshielded twisted
pair (UTP) structured cabling that meets PoE
power requirements

2.     The advantage of PoE is that it _______.

A. Allows connection of low-power devices with only
one cable

B. Uses more efficient DC power

C. Reduces power-supply noise at remote devices

D. Allows use of lower-rated cables

3.     PoE provides about _______ watts of power
to remote devices.

A. 5

B. 13

C. 25

D. 60

4.     In a PoE system, power is supplied over _______ in
the UTP cable.

A. Only pairs 1 and 4, which are unused by 10/100
Ethernet

B. Only pairs 2 and 3, which also carry signals for 10/100 Ethernet

C. Either pairs 1 and 4 or pairs 2 and 3

D. All four pairs

5.     PoE supplies power at _______.

A. 5V DC

B. 12V DC

C. 48V DC

D. 115V AC

6.     Non-PoE-compliant devices plugged into a PoE system may be damaged by the PoE power supply.

❑ True

❑ False

7.     PoE systems power supplies may be _______.

A. Incorporated in network devices like hubs and switches

B. Included in rack-mounted patch panels

C. External modules that patch into individual cables

D. All of the above

8.     When testing cables in PoE systems, it is important
to _______.

A. Turn off power to prevent damage to expensive
network certification testers

B. Turn off power to prevent damage to PoE
power supplies

C. Turn off power to prevent damage to PoE
powered devices

D. Turn off power to prevent interference with
network certification testers

9.     Noncompliant PoE devices (not IEEE 802.3af-compliant) exist that use different power distribution schemes and higher power over standard UTP cabling, requiring careful consideration of system applications.

❑ True

❑ False

10.    What other device uses the signal cable to send power
to remote devices?

A. CATV

B. Satellite TV

C. Apple TV

D. None of the above

Answers: D, A, B, C, C, False, D, D, True, B

Hayes is a VDV writer and trainer and the president of The Fiber Optic Association. Find him at www.JimHayes.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine –  2007 www.ecmag.com


LEEDing By The Hand

Contractors are the driving force in the green movement

by Chuck Ross

When the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) was founded in 1993, its name sounded vaguely left-of-center. Few in the building industry could have predicted just how mainstream the group would become. Its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines, which were introduced in 2000, have helped quantify developers’ “green” construction claims. And certification to one of the standards’ varying tiers has become a near-given in some construction markets.

For electrical contractors, growing interest in achieving LEED certification in the commercial, industrial and institutional markets poses both opportunities and challenges. Adding LEED expertise and LEED-accredited staff has become a market differentiator. Even contractors whose business is primarily residential can find reason to pay greater attention to LEED-related guidelines. The USGBC currently has a LEED for Homes program in testing. It expects to release a final version in the fall of 2007.

“The tide has definitely turned on this subject,” said Stuart Binstock, executive director of NECA’s Management Education Institute (MEI), which is developing new, LEED-related online coursework. “[Initially] people viewed it with a little bit of skepticism. That has changed. The market is now driving this issue.”

LEEDing experience

San Jose, Calif.-based Rosendin Electric Inc. has a long history of LEED involvement. The company has employed a LEED-accredited staff—employees who have been tested and certified by the USGBC to be familiar with both green building practices and the specifics of the LEED process—for at least three years. Currently, between 30 and 50 Rosendin employees are studying for the required exam, according to Erica Paul, a Rosendin estimator as well as the company’s LEED trainer and sustainability team leader.

For Rosendin, pursuing LEED-related projects is a natural outgrowth of the firm’s long-term interest in sustainable design. The company has been recycling job-site scrap for more than 20 years, Paul said, and pushes recycling within the company, as well. The company also has a renewable-energy division, concentrating on wind turbine installation projects. As a California-based company, Rosendin also has to address the strict energy requirements called out in the state’s Title 24 efficiency standards.

“I still feel like we’re able to specialize in this area,” Paul said of the marketing advantage she thinks the company’s LEED expertise provides. However, as an instructor working through the local USGBC chapter to teach other electrical contractors in her area, she sees that advantage beginning to slip. “I think the competition is starting to pick up. A lot of the other electrical contractors have been in my classes.”

One of the biggest lessons electrical contractors may need to learn when working on LEED projects, beyond the specifics of individual credits and documentation requirements, is how to work more closely with other building professionals. Reaching LEED’s aggressive performance requirements forces professionals from various disciplines to work together in ways they haven’t previously.

As an example, Paul noted the interplay between electrical contractors and glazing specifiers that results from LEED’s emphasis on daylight harvesting. To ensure illumination goals are met without exceeding energy-use guidelines, electrical contractors need to know just how much natural light will be available, which can vary based on the glazing product specified.

“It all goes off of their glazing factors,” Paul said. “We still need to be clear on how many candelas they want.”

Suppliers are equally important information sources under the LEED scheme. For instance, information on volatile organic chemical content (VOC) of sealants and adhesives can play a role in meeting LEED credits related to indoor environmental quality.

“We really have to dig deep down with our suppliers and get a lot more information than we’ve gotten before,” Paul said.

LEEDing evolution

One of the biggest issues many building professionals have regarding LEED-project participation relates to the level of documentation needed to ensure a building meets the performance requirements in the certification guidelines. LEED officials note that the guidelines and procedural requirements continue to evolve based, in part, on the experiences reported by LEED-project team members working in the field.

“I think the response from the general contracting community has been, ‘we need to know more,’” said Brendan Owens, director of LEED technical development with the USGBC. “At the same time, there’s starting to become a feedback loop from the contracting community at large, [saying] ‘We’ve got a problem with this, and here’s a proposed solution.’”

So, when painting contractors began reporting performance problems with paint that met LEED’s VOC limits but required multiple coats, USGBC researchers began investigating options.

“It doesn’t make sense to need three coats,” Owens said.

Owens said the USGBC also is trying to address participants’ concerns about LEED documentation requirements. The organization launched LEED-Online to enable electronic document submittals and revisions and is working on second- and third-generation versions to help address remaining questions.

This kind of feedback loop between USGBC and building professionals in the field will become more important as LEED continues to evolve. The USGBC recently announced it is raising the bar on energy-performance targets, mandating that new-construction projects now reduce energy costs by 14 percent below those projected by the baseline ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1–2004 standard. And Owens predicts such efforts will only increase over time.

“That’s what USGBC exists to do—to transform the market,” he said. “As those transformations happen, we need to either up the threshold or focus on things that aren’t rising as quickly.”

LEEDing yourself

Industry organizations are beginning to show greater interest in increasing their members’ awareness of LEED-related requirements. Many federal, state and local government agencies now are mandating their new-construction projects achieve at least base-level certification, and some are requiring even higher performance levels. Corporate owners also are seeing marketing advantages in the “green” seal that LEED certification conveys.

“It’s not really a question of if. It’s a matter of how much of this market LEED will capture,” Binstock said. “[Contractors] who are paying attention are recognizing that this is more than a fad. We want to be on the front end of this trend.”

That desire to keep contractors on top of LEED’s potential opportunities is why Binstock’s group is launching its new online education program. MEI developed the classes based on research conducted by Electri International.

“I like to call it ‘LEED 101,’” Binstock said. “It explains the nature of the market and what contractors need to know to become leaders on a team, instead of just following.”

Additionally, the USGBC offers online courses along with training at the national and locally based chapter level. And the group is looking at less formal education efforts, such as laminated, job site-based information sheets communicating the importance of specific LEED-related construction practices. Such ongoing efforts to reach out to all members of the building team are crucial to LEED’s continued progress.

“General contractors and subcontractors are the people on the ground,” Owens said. “It’s absolutely essential that this community play a role in the development of this tool. It’s the only way LEED gets better.”   EC

ROSS is a freelance writer located in Brewster, Mass. He can be reached at chuck@chuck-ross.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine –  2007 www.ecmag.com


Getting Credit

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines are broken down into six major categories: Sustainable Sites (SS), Water Efficiency (WE), Energy & Atmosphere (EA), Materials & Resources (MR), Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) and Innovation & Design Process (ID). Within each of these categories, some of the standards are prerequisites, and others are optional. Each adopted optional guideline followed by the building team gains the project a specified number of points, and the project’s final certification status—Certified, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum—is based on its final point total.

Rosendin Electric Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based company, suggests the following individual credits toward which electrical contractors can contribute:

SS-8: Light Pollution Reduction—The intent is to minimize night-time light pollution by minimizing light trespass from the building and the site.

EA Pre. Req. 1: Fundamental Commission of the Building Energy Systems—Verify that energy-related systems meet the standards set by the owner, the design and construction documents.

EA 1: Optimize Energy Performance—Achieve energy performance levels above the minimum baseline; point totals climb for this credit based on just how high performance levels reach.

EA 2: On-site Renewable Energy—Incorporate on-site renewable technologies to offset fossil-fuel demands. Technologies can include solar, wind, geothermal, low-impact hydropower, biomass and bio-gas.

EA 5: Measurement & Verification—Provide for the ongoing accountability of building energy consumption over time, covering a period of no less than one year of post-construction occupancy.

MR Pre. Req. 1: Storage & Collection of Recyclables—Provide an easily accessible area serving the entire building dedicated to storing nonhazardous materials for recycling.

MR 5: Regional Materials—Use building materials or products that have been extracted, harvested or recovered, as well as manufactured, within 500 miles of the project site. (Note: Electrical equipment can be exempted from this calculation.)

EQ-4.1: Low Emitting Materials: Adhesives & Sealants—All adhesives and sealants used on the building’s interior shall comply with specified standards for volatile organic compound limits.

EQ 6.1: Controllability of Systems: Lighting—Provide a high level of lighting-system control by either individual occupants or specific groups within multioccupant spaces.

EQ-8.1: Daylight & Views—Achieve a minimum glazing factor of 2 percent in a minimum of 75 percent of all regularly occupied areas. (Note: According to Erica Paul, an estimator with Rosendin Electric, glazing performance has a direct impact on lighting requirements. Also, photocell-based lighting control is one of the potential technologies associated with this standard.)

ID-2: LEED Accredited Professional
At least one principal participant of the project team shall be a LEED-accredited professional.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine –  2007 www.ecmag.com


Whole-Building Automation—Opportunity or Not?

Planning –and education required for successful ventures

Electrical contractors constantly search for a way to set themselves apart from the competition. Some contractors excel in the installation of complex fire alarm and security systems. Others specialize in the systems controls. Regardless of the area in which you choose to expand your capabilities, change always will serve as the one constant in the electrical business.

Building automation offers another area in which the professional contractor can use his or her expertise to develop a specialty market.

Building automation does not really present a new concept. But, it appears to have experienced difficulties in becoming the norm rather than the exception. The building automation systems (BAS) idea appeals to building owners because they can visualize the potential for the BAS to save money. BAS can provide savings, both in the initial installation and in future updates. In fact, the updates may become necessary to take advantage of future savings.

As with any specialty market, the many players involved must work together to make sure the owner gets what he or she asked for. Suffice it to say that any project that intends to use building automation will more likely be a large project.

Traditionally, the construction process requires each of the specialized construction trades to complete their tasks essentially independently.

However, to make certain the BAS will do what it is supposed to do requires close coordination between the electrical and mechanical engineers, as well as between the mechanical and electrical contractors.

Of course, the wiring backbone provides the key. So you must truly understand the operational requirements of the BAS before you pull in the first cable. As with any complicated wiring system, the devil is in the details. You should not take an agreement to wire a BAS lightly.

First, be sure you understand how the engineers want the system to work, and determine whether they have developed an operation matrix to aid in that understanding.

Secondly, research the specified products you must supply to ensure they will actually perform as the marketing and sales people say they will.

Current practice involves the installation of separate building systems for fire alarm, HVAC control, security, lighting control and building process automation. The long-term goal of BAS will seamlessly integrate all of these systems into one.

The major drawback to this concept comes from the fact that the suppliers of these systems must maintain their own systems. In this scenario, someone must have sole responsibility to ensure interoperability of all the systems. Some suppliers have recognized the need for interoperability of their systems and have developed software solutions. Electrical contractors with a strong background in communications may hold an edge when installing building automation systems. But inevitably, specific training for more efficient installations will become imperative.

Installing building automation systems takes a team effort. This effort requires the electrician to have some understanding and knowledge of how the electrical work interfaces with the other trades. And, the electrician must possess an understanding of the function and operational design of the intelligent building system.

In addition to the technical knowledge necessary to install building automation systems, a contractor must always keep code compliance in mind. Unfortunately, conflicting requirements exist within the applicable codes. Integration of fire alarm systems within the BAS framework offers one of the potential nightmares. The National Fire Alarm Code and the authority having jurisdiction work in concert to regulate the design, installation, maintenance, testing and use of fire alarm systems. Many authorities do not want the fire alarm system integrated with any other system. They do not want the non-fire alarm systems to interfere with the proper operation of the fire alarm system.

Thus, the fire alarm system presents certain inherent obstacles, and the contractor must deal with these. The National Fire Alarm Code allows the fire alarm system to interface with other building systems, as long as the integrated system meets certain requirements. These include ensuring when other building systems share the fire alarm system signaling line circuits, the integrated system meets the requirements established for combination systems. Essentially, this means the fire alarm system operation takes precedence over all other building automation systems. NFPA 72-2007 also requires the following:

... all signal control and transport equipment (such as routers, servers) located in a critical fire alarm or fire safety function signaling path shall be listed for fire alarm service unless the following conditions are met:

(1) The equipment meets the performance requirements of 4.4.4.1. (Voltage, temperature and humidity variation requirements) and

(2) The equipment is provided with primary and secondary power and monitored for integrity as required in Section 4.4.1 (power supply requirements)

(3) All programming and configuration ensure a fire alarm system actuation time as required in 6.8.1.1. (All alarm functions must actuate within 10 seconds after the activation of an initiating device.)

(4) System bandwidth is monitored to confirm that all communications between equipment that is critical to the operation of the fire alarm system or fire safety functions take place within 10 seconds; failure shall be indicated within 200 seconds.

(5) Failure of any equipment that is critical to the operation of the fire alarm system or fire safety functions is indicated at the master fire alarm control unit within 200 seconds.

In addition, the fire alarm system must have a listed barrier gateway integral with or attached to each fire alarm control unit or group of control units, as appropriate, to prevent the other interfaced systems from interfering with or controlling the fire alarm system.

As with any complicated system, the BAS contractor must recognize the inherent risks. First, you cannot bid these types of projects without understanding the dependence you will have on your suppliers. The suppliers must provide you with the necessary training and technical assistance to ensure an efficient installation. These types of systems may require negotiation, as most do. But, the wise electrician will realize that buying the systems based only on price will be a mistake.

The contractor may experience additional costs due to delivery delays. So, make sure you write your purchase order with specific guaranteed delivery schedules.

Early in the design and construction process, the contractor must address the addition of the communication structure for the building automation system. The contractor must address this issue from both a contractual and operations point of view. Once again, the contractor cannot approach this kind of project like just another electrical project.

Numerous challenges face the electrical contractor who intends to enter this sophisticated market. These challenges include the understanding of the systems interface with the common infrastructure, and the infrastructure testing, acceptance and commissioning. After the contractor tests and commissions the infrastructure, he or she must test and commission the individual systems. The contractor also must verify these systems to be sure that all systems will perform together as specified. To accomplish these goals, the contractor must have clear responsibilities for the implementation, in order to avoid the proverbial finger pointing for poor system performance.

With more parties involved in the construction process, the building owner will find it more difficult to assign responsibilities. Therefore, early in the process, the electrical contractor should make sure that the building owner has clearly defined the contractor’s responsibilities. This includes ensuring a definition for the requirements of the communications infrastructure, including the planned or required testing process.

As with any specialty market, your profits will depend on how well you understand the market and how well you plan the installation process. Avoid a BAS nightmare by having a complete understanding of what is expected of you and plan accordingly.            EC

MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent speaker and an expert in the life safety field, is a co-editor of the current National Fire Alarm Code Handbook. Moore is a principal with Hughes Associates Inc. at the Warwick, R.I., office.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine –  2007 www.ecmag.com


Timing Is Everything!

Training (or the lack thereof) affects your bottom line

By Wayne D. Moore

During a recent NFPA fire alarm systems seminar, a gentleman introduced himself and his two technicians. They had traveled quite a distance. Knowing NFPA planned a future seminar in his state, I asked why he did not wait to attend the closer seminar.

“Well, we just signed our first fire alarm project ever, and we have to install it next week,” he said. “We already have the equipment, so we thought we would come to this seminar to learn what to do.”

This man at least had good intentions by trying to educate himself. However, he had chosen to cut his timing pretty close to the limit.

As I listened to this contractor talk about this new job, I wondered, “Who designed the fire alarm system?” It was substandard. I was saddened to learn that he had. After he completed the seminar program, I do not know if he went home and changed the design or the bid, but I hope he did.

Although NFPA 72-2007 is titled National Fire Alarm Code, it really serves as an installation and application standard. Assuming he learned a great deal in class, maybe he will get it right. I have a picture in my mind of this gentleman and his technicians standing at the project with a detector in one hand and the code in the other saying, “Are you sure we are supposed to install it that way?”

Obviously, he would have been better off if he had attended the seminar program before he sold his first project. At least then he would have known how many detectors he needed and at what spacing he should install them. He also would have known to ask the owner for his or her fire protection goals before moving forward with the design.

Hopefully, as a professional electrical contractor, you will never find yourself in this position of putting the cart before the horse. But the story points out some interesting issues.

In a design/build project, you know sometimes you have to make decisions in the field to adjust the system installation to accommodate changes in the construction of the building. Wouldn’t the timing of those decisions be better if you already had the training and code background to ensure you did things right?

Unfortunately, the National Fire Alarm Code changes every three years just like the National Electrical Code. This fact alone requires constant vigilance on your part to stay abreast of these changes. Understanding the changes will help ensure that your electricians and your company do not make a costly mistake. And, in the case of both of these codes, a costly mistake could result in lost lives in addition to lost revenue.

It makes sense to acknowledge that one person in your company should be in charge of ensuring the codes in your library are up-to-date. It also makes sense to purchase the books or magazines that will highlight the changes from edition to edition, so you and your staff can stay on top of the changes.

I often preach in these pages about the importance of training. In the area of keeping up with changes to the codes, in-house training is an inexpensive way to keep your electricians up-to-date. After all, shouldn’t they know changes to the codes that will affect their daily work? Of course they should. And in-house training offers the opportunity to review code issues that come up frequently in the field. These include items such as the proper location of detection devices and notification appliances. Such training also provides an opportunity to dispel misinformation about code requirements and specific code issues that you find your technicians have not understood or followed. Just informing your electricians of the scope and purpose of NFPA 72-2007 will improve their basic understanding of where to look when they have a question regarding fire alarm systems.

As it states in the code, “NFPA 72 covers the application, installation, location, performance, inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire alarm systems, fire warning equipment and emergency warning equipment, and their components.” It also states that the “code defines the features associated with these systems and also provides information necessary to modify or upgrade an existing system.”

As mentioned here a number of times, training (or the lack thereof) affects your bottom line. Imagine yourself in the predicament of the gentleman I told you about at the beginning of this column. Imagine being the one who sold a life safety system with no knowledge of the codes and standards you should follow. And then, imagine trying to defend yourself in court when a fire alarm system does not perform as expected.    EC

MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent speaker and an expert in the life safety field, is a co-editor of the current “National Fire Alarm Code Handbook.” Moore is a principal with Hughes Associates Inc. at the Warwick, R.I., office.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine –  2007 www.ecmag.com


The Art Of Hiring Smart

New hires can strengthen your company — if they’re the right ones

By Mike Dandridge

Here’s the good news: The need for electricians is growing. In fact, the demand will continue to increase across the next decade. “As the population and economy grow,” a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states, “more electricians will be needed to install and maintain electrical devices and wiring in homes, factories, offices, and other structures. New technologies also are expected to continue to stimulate the demand for these workers.”

Now for the bad news: The work force of skilled electricians is shrinking. In order to take advantage of this growing need and not become a victim of the shrinking talent pool, it will be essential for even the smaller contracting firms to develop a hiring strategy. The challenge is to never be in the position of having to scramble for warm bodies just to fill positions.

A simple plan

A business is only as good as its employees, but every contractor knows finding and hiring great electricians isn’t simply a matter of placing an ad in the Help Wanted section of the local newspaper. Hiring great electricians requires a well-thought out recruiting strategy. Here are four steps to follow in developing such a strategy.

Step 1. Know why you’re hiring—Designing a strategy involves answering the question, “Why am I hiring?” Perhaps the answer seems obvious, but it’s important to acknowledge what you intend to accomplish. Determine how this new hire helps you in your bigger plan. How will it bring you closer to achieving your business goals? Your decision to hire could be based on current or future growth. Or it could be to capture business from a competitor. Or you could be broadening your service offerings by moving into another market, such as fiber optics or security systems. Of course, you could simply be replacing a worker who is no longer on the payroll. Knowing why you are hiring helps shape your efforts.

Step 2. Write a customer-centered job description—Most electrical contracting firms don’t bother writing a job description. “What’s to describe? We’re hiring an electrician,” they say. And while it’s true you want someone with those technical hands-on skills, your primary concern is the quality of work delivered and how the individual interacts with customers. Most customer-service problems aren’t the result of a lack of technical skills. They are the result of a lack of communication skills between the employee and the customer.

Don Andersson, author of “Hire to Fit,” advises owners and employers to develop a customer-based job description. Obviously, the content will vary with the markets you serve. For example, the expectations of a residential customer are different from those of a factory owner. As Andersson writes, “Look at who the customers are, then customize the job to those expected behaviors. Place measures into the description.”

Next, it’s a matter of determining if a job applicant has the behavioral characteristics to successfully meet the expectations of that customer. Those traits may include verbal communication skills, high energy, enthusiasm and work ethic. You may consider using a personality assessment survey or developing interview questions that focus on uncovering behavioral traits. Finally, make your job description all-inclusive. There are a growing number of women electricians, and this is a rich source of talent often overlooked in a male-dominated industry.

Step 3. Prioritize your hiring needs—Apprentice, journeyman, laborer, office worker? Don’t assume if you hire enough people the job will get done. It has to be the right people. Now that you have written a job description, you know what performance level to target. Naturally, it would be ideal if you could always hire top performers, but in the real world, that’s not going to happen. Sometimes it is a matter of choosing from the best of available candidates.

Step 4. Identify future hiring needs, when possible—For instance, when the firm wins a project requiring a bigger work force, obviously more workers will be necessary. Don’t wait until the job is about to start. Begin prescreening applicants right away. Another example of planning for future needs is when you’re having disciplinary problems with an employee indicating a potential upcoming vacancy. Consider designing a service-level agreement for new hires to sign. Base it on the job description, and then employees know exactly what is expected of them.

Where to look

Don’t overlook the development of people who already work for you. Do you have an apprentice who shows more promise than the average worker? Invest in training, and develop your own talent pool. Offering training to eager employees can help retain workers and improve morale. And it serves as a barometer for workers, because most employees won’t take advantage of training offerings. The ones that do will be your more ambitious workers.

An obvious place to look for skilled electricians is in the work force of your competitors. But, keep in mind that a worker who will leave a current employer, if given the right offer, likely will leave you, as well. Besides, you don’t want someone else’s unhappy employee. So how do you know when it’s worth taking a risk on an electrician from a competing firm? Ask your employees. Chances are, they know who the best electricians are in your community. If you’ve been in business for five years or more, you probably do, too. Make a point of getting to know these top performers. Your employees can be helpful in putting you into contact with the electricians in other firms.

And if you’re looking outside the company, job fairs are still around for a reason. They’re an effective way to expose your company to scores of job seekers in a condensed amount of time. Regardless of whether you hire someone, it’s an opportunity to start some positive word-of-mouth marketing. Before committing to a job fair, check the credentials of the event planner.

“Ask for references of companies that attended in previous years,” said Eileen Levitt, president of consulting firm The HR Team. “Ask the sponsors about how they plan to promote the fair to candidates.” This will help determine if the job seekers will be a good fit for your company. Remember, your booth is a marketing tool and needs to be creatively designed to attract your potential employees.

Of course, to plan for the future, become involved in the community, and you’ll plug into a network of resources that could possibly help you find potential workers. The Chamber of Commerce and service clubs are places where you can get to know the business leaders of the community. You’ll learn how other owners are dealing with hiring issues. You’ll learn about career day at high school or the job fair at the junior college. Check into the work-placement program in high schools. Though this often is only a “job shadowing” type program, it could spark an interest and result in a future employee.

And along those lines, it’s important that you always stay in the recruiting state of mind. As the talent pool of skilled workers continues to recede, it will be unlikely that a firm will ever have too many electricians.

Dr. John Sullivan, a leader among human resources advisers, designates this as an “evergreen job, a mission-critical job where hiring is continuous,” regardless of whether an opening exists. By always interviewing promising job prospects you can prequalify candidates for possible future openings, thus speeding up the hiring process when the job becomes available. Sullivan reminds owners to always be alert for good people. By looking outside the industry, you can start fresh with someone who doesn’t have preconceived ideas about the job requirements of an electrician.

“I hire based on work ethic, rather than skill level,” said Dwayne Childer, an electrical contractor. “When we’re working against a deadline, I need to know I can depend on someone to stay late on a Friday night until the job is finished. To someone who’s willing to learn, I can teach the skills needed to be an electrician. But, it’s almost impossible to teach a work ethic. They’ve either got it or they don’t.”

Finally, enlist employees as job recruiters. Post a referral program that rewards employees who bring in new hires.

Optimizing the work force

Most contracting firms today operate lean and hungry, expecting more from a slimmed-down work force. The need for efficiency has required a re-evaluation of the journeyman’s job description. Routine and mundane tasks have been removed and reassigned to assistants and apprentices, freeing the journeyman to focus on the high-skill elements of the work at hand. Cross training is encouraged among the apprentices and trainees to create a flexible work force and provide built-in resources for backup accommodations when workers take sick days or are on vacation.

Employment service providers, known in the past as temp agencies, have evolved into a resource for recruiting skilled workers. Most of these providers offer a flexible trial period allowing an employer time to determine if a worker is a good fit for the needs of the company. Flexibility is the key word. For example, you could hire several people for a specific project with a clause for permanent employment based on job performance. Supply a profile of your company and copies of job descriptions, and the service provider can become a recruiting and training agency. With this information on hand, the employment services specialist always is aware of the contractor’s needs. Outsourcing your recruiting and hiring team allows you to focus on the more pressing issues of the business, such as bidding jobs and project management.

The future is now

“As our field is growing and changing, we need to grow and change with it,” said Kenneth C. Zack, VP/PS IBEW Local 41. “The knowledge we had yesterday may not be good enough for the task at hand tomorrow. We need to keep our skill levels up if we hope to stay competitive. I urge all our members to take full advantage of any and all of the journeyman education classes available to you.”

So there is some more good news: Your competitors aren’t going to take the talent shortage seriously until it’s too late. It’s just easier to procrastinate and scramble for warm bodies as needed. It’s much harder to focus on skills development, strategic planning and constant flexibility. But, developing strategies for hiring and keeping the best of the best can give you the competitive edge in the war for talent.

And the contractor with the most talent wins.   EC

DANDRIDGE is a professional speaker and writer with more than 20 years of experience in the electrical industry. He can be reached at md@mikedandridge.com or www.highvoltageservice.com.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine –  2007 www.ecmag.com


Enclosures Play A Role In Thermal Management

Dealing with heat close to its source takes several forms.

Patrick McLaughlin is chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

The vexing problem of heat generation in the data center and, more specifically, within racks and enclosures is top-of-mind and top-of-agenda for professionals who manage such high-density computing environments. “The IT [information technology] world knows the two critical concerns in the data center are power availability and cooling capacity,” says Herb Villa, technical manager with Rittal Corp. (www.rittal-corp.com). The two are interrelated in that the equipment required to cool these spaces consume significant amounts of power.

Dense servers known as blades are the primary sources of this concentrated heat. Quite often, these blade servers are stored in structures known as enclosures or cabinets. Over the past several years, and with increasing frequency more recently, enclosure manufacturers are designing their wares to deal with concentrated heat loads in some form or fashion.

Villa notes that Rittal offers a full breadth of products with thermal-management capabilities. “You have to be able to support customers who will put a few servers in a cabinet in a data room, as well as high-end users.” The products and technologies designed to support low and medium heat-load densities are pretty well established, he says, and include server cabinets with characteristics including perforated doors and mounting rails. Typically, enclosures of this sort can accommodate 8 to 10 kilowatts of heat per cabinet.

The technology that has gotten Rittal the most press the past few years, however, has been its closed-loop close-coupled solution. It is unique in that it is a liquid-cooled solution, using water rather than air as the cooling agent. “Everyone understands the physics of water versus air,” Villa states. “We know that refrigerants such as water and gas have much greater heat-transfer and -carrying capacities than traditional air.”

He further explains the liquid cooling package’s characterization as a closed-loop, close-coupled system. “‘Close-coupled means the heat transfer and removal process is adjacent to the heat-producing component. ‘Closed-loop’ means air in the enclosure is circulated through the enclosure,” via fans.

Four or five years ago, the prospect of introducing chilled liquid so close to a data center’s central nervous system made many feel, well, nervous. “Customers would say, ‘I’m not bringing water into my data center,’ he recalls. Yet they already had water in their data center in many other aspects,” including sprinkler systems, he says.

Happily, he reports, “We have overcome the water bigotry. People realize they need to consider these solutions for high-density cooling.” Whereas a half-decade ago his potential customers would ask him why they’d ever put water into their enclosures, today they’re asking other questions. Namely, he says, “How do we get it installed, and what is the total cost of ownership/return on investment?” He reports that Rittal has completed one study and is working on another that can in fact quantify TCO and ROI. Savings can be realized, he explains, by reducing the number of enclosures needed to house servers, thereby saving floorspace. Additionally, the water-cooled system allows users to turn off and/or not have to purchase computer room air conditioning units (CRACUs), which can, above and beyond saving the costs of these units, entitle some data centers to rebates from their electric utilities.

Panduit (www.panduit.com) recently introduced the Net-Access Server Cabinet, adding it to a product line that already included the Net-Access Switch Cabinet. While the two systems’ dimensions are the same, the components within them make them appropriate for housing either switches or servers. Panduit’s business development manager Charles Newcomb explains, “Thermal management is very different for each application. In general, switches breathe side-to-side while servers breathe front-to-back. Cable management is key in these environments, and it is important to have a cabinet that allows you to properly route cables—to route them away from switch exhaust and intake. Switches typically do not comply with hot-aisle/cold-aisle designs, so the Net-Access Switch Cabinet was specifically designed to provide large pathways for cable routing and airflow. To optimize switch performance, exhaust ducting direct hot air from the switch out of the cabinet to the hot aisle.

“A server application is very different,” he continues. “It is important to block airflow between the cold aisle and hot aisle. Blanking panels ensure air cannot pass from cold aisle to hot aisle. Cable management is important here too, but it presents a different set of challenges. A server cabinet contains lots of cables, but of different types—power, as well as copper and fiber communications cables. It is critical to provide cable pathways to route cables away from server fans and remove airflow blockages behind servers. Those blockages trap air inside, and force the server to operate at a higher temperature. A way to eliminate that is to allow the flexibility to mount patch panels vertically. The width of the Net-Access Server Cabinet allows patch panels to be mounted outside the traditional 19-inch area.”

Marc Naese, solutions development manager with Panduit, adds, “The lifecycle of equipment in a data center can be two to three years; the lifecycle of a cabinet is much longer. Users expect their cabinets to be able to grow with the infrastructure, and serve them every time they change out equipment. Consequently, most data center managers are moving away from 24-inch cabinets and going to a wider cabinet, where they can efficiently manage more equipment.”

The merits of isolation between hot air and cold air are also evident in the TeraFrame series of enclosures from Chatsworth Products Inc. (www.chatsworth.com). Ian Seaton, technology marketing manager with Chatsworth, reflects, “Everything that’s done in the data center, when you follow industry understanding of best practices, is really designed to separate the supply air from the return air as much as possible. That’s why you want to seal off access cutouts, floor tiles, blanking tiles, and locate your cooling units in hot aisles so you prevent your return air path from migrating into the cold-aisle space. All those design considerations and best practices that we define as ‘best practices’ are geared to accomplish as much separation as possible to keep supply air, as delivered to equipment, from exceeding the clinical definition of what a hotspot would be.”

Chatsworth’s solutions continue on those best practices, he says, but take them to an extreme. The company’s passive cooling system represents one of three approaches to hot air/cold air isolation. “You can build a room around a cold aisle and keep it separate from the rest of the data center so your return air is in free space and returns to CRACU without mixing with the cold aisle. Or you can build a room around a hot aisle, and duct the air out of the room directly back to the CRACU, thereby keeping separation. Or you can use a solution like ours, taking advantage of your suspended ceiling plenum space and accomplish the same thing.”

The CPI system employs several accessories to accomplish hot-air/cold-air isolation, including raised-floor grommets, snap-in filler panels, mounting rails to seal the front of the cabinet from the back, and a vertical exhaust-duct system.

These three manufacturers offer a sampling of the many enclosure products that are available with some form of thermal management built into them. Importantly, each vendor commented that their individual systems are not standalone solutions to the heating/cooling issues affecting data centers. Next month, we will have further commentary from these and other industry experts on the topic of taking a holistic approach to thermal management.

Reprinted with full permission of CI & M Magazine 2007 www.cablinginstall.com


LEED By Example

At the most recent BICSI Conference, held the second week of September in Las Vegas, I enjoyed the presentation delivered by Bill Weekes, a Registered Communications Distribution Designer with Fancom Network Integrators (www.fancomni.com). He provided firsthand, practical information on a topic that might not be extremely familiar to many in the cabling industry: the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. In brief, LEED is a rating system for buildings that measures their friendliness to the environment in five categories: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

Weekes was not familiar with LEED when he first got involved in it, as he freely admitted during his presentation. In fact, if I remember his story correctly, he was committed to carrying out a certain project before learning it would be LEED certified, so had to take a crash course in the topic to go along with on-the-job training. That’s where much of the value in his BICSI presentation comes from. Here was an RCDD speaking to other RCDDs about what it’s really going to mean to them when they get involved in a project that is gunning for LEED certification.

It doesn’t really matter where a project’s tradespeople stand on the sociopolitical spectrum when it comes to environmental causes; if the project is aiming for LEED certification, and these trades want to be paid, they’ll comply with the building owner’s demands for enviro-friendly materials, processes, and systems. So while some who saw Weekes present last month might scoff at LEED’s underlying intentions, it would be in their best interest to pay attention and acquire the ability to bid on and carry out LEED-based contracts.

Even so, I couldn’t shake the irony of my own actions immediately following that presentation. I got out of my chair, grabbed my empty water bottle, and looked for something I knew I wouldn’t find—a recycle bin. So I threw the bottle in the trash barrel, on top of paper products and aluminum cans that also occupied it. A few years ago, at a different conference in Las Vegas, I wanted to deposit my empty aluminum can into a recycle bin, so I asked a member of the convention center’s maintenance staff where I could find one. Based on the look she gave me, I initially believed she did not understand English. In fact, she spoke the language fluently as far as I could tell; it was the notion of a recycle bin that put such a perplexed look on her face. That’s when I realized the city’s punchline of a motto was true on several levels, and in this case could be changed to, “What happens here, gets landfilled here.”

I have to believe the audience that attended Bill Weekes’s presentation included environmentalists, those who refer to environmentalists as “tree huggers,” and many whose beliefs are somewhere in between. Expecting a place known as Sin City to provide them with a positive example of environmental stewardship is unrealistic. But, as Weekes’s presentation pointed out, when those controlling the purse strings are thinking primarily about environmentalism, the dynamic changes significantly. I’ll be interested to hear more examples of how our industry handles LEED projects.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

Reprinted with full permission of CI & M Magazine 2007 www.cablinginstall.com


Using An OTDR: How To Keep It Simple

Not just for use in public networks, the optical time-domain reflectometer no longer has to be an intimidating tool.

Christian Schillab is segment product manager with Fluke Networks, Europe (www.flukenetworks.com).

Communications networks never go slower, never get simpler, and never stay the same. Likewise, certification testing for fiber-optic cabling has also changed. New test equipment and enhanced testing regiments help ensure that cabling can support the new demands placed on networks. Born from legacy test equipment for telecommunications networks, some of these fiber testers were difficult to use. But a new generation of fiber test equipment is designed to make it easy to certify fiber to the latest standards.

Not long ago the state-of-the-art for fiber-optic cabling was the 100Base-FX standard from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE; www.ieee.org), which supported a bit rate of 100 Mbits/sec over a channel with an attenuation of 11 decibels (dB). Today, in order for IEEE 10GBase-S to support a transmission rate 100 times higher than 100Base-FX, the transmission channel must attenuate the light by no more than 2.6 dB. It is this tightening of requirements for the physical media that represents a challenge for all components used to build and test a transmission path.

A standards-compliant connector may contribute up to 0.75 dB (0.5 dB typical) to the total loss. This would mean that if the user patches two fiber segments together, there would be a total of four connectors, which could—even though each individual segment is compliant—result in worst-case loss of 3 dB (4x0.75). This exceeds the loss budget left for the entire link, and with a negative allowance left for the fiber itself.

More than a loss measurement

This is where new test methods are required. Installers who work with optical fiber are no doubt familiar with the optical loss test set (OLTS). Performing a loss-length test with an OLTS is an essential part of fiber installation. Every link needs to be tested to ensure it is within the loss limits.

But an OLTS will only show if a link has passed or failed. If it fails, the OLTS will not show you why it failed, or where. For these answers, an optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR) comes into play. Using an OTDR need not be complicated or confusing. Understanding a few basic concepts will make OTDR use as straightforward as using a copper certification tool.

Testing fiber links as defined by national and international standards such as the TIA/EIA-568-A and ISO-11801 specifications, includes the use of an OLTS. Recently updated standards that focus on test methods for installed fiber links, such as ISO-14763-3 and TIA TSB-140 now recommend the complementary use of an OTDR. These new standards add the use of an OTDR to verify not just that the link has passed, but to ensure the quality of each installed component on the link. Two levels of testing are defined in these updated standards: Basic (or Tier 1) testing uses an OLTS. Extended (or Tier 2) testing involves the use of an OTDR in addition to the OLTS.

The following example helps demonstrate how an extended test regime can help to ensure consistent quality during installation. Assume that the first connector in a two-connector, 100-meter fiber link performs extremely well while the second connector is poorly installed or contaminated.

In such a circumstance, the measurement with an OLTS may show that the link passed by a slim margin of 0.02 dB, but does not identify the second connector as a bottleneck. Identifying bottlenecks is the strength of an OTDR, which sends a pulse of light into fiber and measures the light reflected back at each component as the light lost at that component. The same is true for backscattered light along the length of the fiber itself.

Little setup required

An OTDR can produce accurate, highly detailed measurements, if the correct setup and necessary accessories are employed. Recent versions of standards like ISO-14763-3 make an attempt to specify all necessary elements for a correct measurement with an OTDR, thus eliminating common sources of measurement error. Those specifications include the following.

Specifications for launch and receive fibers

Correct use of launch and receive fibers

Instructions detailing how to position the cursor for the correct reading of link, component, and segment attenuation

List of conditions under which it is vital to measure each fiber in both directions

Insert Figure 1

Users may view these setup requirements as overly complex, which may explain why many view the OTDR as a tool for experts only. This is also why installers and contractors may choose not to bid on projects that require an OTDR, or subcontract this work to a company specializing in fiber. Such thinking is in strong contrast to the certification of twisted-pair copper cabling systems, where after setting the correct standard, a single press of the autotest button does everything.

Fortunately, the actual use of the OTDR is not as challenging as it appears. Making sure that test leads, launch fibers, and receive fibers are in a crisp condition, clean, and correctly connected will always be the responsibility of the user. But the remainder of the setup steps can be taken care of by the instrument. Newer OTDRs will create an image of the proper setup configuration. The user merely needs to make connections and have the instrument “learn” the launch and receive fibers.

After this quick step, the tester will be ready to certify links and all included components for their compliance. Often a project-specific standard, which is derived from the manufacturer’s data sheet or reference implementation, will be used to set these limits.

Pass, fail, or squeak by

When the tester is properly configured, the tests are as simple as a common copper certification test. The most common situation should be that the link passes, and a “pass” indication on the summary screen is sufficient. The user knows that the tester evaluated all elements of the link. Results are stored for later reporting. The instrument also automatically subtracts the contribution of the launch and receive fibers from the total link, showing only the total overall loss.

While this example is sufficient information for a passing link, the user will need to dig deeper and get more-detailed information if the link, or parts of it, failed the specified limits.

The user could see, for example, that the loss may be 1.07 dB and within the limits, but there is a single bottleneck that contributes 0.92 dB to the overall loss.

A fully automatic OTDR automates the test to the same level as a copper field tester, using internal expert diagnostics to interpret all the information from the OTDR test, and presents the results in a simple, easy-to-understand table.

Everyone’s an expert

Many installers react negatively when they hear the term “OTDR.” But rather than thinking of words such as “complicated” and “expensive,” they could think phrases including “just like my copper tester,” and “a chance to grow my business.” Installing and testing fiber may be new to some contractors, but the right equipment can make the job easier.

An expert reader of this article will recognize the trace shown in the final illustration. The launch and receive events are clearly visible to the left and to the right of the link. Also visible is the 0.92-dB receive event at 49.5 meters. But the key to today’s OTDRs is that you don’t have to be an expert. If you are an installer of copper cabling systems, an OTDR will offer you three qualities.

  1. Expert diagnostics that make the OTDR work much like your familiar copper certification tool
  2. A means of bidding on more jobs, growing your business and increasing profits
  3. The ability to move your knowledge of copper systems into a new area and become a fiber expert

Reprinted with full permission of CI & M Magazine 2007 www.cablinginstall.com


A Close Examination Of Unshielded Twisted-pair Cabling Performance

Answers to many of the “why” questions associated with the installation and maintenance of UTP systems.

James Andress is an engineering consultant for telecommunications at New Mexico State University’s Physical Science Laboratory.

Most or all of us are familiar with the installation specifications that have been written for unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cabling systems. These specifications include such installation-and-maintenance topics as pair untwist, bend radius, and pulling tension. And while we are familiar with these standard requirements, many—including and especially those new to the trade—may wonder why such handling restrictions exist. What happens if the specifications are not followed exactly? And why are the specifications more critical, and more restrictive, when transmitting higher data rates?

This article is intended for professionals who are involved with the installation, troubleshooting, and/or operation of UTP cabling including Category 5e, Category 6, and Category 6A.

In order to get started, first consider that the twisted pair was designed several decades ago to transmit a voice signal at 4,000 Hz. Over the past 15 to 20 years, in order to accommodate computer and data networking traffic, this basic design has been upgraded to allow the transmission rates to go from 4,000 bits/sec to millions and potentially billions of bits/second. And, of course, installation methods had to be upgraded accordingly.

Throughout this article, I will use the terms “frequency,” “hertz,” “megahertz,” “megabits,” “gigabits,” and others. Let’s ensure we know what they all mean.

The lexicon of data transmission

Hertz, or cycles per second, is an analog term. A hertz is one electrical energy cycle, above and below the center line, occurring in one second of time. In digital terminology, we use the term “bit,” which is one electrical energy pulse, above or below the center line or a combination of both, occurring in one second of time. Multiple hertz, or bits, can occur—four, forty, thousands, even millions—in a single second.

Any information that is transmitted involves the use of frequencies or bits, even including 60-hertz alternating current (AC) power. Information includes voice, music, radio, data, video, television, or even light, as in fiber optics. The more information we have to transmit, the more hertz, or bits, it takes to do so, and the more complex the technology required to transmit it.

In the computer and data business, all of the information seen on the computer screen is converted to electrical, or ones and zeros, a bit represented by a one and the absence of a bit represented by a zero. But there are other types of information sources, such as data transducers, industrial devices, cameras, and others that are frequency-based. In most of these cases, the frequencies are converted to bits before they are transmitted.

There are generally significant differences between hertz and bits in regard to how they are processed and convey information. However, considering our discussion here on cabling-installation specifications and practices, we can deal with the two terms interchangeably.

Another term we will use when talking about cable performance is signal-to-noise ratio, or SNR. This is simply a number expressing the difference between the power level of the information signal in a circuit, and the power level of the noise, hum, static, crosstalk, or other undesired interfering signals that are also in the circuit. It is expressed as a ratio. The larger the number, the better the circuit quality. Directly related to the SNR is a term called bit error rate (BER). As the bit power level gets down close to the noise level, the receiver may have difficulty deciding if there is a one or a zero at a given period of time. If the receiver makes a mistake and reads a one instead of a zero, or vice versa, we have a bit error.

Twisted path of twisted pair

Let’s talk now about the twisted pair, which is really a rather high-tech precision piece of hardware. The whole business centers around two areas of concern and how they relate to each other: 1) the physical construction of the cable, and 2) the electrical characteristics of signal transmission.

The cable’s physical construction incorporates four significant characteristics.

  1. The diameter of the conductor and conductor material
  2. The type of insulating material along with its density and thickness
  3. The spacing between the insulated conductors of the pair as well as the spacing between the four pairs in the cable
  4. The twist rate, or number of twists per inch, of the two conductors of a pair—but also the relative twist rate of each of the four pairs in the cable, each pair in a given cable having a different twist rate.

The electrical characteristics of signal transmission includes the following items, each of which is considerably complex and requires detailed explanation.

Resistance (R) is simply the resistance of the conductor to the passage of electric current. Resistance is constant along the conductor and controlled primarily by the size of the wire (the larger the wire, the less resistance it has) and the type of material (copper being the almost universal choice). It is measured in ohms. Another contributing factor to overall resistance is the type, thickness, and density of the insulation. Collectively, these resistance factors result in less signal received at the receiver, a poorer SNR, and a higher bit error rate.

Leakage or conductance (G) is the conductance of the insulation on each conductor to the passage of current leaking out to the adjacent conductor of the pair, or to the other pairs, or to ground. It is almost negligible in its electrical effect on the circuit, but it is there and needs to be mentioned. Being very high in value, it is measured in megohms, or millions of ohms. It combines with resistance to weaken the signal along the pair. It too is constant along the conductor and is controlled by the type of insulating material, its thickness, and its density.

Inductance (L) and its current-flow-inhibiting effect, inductive resistance (XL) also must be discussed. Inductance is the magnetic effect of alternating current signal flow in a conductor. It opposes the applied signal voltage, which in turn reduces the signal current flow, which then results in less signal into the receiver, and then to a poor SNR and poorer BER. It too is constant along the conductor, but in this case, the higher the signal frequency or bit rate, the higher the current-inhibiting effect. Although inductance is inherent in any conductor, it is significantly increased when the conductor is curved or formed into a coil. The sharper the curve, or more rotations in a coil, or the smaller the diameter of the coil, the greater the inductance. These factors relate to the problems with tight bends or kinks in the cabling.

Next we will examine captacitance (C) and its signal coupling effect, capacitive reactance (XC). Capacitance is the coupling effect of alternating current signal flow between electrical conductors and components. It allows signal coupling between the wires of a pair and between pairs. The common effect is crosstalk. Capacitance is inherent in a conductor or component. It is also increased by closer spacing or by a larger-size conductor or component. These factors relate to the problem with crushing, twisting, and bends that bring the conductors closer together.

Finally, impedance (Z) is a frequently discussed characteristic. Expressed in ohms, it is a mathematical result of combining the values of resistance, inductive reactance, and capacitive reactance. It is also a design value of all major circuit components, such as transmitter, cable pair, and receiver. In designing and installing a circuit, we try to keep all components and connections as close as possible to the design impedance, which in the case of network circuits is 100 ohms. In contrast, older data and telephone circuits were 600 and 900 ohms, respectively. From a practical viewpoint, when installation errors occur, such as tight bends and tie wraps, damaged cable or components, and poor joints, the component and overall design impedance is changed. And when all circuit components are not working at 100 ohms, we have one or more impedance mismatches.

These cause, at the location of the mismatch, signal reflections back toward the transmitter, and thereby a reduction in signal power going to the receiver. The worse the cumulative mismatches, the less the signal that is actually sent to the receiver—resulting in poorer SNR or BER. The signal reflections are called return loss, and are expressed in dB. The higher the dB number, the fewer installation problems and the better the circuit.

All of these characteristics working together, or in another sense, working against one another, determine the electrical performance of the unshielded twisted-pair cable. They collectively affect the smooth flow of current, which makes up the data signal, through the cable.

Rubber meeting road

So what does all this have to do with specifications for the installation of UTP cabling systems, and the importance of following those specifications? The high-tech cables are designed and constructed very precisely. The dimensions and composition of the conductors and insulation are carefully controlled. We are speaking of dimension tolerances of thousands-of-an-inch and material compositions in parts-per-million. This also related to the relative placement of each conductor and its placement in the cable.

So any physical factor that distorts or affects these tolerances, even ever-so-slightly, changes the inductive and capacitive design parameters, which in turn affect the electrical reactive values, and this then affects the flow of signal current through the cable. In these cases, we have impedance mismatches and reflections that cause crosstalk, signal loss, noise, and then bit errors.

So here is the key point of this entire discussion/article: installation quality and correctness. They are vital, and they are entirely up to you.

Shortly we will get into more detail about the technical parameters and high-bit-rate transmission problems. But first, let’s look at some of the installation specifications and see how even small mechanical distortions can affect transmission performance. As we move forward, please be aware that the drawings are exaggerated to show effect.

Excess pulling tension—One action that can adversely affect signal transmission is exerting too much pulling tension or, stated differently, stretching the cable. The Telecommunications Industry Association specification sets the maximum pulling tension at 25 pounds. When installers exceed that limit, it results in elongation of conductors and insulation, which in turn reduces the diameter and density of those components, the insulation moreso than the conductor. Exerting too much pulling tension also lengthens the twist rate of not only each individual pair, but also the relative rate between each of the four pairs. In both cases it would likely occur in isolated sections, not the total cable length, depending on the nature of the pull.

Bend-radius violations—Violating minimum bend-radius limits by bending the cable too tightly or even kinking it also has deleterious effects on signal transmission. Current specifications call for a minimum bend radius of four times the cable diameter in horizontal applications. Often, you will see two values: static and dynamic. The static value is the minimum bending radius of the cable after it is positioned or placed in its permanent location, with no further movement. The dynamic value is the minimum bend radius to be observed when the cable is being pulled and placed into position. This is the larger of the two numbers because of the added stress being placed on the cable as it is being installed.

Ignoring the bend-radius specification results in stretching or elongating the pair twist on the outer edge of the cable, and compression or buckling of the smooth lay and pair twist on the inner edge. The normal concern is for cable in trays and raceways in long horizontal runs. The worst problem exists when excess slack is pushed back into a pullbox or outlet box, where very tight bends or even kinking could occur. Kinking, which can occur even when pulling the cable out of its supply box, is, of course, a severe case; once done, a kink really cannot be completely undone. In any case, a kink produces a severe inductive-reactance spike. It also likely will cause the conductors to be pushed closer together.

Cinching too tightly—Next, fastening cables too tightly with tie wraps, clamps, or staples is a specification violation. Generally, specifications are rather subjective about this matter, but the overall creed is not to cinch the cables so tightly that the cable cannot be gently pulled under the fastener, or so that the tie wrap cannot be slid along the bundle. Failing to adhere to this guideline can result in crushing the cable, thereby increasing the density and reducing the diameter of the insulation surrounding the conductor, as well as the cable sheath. Additionally, it reduces the spacing between the conductors of a pair and the spacing among the four pairs of the cable. Finally, in extreme cases as with a staple, the conductors can be bent or kinked.

Insulation, jacket removal—Specifications also address the untwisting of the twisted pairs prior to termination. Specifically, installers are told to untwist as little as possible, but in no case exceed ½-inch or extend beyond the rear of the connector. And although it is unavoidable at the point of connectorization or punchdown, this action, even for a very short distance, untwists the conductors of the pair and sometimes increases the spacing between them. This concern is also true for the four pairs in the cable.

Depending on the type of connector block, specifications vary concerning how much insulation may be removed from the conductor, as well as how much sheath may be removed from the cable. Generally specifications say to remove only as much as is absolutely necessary. The ideal case is with punchdown blocks, where no insulation is cut back at all. Disregarding the specifications about insulation removal will cause a small change in the cable’s impedance at that point, because the insulation on a conductor is one factor that determines impedance. Additionally, the sheath is the key factor in holding the four pairs in place and in relative position to one another. So removing the sheath also removes this stabilizing factor.

Effects on delay skew—Even delay skew, an electrical characteristic most closely associated with the material used to insulate conductors, is subject to variation depending on installation technique. The workmanship involves terminating the pairs of the cable in such a way that each pair is cut to length in the connector or terminal block. Mechanically, this avoids having extra-length pairs bunched up in the connecting area. In so doing, however, each of the four pairs ends up having a slightly different length.

Specifications call for a 45-nanosecond maximum delay skew, among the four cable pairs, along a 100-meter span. That is the difference in time, among the four pairs, one to another, for the signals to propagate through the cable from the transmitter to the receiver. The cable’s actual performance is, by and large, determined by manufacturing processes. But again, erroneous installation methods can have a detrimental effect.

Very high data-rate signals that are divided into four parts must be recombined in the proper order, or sequence, at the receiver so that the original signal can be properly detected and decoded. If there is too much difference in the relative data length of each of the four pairs, some bits will be delayed too much and get recombined out of their roper order, with resultant bit errors.

The specification allows for differences in propagation delays due to the different twist rates on each of the four pairs. Having stated the case above, however, extra care must be taken when cutting the four pairs to the same length, that the retained slack does not become kinked nor violate the minimum bending radius specification. In reality, there are usually some tradeoffs made in this situation.

Cable combing—Finally, the neatness of an installed cable plant may at the same time be aesthetically appealing and electrically detrimental to performance. Combing the cable installation—installing or laying the cables in a tray neatly side by side—is a practice not addressed in specifications yet, but may soon be. It is, without question, a technical-performance concern.

In long runs of several cables, it is customary to install the runs in an orderly, straight, and side-by-side manner. This technique provides a very neat and professional appearance. However, particularly at very high data rates, this technique also allows the inductive reactance coupling of electric fields surrounding the conductors to more easily combine and build up, and the capacitive reactance coupling between the conductors to further minimize. The main concern is not totally between the four pairs in a given cable, but the cable-to-cable coupling directly affecting alien crosstalk.

By using a random lay, the cables are constantly changing their relative spacing and crossover position. This reduces the chances for a long exposure to inductive and capacitive coupling. In fact, coupling fields can actually experience some cancellation as they wander in a random fashion along the cable tray or rack.

Even if you have followed the installation specifications perfectly, it is more difficult to get good BERs at high data rates than at lower rates. Please note, however, that the formulas used herein only illustrate relationships, and should not be used for actual circuit calculations.

The critical factors are inductive and capacitive reactance. In regard to inductance, again, it is constant along the conductor. However, the higher the signal data rate, or frequency, the greater the reactance, or current-inhibiting effect, or inductive reactance XL. As the data rate, frequency, or inductance increases, XL also increases. This can be expressed mathematically with the following formula: XL=2ΠfL. 2Π is a constant with a value of 6.28; f is the data rate or frequency; and L is the inductance of the pair or other component at a given point in the circuit.

XL exists even in all good circuits, but its effect is made worse by problems with too-tight bends, kinks, and to some extent with staples and tie wraps.

In regard to capacitance, it too is constant along the conductors. But in this case, the capacitive resistance, XC, in contrast to XL, decreases as the signal data rate increases. So with a smaller XC, or opposing effect to signal coupling, crosstalk can increase as the data rate, or frequency, increases. This also can be expressed mathematically: XC = 1/2ΠfC. 2Π is the constant 6.28; f is the data rate or frequency; and C is the capacitance between the pairs or other components at a given point in the circuit.

Like XL, XC is a factor in well-established circuits, but its effect can easily be made worse by problems with crushing, twisting, bends that bring the conductors closer together, and long installation runs of combed cable.

The resistance effect also increases with higher data rates, although it is not quite as contributory as is inductive reactance. The increasing effect is due to the way the higher-frequency energy propagates along a conductor—a condition called skin effect. Also of importance is the chemical composition of the insulating materials, which affects the impedance characteristic of an insulated conductor, and the higher frequencies are attenuated moreso than the lower ones. This effect is related to the insulation dielectric constant. Please note that when discussing signal transmission, most specifications and other literature refer to resistance factor as attenuation.

Installation quality and correctness lead directly to maximum signal-to-noise ratios and minimum bit errors. In that sense, system performance is up to you—the installers and operators of cabling systems.

Industry SPOTLIGHT

Compiled by Steve Smith

Reprinted with full permission of CI & M Magazine 2007 www.cablinginstall.com


Hybrid Connector Solution Developed For Harsh Environments

Applied Optical Systems (AOS; appliedopticalsystems.com) has developed a long-distance hybrid cabling system designed to carry both electrical and multi-channel fiber optics for LAN and wireless LAN (WLAN) applications in harsh environments.

The F-Link family of products is equipped with up to 34 fiber-optic channels and a fiber-optic backshell, plus plug-and-play connectors and terminals. While comparable opto-electrical systems have connectors that can withstand 20 to 30 pounds of strain, the F-Link connectors are designed with a strain resistance of 250 to 400 pounds (depending on quality of fiber or composite cable), making it suitable where high winds or rough handling may occur.

In addition to many industrial applications, F-Link is also being used in portable classrooms for school districts, where frequent handling and vandalism are issues. The Albuquerque, NM Public School District, for example, owns more than 1,300 portable buildings, and each year, 150 or more of them are relocated. Substantial costs result from hiring a contractor to disconnect and re-connect the data communication lines that integrate the classroom with the school.

"It costs tens of thousands of dollars every time we have to cable a group of portables,"  explains Doug Ahlgrim, RCDD/NTS, of Albuquerque-based Sound & Signal Systems. "That was much too wasteful, so we developed a 'quick disconnect' plug-and-play design that would facilitate hooking up or unhooking a hybrid plug-and-play design that would facilitate connection or disconnecting all low-voltage systems.”

To ensure lasting performance and durability, Ahlgrim's team had to address New Mexico's seasonal temperature extremes, rough treatment of the connections, and vandalism. Researching a supplier of plug-and-play opto-electrical technology led Ahlgrim to AOS, whose products include 'tactical' fiber-optic connectors conforming to military specifications.

"AOS tailored their F-Link platform to keep the cost down while also providing a system that is robust and rugged enough for the environments we're putting it in," Ahlgrim says. "Continuous vandalism of the previous 'quick disconnect' product led the school district to resolve the issue with the first installation of the F-Link interconnect system. When used with Optical Cable Corp.'s (www.occ.com) MX-Series Messenger Cable, the pull strength on the F-Link solution exceeds 250 pounds, and functions well in an outdoor environment.

Sound & Signal Systems replaced the previous broken connections with F-Link products on approximately 40 portable buildings and, according to Ahlgrim, there has not been a single breakage problem since. He adds that the system has reduced overall costs from tens of thousands of dollars to just hundreds of dollars per relocation.

"We now have about 400 to 500 F-Link systems deployed within the district, and it's growing every day," says Ahlgrim. "Though the district is not really seeing the huge savings yet, they'll start seeing it as they move from area to area and experience the savings based on the ease and simplicity of un-plug and re-plug, saving on labor, repair, and replacement costs. Plus, connector inventory is greatly simplified, and maintenance personnel can be trained on a single, easy system.”

As a result of the success of the F-Link connector in the portable classrooms, the Albuquerque school district has decided to use it for its intercom, fire alarm, security, and phone systems throughout all of its facilities.

(Freelance technical writer Ed Sullivan of Hermosa Beach, CA contributed to  this article.--Ed.)

Reprinted with full permission of CI & M Magazine 2007 www.cablinginstall.com


Structured Cabling System Aimed At Home, Small Office Markets

Designed for managing high-bandwidth content within a small office or home network, Telect's (www.telect.com) Media Gateway system addresses the need to distribute, manage, and deliver ever-increasing data rates throughout a small network.

Featuring a flexible design and a color-coding system to simplify connectivity, Media Gateway includes central distribution panels, wall outlets, cabling, and accessories to enable triple-play (voice, video, data) distribution throughout an office or home installation. The color-coded connectivity system helps users match numerical and color-corresponding wall outlets with ports in the panel, while clearly labeled connectivity modules, splitters, and other devices in the panel are designed for simplified structured cabling management.

"A well-designed home network is absolutely crucial in successfully delivering high-bandwidth content," says Mark Hawley, Telect's broadband solutions program manager. "The Media Gateway will appeal to everyone, from service providers to developers, home builders, installers, and end users.”

The patent-pending system features Category 5e and RF video connectivity and distribution components, along with wall outlets for each office or home location. It supports distribution of video-on-demand, high-speed data, IP video, and VoIP applications. Enhanced cable management in the panel includes cable tie-downs to keep installations clean, and ample space for jumpers and other cabling.

Media Gateway systems support applications ranging from new housing/greenfield developments to retrofits in existing homes and office spaces.

Reprinted with full permission of CI & M Magazine 2007 www.cablinginstall.com


Check out what’s new for Cabling Business Magazine’s December 2007 Special Green Issue!

Packed full of hot new products, timely industry columns and of course, the latest technology news you’ve come to expect every month!

Features:

End of Year Wrap-Up – Go Green!

By Lee Badman

Planning, Designing and installing the Green Data Center

By Christine Pietryla

Approving Green Projects in the Telecom World

By Eric A. Woodroof, Ph.D, CEM

Tips and Techniques for Maximizing Space and Keeping it Green

By Leeza Hoyt

Newest Printers, Labels and Software for the Coming Year  

By Marilyn McGair

A Static Infrastructure for Moves, Adds and Changes

By Ed Cronin, RCDD

Industry Expert Columns:

  • The Leadership Link-Changing to a Green Company

§         Reel Time-Special Column

§         Testing the Experts

  • Latest Published TIA Standards

 

Hot Products:

Programmable Power Supply, environmentally-friendly cable lubricant, Green Training Programs for installers, WiMax solutions, Server Console Switches, Network Analyzers, Newest Bandwidth Capabilities, Antimicrobial coatings for KVM, Safety Lanterns, Plug and Play Fiber Optic MPO Cassettes, Green Powering Solutions and much, much more!

As always readers can log on to the magazine Web site at www.cablingbusiness.com and download the latest issue online! Don’t miss out!


NECA, IBEW Named Winners In 2007 Webawards Competition

The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) today announced that their media ventures received top honors in this year’s Web Marketing Association WebAwards competition.

ElectricTV.net, a joint Web site of NECA and IBEW featuring streaming video stories covering a range of issues affecting the electrical and information systems industries, and IBEWHourPower.com, a video-rich site aimed at keeping union members abreast of current events and best practices, were each recognized for Outstanding Achievement in Web Site Development. Both sites were created by Golden, Colorado-based Oswego Creative.

Now in its eleventh year, the WebAwards competition (www.webawards.com) has become the premier award event for Web developers and marketers worldwide. More than 2,400 sites from 40 countries were judged in 96 industry categories during the competition. Entries were evaluated on design, copywriting, innovation, content, interactivity, navigation and use of technology.

Says IBEW President Edwin D. Hill, “People today receive their news from a variety of sources, whether print, broadcast or online. These Web sites provide additional ways that we reach consumers, contractors and workers with critical information. Being recognized by a prestigious institution like the Web Marketing Association is a great acknowledgement of how effective we are in using the latest technology to help everyone stay knowledgeable about our industries.”

ABOUT IBEW AND NECA
Through their joint marketing organization – the National Labor-Management Cooperation Committee (NLMCC) of the organized electrical construction industry – NECA and IBEW together work to:

• Reach customers with accurate information about the industry; and

• Achieve better internal communication between labor and management.

With 725,000 members who work in a wide variety of fields – including construction, utilities, telecommunications and manufacturing – the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is among the largest member unions in the AFL-CIO. The IBEW was founded in 1891. For more information, visit www.ibew.org.

Voice of the $100 billion industry responsible for bringing lighting, power and communications to buildings and communities across the United States, the National Electrical Contractors Association was founded in 1901. NECA’s national office and 120 local chapters advance the industry through advocacy, education, research and standards development. www.necanet.org


OLTS and OTDR: A Complete Testing Strategy

By Harley Lang, III, RCDD

Fiber is playing an increasing role in the majority of network installation contracts. The result is that more attention is being focused on the primary tools for certifying fiber optical cable, Optical Loss Test Sets (OLTS) and Optical Time Domain Reflectometers (OTDR). While the measurements taken by these instruments are similar, they typically perform different roles in the certification process. Rather than being competitive, OLTS and OTDR are actually complementary tools that both play a role in the majority of fiber installation projects. This article will explain how each method works, describe its advantages, and provide some suggestions for contractors on how to develop a testing strategy to maximize customer satisfaction.

Growth in Fiber Cabling

The increasing role played by high high-bandwidth applications is driving growth in the deployment of fiber optic cabling systems. According to a report entitled, “Structured Cabling Systems” by FTM Consulting, fiber-cabling revenues will exceed Unshielded unshielded Twisted twisted Pair pair (UTP) revenues for the first time in 2008. While copper has dominated the market up to now, fiber will establish a larger market share in structured cabling system applications such as data centers, campuses and Fiberfiber-to-the-Zonezone. In addition, fiber will continue to be the dominant cabling used in riser cabling systems. On the other hand, study predicts that copper will continue to dominate the horizontal subsystem market.

OLTS Operation and Benefits

The increasing role-, played by fiber, means that it is becoming more important than ever to understand and take advantage of the primary methods used to test and certify fiber-cabling systems. OLTS has long been the primary method of testing premises fiber optic cabling. The test is designed to determine the total amount of light loss over the fiber link.  Other terms used to refer to this technology are Lossloss/lLength and power meter/light source (PMLS). The test is performed with a stable light source that produces a continuous wave at specific wavelengths. The light source is connected to one end of the fiber. A power meter with a photo detector is installed at the opposite end of the fiber link.  The detector measures optical power at the same wavelengths as the light source. These two devices determine the total amount of light loss. This loss/length certification is described in certification standards such as Telecommunications Industry Association’s (TIA’s) TSB-140 bulletin entitled, “Additional Guidelines for Field-Testing Length, Loss and Polarity of Optical Fiber Cabling Systems,” as basic or Tier 1 certification that is required for all fiber optic cabling links. The Tier 1 tests are attenuation (insertion loss), length and polarity.

A key innovation in recent years is the availability of fiber loss/length modules that can be attached to copper test sets to make them function as an OLTS. Some of these instruments can test two fibers at a time in order to verify polarity, certify the actual length of the fiber being tested and reduce the time required for certification. The copper tester mainframe with fiber loss/length module is used at one of the fiber and the remote at the other end. A reference power level is set using test reference cords before separating the two instruments and plugging each end of the fiber to be tested into them. Then with the press of a single button, both fibers are tested at two wavelengths to measure their length and loss and determine a pass or fail status in less than 12 seconds. The polarity can be quickly reversed to provide bi-directional results. The approach provides an efficient and accurate method to certify that the fiber link meets the loss budget for a specific application such as 10 Gb/s Ethernet.

OTDR Operation and Benefits

With tighter loss budgets and less room for error in high bandwidth fiber backbones, network owners and designers are now setting specifications not only for overall loss budgets but also all for individual splices and connectors. Because light sources and power meters are not able to perform this type of test so many standards organizations, such as TIA and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), are recommending Extended or Tier 2 certification. This involves the acquisition of a trace from an OTDR. An OTDR can pinpoint the location of faults on a fiber link and certify the workmanship involved in an installation. OTDRs find and characterize both reflective and non-reflective events in optical fiber runs. The result is that the OTDR is able to certify every fiber optic connector and splice and ensure that there are no unplanned loss events due to poor cable management or installation. OTDRs are also very powerful troubleshooting tools.

OTDRs use specialized pulsed laser diodes to transmit a series of very short high-power light pulses into a fiber. As the pulse of the OTDR travels down the fiber, most of the light travels in the direction of the fiber. High-gain light detectors measure the light that is reflected or backscattered as each pulse travels down the fiber. The OTDR uses these measurements to detect events in the fiber that reduce or reflect the power in the source pulse.

For example, a small fraction of the light is scattered in a different direction due to the normal structure of and small defects in the glass that makes up the fiber. The phenomenon of light being scattered by impurities in the fiber is called Rayleigh scattering. A certain amount of backscatter is expected for a specific length of fiber based on the fiber’s attenuation coefficient specification.

When a pulse of light meets connections, breaks, cracks, splices, sharp bends or the end of the fiber, it reflects due to the sudden change in the refractive index. These reflections are called Fresnel (pronounced frA-NEL) reflections. The amount of light reflected, not including the backscatter from the fiber itself, relative to the source pulse is the called reflectance. It is expressed in units of dB and is usually expressed as a negative value for passive optics with values closer to 0 representing larger reflectance that indicates poorer connections with greater losses.

OTDRs display results using a plot or trace of reflected and backscattered light power versus distance along the fiber as shown in Figure 4. The Y-axis displays the power level and the X-axis shows distance. When you read the plot from left to right, the backscatter values decrease because the loss increases as the distance increases. OTDR traces have several common characteristics. Most traces begin with an initial input pulse that is a result of Fresnel reflection occurring at the connection to the OTDR. Following this pulse, the OTDR trace is a gradual curve sloping downward and interrupted by gradual shifts. The gradual decline results from Rayleigh scattering as light travels along each fiber section. This decline is interrupted by sharp shifts that represent a local deviation of the trace in the upward or downward direction. Loss events appear as a step down on the plot. Connectors, splices or breaks cause these shifts, or point defects. The end of the fiber can be identified by a large spike, after which the trace drops dramatically down the Y-axis. Finally, the output pulse, at the end of the OTDR trace, results from Fresnel reflection occurring at the output of the fiber-end face.

An OTDR trace makes it possible to certify that the workmanship and quality of the installation meets the design and warranty specifications for current and future applications. For example, a common requirement is that the loss associated with a splice should be no larger than 0.3 dB and that associated with a connector should be no more than 0.75 dB. The losses associated with individual events are invisible to an OLTS.  If an individual splice or connector does not meet the design spec, the installer can correct it while still on-site. 

This explains why Tier 2 testing is becoming a requirement of many installation projects. A complete Tier 1 and Tier 2 fiber certification provides the most comprehensive picture of the fiber installation and proof of a quality installation. Even where Tier 2 testing is not required, many contractors prefer to perform it because it documents the workmanship of the complete installation process. Tier 2 testing demonstrates that every connector was left in good condition.  If there are any problems later the contractor normally will not be obligated to fix them without charge.

Since an OTDR plot or trace can also be used to measure the attenuation and transmission loss between any two points on the cable plant, it is possible to compare Tier 1 test results with Tier 2.  In the past, there was significant inconsistency between the test results of OLTS and OTDRs.  This has been eliminated with improvements in controlling launch conditions.  The term “launch condition” refers to the way the light source is actually propagated to the fiber, Even though they use completely different technologies, with consistent launch conditions, the latest generation of OLTS and OTDR instruments show only a difference of 0.1 dB average for a single connector loss. This close correlation can be attributed to the work that test equipment manufacturers have done in conjunction with TIA, ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to develop instrumentation standards that help ensure consistent results.

Are both OLTS and OTDR Tests Needed?

This raises the question: if an OTDR is used is an OLTS still necessary? The answer is that an OLTS measurement is still required in nearly every application because it provides a direct measurement of the fiber plant losses and length, while these values can only be inferred from an OTDR measurement.

Traditionally, OTDR testing has been performed with stand-alone instruments that cost a significant amount of money and have their own unique and often complex user interface. These stand-alone instruments provide obstacles to equipping technicians to perform Tier 2 fiber certification.

New OTDR modules are available that enable complete Tier 2 testing of fiber links using the same instrument and interface normally used for copper testing.   These greatly simplify the task of providing Tier 1 and Tier 2 testing of fiber links. The new generation of OTDR modules enables contractors who are familiar with copper certification to perform Extended extended fiber certification. Users see the familiar copper tester interface, test command, stored setup values and expert diagnostics. With the OTDR module, a single test from one end of the fiber checks every connector and splice on a link to be sure the fiber cabling meets the defined specification. This shortens the learning curve and extends the value of the existing copper tester.

Developing a Fiber Certification Strategy

Datacom contractors should develop a testing strategy based upon the requirements set by the consultant, system designer or network owner and the contractor’s available resources, equipment and tolerance for risk. Some system designers or end users will require only basic testing and others will require both basic and extended testing.

Inspection and verification tools should be used during installation to minimize simple problems, such as dirty or poorly terminated connectors that slow down certification testing. Secondly, technicians should systematically perform certification testing with tools that are easy to use and capable of delivering the needed information including test results and reports in an easy to understand format. Performing basic Tier 1 certification with a light source and power meter ensures that the system meets the loss budget for the immediate applications. Extended Tier 2 certification proves that the cabling and connections were done correctly. It is a good practice to perform both of these tests in both directions and at multiple wavelengths on the fiber.

The increasing volume of fiber installation, as well as the higher margins usually associated with fiber installation, provides a tremendous opportunity to contractors. Contractors now have the opportunity to generate additional revenues by equipping the same technicians that are now performing copper certification to perform fiber certification, as well. Technicians can leverage their existing knowledge of the instrument so relatively little training is required to certify the fiber plant. Reporting is delivered in the same format as the other reports so the expense of reformatting to match the copper test reports is eliminated. The cost of the new modules is also considerably lower than a stand-alone instrument and they are also much more compact.

Conclusion

The increasing proportions of network installation jobs involving fiber make it critical for contractors to understand the technologies involved in fiber testing and develop an appropriate certification strategy. Contractors, network owners and fiber system designers need to understand the difference between OLTS and OTDR testing and what benefits each provides. These technologies serve different purposes and perform a complementary, rather than mutually exclusive, role in the fiber certification process.

Harley Lang, III, RCDD, is Fluke Networks Product Manager for Fiber Optic Tools. Harley combines a strong industry and technical background with broad management experience. Lang’s experience encompasses product management roles in the Fiber Optic group, Enterprise Networks group as well as in the Access Networks group. Lang received his bachelor's degree in business administration from University of Washington in Bothell, WA.  He is a BICSI Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) and a former U.S. Marine Corps Reservist.

Reprinted with full permission of CBM –2007


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