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Wireville.com

Issue: April 2008
By: Frank Bisbee


Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces


BISBEE’S BUZZ

USGBC Under Attack By Commercial Interests

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. LEED addresses all building types and emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies in five areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality.

This all sounds wonderful, so why are the Chemical companies and their shills attacking the “good guys”. It may have more to do with profits than public safety.

Brendan Owens, Director-Vice President, LEED Technical Development USGBC Non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable building design and construction and developers of the LEED building rating system.  (www.usgbc.org), stated that the goal of MR Credit 4:1: PBT Source Reduction: Dioxins and Halogenated Compounds, is to “ Reduce the release of persistent bioaccumlative toxic chemicals (PBT’S) associated with the life cycle of building materials.”  The LEED Green Building Rating System ™, which is run by the USGBC, is a voluntary program.  Under it, project credits can be earned to qualify for LEED certification.  The USGBC is not the only “green” building body, but it is a prominent on, with nearly 14,000 member organizations, including nonprofit associations, architects, facility manager, engineers, interior designers, construction managers, lenders and others.

It is interesting to note, that the Canadian and U.S. Military departments avoid the use of CMP cable, opting for safe alternatives, such as the EU - European standard low-smoke, zero-halogen (LSZH) cabling. All the major domestic manufacturers are making LSZH cable. It’s the standard across Europe. It’s accepted by stringent military specs here but isn’t suitable for installation in our buildings? http://www.ecmag.com/index.cfm?fa=article&articleID=8609

The PVC & FRPVC jackets and the FEP (Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene – known by the trade names of Dupont Teflon® FEP & Daikin - America Neoflon® FEP) insulation used in CMP Plenum cable are some of the most common materials used in cabling constructions in the USA.  All of these materials are Halogenated. 

Not only are Halogenated materials under scrutiny but also the use of heavy metals (such as Lead & Cadmium) in the PVC compounds.  Most of the major cable manufacturers product lines include RoHS compliant LSZH (Low-Smoke Zero-Halogen) cables that they market in Europe and the UK. 

The RoHS Directive stands for "the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment".  This Directive bans the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than agreed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.

Manufacturers need to understand the requirements of the RoHS Directive to ensure that their products, and their components, comply. http://www.rohs.gov.uk/   Note: the RoHS directive is not a requirement in the US codes.  RoHS compliant cables are a voluntary decision by the US consumer.

CCCA joins VI & SPI against USGBC LEED-HC

This is incredible… $50,000.00 per year to join CCCA (Communications Cable & Connectivity Association), a newly formed association (announced January 15, 2008) with a mission statement that is extremely vague.  This association appears to be set up to provide a strong lobbying effort for specific commercial interests including the chemical companies that supplies materials for the cable market in the USA. 

In an article published by the Wire Journal International www.wirenet.org, March 2008, Frank Peri, executive director of CCCA (Communications Cable & Connectivity Association) has already joined the voices of the Vinyl Institute and the SPI (The Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc.) in a strong attack on the USGBC (US Green Building Council) LEED – HC voluntary proposal to improve environmental and safety conditions in the Health Care Industry.  The CCCA official location is currently in the office of a Washington, D.C. attorney firm (No website yet).

Frank Peri (Francis W. Peri) has more than 30 years of professional experience in the chemical and communications industries. His background includes: consultation for management and marketing of fluoropolymers (DuPont and Daikin), and positions in chemical manufacturing and senior business management at the DuPont Company. Mr. Peri holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Boston College. (www.dupont.com & www.daikin-america.com)

What’s next?

We applaud the efforts of the US Green Building Council to pursue safer and more environmentally friendly solutions for the home and workplace. We can expect lots of “selective voodoo science” to emerge as arguments against the halogen reduction. The chemical companies have deep pockets and lots of “friends”.

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 office
(904) 645-9058 fax
frank@wireville.com

Industry News

Come To The 2008 BICSI Spring Conference

Pre-conference Seminars

It pays to arrive early in Nashville! BICSI pre-conference educational seminars offer extended learning opportunities that are an easy way to get a head start on your conference experience. The seminars will be held on Sunday, April 27 between 1:30-4:30 p.m. Below are the seminar titles and continuing education credit (CEC) information.

“Grounding Systems: Why Important and Why Testing is Invalid 95% of the Time,” John R. Howard, Lyncole XiT Grounding, Torrance, California

3 CECs – RCDD, NTS Specialty, OSP Specialty, WD Specialty, ITS Installer 2 and ITS Technician

“Cabling for the Wireless Triple-Play Services,” Joe Bardwell, Connect802 Corporation, San Ramon, California

3 CECs – RCDD, NTS Specialty, OSP Specialty, WD Specialty, ITS Installer 2 and ITS Technician

“General Power Quality,” Dan Maxcy and Brian Branigan, Power Protection Products, Omaha, Nebraska

3 CECs – RCDD, NTS Specialty, OSP Specialty, WD Specialty, ITS Installer 2 and ITS Technician

Fees for these seminars are separate from the conference registration fee. Click here to view full descriptions of each seminar and to register online. For additional help or questions, call BICSI Customer Service at +1 813.979.1991 or 800.242.7405 (USA & Canada toll-free).

The 2008 BICSI Cabling Skills Challenge

After your pre-conference seminar you can head straight down to the Exhibit Hall, visit with the top industry vendors and experience BICSI history in the making. Watch the best ITS installers compete for the title of Installer of the Year in the BICSI Cabling Skills Challenge.

Don’t miss this exciting event as a BICSI tradition is born. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize as well as several valuable prizes and a trophy. There is no entry fee to compete and competitors will receive a full paid Spring Conference registration.

If you are an ITS Installer, there's still time to join the competition. Apply today—the deadline has been extended to Friday, April 4. For more information, including the competition schedule and an application to compete, visit www.bicsi.org/skillschallenge.

BICSI Cares Silent Auction

BICSI Cares invites you to participate in the first-ever silent auction to be held at the 2008 BICSI Spring Conference in Nashville. All proceeds will benefit Saving Little Hearts Inc.—and your help is needed to make this a success! Saving Little Hearts is a not-for-profit organization devoted to helping children with congenital heart defects and their families.

Here’s how you can help. Contribute an item to the silent auction—you, your employer or both can donate the item. Click here for more information and a donation form.

Focusing on children in need, BICSI Cares is a year-round effort that has given money to charities worldwide to help build schools, feed the hungry, prevent abuse and violence, combat illiteracy and provide for an overall positive environment. Established in 1992 as a 501(c)(3) entity, BICSI Cares collects donations to support charities worldwide, and all donations are tax deductible. For more information visit the BICSI Cares Web page or e-mail to: bicsicares@bicsi.org.

Don’t Forget To Check Out The BICSI Credential Holders Lounge At The BICSI Spring Conference

Don’t forget to check out the BICSI Credential Holders Lounge when you are at the 2008 BICSI Spring Conference in Nashville. Sponsored by ITS-Jobs.com, the Lounge is secluded away from the buzz of the seminars and exhibit floors, providing a unique and intimate setting for any Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD®), BICSI ITS Installer or Technician, to share their conference experiences, focus on business matters or simply take time to read magazines and watch news. You can also enter a drawing to win the TV that you will see in the Lounge.  www.bicsi.org

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Who Needs TPMA = YOU DO!

Your company has won a bid. Your Design team has spent time and money putting together the specs.  You hand it over to a lead technician, who has little or no formal training/certifications in personnel management or project management. He is given the due date and sent on his way.

The end result: the project is over-budget and the time line was shot in the first 2 weeks.  Your design team is frustrated, your customer is extremely agitated and the moral of your installers has hit an all time low.  What went wrong?

Webster’s Dictionary defines PROJECT as “a planned undertaking”.  In today’s economy the almighty dollar has a strong influence on who will “get the job”.  A company coming in over budget with a large number of unexpected change orders to the original contract will have a harder time, even with a great design and a final cost that beats other companies, winning the next bid.  It is time to look within the company to find a way to streamline the process and find out where the errors in planning are.

Many companies have brought their lead Tech into a position of a PM (Project Manager) the “old Fashioned way; on the job training. They are employees who have exceeded the expectation placed on them and seem to be able to rise to any challenge and succeed.  Put into perspective by Don Nelson, Master Instructor for TPMA (Telecommunications Project Management Association):

§         Find the top mechanic

§         Tell them they would make a great pilot

§         Allow them to start with no training… just try a small one…!

(Excerpt from TPMA course PM100)

TPMA’s courses teach the attendee techniques that if used, will bring in a project on time, under budget and exceed the customer’s expectations. The course takes you through the steps of a project’s phases and explains various tools that can be used to track, document, and manage the project from start to finish. 

PM100 is a valuable tool for the introduction of Project Management and is taught on a level that all attendees are able to understand and relate to.  The instructors use personal experiences as well as tools and templates to bring their students into the exhilarating world of project management.  The fundamental methods that are used in the classroom not only can be brought in to the workplace but are able to crossover to other areas of life.  When you leave the class you are able to look at that next challenging project with a hint of excitement.  You know that you have in your bag of tricks new skills and tools to tackle the obstacles that all projects inherently have. 

The outcome of taking a TPMA course can be: your project comes in on time, under budget, your design team shines, the customer is singing your companies praises and your installers chomping at the bit to get on to the next job as a motivated experienced team.  The alternative is a bit like “Russian Roulette”.  www.telpm.org

By Laura Jirus – Editor

“Heard On The Street - HOTS” monthly column www.wireville.com

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A Classic Publication For The Information Age Has Closed It’s Doors

Business Communications Review (a subscriber paid magazine – now owned by CMP) was started by Jerry Goldstone. After more than three decades, the Business Communications Review magazine has ceased publication. BCR will be missed but not forgotten. BCR joins Teleconnect and other great publications that have moved into history. These magazines guided our industry in the early phases of the Information Age.

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Telecommunications Industry Veteran Lonnie Martin Named CEO At AKTINO

Lonnie Martin, who has spent more than 35 years in the telecommunications industry and served as chief executive officer for several well-known companies in the course of his career, has been named the CEO of Aktino, the leader in delivery of Carrier Ethernet and broadband services over existing copper wiring infrastructure.

Martin, who was most recently CEO of White Rock Networks, an optical equipment company that he founded in 1999 and guided until 2006, when it was sold to Turin Networks, has taken the helm at Aktino at a time when the company is generating increasing interest in its range of high-bandwidth, long-reach copper solutions.

Martin describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur.” He has been president and CEO of three venture capital-backed companies in Silicon Valley and Dallas – White Rock Networks, Broadband Telesystems, and Coastcom – and a top executive at two large multinational companies, ADC Telecommunications and Ascom/Timeplex.

“Service ubiquity is a first requirement for carriers.  Deployment of fiber progressively magnifies the need to do more on copper to sustain service ubiquity. Aktino fulfills that need with solutions that deliver three to five times the bandwidth of alternative solutions – at distances that are common in carrier networks,” Martin said.

“Whether this means delivering 10Mb Ethernet service at CSA, increasing remote DSLAM backhaul to 50 Mbps, or tripling the bandwidth from cell sites using existing copper facilities, Aktino’s MIMO on DMT has the performance advantage, optional asymmetrical operation, and complete ADSL spectral compatibility that enable carriers to cost-effectively achieve service ubiquity leveraging existing copper facilities.”

“Aktino is helping to redefine the power of copper as a valuable and cost-effective complement to fiber that helps service providers leverage their infrastructure to grab new revenue opportunities and retain existing customers.  I’m eager to guide the company to further customer successes and continued technology leadership,” Martin added.

Martin pointed to specific Aktino strengths, such as its VDSL2-based MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out) on DMT (Discrete Multi-Tone) technology, which virtually eliminates crosstalk between copper pairs and allows multimegabit capacity on each copper pair, all the way to the edge of the carrier serving area.

He also noted Aktino’s asymmetric bandwidth technology, which allows service providers to tailor the upstream and downstream bandwidths to specific customer needs and enables bandwidth as high as 7 Mbps per pair. He echoed the endorsements of many providers already leveraging this feature that it will continue to be key to providing cost-effective DSL and cell site backhaul.

“Lonnie Martin brings a wealth of valuable expertise to the CEO position, and his vast experience will help Aktino capitalize on its significant technological advantages and excel in continued customer acquisition, strategic partnering, and growth,” said Rick DeGabrielle, Chairman of the Board of Aktino. DeGabrielle, who himself has a quarter century of telecommunications industry experience, became board chairman in late 2007.

“We have great confidence in Aktino and believe that Lonnie Martin is the right executive, with the right skills to take Aktino to the next level,”  said Bruce Hallett, a partner with Miramar Ventures, one of Aktino’s key investors.

Before founding White Rock Networks, Martin was president of the Business Broadband Group at ADC Telecommunications, and before that was an executive at Ascom/Timeplex. He had earlier served as CEO of Broadband Telesystems, a company he sold to Timeplex. He has served on the boards of Lightwave Systems, TXP, Efficient Networks, Adaptive Broadband, Quarry Technologies, and on a special Competitiveness Council launched by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and bachelors and masters degrees from Caltech.

Aktino, founded in 2003, is highly focused on the use of bonded copper to enable providers to take advantage of the quickly growing, New Mid-Band Ethernet market opportunity, which requires service capacities of 10 to 50 Mbps. It was the first company to deliver products for the business Ethernet market based on MIMO on DMT.  The Aktino product portfolio includes the AK3000 DS3 over copper solution, AK5000, a scalable, shelf-based carrier Ethernet platform for larger installations and the 0-50 Mbps AK4000 carrier Ethernet point-to-point product.. www.aktino.com

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Belden Appoints Steve Biegacki As Vice President, Global Sales And Marketing

Belden (NYSE: BDC - News) has appointed Steven R. Biegacki as Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing, effective March 31, 2008. Mr. Biegacki, age 49, is Vice President, Marketing, with Rockwell Automation, a leading global provider of industrial automation control and information systems. As Vice President, Marketing, Mr. Biegacki has led the globalization of Rockwell Automation's marketing function, provided leadership in defining targeted customer segments and working to align the product portfolio with customer needs, and envisioning and realizing strategic initiatives. He joined Allen-Bradley (which was later acquired by Rockwell) in 1978 and has nearly 30 years' experience with the company in sales, business management, and marketing focused on industrial automation. Mr. Biegacki has a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from ETI Technical College in Cleveland, Ohio.

John Stroup, President and Chief Executive Officer of Belden, said: "I am delighted to welcome Steve Biegacki to Belden's senior leadership team. Steve is a process-oriented executive with a great depth of experience in meeting the needs of industrial automation customers and leading the development of a global marketing organization." http://www.belden.com.

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Belden Will Close Manchester, Connecticut Plant – 132 Lose Jobs

Belden (NYSE: BDC - News) today announced plans to further restructure its North American manufacturing operations and to reduce its worldwide production overhead and expenses.

The Company will cease production activities at its plant located in Manchester, Connecticut, by September 2008. The facility manufactures copper cable products primarily for data networking. Other company facilities will assume the production activities of the plant. The Manchester plant is part of the Company's Specialty Division.

The number of associates affected by these actions is approximately 132. Associates will be eligible for severance benefits, and the Company will make every effort to help associates transition into other employment opportunities.

"We regret the impact of these actions on the affected associates," said John Stroup, President and Chief Executive Officer of Belden. "It is a difficult, but necessary step in the implementation of our regional manufacturing strategy. The expected cost savings associated with this action are further benefit of this strategy and take advantage of our lower cost capacity at the recently completed Nogales, Mexico facility."

In connection with the actions announced today, Belden expects to incur severance charges of approximately $1 to $2 million pretax during the shut-down period and non-cash asset impairment charges and accelerated depreciation expense of $8 to $11 million pretax mostly in the first quarter of 2008. The after-tax impact will be between $0.11 and $0.16 per diluted share. The Company estimates that the cost savings associated with these actions will be approximately $5 million annually, beginning in 2009.  http://www.belden.com.

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Canadian Manufacturer, Alpha Technologies Ltd., Acquires Ontario Repair Facility

Alpha Technologies Ltd. has successfully completed the acquisition of the equipment repair division of Sentrex Communications Ltd., Woodbridge, ON. The acquisition is part of an ongoing program by Alpha to expand their customer and product support services.

“As a company that values timely service and support for its customers, the Sentrex equipment repair division was a natural fit into our plans to directly support our products in the Ontario market,” said Alpha CEO Mark W. Schnarr. “By listening to the needs of our customers we, as a company, are now able to serve them better and have a stronger business relationship with them.”

Sentrex is a privately held Canadian company and has been in operation since 1991. Sentrex has operated as an Authorized Alpha Service Center for over 17 years providing service and support for Alpha Power products. To help with a seamless transition, Sentrex repair centre manager, Bogdan Sokolowski has elected to join Alpha Technologies Ltd. where he assumes the role of Service Centre Manager of the Ontario repair centre.  www.alpha.ca

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Corning Cable Systems Introduces LANscape® Pretium™ Integrated Solutions Design Guide

Pre-engineered port mapping simplifies time-consuming data center design and installation

Corning Cable Systems LLC, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) Telecommunications segment, introduces its LANscape® Pretium Integrated Solutions Design Guide. It is the first solutions guide in the telecommunications industry to detail an innovative port-mapping process that results in streamlined design, installation and administration in data center infrastructures.

The Integrated Solutions Design Guide features a synopsis of the data center environment, including challenges, design considerations and recommended topologies for storage area networks (SANs). The guide also outlines the design and installation process for Corning Cable Systems’ newly introduced LANscape Pretium Integrated Solutions.

Port mapping includes the process of designing and documenting the connectivity of each port in the data center main distribution area to the individual ports on the SAN electronics. With pre-engineered port mapping diagrams, the Integrated Solutions Design Guide simplifies this time-consuming step for data center designers. By using this documentation and port mapping guidance, the administration and implementation of moves, adds and changes are streamlined.

LANscape Pretium Integrated Solutions include the Zero-U and U-Space Systems, which help to alleviate design, installation, management, scaling and cooling issues in the data center. They are value-added complements to Corning Cable Systems’ Plug & Play Universal Systems, providing connectivity for both high-density and low-density environments in the data center. The systems ensure seamless integration of the cabling infrastructure, passive optical hardware, cabinets and electronic components for a true “tip-to-tip” data center infrastructure solution.

Ensuring the integration of data center components, LANscape Pretium Integrated Solutions simplify the data center design and installation process, while also providing the flexibility to meet changing customer needs. The guide is available online at www.corning.com/buildingblocks/integrated and will be updated as Corning Cable Systems releases new products and solutions optimized for the data center infrastructure. www.corning.com/cablesystems .

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Corning Cable Systems Offers Free Seminars Focused on Latest Fiber-to-the-Home Technologies

2008 Emerging Technologies Seminars available in multiple locations

Corning Cable Systems LLC, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) Telecommunications segment, is offering its Emerging Technologies Seminar, “FTTH: The Future of Broadband Happening Now,” to educate attendees on the technology behind fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks. The seminar is free and open to all consultants and design professionals upon registration, and is being offered at several locations throughout 2008:

·         Thursday, March 27, in Dallas, Texas

·         Wednesday, May 21, in Portland, Ore.

·         Wednesday, July 16, in Albany, N.Y.

·         Tuesday, Sept. 9, in Savannah, Ga,

·         Thursday, Nov. 13, in St. Louis, Mo.

To request a free seat in one of the seminars, visit www.corning.com/ftthnow or call 1-800-743-2671.

Corning, a leader in FTTH technology, will provide a comprehensive discussion on a variety of FTTH-related topics during the free seminar. The agenda will include an in-depth look at the forces that affect residential subscriber bandwidth and the various residential access technologies currently being deployed. Information on fiber optic theory and current FTTH standards, as well as the latest technology and product advancements, will also be provided.

Various FTTH architectures and topologies will be compared and contrasted as features of each are considered. Key elements of FTTH networks will also be discussed with design guidance provided for each point in the network. The course, also referred to as “TS-CP100 FTTH Emerging Technologies,” qualifies for the following BICSI Continuing Education Credit (CECs): RCDD: 6; INSTALL: 6; NTS: 6; OSP: 6.

The seminar is taught by Corning Cable Systems’ Mark Turner, marketing manager – consultant engineers, and David Kozischek, manager of strategic technology.

Mark Turner has worked for Corning Cable Systems for 12 years. Turner’s experience at Corning includes field and systems engineering, product development, and most recently market development, specifically for FTTH. Mark is recognized in the industry through many publications and has been the chairman of the Architecture & Technology Committee of the FTTH Council since 2006. David Kozischek has more than 18 years of experience in communications technology, specifically committed to new network designs. Currently manager of strategic technology for Corning Cable Systems, he investigates new technologies and emerging applications to quantify their impact on existing telecommunications and information infrastructure. David is an active member of The Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), an international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light.

FTTH has the ability to bring communities together, increase neighborhood property value, make telemedicine a reality and enable telecommuting. It can boost the economies of small cities and could help bridge the economic divide. Corning’s Emerging Technologies Seminar will discuss the technologies behind these exciting applications. www.corning.com/cablesystems.

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Corning Cable Systems to Highlight Innovation In LAN And Data Center Applications At 2008 FOSE Conference And Exposition

Corning Cable Systems LLC, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) Telecommunications segment, will feature its innovative local area network (LAN) and data center solutions at the 2008 FOSE Conference and Exposition, Apr. 1-3 in Washington, D.C.

In its interactive exhibit (booth #1631), Corning Cable Systems will feature an environmental representation of a LAN and data center network deployed with Corning Cable Systems products, many of which will focus on the unique security requirements of the federal government. Throughout the exhibit, customers will be able to see exactly where the products fit into their network.

The LAN exhibit will feature Corning Cable Systems’ Plug & Play AnyLAN System for both indoor and outdoor applications. Plug & Play AnyLAN Systems feature a multimode or single-mode optical cable pre-installed with network access points at customer-specified intervals and a tethered, environmentally hardened MT connector. Once distance measurements for network access point locations are obtained, the preterminated system is manufactured and tested. The entire system is then packed and shipped to the customer on a cable reel for immediate deployment in the desired indoor or outdoor application.

The exhibit’s data center section will showcase Corning Cable Systems’ Plug and Play Universal Systems, a preterminated optical fiber cabling system that dramatically streamlines the process of deploying an optical network infrastructure in the data center environment. It greatly reduces fiber polarity as a factor in system design, redesign or installation through a value-added wiring solution.

The data center display will also feature Corning Cable Systems’ newly introduced Pretium Integrated Solutions Zero-U System. Designed jointly with Chatsworth Products, Inc. (CPI), the Zero-U System uniquely manages optical fiber trunk cables, harnesses and modules within CPI’s TeraFrame Cabinets. The system includes an MTP Connector bracket mounted into the cabinet’s vertical manager to facilitate patching instead of consuming valuable rack space as is traditional, providing more room for data center electronics. The Zero-U System features pre-engineered optical harness assemblies that map directly to the line card ports of major equipment vendors of SAN directors. The system allows for simple installation and integration of optical components in a data center environment.

The new interactive exhibit will also contain:

·         Plug & Play Systems Integrated Trunk Module, a pre-terminated 12-fiber MTP Connector trunk assembly integrated into a Plug and Play Systems module, in which the trunk cable is stored in the module and can be pulled out and deployed to meet exact length requirements to eliminate the need for precise pre-planning of cable length.

·         Plug & Play Systems Media Converter Module, which enables network cabling managers to seamlessly leverage existing copper electronics while taking advantage of the data transport properties of high-density optical systems.

·         UniCam® PretiumPerformance Connectors, offering best-in-class optical performance in a fast, easy field-termination solution.

·         Keyed LC Solutions, based on the standard LC single-fiber connector, the keyed LC solution includes modules, panels, field-installable connectors and cable assemblies, and provides physical separation for networks, applications or organizations.

·         Secure Ruggedized Information Outlet (RIO), used in applications where a robust and tamper-proof outlet is required, including high traffic workstations, industrial/manufacturing environments and hallways.

www.corning.com/cablesystems.

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Developing And Marketing Commercial Real Estate Is Changing Focus

January Issue of Broadband Properties Magazine. 

http://www.broadbandproperties.com/2008issues/january08/Jan_Carlini.pdf

“The main focus is that developing commercial real estate and marketing it has changed.  Economic Development equals Broadband connectivity.  And, broadband connectivity equals jobs.  This is becoming a universal truth as intelligent business campuses or intelligent industrial parks are being built around the world offering gigabit connectivity and other intelligent amenities to support new business growth in a global economy.” JAMES CARLINI james.carlini@sbcglobal.net

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EXFO Acquires Navtel Communications

EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering Inc. (NASDAQ: EXFO; TSX: EXF) announced today that it has acquired all the shares of Navtel Communications Inc., a leading provider of Internet Protocol Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) test solutions for Network Equipment Manufacturers (NEMs) and Network Service Provider (NSP) labs.

Consideration paid consists of C$11.0 million in cash, subject to adjustments on working capital. The deal is expected to be neutral to EXFO's earnings for the remainder of fiscal 2008 and accretive in fiscal 2009, excluding amortization of intangible assets to be accounted for in the acquisition.

Navtel Communications, a privately held company in the Toronto area, specializes in testing next-generation IP networks that are increasingly combining wireline and wireless technologies. Its InterWatch® platforms, offering the highest performance in the industry, are fully scalable simulation and analysis test stations available in rack-mountable and portable formats. These solutions can perform several critical tests ¯ capacity, performance, stress and load testing ¯ on various network devices to assure their ability to perform under real-life, IP-based, multi-media traffic conditions. Test modules can be hosted inside Navtel's platforms for characterizing next-generation switches, routers, session border controllers and media gateways.

IMS, which is being touted as the new technology that will merge the Internet with the telecom world, allows wireline and wireless carriers to use a common IP application system to deliver new multi-media services that can be combined with legacy services across a number of different access technologies. IMS has been developed to become the overlaying architecture that will enable the efficient management and deployment of quadruple (voice, video, data and mobile) IP services.

Navtel has positioned itself as a leading-edge supplier of IMS test solutions. It also offers a comprehensive suite of VoIP and Generalized Multi-Protocol Label Switching (GMPLS) test solutions, as well as a wide range of legacy test protocols that have been developed over its 30 years of existence.

Frost & Sullivan, a global growth consulting company, estimates that the IMS test and monitoring market will grow from an estimated $274.1 million in 2007 to $1.2 billion in 2013 for a compound annual growth rate of 27.9%. Navtel currently addresses approximately $130 million of this market.

"This acquisition fits strategically with our long-term plan to deliver strong growth in our Protocol test business, which posted a compound annual growth rate of 64% in the last two years and continues to deliver solid growth at the mid-point of fiscal 2008," said Germain Lamonde, EXFO's Chairman, President and CEO. "Navtel's cutting-edge technology strengthens our offering for NEMs and NSP labs which, in turn, have a significant influence on product selections made by NSPs."

"This acquisition also enables us to expand into the high-growth IMS and VoIP test markets, whose technologies are currently in their early stages," Mr. Lamonde added. "We intend to leverage these technologies throughout their entire lifecycle, especially as they mature into portable test solutions for the NSP market in which EXFO is the world's second-largest supplier. We also plan to take advantage of Navtel's strong relationships with Tier-1 NEMs and leverage our own worldwide sales presence with NSPs to accelerate sales growth, while positively impacting earnings since Navtel's software-intensive test solutions generate high gross margins."

Navtel Communications posted sales of C$5.7 million in calendar 2007. Joe Sutherland, founder and CEO of Navtel Communications, and his senior management team will ensure a seamless integration into EXFO. No restructuring is planned with all 35 Navtel employees expected to remain with the company.

"We are pleased to become an integral part of the EXFO family," Mr. Sutherland said. "Our technological leadership in IMS and VoIP testing is a good fit with EXFO's protocol test strategy. Combined with EXFO's global sales channels, market positioning and brand equity, we envision a bright future with strong synergies lifting our product offering and market presence to the next level."

About Navtel Communications Inc.

Navtel Communications was founded in 1976 and is a leading supplier of test solutions for IMS and VoIP networks. www.navtel.com.

About EXFO

EXFO is a Tier-1 test and measurement expert in the global telecommunications industry, especially in the portable test market segment. www.EXFO.com,  

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Best Practices for Fiber Optic Installation Start With Inspection & Cleaning

For centuries, optics have been inspected and cleaned to ensure the proper passage of light.  The advent of fiber optic cabling systems resulted in one more application where optical care and cleanliness are important.  While inspecting and cleaning fiber connectors is not new, it is growing in importance as links with increasingly higher data rates are driving decreasingly small loss budgets.  With less tolerance for overall light loss, the attenuation through adapters must get lower and lower.  This is achieved by properly inspecting and cleaning when necessary.  Yet there is no reason to feel intimidated by these tighter loss budgets because inspecting and cleaning connections is straightforward and easy.

What’s The Problem - Fiber Basics

Fiber optic cabling carries pulses of light between transmitters and receivers.  These pulses represent the data being sent across the cable.  In order for the data to be transmitted successfully, the light must arrive at the far end of the cable with enough power to be measured.  Light loss between the ends of a fiber link comes from multiple sources such as the attenuation of the fiber itself, fusion splices, macrobends and loss through adapter couplings where end-faces meet.

In lower data rate networks with shorter lengths, loss budgets may be generous enough to allow for significant attenuation throughout the link and still the  link will function properly.  However, there is one perpetual trend in structured cabling: the constant push for greater bandwidth.  As fiber links are pushed to carry higher data rates, loss budgets get correspondingly smaller, requiring all loss events to be minimized.

Enemy #1 — a dirty face

Among key sources of loss that can bring a fiber network down, dirty and damaged end-faces are the threat most underestimated.   In a survey commissioned by Fluke Networks, dirty end-faces were found to be the #1 cause of fiber link failure for both installers and private network owners.  Contaminated end-faces were the cause of fiber links failing 85% of the time.  It’s astounding and yet easy to prevent.  Nevertheless, there continues to be a lack of appreciation for this crucial issue and lots of misinformation about proper techniques.

What To Look For And When

Network professionals need to know what to look for when evaluating end-face conditions.  There are two types of problems that will cause loss as light leaves one end-face and enters another inside an adapter: contamination and damage.

Contamination

Contamination comes in many forms from dust to oils to buffer gel.  Simply touching the ferrule will immediately deposit an unacceptable amount of body oil on the end-face.  Dust and small static-charged particles float through the air and can land on any exposed termination.  This can be especially true in facilities undergoing construction or renovation.  In new installations, buffer gel and pulling lube can easily find its way onto an end-face. 

Ironically, protective caps – also called “dust caps” – are one of the most common contributors to contamination.  These caps are made in high-speed production processes that use a mold release compound that will contaminate end-faces on contact.  Further, as the plastic cap ages the plasticizers deteriorate resulting in an outgas residue.  Last, airborne dust itself will find its way into the protective cap and will move to the end-face when the cap is pushed onto a ferrule.  It’s a very common mistake to assume that end-faces are clean when patch cords or pre-terminated pigtails are removed from a sealed bag with protective caps in place.

Inspection of the end-face should verify that no contaminants are within the field of view.  The most crucial area to ensure is clean is the core of the fiber, followed by the cladding.  Yet contamination on the ferrule - outside of the end-face - could slide towards to core as the fiber is mated or handled.  Therefore, all visible contamination should be removed if possible. 

Damage

Deciding to mate every connection first and then inspecting only those that fail is a dangerous approach as the physical contact of mated contaminants can cause permanent damage.  This permanent damage would require more costly and time consuming retermination or replacement of pre-terminated links.

Damage will appear as scratches, pits, cracks or chips.  These end-face surface defects could be the result of poor termination or mated contamination.  Regardless of the cause, damage must be evaluated to determine if action is required as some of it can be ignored or remedied.  Up to 5% of the outer edge of fiber cladding generally may be chipped as this is a common result of the polishing process.  Any chips on the core are unacceptable.  If scratches or excess epoxy bleed is found, repolishing with fine lapping paper can eliminate the problem.  If the end-face is cracked or shattered, then the fiber must always be reterminated.

In every instance, all end-faces should always be inspected before insertion.  If a connector is being mated to a port, then the port should be inspected as well.  Inspecting one side of a connection is ineffective as contamination inside a port can not only cause damage but also migrate to the connector being inserted.  Too often equipment ports are overlooked not only as contaminated themselves but also as a source of contamination for test cords.

How To Inspect - Fiber Microscope Choices

From the first days of fiber optic cabling, microscopes were used to inspect end-faces.  Initially stereo bench top microscopes were modified to handle the task in manufacturing environments.  Over time new microscopes were designed specifically for the task, resulting in smaller units that could be taken down the hall to the cabling closet or outside into the field.

Microscopes can be divided into two basic groupings: optical and video.  Optical microscopes incorporate an objective lens and an eyepiece lens to allow you to view the end-face directly through the device.  Today, the barrel shaped microscopes are ubiquitous in termination kits and used to inspect patch cords during troubleshooting.  The best feature of these microscopes is their price as they are the least expensive way to see end-face details.  Their drawback is that they are unable to view end-faces through bulkheads or inside equipment.  As a result, you will sometimes here these microscopes referred to as “patch cord scopes.”

Video microscopes incorporate both an optical probe and a display for viewing the probe’s image.  Probes are designed to be small so that they can reach ports in hard-to-access places.  The screens allow images to be expanded for easier identification of contaminants and damage.  Because the end-face is viewed on a screen instead of directly, probes eliminate any chance of harmful laser light from reaching a person’s eye.

Microscope Evaluation

What matters most about a microscope is what it shows the user.  In the case of fiber optic inspection, the goal is to identify all contaminants and damage of a minimum size and within a critical area.  Users must first identify the appropriate minimum size contaminant or defect that will affect their system.  The smallest-sized item that a microscope can detect is referred to as its detection capability.  Next, look for the microscope that has the largest field of view while also maintaining the necessary detection capability.  It is preferable to see as much of the surface area as possible while maintaining requisite detection capability.  Detection capability and field of view require a trade-off as improving on one dimension tends to require a detriment to the other.

If detection capability and field of view are the most appropriate measurements of a microscope, then why is magnification the prevalent metric.  Magnification is perfectly applicable to optical microscopes as their performance is a direct function of the objective and eyepiece lens inside the device.  Where magnification becomes less applicable is in video microscopes where the size of the image is a function of both the magnification of the lens as well as the size of the screen.  Complicating matters further is the effect of contrast on the ultimate goal of detection capability.  Magnification specifications for video microscopes are a vestige of the historical prevalence of optical microscopes.  Though magnification is directly related to detection capability, it is a less precise measure of a fiber microscope’s capabilities than detection capability and field of view.

How To Clean - Beware of bad habits

Because cleaning has been part of fiber maintenance for years, most people have their own approaches for cleaning end-faces.  However, beware of bad habits as many have developed in the industry over time.  With an evolving base of knowledge, the industry has moved recently towards new best practices.  One common approach to cleaning end-faces is to blast them with canned air, either on a connector or inside a port.  Canned air is only effective on one type of contaminant: large dust particles.  Canned air is ineffective not only on oils and residues but also on smaller, charged dust particles.  Moreover, canned air will tend to blow large particles around inside ports rather than carefully remove them. 

Use of solvent

Another suboptimal approach is to clean without use of a solvent.  Solvents provide multiple benefits, the most being their ability to dissolve contaminants that have dried or adhered onto the end-face.  In addition, solvents will envelop particles and debris to effectively lift them from the ferrule surface so that they can be carried away without damaging the end-face.  Last, solvents will prevent a static charge from developing during cleaning with a dry wipe or reel.  There are many stories of end-faces becoming statically charged during solvent-free cleanings such that they were strongly attracting static-charged dust floating in the air.  The developed charge can be so strong that static dust accumulates on the end-face during the short move from a microscope into port.

Solvent selection

Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) has been used for years in the fiber cabling industry to successfully clean end-face and continues to find broad use today.  But there are solvents now available specially formulated for fiber end-face cleaning that are far superior to IPA in every way.  These new solvents are more effective at dissolving virtually every contaminant than IPA.  Further, these custom solvents will dissolve non-ionic compounds such as pulling lube and buffer gel that IPA will not.  With a specified lower surface tension, the specialized solvents will do a better job of enveloping debris for removal than IPA.  When cleaning inside ports, evaporation rates become important as lingering solvents can become trapped during mating, resulting in a harmful residue.  Fiber-specific solvents have tailored evaporation rates that give them time to work yet disappear before mating.  Last, IPA is highly hygroscopic which means it will draw water moisture from the air and onto the end-face.  This water mixes with the IPA and leaves a residue if it dries on the end-face.  To be safe, leave the IPA in the medicine cabinet.

Cleaning Tools

There are a wide variety of tools available to clean end-faces.  The most basic tools are wipes and swabs used to clean patch cords and inside ports, respectively.  More involved approaches include mechanical, hand-held contraptions designed to make easier work of cleaning.  The most complex devices incorporate blasted solvents or ultrasound in water to achieve the best result.  While the more complex systems may achieve better results, they cost far more money.  Individuals should determine the best approach for their application and budget.  The one key criterion for wiping materials is that they be lint-free.  Shirtsleeves are unacceptable!

Best Practices

Whatever approach is selected, certain truisms apply to fiber optic end-face inspection and cleaning.  First, inspection must occur not only before but also after cleaning to ensure a good result.  If a post-cleaning inspection shows remaining contamination, then a second cleaning must follow.  Second, both sides of any connection need to be inspected as every mating involves two surfaces coming into contact.  And last, it is almost always easier and cheaper to inspect and clean as a preventative measure than as reactive response.  Consistent inspection and cleaning up front will avoid unexpected and costly downtime in the future.

For more information on Fluke Networks and to view a demonstration, please visit www.flukenetworks.com .

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DSP To DTX Trade-Up Program

Purchase a DTX CableAnalyzer™ Between March 17, 2008, June 27, 2008, And Choose From 3 Cash Rebate Or Free Product Offers

Now is the time to move to the DTX-1800. Faster test times, Tier 1/Tier 2 fiber certification, and compliance to the latest 10Gbps standards are just three reasons to take advantage of this opportunity to trade-up to the DTX-1800.
 
Promotion Details

Trade in a DSP-4000, DSP-4100, DSP-4300, or OMNIScanner®, II and purchase one of the DTX models below to participate in offers 1, 2, or 3.

Offer #1

Offer #2

Offer #3

Purchase
DTX -1800
,
DTX -1800-M, or DTX -1800-V

and receive:

Purchase
DTX -1800-MS

and receive:

Purchase
DTX -1800-MSO

and receive:

$2,000 or

$2,500 or

$3,000 or

DTX-AXKIT Alien Crosstalk Kit and  CIQ-100 CableIQ™
(value: $2,570)

DTX-AXKIT Alien Crosstalk Kit and FT500 FiberInspector ™ Mini
 (value: $2,990)

DTX-AXKIT Alien Crosstalk Kit and CIQ-GSV CableIQ™ Gigabit Service Kit
(value: $3,970)

This offer is valid in the U.S. only on purchases between March 17, 2008 and June 27, 2008.  All forms and trade-in products must be received by July 31, 2008. This offer is subject to change without notice. A dated DTX invoice, and promotion form must be submitted. Note: A completed W-9 with tax identification number is required only if selecting cash rebate option and will not be used for IRS reporting.

Download a promotion form.  

Download a W-9 form.

www.flukenetworks.com

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Graybar Appoints Two New Senior Vice President Positions

Company Focuses on Enhancing Strategic Market Alignments

Graybar, a leading distributor of electrical and communications products and related supply chain management and logistics services, approved at a recent board meeting the appointment of two new senior vice president positions.

Further enhancing market alignments, Richard D. Offenbacher will now serve as the senior vice president – sales and marketing, electrical, and Kathleen M. Mazzarella will fill the position of senior vice president – sales and marketing, comm/data. In their new roles, Offenbacher and Mazzarella will drive strategic development initiatives and continue to create growth plans with leading suppliers.

“We are pleased to announce Dick and Kathy’s new roles and are confident in their ability to create innovative solutions for our customers and suppliers,” said Robert A. Reynolds Jr., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Graybar. “Their strategic focus, experience and commitment to these key markets positions Graybar well for continued growth.”

Most recently, Offenbacher served as senior vice president – sales and marketing, and Mazzarella was senior vice president – human resources and strategic planning. http://graybar.com

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Graybar Introduces New Security Catalog

Publication addresses growing demand for converged IP technology solutions

Graybar, a leading distributor of electrical and communications products and related supply chain management and logistics services, announced that it has published a new catalog of security solutions.

The Graybar Security Solutions Catalog will debut attwo upcoming events in Las Vegas, Nev. – AFCOMâDataCenter WorldâSpring 2008, March 30 - April 3, and ISC West, April 2 - 4. The 132-pagecatalog features more than 1,400 products from 44 brand-name suppliers in six categories: surveillance; access control; intrusion; audiovisual notification; cabling, installation and tools; and fire systems. It also includes products incorporating the latest IP technology solutions.

“The  physical security market and associated products are a strategic focus at Graybar and an important extension of our comm/data and electrical businesses,” said Michael Dumas, vice president, comm/data business, Graybar.  “Security has been a high-growth area for Graybar over the past two years and continues to offer significant upside potential.  Our new security catalog features many commonly used products and security solutions, making it an excellent resource for our customers and our internal sales and service representatives.”

Graybar Security Solutions Catalogs will be available at the Graybar booth at AFCOM Data Center World Spring 2008 and ISC West or through your local Graybar representative or 1-800-GRAYBAR (472-9227). A PDF of the catalog is available for viewing or download from the Markets Served – Security section of www.Graybar.com.

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HAI Now Shipping New Line of Video Surveillance Products

HAI's new Surveillance product line will be demonstrated at HAI's Booth 18120 at the ISC Show in Las Vegas, NV  April 2 - 4, 2008

HAI (Home Automation, Inc.), leading manufacturer of integrated automation and security products since 1985, is now shipping a new line of Surveillance products, including a Network Digital Video Recorder (NDVR) and two high resolution cameras, along with various accessories.

HAI's NDVR has 4-channels and can be installed stand-alone to view video via its embedded web server or used in conjunction with an HAI home control system where cameras can be viewed on HAI's family of Touchscreens, over the Internet, or Smartphone.

HAI's NDVR records video based on motion or any other chosen event. Recordings may be viewed on or offsite using a standard web browser. Included client software allows you to view live and recorded video for up to 16 cameras at the same time on a split screen. You may implement multiple NDVR's in one installation.  Two optional parts allow it to be securely mounted in a structured wiring can.

"What's really unique about this NDVR is the form factor," explains Thomas Pickral Jr., HAI Business Development Manager.  "It mounts directly on a wall or securely locked away in a structured wiring enclosure eliminating the need for a costly rack or unsightly shelf.  It makes for a much cleaner, easier and secure installation."

Also included in the Surveillance product family are two high resolution cameras. The cameras are available in a dome-style or bullet-style. 

All products in HAI's Surveillance line are now shipping and are available through a worldwide network of Distributors and installing dealers in over 80 countries.   

www.homeauto.com

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ECOTM from HCM

The Category 6 cable the world’s been waiting for.

The engineers at Hitachi Cable Manchester (HCM) maintain a long history of developing products that other cable manufacturers have found too challenging to produce.  From our 25-pair Category 5e cable to our GoldLANTM Category 6 24-pair hybrid cable, HCM identifies the needs of its customers and develops products to fulfill those needs.  The same holds true for the latest product from HCM. 

Our customers were seeking a Category 6 cable with a smaller outside diameter (OD) to reduce the installation costs associated with conduit.  A smaller OD cable means you can use smaller diameter conduit and smaller cable tray, which saves money. They also demanded that the cable provide reliable performance that was verified by UL and have a construction that would be robust enough to handle the toughest of installations.

HCM responded with the Category 6 ECOTM. 

The UL verified Category 6 ECOTM is the culmination of HCM efforts to provide a high performance Category 6 cable with not only a smaller outside diameter, but also a smaller impact on the environment. 

To develop a Category 6 cable that has a smaller outside diameter and no shaped center filler, you have to start from the ground up.  Simply removing the filler from a Category 6 cable will result in numerous crosstalk failures.  Unlike Category 5e cables, which have no internal pair separator and are tested to 100 MHz, Category 6 is tested out to 250 MHz.  The higher frequencies required for Category 6 cable create a greater dependence on pair construction and separation to ensure proper performance.  The shaped filler, or “star” filler, was originally developed by HCM to counter crosstalk and ensure performance beyond 250 MHz.

The ECOTM’s performance is a direct result of knowledge gained while developing our UL verified 10 gigabit cable, the Supra 10GTM.  The Supra 10GTM, tested to 500 MHz, owes its exceptional performance to a patented jacket construction as well as other unique design features.  The materials and processes utilized during the development of the Supra 10GTMprovided the foundation for the Category 6 ECOTM. 

But, performance wasn’t the only goal in mind when HCM began development of Category 6 ECOTM.  We also wanted a more environmentally friendly cable.

HCM, and all Hitachi companies worldwide, are dedicated to the practice of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  CSR addresses the fact that corporate stakeholders, and consumers, expect more from manufacturers.  High quality, performance and price are important, but equally so are the manufacturer’s commitment to environmental preservation, human rights and to be being a good corporate citizen.  With CSR in mind, HCM is making strides to be the most environmentally friendly manufacturer of copper and fiber optic communications cables. 

For example, HCM utilizes over 35,000 gallons of water a month in the cooling of products and equipment.  Virtually all of that water is recycled.  HCM utilizes a closed-loop system that feeds water to the equipment.  During manufacturing, the equipment raises the water temperature.  When the water leaves the manufacturing line, it is sent to a cooling tank located outside the facility.  Once the water cools, it is drawn back into the system, filtered and re-used. Only water that is lost to evaporation is replaced with water from the local water supply.

HCM also recently replaced over 300 light fixtures throughout our 300,000 square foot facility with high efficiency fluorescent lighting. Replacing all the light fixtures, coupled with additional energy saving measures, allowed HCM to reduce its overall energy consumption by an amazing 11%.  In addition, the light bulbs in these new fixtures contain 75% less mercury than the previous bulbs, making them less harmful to the environment when they are disposed of.  All office and warehouse lights also operate on motion detection sensors.  So, aisles in the warehouse are not lit unless someone enters an aisle and triggers a motion sensor.  And, to assist electrical lighting, there are 90 skylights spread throughout the manufacturing and warehouse areas.

When HCM develops any new product, the impact of that product’s life plays a major role in its development.  The life cycle of the product starts at production, includes its use and ends with its final disposal.  HCM saw the development of the new Category 6 ECOTM cable as an ideal opportunity to develop a product that not only performs beyond our customer’s expectations, but has the smallest impact on the environment possible.  We believe the Category 6 ECOTMsucceeds at both goals.

The new Category 6 ECOTM uses less material than any other HCM Category 6 cable. It is 100% compliant to the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive and it is packaged in a box made of 100% post consumer material.

Since HCM manufactures hundreds of millions of feet of Category 6 cable annually, the use of 100% recycled materials for the packaging alone can have an immediate impact on the consumption of natural resources.  HCM also strongly encourages those who use this product, and all of our products, to recycle all discarded packaging.

For more information about HCM products or our commitment to the environment, visit http://www.hcm.hitachi.com/

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Henkels & McCoy Awarded Construction Contract With AmerenUE

Henkels & McCoy, Inc. announced that it has been selected to provide construction services for the southern portion of AmerenUE’s “Project Power On” Reliability and Environmental Improvement Program.

Under a three-year alliance agreement, Henkels & McCoy will provide construction resources including labor and equipment to AmerenUE’s “Project Power On”.  AmerenUE plans to invest $300 million over three years for undergrounding of aerial circuits for reliability improvement. Henkels & McCoy, Inc. estimates the scope of work for the Southern Region to be approximately $90 million over the three-year period. The project is the single largest distribution system investment project undertaken in AmerenUE’s history. The project is estimated to start November 2007 with an estimated completion December 2010.

“We are committed to helping AmerenUE realize their goals for reliability and environmental improvement,” said Rod Henkels, President and CEO.

The Network Systems & Solutions Division (NSS) provides structured cabling solutions for voice, data, and video applications. Copper and fiber optic cabling systems are areas of specialty. We provide solutions ranging from design/build projects to ongoing maintenance (moves, adds, and changes).

We are strategically located to service every major metropolitan area in the United States. Each local and regional office is fully staffed with trained technicians who understand that voice and data network reliability is crucial.

Our National Accounts group meets the unique needs of clients with multi-site / multi-state projects. As a contractor with a true national footprint, we execute nearly 90% of our work with technicians directly employed by Henkels & McCoy. Centralized project management provides 24x7, single point-of-contact coverage and streamlined communication.

For government customers, Henkels & McCoy has two contract vehicles available for use. Our General Services Administration IT Services Contract (GS-35F-0651K) has been used by many satisfied federal agencies (list available upon request). We are also partnered with L-3/EER Corporation on the ANSWER Program (GSO9K99BHD005), which provides an even broader array of services. Henkels & McCoy also supports the Small Business Administration with our growing Small Business Program. 

Our dedication to performance starts with our customers' needs. These often include requirement definition, execution of cutting edge installation practices, and comprehensive follow on support.

History
Henkels & McCoy, founded in 1923 by John B. Henkels, Jr., started with tree-trimming, landscaping and building tennis courts, none of which we do today. The Great Depression nearly drove the company to ruin, but a hurricane in New England in 1938 proved to be the turning point in our history. While the storm was still blowing its way through the Northeast, Henkels & McCoy rallied, recruiting teams of linemen to send to the area. Just hours after the winds subsided, Henkels & McCoy crews rolled in to restore utility services.

Today, Henkels & McCoy is one of the largest privately held engineering, network development and construction firms serving the communications, information technology and utility industries in the United States. We offer one of the largest networks of qualified individuals available in the industry - through over 80 permanent offices and operation facilities strategically located across the nation. Henkels & McCoy has the necessary personnel, expertise and financial wherewithal to handle a broad range of projects.


We consistently rank at the top of the Engineering News-Record list of Specialty Contractors. With an uninterrupted history of family leadership since our inception, our commitment to excellence and continuous improvement is personal as well as professional.  www.henkels.com   

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The Light Brigade’s May 2008 Training Schedule

Fiber Optics 1-2-3

This course focuses on how to design, install, test and maintain fiber optic communication systems for voice, video and data applications. The course consists of two days of classroom content and two optional days of hands-on practices. Course material and techniques taught are based on ITU, TIA/EIA, IEEE, Telcordia and ANSI standards. Class participants will learn to understand and effectively use any manufacturer's equipment or product designed to conform to these widely accepted standards.

 

 

May 5-8

Hartford, CT

 

Bismarck, ND

 

 

 

 

May 12-15

Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

May 19-22

Raleigh, NC

 

Columbus, OH

 

 

Advanced Hands-on Modules

These intensive one-day fiber optic training courses were developed as the next level of training for those who require more advanced skills and experience with major fiber optic disciplines and equipment. Each of the five modules focuses on a specific discipline and incorporates concentrated hands-on exercises.

Module 1: Fiber Optic Cable Preparation, Patch Panels & Splice Closures

Module 2: Fiber Optic Connectorization

Module 3: Optical Loss Testing, Troubleshooting & Documentation

Module 4: OTDR Theory, Operation & Emergency Restoration

Module 5: Fiber Optic Splicing (Fusion & Mechanical)

May 5-9

Seattle, WA

May 19-23

Orlando, FL

Fiber Optics for Intelligent Transportation Systems

This course offers a practical understanding of how fiber-optic technology is integrated into modern intelligent transportation systems. The content covers basic optical theory, the outside plant, system design, the impact of component choices on your system, optical loss and bandwidth budgets, video transmission, real-time video, compressed video over IP, FM and digitally encoded video, FDM, TDM, multi-channel and high-density video, control systems, traffic controllers, fiber architectures, and next generation systems.

 

 

May 28-30

Seattle, WA

 

 

 

 

Fiber Characterization: PMD, CD, and ORL

Polarization mode dispersion (PMD) and chromatic dispersion (CD) are complex phenomena that can impose severe limitations on fiber-optic system performance. As network speeds increase, optical dispersion compensation becomes more critical in order to maintain high signal quality and low bit error rates. This three-day course not only provides the classroom instruction necessary to understand the theory and principles of fiber characterization, it also includes hands-on instruction on fiber-optic splicing, connector inspection, span testing, and documentation.

 

 

May 12-15

Seattle, WA

 

 

 

 

For more information or to register, call (800) 451-7128 or visit www.lightbrigade.com .

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Why Intertek For RoHS

Wireville.com called on Intertek to check on their efforts to guide the market to GREENER Solutions, particularly for wire & cable. Their responses were impressive and certainly explain why many cable manufacturers are turning to Intertek for Environmental safe validation.

Business partnership
”We work together with our clients to develop a unique regulated and restrictive substances compliance solution. We identify and, most importantly, understand our clients’ needs – drawing on our expert knowledge of the market and manufacturing trends.”

Unrivalled expertise
”We follow the best International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) industry-standards and internationally recognized practices. We are also an active member of the IEC TC111 ad hoc RoHS Testing Working Group and the ASTM F40 International Technical Committee on Declarable Substances in Materials - which equates to greater peace of mind and confidence for our clients.”

Global reach – unique coverage
”We have over 20 accredited Restricted Substances centers worldwide and hundreds of specialists equipped with state-of-the-art analytical equipment. And we have a unique track record in the industry with a heritage dating back to Thomas Edison in 1889. As a result, we’re able to provide a first class service – wherever our clients are based.”

The complete solution
”We have been offering total product and system certification for over 100 years to clients across the globe. We take pride in successfully offering the entire package of services our clients’ desire when they need it most. We follow a product from concept to final distribution working with our clients every step of the way to ensure all areas of the business process are accounted for, addressed and successfully monitored by our expert staff.”

Contact your Wire and Cable account representative: steve.comer@intertek.com  or vicki.stafford@intertek.com  to discuss solutions to provide RoHS compliance assurance for your cabling products.They are glad to assist in developing a strategy that suites your company's needs.

http://www.intertek-rohs.com/why_intertek/?lang=en       www.intertek.com

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Invista Files $1B Lawsuit Against DuPont

“A billion here. A billion there. Pretty soon, we’re talkin’ big bucks” Sen. Everett Dirksen

Invista, a producer of polyester and nylon products, has filed a $1 billion lawsuit against chemical maker DuPont Co.

Invista's lawsuit alleges that DuPont in 2004 sold Invista 14 manufacturing plants in 5 countries for $4 billion that were noncompliant with safety and environmental laws and regulations.

According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, Invista is seeking compensatory damages of at least $800 million, plus punitive damages to deter future conduct.

"We're reviewing the lawsuit, and it appears to be grossly exaggerated," DuPont spokesman Anthony Farina said in a telephone interview.

The facilities that are located in the U.S. include plants in South Carolina, Tennessee and Delaware.

A NEW CAN OF ENVIRONMENTAL WORMS FOR “POOR OLD DUPONT”

DuPont cries “Foul” over new complaint filed by INVISTA

The following statement is in response to today's allegations made by INVISTA in a complaint filed in U.S. federal court in the Southern District of New York. The statement is to be attributed to DuPont General Counsel Stacey J. Mobley.

"INVISTA's allegations lack merit and cannot be supported by evidence or the law. DuPont intends to vigorously defend itself against INVISTA's grossly exaggerated and misguided allegations, and is confident that it will be vindicated when all of the evidence is examined in a court of law.

"INVISTA's allegations are based purely on a contract dispute - plain and simple. Not a single person was injured or placed at unreasonable risk in connection with any of INVISTA's indemnification claims. Instead, four years after subsidiaries of Koch Industries acquired the facilities at issue from DuPont, INVISTA's current allegations appear to be opportunistic efforts, including funding for INVISTA's production capacity expansions and other earmarked capital improvement projects.

"DuPont claims to be recognized as a global leader in workplace safety and voluntary environmental footprint reduction, going beyond regulatory requirements and pursuing a 'goal of zero' safety and environmental incidents. www.dupont.com

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MOHAWK Announces The Addition Of Eagle Marketing To Their Sales Force

Mohawk, a leading manufacturer of fiber optic and copper cable products, would like to announce the addition of Eagle Marketing to their sales force covering MN, ND and SD. 

Since 2000, Eagle Marketing has been a manufacturer's representative specializing in high performance copper networking and fiber optic product sales for the data communications and telecommunications markets. Their focus is on providing outstanding service to their manufacturers and customers with integrity, dependability, and professionalism.  www.eaglemarketing.net 

About Mohawk
Mohawk, a division of Belden, is headquartered in Leominster, Massachusetts, and has been providing fiber and copper cable innovations for over 50 years. Their headquartered location dedicates 210,000 square feet to today’s most advanced facilities for the design, development and production of copper, fiber optic, and hybrid wire and cable. Mohawk, an ISO 9001 certified company, develops products to meet and support TIA/EIA, ISO/IEC, ICEA and NEMA standards. As part of the global Belden operations, Mohawk is supported with worldwide management, financial resources, and distribution capabilities.

www.mohawk-cable.com

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Motorola News

1. Motorola Brings the Power of Touch to Mobile TV Device

Motorola Mobile TV DH02 incorporates touch screen for feature-rich multimedia entertainment, TV and navigation on the go

ARLINGTON HTS., Ill. –- 26 March 2008 – Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) today unveiled the latest addition to its Mobile TV devices portfolio – the Mobile TV DH02 – a personalized TV, multimedia entertainment on the go and navigation device featuring a touch screen user interface. 

For full text, please visit: http://www.motorola.com/mediacenter/news/detail.jsp?globalObjectId=9425_9354_23&pageLocaleId=2026

2. Motorola Demonstrates CDMA Femtocell Solution at CTIA

Extends Motorola’s femtocell portfolio and approach to broadband everywhere

ARLINGTON HTS, Ill. - 26 March 2008 – Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) will demonstrate its expanded femtocell portfolio, including its CDMA solution, at Motorola’s booth #1806 at CTIA Wireless 2008 Apr. 1-3 in Las Vegas.  An expansion to its current line of femtocell customer premises equipment (CPE), including the company’s first 3G UMTS femtocell CPE announced at Mobile World Congress last month, the CDMA-based femtocell enhances the company’s end-to-end femtocell portfolio.

For full text, please visit: http://www.motorola.com/mediacenter/news/detail.jsp?globalObjectId=9426_9355_23&pageLocaleId=2026

3. Motorola Long Term Evolution (LTE) Demos Join Personal Media Mobility Experience at CTIA Wireless 2008

ARLINGTON HTS., Ill. – 26 March 2008 – From access technologies, home networks, services and applications, and enterprise mobility, Motorola, Inc. (NYSE:MOT) will showcase its personal media experience -- including demonstrations of its Long Term Evolution (LTE) solutions -- at CTIA Wireless 2008.

For full text, please visit:  http://www.motorola.com/mediacenter/news/detail.jsp?globalObjectId=9421_9350_23&pageLocaleId=2026

4. Motorola Announces Common Wireless Broadband Platform to Support Both WiMAX and LTE

Continues delivering innovative, new products that help operators bring personal media experiences to consumers

ARLINGTON HTS., Ill., 26 March 2008 – Motorola, Inc. (NYSE:MOT) today announced a new common wireless broadband platform that will be used to support both WiMAX 802.16e access points and the Long Term Evolution (LTE) evolved Node-B (eNodeB). The new common platform is physically smaller than the first generation WiMAX product, further reducing operators’ deployment and operating costs. Motorola’s flexible modem technology allows the common platform to be software configurable to support either WiMAX or LTE.

For full text, please visit: http://www.motorola.com/mediacenter/news/detail.jsp?globalObjectId=9424_9353_23&pageLocaleId=2026

5. Motorola Demonstrates Industry’s First CDMA/EV-DO Rev-A to LTE Network Handoffs

Lab innovation accelerates next-generation network selection for CDMA carriers

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. – 26 March 2008 – Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) today announced the first successful packet-switched network handoff between CDMA EV-DO Rev-A and Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies in a demonstration with VoIP calls and streaming video. Motorola’s handoff technique illustrates how service providers using CDMA-based networks today can smoothly integrate broadband OFDMA and IP packet-based wireless broadband technologies like LTE into their network, enabling the roll-out of more interactive services like HD mobile blogging and broadcasting, HD video-on-demand and online gaming..

For full text, please visit: http://www.motorola.com/mediacenter/news/detail.jsp?globalObjectId=9422_9351_23&pageLocaleId=2026

6. Motorola Showcases New Wave-2 Ready CPEi 150; Mobile WiMAX Demonstrations at CTIA Wireless 2008

Powers WiMAX experience at Motorola, XOHM™ locations and for ecosystem outdoor WiMAX mobility demo

ARLINGTON HTS., Ill., 26 March 2008 – Motorola, Inc. (NYSE:MOT) today introduced the plug-and-play desktop CPEi 150 for indoor fixed WiMAX deployments, the latest 802.16e-compliant Wave-2 ready addition to Motorola’s award-winning WiMAX consumer product portfolio.

For full text, please visit: http://www.motorola.com/mediacenter/news/detail.jsp?globalObjectId=9423_9352_23&pageLocaleId=2026

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OFS Demonstrates EZ-BEND™ Optical Technology At The FTTH Council Europe Conference In Paris

New Technology Can Improve Bending Performance by up to 100 times to Help Avoid Service Disruptions and Lower Installation Costs

OFS announced it will demonstrate its new EZ-Bend™ Optical Cable Technology at the FTTH Council Europe Conference. Supporting multiple dwelling unit (MDU) and in-home wiring applications, the ground-breaking EZ-Bend Technology addresses the critical need to speed and simplify installations by allowing cables to be bent and routed in ways never before feasible using traditional optical drop cables, to facilitate rapid deployment of fiber to and within the residence.

Service providers need drop cables that support tight corner bends and stapling. The EZ-Bend Technology enables in-residence optical cable installation with the same simple practices used for copper or coaxial cables. Cables using EZ-Bend Technology can be stapled in place utilizing existing copper cable installation tools and routed around corners.  Its bending loss performance represents up to a 100-fold improvement over conventional single-mode fiber (SMF) type cables.

The demonstration shows a live video stream supported over optical cables using EZ-Bend Technology bent around numerous corners with no degradation in picture quality. In contrast, a conventional cable subjected to far less bending shuts down the video and “freezes” the screen.  This is because  the EZ-Bend Technology enables negligible video signal loss (0.1 dB maximum at 1550 nm) for one turn at 5 mm radius, while conventional fibers under the same assumption lose nearly all the signal and shut down service to customers.

“OFS’ EZ-Bend Technology integrates a new bend-optimized fiber design in a new cable construction,” said Finn Mogensen, Executive Marketing & Sales Director for FTTH & Cable in EMEA. “This innovative technology  is the first to provide such performance using a solid glass fiber construction, while being fully splice and performance compatible with typical installed fibers,” Mr. Mogensen added.

OFS will provide EZ-Bend Technology in the V-Linx™ drop cables used in its V-Linx Spool & Play Solution for MDU deployments. A key component of OFS’ FOX™  Solution for FTTX applications, the V-Linx Solution can simplify MDU installations and lower installed cabling system costs by up to 50%. The V-Linx drop cables are expected to be commercially available in the first half of 2008.

About OFS

OFS is a world-leading designer, manufacturer and provider of optical fiber, optical fiber cable, FTTX, optical connectivity and specialty photonics products.  Our manufacturing and research divisions work together to provide innovative products and solutions that traverse many different applications as they link people and machines anywhere in the world. Between continents, between cities, around neighborhoods, and into homes and businesses of digital consumers we provide the right optical fiber, optical cable and components for efficient, cost-effective transmission.
 
OFS’ corporate lineage dates back to 1876 and included technology powerhouses such as AT&T (NYSE: T) and Lucent Technologies (now Alcatel-Lucent, NYSE: ALU). Today, OFS is owned by Furukawa Electric, a multi-billion dollar global leader in optical communications. 

Headquartered in Norcross (near Atlanta, Georgia), U.S., OFS is a global provider with facilities in Avon, Connecticut; Carrollton, Georgia; Somerset, New Jersey; and Sturbridge, Massachusetts. In Europe OFS has facilities in Augsburg (Germany), Brondy (Denmark) and Voronezh (Russia).

For more information, please visit www.ofsoptics.com.

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New QuickNet™ Plug Pack Assemblies Minimize Network Downtime During Switch Installation And Maintenance

PANDUIT® QuickNet™ Plug Pack Assemblies facilitate quick and easy connection and disconnection of patch cords to a variety of switches, reducing time and cost associated when installing and maintaining structured cabling links. Innovative design features of the plug pack allow multiple patch cords to be installed simultaneously with one hand for speed of deployment, while providing flexibility and ease to identify and remove individual cable links without disrupting service to the other network connections.

QuickNet Plug Pack Assemblies are constructed of 100% performance tested PANDUIT patch cords and assembled in a
factory-controlled environment for more consistent connections with optimum reliability. Engineered for design flexibility and high-density utilization, QuickNetPlug Pack Assemblies are available in Category 6A, 6, or 5e performance levels. An optional lock-in device prevents unauthorized removal of plug packs from the switch, providing an additional level of security. www.panduit.com 

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Preformed Line Products Announces Financial Results for the Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2007

Preformed Line Products Company (Nasdaq: PLPC - News) tod reported financial results for the fourth quarter and the full year 2007.

Net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2007 was $1,568,000, or $.29 per diluted share, compared to $2,044,000, or $.38 per diluted share, for the comparable period in 2006. Net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2007 included non-cash, after-tax charges of $537,000 for goodwill impairment and the write off of tax loss carryforwards, both related to our Thailand operation. Net sales in the fourth quarter 2007 improved 32% to $68,224,000 compared to last year's $51,765,000.

Net income for the year ended December 31, 2007 increased 22% to $14,766,000, or $2.72 per diluted share, compared to the prior year's $12,103,000, or $2.14 per diluted share. Net sales for the year 2007 improved 17% to $254,607,000 compared to last year's $216,937,000.

Currency had a favorable impact on sales for the year and fourth quarter of $10 million and $4 million, respectively. Currency favorably impacted net income for the year and quarter by $.6 million and $.3 million, respectively.

Rob Ruhlman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "I am pleased with the growth and progress of our domestic business. Improvements in our domestic sales are allowing us to successfully leverage our expenses. Our international businesses maintained their positions after strong gains experienced in 2006. Our acquisitions were successfully integrated and provide exciting expansion of our product lines. Sales from our newly acquired companies contributed $17 million for the year and $7 million for the quarter. I see a strong future for Preformed Line Products."

Founded in 1947, Preformed Line Products is an international designer and manufacturer of products and systems employed in the construction and maintenance of overhead and underground networks for energy, communications and broadband network companies.

Preformed's world headquarters are in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Company operates four domestic manufacturing centers located in Rogers, Arkansas, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Albemarle, North Carolina, and Asheville, North Carolina. The Company serves its worldwide market through international operations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Spain and Thailand. www.preformed.com

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iMemories T Launch New Online Video Sharing Web Site Using Qwest Metro Optical Ethernet Solutions

Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) today announced it signed a 3-year data networking agreement with iMemories, an Arizona-based company that uses state-of-the-art technology to convert home movie films and videotapes into full length online videos, and professionally published DVDs.

Qwest will install Qwest Metro Optical Ethernet (QMOE) at iMemories’ Scottsdale, Ariz., headquarters where the company operates its 11,000 square foot studio. The Ethernet technology will give iMemories scalable bandwidth and a secure and reliable network to provide its customers to share online video. Because of the flexibility and scalability of QMOE, iMemories will use only the amount of bandwidth it needs at a certain time.

Founded in 2006, iMemories has already transformed more than 100,000 old home movies, photos and slides into a modern digital format. “Moving to a Web-based video experience has been our key value proposition and differentiator as a brand, one that gives iMemories the ability to provide online “home movie” video sharing and editing, and provide our customers with highly customized DVD merchandise,” said Mark Rukavina, founder and CEO of iMemories. ”Our premium online video experience sets the new standard for what consumers will required in the media conversion market.”

“The beauty of Qwest Ethernet is that it starts at 10 Megabits per second (Mbps) but can easily scale to reach 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps), giving iMemories the flexibility to grow to meet the anticipated demand for their product,” said Tom Richards, executive vice president of Business Markets for Qwest. “These scalable bandwidth increments also mean that iMemories only pays for the bandwidth they use, which is particularly attractive to a young, rapidly growing company.”

QMOE service combines the power of Ethernet and optical technologies across metropolitan area networks to provide scalable and secure bandwidth at a low relative cost. QMOE service is available in 32 national markets with bandwidth profiles ranging from 5Mbps to 1 Gigabit per second. Qwest backs its products and services with a Quality of Service (QoS) commitment that gives customers assurance of application, integrity and performance in their network.

www.qwest.com.

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Peter O’Connor Promoted To Principal Of RTKL

RTKL Associates Inc. has promoted Peter O’Connor, RCDD, to principal.  O’Connor is based in the firm’s Chicago office and leads the healthcare practice of RTKL’s Special Systems Design Group.  In this new position, O’Connor will lead the growing practice focused on designing technology infrastructures for the healthcare marketplace, furthering the firm’s commitment to provide design expertise to its clients with a multi-disciplined and integrated design approach.

“Peter joined our group three years ago as an associate and has contributed greatly to the rapid growth and success we’ve experienced in this market,” said David P. Labuskes, RTKL vice president and director of the Special Systems Design Group.  “Since then, he’s taken on the leadership of a national consulting team as we provide technology solutions to some of the largest healthcare facilities, both in the United States and internationally.  We’re pleased to recognize his success with this promotion.”

Specializing in the integration of operating rooms, patient entertainment systems and nurse call systems, O’Connor uses his 17 years of experience with hospital communication systems to ensure clients’ needs are met with the proper scheme. 

“Our design is only successful when it takes into account an overlay of the technological opportunities with the clinical processes that exist”, said O’Connor.  “RTKL is committed to designing a solution that meets the needs of healthcare facilities for both today and tomorrow.”

O’Connor is currently designing the technology infrastructure for a 1.2 million-square-foot patient care pavilion at the University of Chicago Hospital.  The project includes integrated operating rooms, audio visual systems, voice, data and nurse call systems, all linked to an existing hospital facility.  O’Connor’s portfolio also includes work at Silver Cross Hospital, a 289-bed replacement hospital in New Lenox, Ill.; West Chester Medical Center, a technologically advanced hospital now under construction in Cincinnati; and a twelve-story bed tower that will be integrated into the existing communication infrastructure at Northwest Community Hospital in Chicago.

O’Connor is a Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) and holds Building Industry Consultant Services International (BICSI) certification, which is recognized worldwide as a key designation of professional expertise and experience in the design of information transport systems.  He is also a planning committee member of the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) Patient Care Device Initiative and a member of the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS), as well as a charter member of its Clinical Engineering– Information Technology Convergence special interest group. 

www.RTKL.com

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Massive Need for New Electrical Workers Predicted for U.S.

America will need to train ore than 270,000 new electrical and power line workers by 2016, according to statistics recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor. Predictions are that, between 2006 and 2016, an annual average of 27,000 new electricians will be necessary to accommodate growth in the industry and to replace those leaving the workforce --with a total turnover rate of nearly 27% of the workforce. By 2016, the number of electrical and power line workers is expected to reach 877,000, with an increase of  66,000 jobs beyond the 2006 level of 817,000.

The figures are reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its 2008-2009
Occupational Outlook Handbook, released online in December 2007 (
http://www.bls.gov/ ), with a print version available by spring 2008.

Says Ed Hill, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers (IBEW), "It's imperative that we recruit and train the next generation
of electricians today, because many electrical jobs require years of classroom
and hands-on training before the necessary levels of worker quality and safety
can be achieved. And being taught by experienced craftsmen is by far the best
way to convey those skills."

Notes E. Milner Irvin, president of the National Electrical Contractors
Association(NECA), "The need for skilled electrical workers to meet the growing
demands of our high-tech society is a concern that cuts across geographical
borders. That's why IBEW and NECA are actively recruiting new workers
nationwide, using tools such as job fairs, DVDs, websites like http://www.electrifyingcareers.com/ , even sponsoring a NASCAR racer to alert
young people to the job opportunities in our industry. And through our National
Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, we offer young people the unmatched educational resources of America's largest electrical training program –and the chance to join the best-trained, most up-to-date electrical apprentices and journeymen in the country."

ABOUT IBEW AND NECA

Through their joint marketing organization --the National Labor-Management
Cooperation Committee (NLMCC) of the organized electrical construction industry

--Reach customers with accurate information about the industry; and

--Achieve better internal communication between labor and management.

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.

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.

http://www.thequalityconnection.org/ and
http://www.electrictv.net/

Web site: http://www.electrictv.net/
http://www.thequalityconnection.org/
http://www.bls.gov/
http://www.electrifyingcareers.com/

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Superior Essex Unit Plans Facility Closure

Superior Essex in Talks With Worker Groups at France Magnet Wire Plant About Possible Closure

Wire and cable maker Superior Essex Inc. said it is in talks with groups representing employees at its magnet wire manufacturing plant in Chauny, France, about a possible closure of the facility.

The plant, which has about 130 employees, is operated by the company's French subsidiary, Essex SAS.

Superior Essex said in January it planned to consolidate and restructure its North American magnet wire business, as part of a worldwide cost cutting initiative. It closed a plant in Indiana and moved operations to Tennessee and Mexico facilities. www.superioressex.com

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The International Institute of Connectors & Interconnect Technology (IICIT) Announces Their 50th Anniversary

The International Institute of Connectors and Interconnect Technology (IICIT) is pleased to announce the 50th year in existence and their 39th Symposium and Exposition to be held in Naperville, Illinois at the Holiday Inn Select May 12 and 13, 2008.  The Syposium begins at 1 pm on May 12 with Legacy Learning Tutorials and runs thru the following day with papers highlighting “Innovation and Excellence” in the connector space, both optical and copper.

You are invited to join us!

5 decades ago, a group called the Electronic Connector Study Group, made up of engineers, suppliers, and reliability personnel, were working to instill rigor and excellence in the interconnect portion of electronic and optical systems. That group, originating in the Delaware Valley, transitioned into the IICIT, a mainstream trade association with interconnect technology and connectors as its primary charter. As companies downsized, outsourced, and reengineered themselves into more profitable entities in a worldwide competition that is the manufacturing business of today, the components engineer who was the mainstream of IICIT has become an endangered species. Inexperienced engineers entering the market today are encountering the same problems that were surmounted years ago.

IICIT has been reborn now to focus on teaching the lessons of the past, existing solutions steeped in reality and trial by fire, and in focusing on cutting-edge new initiatives for excellence. The most recent annual IICIT Symposium and Expo in Boston was a huge success and well received by the attendees with a half day of tutorial-style “basics” or legacy learnings and a second day of shared cutting-edge innovation.  Check out the photos in the Symposium tab in the navigation bar at www.iicit.org   ...the registration form for this year’s Symposium is available there also.

We already have an excellent cluster of papers for the 39th Symposium & Expo!  Scheduled to begin at 1 pm on May 12 and all of May 13, 2008 in Naperville, Illinois (just 20 miles from O'Hare Airport in Chicago) - we have already collected Ron Bishop to be our keynote speaker, Ron Hranac for a tutorial and we plan to have a special presentation by Molex since the venue for this Symposium is right in their backyard, so to speak.  It is time now to sign up to attend, just click on the 2008 Symposium tab under Symposiums at our website (www.iicit.org)  to get the registration form, then call the Holiday Inn Select Hotel & Conference Center at 1801 Naper Blvd in Naperville, Illinois (630.505.4900) to make your hotel reservations.  Our IICIT rate is $132 per night if you book before April 11, 2008 and includes a hot breakfast plus WiFi internet connectivity.

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Graybar Achieves #1 Industry Ranking on the 2008 FORTUNE “America’s Most Admired Companies” List

2008 marks seventh consecutive year Graybar makes the list

Graybar, a leading distributor of electrical and communications products and related supply chain management and logistics services, has announced it has achieved the #1 ranking on the annual FORTUNE “America’s Most Admired Companies” list in the Wholesalers: Diversified industry category.

This is the seventh consecutive year Graybar has earned a place on the list, which is featured in the March 17 issue of FORTUNE, and the second consecutive year it has been named Industry Leader in its industry category.

“We are honored to again receive the #1 ranking among the largest diversified wholesalers,” said Robert A. Reynolds Jr., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Graybar. “We use our strengths to our customers’ advantage by helping them power and network their facilities with speed, intelligence and efficiency.”

To compile the industry rankings, FORTUNE survey partner Hay Group polled executives, directors and analysts about the ten largest companies in their own industry category.  The industry experts rated those companies in eight areas, including corporate citizenship and investment value.  Only companies with scores ranking in the top half of their industry made the list.  More than 300 companies were ranked in 64 industry categories.    http://graybar.com/

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The Light Brigade’s January 2008 Training Schedule

Fiber Optics 1-2-3

This course focuses on how to design, install, test and maintain fiber optic communication systems for voice, video and data applications. The course consists of two days of classroom content and two optional days of hands-on practices. Course material and techniques taught are based on ITU, TIA/EIA, IEEE, Telcordia and ANSI standards. Class participants will learn to understand and effectively use any manufacturer's equipment or product designed to conform to these widely accepted standards.

 

 

May 5-8

Hartford, CT

 

Bismarck, ND

 

 

 

 

May 12-15

Washington, DC

 

 

 

 

May 19-22

Raleigh, NC

 

Columbus, OH

 

 

Advanced Hands-on Modules

These intensive one-day fiber optic training courses were developed as the next level of training for those who require more advanced skills and experience with major fiber optic disciplines and equipment. Each of the five modules focuses on a specific discipline and incorporates concentrated hands-on exercises.

Module 1: Fiber Optic Cable Preparation, Patch Panels & Splice Closures

Module 2: Fiber Optic Connectorization

Module 3: Optical Loss Testing, Troubleshooting & Documentation

Module 4: OTDR Theory, Operation & Emergency Restoration

Module 5: Fiber Optic Splicing (Fusion & Mechanical)

May 5-9

Seattle, WA

May 19-23

Orlando, FL

Fiber Optics for Intelligent Transportation Systems

This course offers a practical understanding of how fiber-optic technology is integrated into modern intelligent transportation systems. The content covers basic optical theory, the outside plant, system design, the impact of component choices on your system, optical loss and bandwidth budgets, video transmission, real-time video, compressed video over IP, FM and digitally encoded video, FDM, TDM, multi-channel and high-density video, control systems, traffic controllers, fiber architectures, and next generation systems.

 

 

May 28-30

Seattle, WA

 

 

 

 

Fiber Characterization: PMD, CD, and ORL

Polarization mode dispersion (PMD) and chromatic dispersion (CD) are complex phenomena that can impose severe limitations on fiber-optic system performance. As network speeds increase, optical dispersion compensation becomes more critical in order to maintain high signal quality and low bit error rates. This three-day course not only provides the classroom instruction necessary to understand the theory and principles of fiber characterization, it also includes hands-on instruction on fiber-optic splicing, connector inspection, span testing, and documentation.

 

 

May 12-15

Seattle, WA

 

 

 

 

For more information or to register, call (800) 451-7128 or visit www.lightbrigade.com.


The Light Brigade students rate the training

“Instructors did a great job explaining everything and where very helpful.”

M. Gatling, custom class attendee, March 2007

“Amazing teachers and tools! I highly suggest most companies should use this program.”

C. Hansen, custom class attendee, March 2007

“The instructor provided in valuable insight into fiber systems. He is a wealth of knowledge and is able to demonstrate his knowledge in a practical manner.”

D. Schiller, custom class attendee, March 2007

“[The instructor] is excellent. Great real world experience interjected.”

J. Slocomb, Fiber Optics 1-2-3 attendee, April 2007

“This course went beyond my expectations. This was my first exposure to Fiber Optics and it brought me completely up to my expectation of being able to talk to my customer and know what products to look at buying.”

G. Weber, Fiber Optics 1-2-3 attendee, May 2007

“Pass or fail – the instructors were awesome. Course material was presented in a clear and concise manner. No questions went unanswered. Each student received ample one-on-one help and attention.”

R. Brown, custom class attendee, June 2007

“Instructor’s enthusiasm, knowledge and sense of humor made the course effective and enjoyable.”

M. Fillion, Fiber Optics 1-2-3 attendee, June 2007

“I truly enjoyed the class and learned more than I ever thought I would.”

H. Jackson, Fiber Optics 1-2-3 attendee, July 2007

“I was happy that all instructors really exhibited a true base of knowledge. I was glad that experience backed their training methods.”

S. Whitsell, Fiber Optics for ITS attendee, July 2007

“Please convey my appreciation to the president of your company of the great training that I received from The [Light] Brigade this week. The instructors were excellent and did a fantastic job of imparting their knowledge and experiences. They kept the class interesting and the hands-on portion really brought everything together. I will definitely recommend it for other employees.”

C. Sampson, custom class attendee, August 2007

“[He] was an excellent instructor. He made sure that you understood the concept necessary for the exam. Excellent examples, and explanations were given in the class.”

K. Erdelac, Fiber Optics 1-2-3 attendee, August 2007

“Great introduction course, I really like the take home materials.”

Brandon Ballishmiade, Fiber Optics 1-2-3 attendee, August 2007

 “Light Brigade does an excellent job at training. They are the only source to consider for this type of training in my opinion.”

A. King, custom class attendee, September 2007

“I have taken numerous training courses. This was the first that was not vendor specific and concentrated on the how, not the new product line.”

J. Labaka, custom class attendee, September 2007

“Best course attended in 15 years. Perfect flow from start to finish.”

C. Park, Fiber Optics 1-2-3 attendee, September 2007

“Instructor used a lot of personal experience which spiced up the course tremendously and made it a pleasure.”

H. Koornstra, Fiber Optics attendee, October 2007

“All three instructors were excellent. They were available both before and after class for any additional help I needed. I would recommend this class to anybody interested in Fiber Optics.”

ABC TV technician, Fiber Optics 1-2-3 attendee, November 2007

“Class exceeded my expectations. Best training facility I've been too.”

H. Humes, Fiber Optics 1-2-3 attendee, February 2008

“The course was presented in a way that both experienced and new installers/technicians could come away with something gained. It was not below or above anyone.”

J. Inman, Fiber Optics 1-2-3 attendee, February 2008

“Excellent class. Instructors took time to help those who were less knowledgeable. Patient! They both were able to answer questions at anytime.”

K. Weissmann, Fiber Optics 1-2-3 attendee, February 2008

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Director of Popular Vermont Fiber to the Home Initiative Will Keynote April’s Broadband Properties Summit

Fresh from an overwhelming embrace of fiber-optic broadband technology by voters in his home state of Vermont, where the organization he heads is leading the charge for high-speed access for everyone, Timothy Nulty will keynote the Broadband Properties Summit conference in Dallas on April 29.

In a unanimous wave of approval, voters in 19 Vermont towns last week passed resolutions to join a regional effort to bring fiber to their homes, through a subscriber-funded system that offers Internet, telephone, and cable TV in central and southern Vermont. It was an unequivocal endorsement of broadband technology and its importance to individuals and businesses.

Nulty, who will speak at the Broadband Properties Summit on the second day of the event, is director of the ValleyFiber project in Vermont. In his keynote, he will explore why the project is so successful at the grassroots level, and why Vermonters feel that the universal availability of broadband service is so important.

Nulty formerly led Burlington Telecom in Burlington, Vermont, as general manager for a city-wide fiber to the premises network. The network was originally implemented for city government offices, but Nulty led the expansion of the network in order to provide broadband services to every business, institution, and resident in the city. Nulty is also a former chief economist for U.S. House and Senate committees.

“The enthusiastic support for the Vermont broadband effort is just one more example of the growing realization among individuals and businesses of the importance of a high-speed network,” said Steve Ross, editor of Broadband Properties magazine. “We see this interest continuing to grow exponentially, which attests to the importance of this year’s Broadband Properties Summit.”

In addition to Nulty, additional keynotes and major addresses at the April 28-30 Broadband Properties Summit will be delivered by Bruce P. Mehlman, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology Policy; Dan Rogers, President of the Kendall County Economic Development Commission in Texas; and broadband champion Graham Richard, former Mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Additional educational sessions will be presented by local economic development leaders, industry analysts, property developers, and recognized technology and legal experts. These sessions examine the latest broadband strategies of cities, communities, and carriers, and explore the appeal and economic development potential of fiber-based networks for property owners and municipal and regional governments.

The Broadband Properties Summit is the premier fiber to the premises industry event. It is April 28-30 at the Hyatt Regency DFW. Complete information on the Summit is available at www.bbpmag.com/2008summit/summo8.php.

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Zone Cable Management Enclosures

Wiremold/Legrand has broadened its offering of cable management solutions to include integrated zone cabling enclosures.  Coupled with offerings from Ortronics/Legrand and Cablofil/Legrand, the Legrand brands offer a robust portfolio of solutions for data centers and IT infrastructures.

Under a sales and marketing agreement with American Access Technologies, Wiremold/Legrand provides enclosures that save space and increase flexibility by providing connectivity in drop ceiling or raised floor applications.  These enclosures are plenum rated by UL and may be used in environmental air spaces.

Providing connectivity in a drop ceiling or raised floor not only conserves valuable space, but may provide the added benefit of reducing cooling requirements in potentially crowded equipment and data control rooms by moving active equipment to alternate sites. Further, deploying a zone cabling architecture, which integrates a remote consolidation point or zone enclosure reduces costs associated with moves, adds and changes over the lifetime of an installation.

The new raised floor enclosures integrate into a standard 2’ x 2’ floor tile grid.  Three styles are available to meet a range of customer requirements:  a passive enclosure for voice and network wiring blocks, a passive enclosure for data network patch panels, and an active enclosure for housing active equipment plus voice and data connectivity.  Ceiling enclosures are designed for integrating into standard drop ceiling openings.  Like the floor enclosures, these are available for passive and active voice and data network applications.

These enclosures accept Ortronics® patch panels, as well as a wide variety of other panels and wiring blocks for copper and fiber applications.  Raised floor enclosures complement Legrand's offering of raised floor system components, including standard and air-tight floor boxes, the Walkerflex® modular wiring system, and Cablofil® wire basket cable tray.  They also complement Ortronics Mighty Mo® cable management systems and overhead cable pathway racks, as well as NetClear® fiber and copper solutions from Ortronics/Legrand and Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company.

Wiremold/Legrand has also expanded its line of wireless access point enclosures with additional offerings from American Access Technologies, including enclosures for drop ceilings that support a wide selection of wireless access points and are plenum rated for use in environmental airspaces.

Wiremold/Legrand, headquartered in West Hartford, Conn., is the leader in wire and cable management systems, including metal and nonmetallic raceways, power-poles, poke-thru devices, floor boxes, Walker® underfloor systems, plug-in outlet centers, firestopping systems, and innovative architectural columns.  Wiremold/Legrand is part of Legrand, the global specialist in products and systems for electrical installations and information networks. www.wiremold.com  

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ABP Technology Becomes Distributor for Systems/Minuteman UPS

April 2, 2008, It was announced that ABP Technology has become a distributor for Para Systems and its Minuteman power technology products, including uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, power distribution units (PDUs), keyboard-video-mouse (KVM), surge suppressors and power monitoring and management software.

Located in Carrollton, Texas, ABP Technology is a division of ABP International, Inc. and specializes in the distribution of high-end technology products in the fields of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

ABP Technology concentrates on:

- IP telephony solutions based on premium open standards based IP PBXs and IP phones

- IP surveillance based on world class IP cameras and monitoring software

- IP infrastructure and peripherals like, IP paging, IP door openers, IP access control, Wi-Fi and DECT SIP phones, gateways, POE switches and Ethernet extenders.

ABP is committed to Open Standards based IP communications products and works with vendors that support interoperable solutions in a multi-vendor environment. ABP represents world-class companies in the US and around the world and markets products in the US, Canada, Caribbean and Latin American markets to service providers, carriers and the enterprise market through specialized channel partners.

In announcing this agreement, Rod Pullen, President of Para Systems stated:

"With the rapidly-growing telephone system market and the explosion of related technology, it was imperative that Para Systems seek out the best partners to market its Minuteman power technology products. ABP Technology represents the new wave of full-service distributors that offer much more than just shipping boxes of product off its shelves.

ABP Technology has an excellent, viewer-friendly website (<http://www.abptech.com/>), a comprehensive on-line product catalog, a well-deigned e-store, and a number of support tools.

We are looking forward to a long-term, profitable relationship with ABP Technology."

Robert Messer, President of ABP Technology said :

"We have been looking for a longer lasting business grade UPS system for both our IP Telephony and IP Surveillance product lines and were happy to find Para Systems / Minuteman almost in our backyard. Most important to us are the efficiency and MTBF of the UPS system, the longer battery duration required in the Telephony space and the longer overall lasting battery life that makes Para Systems the most environmental friendly UPS we could find."

Background on ABP Technology

ABP Technology is a leading distributor of SIP based, Open-Standards VoIP hardware and software. Located in Dallas, TX, ABP markets and sells to an extensive network of VARs and Service Providers throughout the Americas.

Offering a proven portfolio of quality products ABP also offers: engineering consultation, post sales technical support, training and webinars, along with turnkey operations for provisioning, pre-configuration and fulfillment services including reverse logistics and RMA support when required. Go to <http://www.abptech.com/>

Background on Para Systems

Para Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of power technologies including the

Minuteman(r) uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) for mission-critical equipment protection such as computers, telecommunications systems, security systems and Internet devices.  Minuteman(r) 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(r) Windows(r), 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(r) UPS units can best meet your application's power protection needs.  The website www.sizemypdu.com can determine which PDU is appropriate and www.comparemyups.com can compare UPS features to competitive products.

Association News

BICSI

BICSI LAUNCHES NEW ONLINE COURSES

BICSI CONNECT, the online interactive learning network for information transport systems (ITS) professionals, is expanding its educational offerings with three new courses starting in April.

Conquering F.E.A.R. A Simplified Approach to Data Center Layout and Design familiarizes ITS professionals with a technique known as a Footprint-Energy-Arrangement-Redundancy (F.E.A.R). This survey tool is useful in capturing and understanding a client’s needs to develop a flexible space plan for data center projects. The course has been developed from a presentation which was originally delivered in January during the 2008 BICSI Winter Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Confined Spaces is an introductory level course that focuses on the characteristics of confined spaces, acceptable entry conditions, and protective equipment. A key element of the course is learning to properly identify common confined space hazards.

Network Security is an entry level course focusing on the technologies used to safeguard vital equipment, software, data files and operations on organizational networks. Critical areas of study include security fundamentals, authentication, firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs).

Geared to help ITS professionals earn continuing education credits (CECs) through online courses, BICSI CONNECT is a user-friendly educational solution that provides students the flexibility of 24/7 Web-based training, at their own pace, without incurring travel expenses and at a reduced cost compared to traditional classes.

The complete list of BICSI CONNECT courses, along with pricing and Continuing Education Credit (CEC) information, is as follows:

Conquering F.E.A.R. A Simplified Approach to Data Center Layout and Design:

1 CEC for RCDD, NTS Specialty, Level 2 Installers and Technicians, $30

Confined Spaces, 6 CECs for RCDD, OSP Specialty, NTS Specialty, WD Specialty, Level 2 Installers and Technicians, $185

Local Area Networks, 8 CECs for RCDD, NTS Specialty, Level 2 Installers and Technicians, $249

Remote Access, 8 CECs for RCDD, NTS Specialty, Level 2 Installers and Technicians, $249

Network Security, 4 CECs for RCDD, NTS Specialty, WD Specialty, Level 2 Installers and Technicians, $125

Network Storage, 8 CECs for RCDD, NTS Specialty, Level 2 Installers and Technicians, $249

Ethernet, 6 CECs for RCDD, NTS Specialty, Level 2 Installers and Technicians, $185

Network Management, 4 CECs for RCDD, NTS Specialty, WD Specialty, Level 2 Installers and Technicians, $125

Internet Protocol, 4 CECs for RCDD, NTS Specialty, WD Specialty, Level 2 Installers and Technicians, $125

Firestopping, 8 CECs for RCDD, OSP Specialty, NTS Specialty, WD Specialty, Level 2 Installers and Technicians, $249

Interactive Test Prep, Network Design Reference Manual (NDRM), 6th edition, $99 for a 30-day use, $199 for a 90-day use. No CECs awarded.

Full courses descriptions can be found in the course catalog at www.bicsiconnect.org.

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.

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BOMA

BOMA International Conference Goes For The 'Green' In Denver

Sustainability visionaries headline June 23 general session

The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International, an industry leader in energy efficiency and sustainability, has announced that the BOMA International Conference and The Office Building Show, June 22-24 in Denver, will be “green” this year. An environmentally-friendly convention is in keeping with BOMA International’s aggressive green agenda, which among numerous initiatives includes the 7-Point Challenge, a ground-breaking energy reduction plan to achieve market transformation in the commercial real estate industry.

A highlight of the conference is the General Session on Monday, June 23, featuring an innovative town hall meeting discussion on sustainability called “Market Transformation: Leadership + Operational Excellence=Green ROI.” It will be a thought-provoking, in-depth look at how the top leaders in sustainability are setting the bar in reducing energy consumption, implementing green management practices and realizing a positive financial return on their green initiatives now and in the long term.

Panelists include Brenna Walraven, executive managing director of national property management for USAA Real Estate Company and chairman of BOMA International; Ira Magaziner, chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative; Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council; Catherine Greener, vice president of consulting for Saatchi & Saatchi S; and Sally Wilson, global director of environmental strategy for CB Richard Ellis; with veteran broadcast journalist Forrest Sawyer serving as moderator. The program kicks-off with Marc Gunther, senior writer at FORTUNE, who will reveal how Fortune 500 companies are embracing the green movement.

“Adoption and implementation of green practices is one of the most important issues in commercial real estate right now, and one in which BOMA has taken a leadership role,” said BOMA International Chairman and Chief Elected Officer Brenna S. Walraven, RPA, CPM, executive managing director, national property management, USAA Real Estate Company . “We felt it was an important step in our market transformation strategy to ‘walk the talk’ and make all aspects of our convention green as well.”

Additionally, BOMA International is taking a multifaceted approach to making the logistics of the convention environmentally friendly. Paper waste will be significantly reduced as promotional materials, registration, hotel bookings and handout materials for meetings and education sessions will be available online. Buses and other ground transportation have been eliminated as the hotels and Colorado Convention Center are within walking distance. An extensive recycling program will be in place for all paper, cans, bottles and cardboard. Additionally, much of the food will be produced locally and any excess will be donated to charity.

The overall conference program will focus on the business case for “greening” existing buildings by teaching specific strategies and technologies to reduce energy consumption and implement green management practices that realize a positive return on investment. Designed by leading experts for professionals at all levels of experience, the education program will feature more than 40 sessions organized around 5 driver issues: Achieving Sustainability, Enhancing Asset Value, Building a High Performance Team, Optimizing Technology and Exploring New Business Opportunities.

The Achieving Sustainability educational track will present strategies for implementing green operations. The track offers a diversified curriculum with session topics and case studies that include no- and low-cost operations practices, green certification, retrofitting existing buildings, as well as sustainability in a mixed-use environment.

Green programming and resources will also be prominently featured at The Office Building Show. Back by popular demand, the Green Pavilion and ENERGY STAR® Showcase will highlight ways for property professionals to increase energy efficiency and save money and features top suppliers of green and energy-efficient solutions.

For more information on the BOMA International Conference and The Office Building Show, visit www.bomaconvention.org.

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BOMA Earns Second Consecutive Partner Of The Year Award For Protecting The Environment Through Energy Efficiency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized BOMA International with a 2008 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year award for Excellence in Program Delivery for its outstanding contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by promoting energy management in commercial buildings through the BOMA Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP), offered through the BOMA Foundation. BOMA International, the only real estate association to receive this honor, was first awarded the Partner of the Year award in 2007. BOMA’s achievement will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 1, 2008.

BOMA International, an ENERGY STAR partner since 2005, is being honored for helping building owners and managers reduce energy use by promoting energy management practices through BEEP, an innovative operational excellence program that teaches commercial real estate professionals how to reduce energy consumption and costs with proven no- and low-cost strategies for optimizing equipment, people and practices. To date, approximately 10,000 commercial real estate professionals have participated in the BEEP seminars.

“BOMA International’s leadership role in helping the commercial real estate industry improve energy efficiency is a response to an urgent fiscal and environmental need,” said BOMA International Chairman and Chief Elected Officer Brenna S. Walraven, RPA, CPM, executive managing director, national property management, USAA Real Estate Company. “We are honored to receive the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year award for the second consecutive year and plan to continue leading the efforts on the business case for market transformation, including educating real estate professionals through BEEP, Energy Star tools and other programs on how reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a tremendous benefit to a the bottom line and is quickly becoming compulsory to stay competitive in the global marketplace.”

The Excellence in ENERGY STAR Program Delivery Awards are given to a variety of organizations to recognize their efforts to improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution, resulting in significant cost savings. Award winners are selected from more than 9,000 organizations that participate in the ENERGY STAR program.

BEEP is part of BOMA’s overall Market Transformation Plan and 7-Point Challenge to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent by 2012 across real estate portfolios, as measured against an average building measuring a 50 on the ENERGY STAR® benchmarking tool. The 7-Point Challenge also asks property professionals to benchmark energy performance and water usage through ENERGY STAR.

Last year alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved $16 billion on their energy bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 27 million vehicles.

“Partners such as BOMA International are raising the bar for energy efficiency, teaching customers that their decisions can make a difference,” said Robert J. Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air & Radiation. “BOMA International is doing an excellent job working with ENERGY STAR to transform the market for energy-efficient products, services and programs that help Americans save money and protect our environment.”

Five BOMA members Companies are also being honored:

USAA Real Estate Company and Transwestern were active participants in the creation of BEEP. CB Richard Ellis adopted BEEP in 2007 to help reduce energy consumption at its managed properties through increased employee education and training.

For more information on BOMA International’s BEEP program, visitwww.boma.org/TrainingAndEducation/BEEP/

Founded in 1907, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International is an international federation of more than 100 local associations and affiliated organizations. The 17,000-plus members of BOMA International own or manage more than 9 billion square feet of commercial properties in North America and abroad. BOMA’s mission is to enhance the human, intellectual and physical assets of the commercial real estate industry through advocacy, education, research, standards and information. On the Web at www.boma.org.

About ENERGY STAR
ENERGY STAR was introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 as a voluntary market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased energy efficiency. Today, ENERGY STAR offers businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions to save energy, money and help protect the environment for future generations. More than 9,000 organizations are ENERGY STAR partners committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes, buildings and businesses. For more information about ENERGY STAR, visit www.energystar.gov

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BOMA International’s 2008 Medical Office Building Conference To Be Presented By InSite Medical Properties, Inc.

The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International today announced that BOMA’s 2008 Medical Office Building and Healthcare Facilities Conference, June 19-20, 2008, at the Hyatt Regency in Denver, will be presented by InSite Medical Properties.

Healthcare real estate, such as medical office buildings and ambulatory surgery centers, continues to outperform other commercial office asset classes. BOMA’s annual Medical Office Building and Healthcare Facilities Conference focuses exclusively on the specific demands associated with developing, managing, and leasing these highly specialized facilities.

This year’s program will focus on the most pressing issues confronting this sector of the real estate industry, including the upcoming election. Political analyst and commentator Stuart Rothenberg will headline the event and share insights on what the upcoming presidential elections likely hold for the healthcare industry. As the editor and publisher of The Rothenberg Political Report, Rothenberg is the go-to authority on the U.S. House, Senate, gubernatorial, and presidential elections.

“The healthcare industry is undergoing rapid change,” noted Jonathan Winer, Co-Chair of BOMA’s Medical Office Buildings and Healthcare Facilities Committee, and Principal, Transaction Real Estate, Ernst & Young. “This conference is one of the only programs available that helps real estate industry professionals prepare for and meet those challenges.”

“We are delighted that InSite Medical Properties will sponsor this event,” said Danny Prosky, Co-Chair of BOMA’s Medical Office Buildings and Healthcare Facilities Committee, and Vice President, Acquisitions, Grubb & Ellis Healthcare REIT. “We are delighted to have them share their expertise, as they celebrate 30 years of delivering excellence to their healthcare clients.”

“We look forward to hosting this conference in our home city of Denver.  InSite has long been involved in this conference, and we're pleased to do our part in promoting the advancement of this profession and the medical office industry,” said Mark Engstrom, Chief Executive Officer for InSite Medical Properties.

In addition to examining the implications of the upcoming election, other sessions will examine the shift from in-patient to outpatient treatment models; the “greening” of healthcare facilities; medical malls and healthcare villages as new real estate models; how changes in the capital markets will affect access to capital and underwriting requirements; financing higher acuity facilities; the latest revisions to STARK regulations and other regulatory compliance matters; and strategies for getting the right tenant mix in an MOB.

Registration and information for the 2008 Medical Office Buildings and Healthcare Facilities Conference, June 19-20, at the Hyatt Regency in Denver available online at www.bomaconvention.org. More detailed information about the education program is available at http://www.boma.org/TrainingAndEducation/MedicalOfficeBuildings/.

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CABA

CABA’s Convergence Of Green And Intelligent Buildings Study

What is the latest CABA large building research initiative?

The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) has contracted Frost & Sullivan to conduct research that addresses the operation, energy savings and long term benefits of commercial facilities that implement intelligent and green building technologies above and beyond LEED certification.  The research study will be entitled the “Convergence of Green and Intelligent Buildings (CGIB)”.

CABA’s Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Council will be leading this research effort.  The Council is specifically tasked to review opportunities, strategize, take action and monitor initiatives that relate to integrated systems and automation in the "large building" sector.  The Council will undertake this research in order to accelerate and drive broad market acceptance of intelligent building technologies.  The research will evaluate the current LEED scoring system in relation to integrated systems. The Council will establish a task force that will work with the U.S. Green Building Council, the Canada Green Building Council, the Green Building Initiative and the Green Mechanical Council to monitor and modify the current LEED rating system in order to demonstrate the added value integrated systems can create when incorporated into green and sustainable buildings.

A further intent of the research study is to provide tools to persuade end-users, such as building owners, architects and contractors that a “greener building” can be achieved using intelligent technology and that this method of “greening” will also provide a greater return on investment (ROI) than other green technologies.

Why are you undertaking this initiative?

CABA is undertaking this initiative because our organization is committed to increasing energy efficiency in the entire built environment by promoting green building practices.  By definition, “green building” means building structures that promote energy conservation using environmental friendly products and creating healthy living and working environments.

In the United States, buildings account for 45 per cent of total energy use, 25 per cent of water consumption, 70 per of electricity consumption and 38 per cent of total carbon dioxide emissions.  Our objective through this study is to provide strategic recommendations that will can demonstrate the positive environmental impact of today’s intelligent, integrated building systems and building technology solutions.  In other words, this research will determine specific methods in which property owners and building designers can reduce energy consumption and costs, increase the profitability of their building stock through investments in intelligent building technologies, while at the same time reducing the deleterious effects of energy consumption such as pollution and emissions. www.caba.org

What form will the research take?

The research will cover a number of important aspects.  However, the CGIB Steering Committee will make the final determination on methodology and deliverables.  There will be a compilation of case studies that best demonstrate key technologies, capabilities and benefits.  The case studies will focus on technologies such as building and network management systems, building automation systems, lighting solutions, HVAC and sustainable energy technologies such as solar energy, wind power, rain water collection and recycled wastewater.  

The compilation of case studies will provide industry participants the means to showcase their technology and contributions towards intelligent and green buildings.  Manufacturers and service providers are invited to financially back this research project to profile and promote their energy-saving products and services.  End-users like developers and owners and invited to participate to showcase their buildings and better understand how to develop green and sustainable buildings.

What exactly will the research measure?

The research will demonstrate to property owners and designers the long-term benefits of intelligent buildings to reduce greenhouse emissions, positively impact life-cycle costs, and determine the installation costs and the payback period for intelligent building implementation.  The report will also examine potential energy savings and efficiency and improved occupant productivity from the implementation these technologies, along with performance ratios, occupant retention rates, and reduced risk factors.

Will CABA be able to utilize the research in other ways?

CABA’s Intelligent & Integrated Building Council is planning to form a Task Force that will be able to utilize the research to determine if integrated systems are receiving a fair score in LEED and other scoring systems.  If the Task Force determines that the scoring should be modified, they will work with the U.S. Green Building Council, the Canada Green Building Council, the Green Building Initiative and the Green Mechanical Council on modifying the scoring program.

How can my company get involved in this effort?

Any organization interested in participating in this research study should contact Fred Bryson at bryson@caba.org or contact the CABA office at 888.798.2222 or 613.686.1814 (x226).  More information about the report is also available online at: http://www.caba.org/councils/council.html.

Ultimately, the report will be made available after its completion to building owners, architects and contractors and will substantially move intelligent building products and services towards a “mass market” reality.

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CABA E-News Feature Stories

The Realization of Intelligent Buildings

According to an article in Buildings.com, integrated building systems streamline operations, add long-term value to property, and enable better service delivery to end-users. http://www.buildings.com/articles/detail.aspx?contentID=5736

Home Connectivity and Green Energy

According to Anto Budiardjo, President, Clasma Events Inc., renewable energy will be a significant component of our future energy picture -- distributed generation from PVs to wind turbines and storage systems for electricity and cooling. These systems will increasingly be installed in our homes, together with smart electricity meters. www.hometoys.com/ezine/08.02/clasma/homeconn.htm

Not Just a Dream

The high-tech homes commonly found at Disneyland no longer have to be the “House of Tomorrow” as builders can use the AHT (automated home technology) solutions in homes today. www.specialtypub.com/constructech/article.asp?article_id=6550

Promote Green Buildings for Biggest, Easiest Cuts in North American Carbon Emissions

A recent report released by the tri-national Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) prescribes policies to slash buildings' energy use in North America.  www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-03/cfec-pgb031108.php

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FOA

FOA Creates New Certification For "Fiber Optic Network Design"

The FOA has created a new certification program covering "Fiber Optic Network Design." This certification covers the particulars of how fiber optic networks are designed within the context of complete communications systems or construction projects. It is intended for contractors, installers, architects and engineers, project managers and all others who are involved with projects that include fiber optics.

Fiber optic networks are widely used, not just for telecom, but CATV, computer LANs, cellular phones, municipal wireless, security surveillance systems, metropolitan data, intelligent highways, fiber to the home, or practically every communications network. The FOA has certified almost 24,000 fiber optic technicians in the last decade who have been instrumental in the explosive expansion of fiber optic network usage. Many of those technicians have also been designers of the networks they install, and they have asked the FOA to create standards for fiber optic network design and offer a specialist certification in the field.

The FOA Certification is focused on the unique aspects of fiber optic network design, assuming the fiber optic designer works with project managers overseeing the complete project design. Prerequisites for the certification include having a FOA CFOT (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) certification to ensure knowledge and experience in fiber optic technology and installation.
The certification is offered through many of the 200+ FOA-approved schools which will provide appropriate training. Industry professionals with appropriate experience may apply directly to The FOA.

The Fiber Optic Association, Inc. is an nonprofit educational organization chartered to promote fiber optics through education, certification and standards. Over 200 FOA-Approved schools around the world have certified about 24,000 fiber optic technicians. The FOA offers free online introductory fiber optic programs for everyone and training for instructors at FOA-Approved schools. For more information on the FOA, see the organization's website www.thefoa.org.

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NAED

Private Label, Counterfeit Imported Product Raise Liability Risk for Electrical Distributors, Says NAED Research Report


Study Recommends Steps for Managing and Mitigating Risk in Today's Global Market

As electrical distributors increasingly consider selling private-label products and products manufactured offshore, they face more serious risks of being held liable for damages caused by these products, according to a new research report from the NAED Education & Research Foundation. The study was selected and funded by NAED's Channel Advantage Partnership (CAP) endowment.

The report, Product Liability Exposure: How to Manage and Mitigate the Risks in Today's Global Market, analyzes current liability threats and suggests steps that distributors should take to manage and mitigate risk. The study was produced by Bernie Heinze, Esq., president and CEO of Sequent Insurance Group.

Based on interviews with distributors and a review of available literature and information, the study finds that private labeling is on the increase and is expected to continue to grow. Private labeling is appealing because such products can generate 20% to 50% incremental profit margin, the report says.

"While its potential for profitability is attractive, the risks attendant to private labeling, especially with products manufactured in foreign countries, can be significant. In fact, the electrical products with the highest number of private labels are also those that have been the subject of recent recalls by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission," the report said.

Examples of such products include electrical tape, connectors and fittings, wiring devices, circuit breakers and recessed lighting. The major private-label source is China, which supplies 38% of private-label electrical products and components.

A related problem is the growing incidence of counterfeit products. Whether a distributor knowingly or unknowingly sells a counterfeit product, the company can face not only civil liability but also criminal penalties.

Distributors also can face liability from providing value-added services such as repackaging, installation and instructions.

The Growing Liability Threat

Under U.S. product liability laws, distributors can be required to pay the full amount of personal injury and property damage caused by electrical products, while the manufacturer or supplier escapes responsibility, the report says. Under the legal principle of "joint and several liability," injured parties can recover the entire amount of their damages either from all of the parties found liable, or alone from an individual party, regardless of the respective share of liability.

"In cases where other parties such as manufacturers are unable to pay their share, have no insurance coverage available, or are not subject to suit in the United States, wholesalers can be responsible for 100% of the judgment, thus taking on the risks and exposures and standing in the shoes of the manufacturer," the report said.

"Managing product liability exposures must be both a priority and an essential component of every electrical distributor's strategic and tactical operation," the report concludes.

Key recommendations to manage and mitigate risk include:

  • Undertake an independent evaluation by experts to assess potential exposures from products sold and services provided
  • Examine contracts and agreements with manufacturers to ensure the strongest and best protection
  • Ascertain manufacturers and their insurers' ability and willingness to defend and indemnify wholesalers against claims and lawsuits
  • Perform due diligence and deal only with trusted suppliers and manufacturers
  • Evaluate value-added services and written/oral representations to customers, to determine whether these add to risk

This report was produced with funding from the NAED Education & Research Foundation's Channel Advantage Partnership endowment, which supports research to improve the profitability and competitiveness of the electrical distribution channel.

SUMMARY SHEET:
Protecting Distributors Against Product Liability
From "Product Liability Exposure: How to Manage and Mitigate the Risks in Today's Global Market"
NAED Education & Research Foundation 2008

Top 10 Recommendations

  1. Undertake an independent evaluation by experts to assess potential exposures from products sold and services provided
  2. Examine contracts and agreements with manufacturers to ensure the strongest and best protection
  3. Ascertain manufacturers and their insurers' ability and willingness to defend and indemnify wholesalers against claims and lawsuits
  4. Perform due diligence and deal only with trusted suppliers and manufacturers
  5. Examine the financial security of the distributor's and manufacturer's insurance companies
  6. Monitor NAED communications for updates on risk management
  7. Put into place a plan for disaster recovery and business continuation in the event of a governmental action or investigation, claim or lawsuit
  8. Evaluate value-added services and written/oral representations to customers, to determine whether these add to risk
  9. Examine the necessity and process of any relabeling or alteration of products sold
  10. Fully cooperate with all insurers in the event of an incident

Steps to Avoid Counterfeit Products

  • Know the supplier
  • Before purchase, ask for and retain samples of the product, and have the sample evaluated and tested
  • Watch for irregular or unusual warranty claims, spelling errors on the product or packaging, or incorrect weight
  • Check for inconsistent or irregular UL marks
  • Institute shipping policies to protect the integrity of component parts
  • Consider using technology to ensure product security such as barcodes or radio-frequency identification tags

 http://www.naed.org

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NAED Celebrates 100 Year Anniversary at It's National Electrical Leadership Summit

May 17-21 in San Francisco"Summit of the Century" Features Hit Band Foreigner, Former Starbuck's CEO,

Plus Special Centennial Celebration Events

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) is celebrating its Centennial Anniversary with an expanded lineup of top-quality speakers, celebrity entertainment, educational workshops and networking opportunities at its annual National Electrical Leadership Summit, May 17-21, in San Francisco. The conference also features a special celebration and awards banquet commemorating the 100th anniversary of NAED's founding in 1908.

With the theme of, "Honor Tradition. Ignite Innovation," the conference will attract a wide variety of attendees, both new and from days past. Past industry leaders and vendors are invited to attend as well as the nearly 35 new NAED members that have joined this year.

Keynote speakers include Orin Smith, former Starbucks president and CEO who will provide his business insights, and Dr. Jill Jonnes, author of Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the Race to Electrify the World, who will give a historical perspective. In addition, Las Vegas performer Jean Francois Detaille will strive to awaken the artist and business visionary in the audience with a larger-than-life action painting and performance of "Extreme Art."

Other highlights include:

A unique "Innovation Workshop on Success Thinking" will be led by Sarah Miller-Caldicott. The great-grand niece of Thomas Edison, she is the author of Innovate Like Edison: The Success System of America's Greatest Inventor.

Dozens of educational workshops will be presented on industry trends and management tips. Examples include: "How to Prosper from the Top 2008 Technology Trends," "Forging Effective Partnerships within New Supply Chain Structures," "Challenging 10 Sacred Cows of Distributor Profitability" and more. For the first time, CFOs and CEOs with CPA credentials can earn Continuing Professional Education credits from designated sessions.

Special networking opportunities include the popular Strategic Planning Booth Sessions providing opportunities for trading partners to meet, along with the annual Women in Industry Networking Luncheon where the speaker will be Christine Corelli, author of The Art of Influencing and Wake Up and Smell the Competition.

The Summit's finale will culminate in a high-energy performance by hit band, Foreigner, at the Centennial Celebration and Awards Banquet on Tuesday, May 20. Their hits include "Cold as Ice" and "Waiting for a Girl Like You."

CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS

National Electrical Leadership Summit

May 17-21, San Francisco

Saturday, May 17

Concurrent Education Sessions

Affiliate Events

Sunday, May 18

Women in Industry Networking Luncheon, featuring Christine Corelli, author, The Art of Influencing and

    Wake Up and Smell the Competition

Peer Networking Groups

Concurrent Education Sessions

Opening General Session

-    Dr. Jill Jonnes, author, Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the Race to Electrify the World

-    "Extreme Art" with Jean Francois Detaille

Affiliate Events

Monday, May 19

General Session

-    Orin Smith, former Starbucks President/CEO

-    International distributor panel on threats and opportunities of the global marketplace

Innovation Workshop on Success Thinking with Sarah Miller-Caldicott, author of Innovate Like Edison: The

     Success System of America's Greatest Inventor

Strategic Planning Booth Sessions

Concurrent Education Sessions

Affiliate Events

Tuesday, May 20

Strategic Planning Booth Session

Concurrent Education Sessions

NAED Centennial Celebration & Awards Banquet

-    Entertainment by Foreigner

Wednesday, May 21

Departure

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

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NEMA

NEMA Publishes ANSI/NEMA OS 3-2007 Selection and Installation Guidelines for Electrical Outlet Boxes

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published ANSI/NEMA OS 3-2007 Selection and Installation Guidelines for Electrical Outlet Boxes. It provides designers, installers, and inspectors with the outlet box industry’s perspective on appropriate selection and installation criteria, based on the design and intended use of the product.

According to David Kendall, chairman of the NEMA Outlet and Switch Box Section that developed the standard, there may be no other component of our electrical distribution system that serves more purposes than electrical outlet boxes.

“They give access to wiring, connect raceway systems, provide mechanical protection, and prevent persons from contacting energized parts of the electrical system,” Kendall said. “Through these guidelines, industry seeks to develop a closer liaison with installers and electrical inspectors, by providing education and understanding of proper application and installation of boxes. This understanding ensures that the concerns and challenges that face manufacturers, contractors, and Authorities Having Jurisdiction are addressed.”

This edition includes revisions to the summary table for support of luminaires, fixtures, and other products; a new table of fan support weight ratings; a list of weight classifications for ceiling-suspended fan boxes; permitted markings on boxes for fan support; rewritten guidelines for boxes and covers in wet and damp locations and adverse environments; revisions of minimum fitting thread engagement with threaded entries for threaded conduit or fittings, to 3-1/2 threads; and removes device boxes as being capable of supporting products weighing 6–49 pounds in or on walls.

NEMA. Setting Standards for Excellence www.nema.org

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SCTE

SCTE CABLE-TEC EXPO® ’08 Website Launches, Registration Under Way

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) today is pleased to announce that its website for SCTE Cable-Tec Expo® 2008 is live and that registration for the popular annual flagship event is now available. Registration is also now under way for two SCTE professional development opportunities being offered in conjunction with Expo.

SCTE Cable-Tec Expo® 2008, with “Engineering History in the Making” as this year’s theme, is set for Tuesday through Friday, June 24–27 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Expo is marking its 25th anniversary this year.

SCTE’s Expo 2008 will feature 400-plus hands-on, technology-focused exhibits, 20-plus technical workshops, CEO/CTO panels, the Annual Awards Luncheon, the International Cable-Tec Games, and an array of outstanding networking opportunities, including the relaxing Expo Evening, for the expected 10,000-plus attendees. For a quarter of a century, Expo has been recognized as the place to find ways to utilize the technologies of today and prepare for the technologies and services of tomorrow.

SCTE members who register for Expo now will save a total of $250 compared with the nonmember onsite registration rate. Expo registration is available at www.scte.org along with additional details about the event. When registering for Expo, nonmembers have the option to save as well by purchasing an annual SCTE membership for only $58.

Meanwhile, registration also has opened today for SCTE Conference on Broadband Learning & Development (CBL&D) 2008. The annual conference, to be held in conjunction with Expo, is set for Tuesday, June 24 in Philadelphia. CBL&D addresses key issues and challenges facing learning and development professionals in the cable telecommunications industry.

In addition, registration also has begun today for the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) Carrier Ethernet Seminar, which also will be conducted on Tuesday, June 24 in Philadelphia in conjunction with Expo.

Registration for CBL&D and the MEF seminar including discounts and details for the two events are available at www.scte.org.

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TIA

TIA Commends FCC On Closing Of 700 MHz Auction

New Spectrum Allocations Open Doors to Advanced Wireless Service

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) has commended the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) upon closing of the 700 MHz Auction after 261 rounds of bidding, which drew in more than $19.5 billion in provisionally winning bids. With the exception of the D Block, designated for public safety services, each of the other spectrum blocks available in the auction has met its reserve price. 

“TIA greatly appreciates the efforts of FCC Chairman Martin and the Commission in running a smooth and successful auction,” stated TIA President Grant Seiffert. “We are excited about the future services that will be delivered, and look forward to working with the Commission in its efforts to craft rules for the effective re-auction of the nationwide D Block licensee for public safety purposes.”

TIA members will put the auctioned spectrum to important use in meeting the needs of the American public, and the country is expected to benefit significantly from the almost $20 billion raised. The spectrum will provide cutting-edge wireless services that meet the needs of consumers. TIA is continuing to closely watch developments relating to the public safety network, as the FCC deliberates next steps. dcoffey@tianline.org.

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Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Publishes New WLAN Standard

Focus on IEEE Compatibility Complements Wireless Device Growth

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) has published a new standard, TIA-1003, for Requirements for a Wireless LAN Based IP Telephony Endpoint, adding to a broad catalog of wireless standards for the communications industry. 

TIA-1003 specifies the minimum requirements for various performance aspects of WLAN IP telephony endpoints operating in a business environment, including: media and protocol-specific call control interoperability; acoustic performance; telephony feature support; safety; electromagnetic compatibility; and environmental performance.  Due to the significant growth of Wi-Fi Alliance-certified products on the market, the TIA-1003 standard was developed to focus on IEEE 802.11 technologies.

TIA-1003 was formulated under the cognizance of the TIA TR-41: User Premises Telecommunications Requirements Engineering Committee’s TR-41.4: IP Telephony Infrastructure and Endpoints Subcommittee. To obtain copies of the document, contact Information Handling Services at (800) 854-7179 or visit http://global.ihs.com.


For technical information regarding participating in the TR-41 committee please contact Ronda Coulter at rcoulter@tiaonline.org.  For press questions please contact Taly Walsh @tiaonline.org

The companies participating in TR-41 are: ADTRAN, Advent Instruments, Inc., Allied Telephone and Data Corp., AST Technology Labs, Inc., AT&T Labs, Avaya, Belden Networks Division, Berk-Tek, Bourns Limited, Broadcom Corporation, Business Communication Svcs., Carlon, Lamson & Sessions, Catena Networks, Cisco Systems, Inc., CML Microcircuits (USA) Inc., CommScope Network Division, Conexant Systems, Inc., Corning Incorporated, CSI Telecommunications, Dietrich Lockard Group, Inc., EMBARQ Corporation, Ericsson Inc., FAL Associates, Fluke Networks, Flykees, Fultec Semiconductor Inc., G.R.A.S. Sound & Vibration, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Industry Canada, Intel Corporation, Intertek Testing Services, Intrado, ITW Linx, Leviton Network Solutions, Littelfuse Inc., Maz-Sky Canadian International G, Microtronix Systems Ltd., Motorola Inc., National Communications System, National Technical Systems (NTS), NeuStar Inc., Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel, Panasonic Computer Solutions Company, Panasonic Service & Technology Co., Panduit Corporation, Plantronics, Redcom Labs, Inc., RTKL Associates Inc., San-O Industrial Corp., Sanyo Fisher Company, Sharp Laboratories of America, Sigma Delta Communications, Inc., Sony Wireless Tech Division, Spirent Communications, Sprint Nextel, Telchemy Incorporated, Telcordia Technologies, Texas Instruments, Inc., The Siemon Company, Thomson Inc., Tyco Electronics, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, UL Underwriters Laboratories Inc., Uniden, Verizon Wireless, VTech Communications, Westell Technologies, Inc., Wiltec Technologies, Wyle Laboratories, Inc.

###

About TIA

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) represents the global information communications and technology (ICT) industries through standards development, advocacy, business opportunities, market intelligence and world-wide environmental regulatory compliance. With support from its 600 members, TIA enhances the business environment for thousands of companies whose focus is broadband development and deployment (including wireless and landline infrastructure and services), information technology (IT) for commercial or residential application, Internet Protocol (IP) hardware, software and content solutions, and the convergence of voice, video and data applications and evolution.

TIA co-owns NXTcomm, the tradeshow serving the ICT industry; is ANSI-accredited; serves as the secretariat for 3GPP2; holds a Board position on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) TELECOM Board; and hosts the USA pavilions in ITU trade fairs worldwide. More than 1,000 engineers, lawyers and other industry leaders participate in TIA’s 70+ standards committees and TIA has produced more than 1,150 standards documents. Hundreds of experts participate in TIA’s government affairs initiatives, which include advancing global broadband deployment across wireline, wireless and cable platforms; advocating advanced spectrum management; encouraging policies to enable information access for persons with disabilities; seeking allocation of additional spectrum to advance wireless services and public safety; facilitating market opportunities by promoting full, fair and open trade and competition in international markets; and ensuring that the U.S. communications sector continues to be a leader in advanced research. TIA’s EIATRACK subscription-based web service, on the Web at www.eiatrack.com, enables companies to determine up-to-date information on environmental compliance of their products in various regions around the world.

TIA membership enhances the ability of companies to prepare for the future of communications.  TIA brings people and businesses together by helping the industry overcome technical and political barriers to communications. Visit www.tiaonline.org for details.

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Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Announces Election, Reconfirmation of Board Members

Graybar and Sumitomo Electric Lightwave Executives Join Distinguished Technology Leaders

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leader in advocacy, standards development, business development and intelligence for the information, communications and technology (ICT) industry, today announced the election to its Board of Michael C. Dumas, Vice President, Comm/Data Business, Graybar; and Fred McDuffee, President & COO, Sumitomo Electric Lightwave. Charlie Fox, General Manager, Tyco and Carlos Munoz, CEO, Cam Communications, were confirmed for their second terms as Board Members. The elections took place at the TIA Board meeting held March 2-3, 2008, in Tahoe, Nev.

Dumas is a 21-year career veteran with Graybar, a leading distributor of high quality electrical, telecommunications and networking products and related supply chain management and logistics services. Prior to becoming Vice President, Comm/Data Business in 2005, he held a variety of management positions at the company, including: Treasury Manager – Corporate Accounts; Vice President, Electrical Sales – St. Louis District; and Vice President, Corporate Accounts. He holds a B.S. degree in General Business Administration from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas.

Prior to becoming President of Sumitomo Electric Lightwave, a leading developer and manufacturer of fiber optic cable, McDuffee served for six years as Senior Vice President in charge of manufacturing, product engineering and marketing for the company’s Research Triangle Park and Whiteville North Carolina facilities. He has held various management positions at the company. He holds a B.S. degree in Physics from Virginia Tech.

Recently, TIA was proud to announce that its Chairman of the Board, Robert W. Pullen, has assumed the roles of Chief Executive Officer, President and Director at Tellabs.

TIA’s Board of Directors includes senior-level executives from ACS, ADC, ADTRAN, Alcatel-Lucent, ANDA Networks, ArrayComm, AttivaCorp, Avaya, Bechtel Communications, Inc., Cam Communications, Cisco Systems, Corning Incorporated, Ericsson, Inc., Graybar, Henkels & McCoy, Intel Corporation, LGE, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel, OneChip Photonics Inc., OnSite Systems, Panasonic Computer Solutions Co., QUALCOMM, Research In Motion, Sumitomo Electric, Lightwave Corporation, Telcordia Technologies, Tellabs, Tyco Electronics, Ulticom, Inc., Westell Technologies, Inc. and Zebra Technologies Corporation. Advisors to the Board include FAL Associates, ILS Technology and Orca Systems. www.tiaonline.org

Article Contributions

ACUTA Journal

How Technology Steps Up to the Challenge

By Walt Magnussen, PhD

President, ACUTA

Texas A&M University

This issue of the ACUTA Journal is dedicated to Preparing for Disasters and Emergencies, and it would be hard to pick a more appropriate topic. There is actually good news as well as bad news in this space. The bad news is that the frequency and severity of incidents seem to be on the rise. The good news is that the technology that we all work with is creating interesting opportunities for us to protect ourselves.

The fact that the number of incidents is on the rise can be validated by looking at Carnegie Mellon’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) statistic page (http://www.cert.org). They recorded 137,529 incident reports in 2003. This was three times the number of incidents reported in 2001 (52,658) and more than ten times the number of reported incidents in 1999 (9,859). It can also be seen in natural emergencies. According to NOAA statistics (http://www.noaa.gov),  2004 and 2005 were two record-setting years with 28 named storms (2005), 15 hurricanes (2005), nine U.S.A. landfalling named storms (2004), and four  U.S.A. landfalling major hurricanes (2005). All of this activity has been putting major strain on campus resources.

On the positive side, technology has been stepping up to the plate by providing resources that help us mitigate these vulnerabilities. The technologies that have proven to be the most valuable can be found in fiber-supported voice and wireless services.

The first major enhancement was provided by the carrier’s high-speed optical networks and by university-owned and -run regional optical networks (RONs). This service now allows us to provide high-speed, reliable, offsite machine-room space at a reasonable cost. In the past, we were required to house all of our critical applications in one (or two if we were lucky) central machine rooms. With the advent of high-speed optics, we can now extend our machine rooms into either the university’s machine room or leased space from a high-reliability commercial data center.

The second way that technology has stepped up to the challenge comes from the inherent architecture of VoIP. The older TDM architectures typically involved one large, central switching platform, which was difficult to distribute. (Many platforms allow for the distribution of switching nodes but they still require the presence of the central switching system). VoIP architecture allows the presence of multiple servers that can be easily distributed across several locations. In a VoIP network, the loss of any single geographic location can fairly easily be routed around. In addition, VoIP also allows for the blasting of thousands of simultaneous calls for alerting, which is either difficult or impossible in most TDM architectures.

The third area in which technology has changed the way that we support emergency services is student and faculty/staff notification. For at least a decade, my campus sought a way to notify our 45,000 students in the event of a crisis. We had looked at siren systems, email trees, and classroom alarm systems and had found them all to be either ineffective in our case or cost prohibitive. With the invention of SMS text messaging, the students brought a reasonable solution to us.

I am sure that there are several other ways in which technological advances have helped us deal with the ever-increasing threats that are the reality of today’s world. Fortunately, ACUTA has been on the leading edge of all of these advances by having our institutions share successes (and failures) with others. At the last two seminars, there were several sessions on emergency notification. In Minneapolis the FBI shared their efforts with us, and last summer, ACUTA had a webinar covering this topic. Since the level of threat does not seem to be going away, I personally feel better knowing that my campus is not alone in the battle.

Reprinted with full permission of ACUTA Journal -  www.acuta.org

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CARLINI

Carlini's Track Record Is Highly Accurate

James Carlini has studied and analyzed the telecommunications and information technology industry for several decades. His writings have stood the test of time for accuracy and insight. If we had followed his writings with a modest investment program, we would be wealthy today. We are pleased to continue publishing Carlini’s Comments. He has often dealt with difficult subjects in a straight forward manner. Hats Off to this powerful author.

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.
Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

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Gen. George S. Patton: Getting Back to Real Organizational Leadership

Published on 3/5/2008 at www.MidwestBusiness.com where you always read real perspectives

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.

While many business executives at some point in their career are told to read “Art of War” by Sun Tzu, what they should also be reading is George S. Patton’s approach to operational leadership and management of resources.

Before political correctness and other “folksy euphemisms” for lackluster and mediocre operational approaches to organizational management, a general named Patton took an army of Americans from a ragtag outfit to a well-disciplined, well-supplied army that was second to none in World War II.

His approach was a winning, no-nonsense, lead-by-example attitude that was needed at the time of facing some impossible objectives. Many today in both the public and private sectors could use a few pages out of his leadership playbook along with a couple more from his management of resources.

Some people have forgotten him and younger people may have never even heard of him. He was definitely a controversial leader, but in terms of success, he “got things done faster, more decisively and … at a lower cost in that most important and cruelest price of warfare – the lives of his soldiers – than everyone else,” according to retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Major Gen. William A. Cohen.

How Do CEOs Learn From Patton?

Many business schools should take a look at Patton’s achievements. They should teach organizational management from a pragmatic standpoint rather than a conceptual standpoint that sometimes can’t be applied in real situations. Unfortunately, most management schools aren’t leadership schools.

There are several blog posts that focus on poor CEOs and their performance. One has discussed the five worst CEOs of 2007, which included those from BP, Caterpillar, GE, PepsiCo and Wal-Mart. The author wrote: “These CEOs accepted global warming alarmism without facts and failed to anticipate the unintended consequences on their products.”

Another segment would be the financial CEOs. Those would include CEOs from Countrywide Financial, Citibank and others that got crushed in the sub-prime mortgage crisis that’s now seeping into the regular mortgage market. Another CEO who could be put into this category would be Ed Zander. He was supposed to turn around Motorola.

Take a look at these CEOs across these organizations who have stagnated their

performance. If they are considered the generals of these organizations, they would have been dismissed by Patton in a heartbeat. They also wouldn’t have gotten any golden parachutes for their poor performance. Patton was not a leader who would tolerate failure let alone reward it.

The following comments are based on a book I first read several years ago as well as some other sources I have researched. The 1999 book is “Patton on Leadership” by Alan Axelrod.

Instilling a Sense of Urgency

To regain the competitiveness that some say the United States has lost, we need to bring back those executive qualities and a sense of urgency in organizations through a new breed of executives. Some of the executive facets they should have include:

§         A leadership attitude with a sense of urgency

§         A repertoire of leadership skills

§         A leadership image

§         The ability to both speak and write effectively

§         The ability to be creative, adaptive and flexible

§         The ability to understand the competition

§         The ability to create and maintain a quality atmosphere for production and performance

§         The mentoring skills to bring the most out of their subordinates

§         The ability to manage the impossible

There are so many books on various styles of management that you would think we would have excellent corporate executives. The truth is many have concerned themselves more with their own trappings and golden parachutes than the success of their organizations.

Since the debacles at Enron, Tyco and WorldCom, some safeguards have been put in to focus on performance. Even so, executive compensation still isn’t completely tied to performance. The book says: “Patton would tell you the only meaningful way to evaluate a leader and his or her methods is by looking at the results.”

Remembering Some of Patton’s Lessons

Patton’s lessons on leadership contain some excellent ideas for encouragement:

Do more than is expected of you

Always attack, never surrender and always push the market in business

Wars are not won by defensive tactics

In the long run, it’s what we do rather than what we say that will destroy us

Good tactics can save the worst strategy and bad tactics will destroy even the best

Select leaders for accomplishment rather than for affection

No one is thinking if everyone is thinking alike

Lack of orders is no excuse for inaction

We can always learn from each other

There are many more that you can get out of the book. If we are to get organizations back into great shape, maybe the approach of rotating one bad CEO from one company to the next should be abandoned. We should stop churning the same bad apples from one barrel to another and start bringing in new executives with fresh ideas.

If someone messed up one organization, how are they supposed to come in and be the savior for another one?

The results are pretty predictable. How many poor-performing CEOs have you seen go from one company to the next while collecting a couple golden parachutes in the process? They also mess up the careers of many subordinates through their lack of strategy and uncreative cost-cutting approach to try to show profitability.

Patton would have never allowed that. Bad management should get relieved and demoted instead of rewarded. Maybe we should start with that reform in corporate leadership.

Carlinism: No one follows hollow slogans or rah-rah approaches to management. Lead by example.


See James Carlini interviewed by the Strassman Report out of California.
The 30-minute video discusses the need for planning gigabit network
infrastructure today in order to be globally competitive tomorrow.


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.
Click here for Carlini’s full biography.

Copyright 2008 Jim Carlini

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Cabling Installation & Maintenance

Banking On Managed Network To Ease Controlled Growth

Intelligent physical-layer management systems allow remote-management capabilities for New Hampshire bank and its 18 branch locations.

Mascoma Savings Bank (MSB) serves New Hampshire and Vermont’s Upper Valley area through the corporate headquarters in Lebanon, NH and 18 branch locations. Formed in 1899, MSB is a mutually owned financial services company that manages more than $700 million in assets, offers a full line of banking products that include personal and commercial banking, mortgage and consumer loans, and provides a full line of Internet banking services.

To keep up with growth needs for bandwidth, storage, and management within the information-technology (IT) organization, MSB needed to upgrade its existing network cabling infrastructure with a solution that offered flexibility and scalability. The project required upgrading and enhancing existing connectivity in all bank locations. Also, to effectively manage its budget, the bank needed a comprehensive plan that would clearly identify its connectivity requirements and fulfill several business needs.

Need for remote control

IT staff members located at the operations center in White River Junction, VT often had to drive to the 18 branch locations—some as far as four hours away—for service calls, dramatically slowing mean time to repair. It was obvious that, along with an infrastructure upgrade, MSB needed to reconsider its network-management processes and find a solution that could offer efficient remote manageability and maintenance capabilities.

Of chief concern to the bank was ensuring that accurate documentation and reporting of all moves, adds, and changes (MACs) could be collected at the operations center from all 18 remote locations. MSB not only needed a network solution that would help automatically record asset-movement activities in the network, but also help to effectively monitor and manage those activities. The manual method of documentation could no longer be relied upon to keep pace with the network’s growth.

Communications to all 18 locations had to be reliable, so MSB required a cabling system that would offer superior performance and allow for growth and reconfigurations as necessary. The system had to ensure secure transfer of information while providing maximum uptime in order to meet customers’ need and stay competitive.

MSB contacted Defiance Electric & Crossover Inc. (www.defianceelectric.com), a design-build communications company that had successfully implemented several Panduit electrical solutions for the bank. Because the contractor and user had been pleased with the electrical projects, Defiance recommended implementing Panduit networking solutions during MSB’s ongoing upgrades, including a managed network system.

Contractor’s input and experience

Defiance Electric & Crossover specified the PanView System, an intelligent physical-layer management solution that could fully capitalize on Mascoma’s newly planned network infrastructure. While the copper and fiber cabling systems would provide the level of reliability and scalability that MSB sought to meet its wide area network (WAN) needs, an effective intelligent physical-layer management would help the bank take greater control of its network locations and optimize its overall network reliability.

Working together, Panduit and Defiance Electric & Crossover developed a comprehensive solution to address all of MSB’s project requirements by integrating PanView software and PanView patch panels into the bank’s existing network. Additionally, the enhancement of the cabling system allowed an upgrade to the rack and grounding systems, which ensured greater network reliability.

MSB realized the benefits of the PanView system right away. The bank’s IT team gained the ability to remotely manage all patch field connectivity issues from its centralized operations center. Complete MACs could be directed from the operations center and executed at remote branch locations using light-emitting diodes located on the front of the patch panels—literally guiding staff through changes an ensuring accuracy of patch-field connections.

In addition to simplifying patch-field MACs, remote manageability helped reduce network downtime, offered faster mean-time-to-repair response, and saved MSB the time and travel expense of dispatching IT staff to remote branch locations.

“It has greatly simplified our cabling-infrastructure management and documentation,” said Chris Irish, assistant vice president, network services, Mascoma Savings Bank. “The ability to create and implement remote work orders through PanView has also saved countless hours of travel time, as well as the associated costs to the bank in staff mileage reimbursement and other travel expenses.”

At each branch location, the intelligent patch panels were installed along with PanView hardware to monitor the remote patch fields for enhanced monitoring capabilities at the main operations center. Using the intelligent physical-layer management software, Irish could review all branch networks and monitor equipment and patch-field connectivity at the various locations—all in real time. The PanView system would immediately notify changes in the patch field for even greater control. The system’s database capabilities helped maintain accurate records of the connectivity, as well as information regarding equipment and network computing assets.

Tools play their roles

An unexpected value to MSB was the integration of computer-aided design (CAD) and utilization modules into the software package that help the bank continue to build and expand its network.

CAD modules enable the bank to create a two-dimensional map of MSB’s office locations that have been used on-screen to pinpoint devices and equipment. The utilization modules provide the ability to inventory active ports and search for available ports, thereby maximizing existing resources.

By tracking all networking and computing assets, the utilization and CAD modules also contribute to necessary regulatory compliance by reporting and maintaining accurate documentation and event logs.

“The integrated CAD features and the ability to log and monitor equipment events have been a great help in meeting our regulatory requirements,” comments Chris Irish.

The Panduit solution provided MSB a network cabling system that would accommodate the bank’s changing needs while providing maximum uptime. The TX6000 Copper Cabling System and Opticom Fiber System provided the bandwidth needed to ultimately deliver better service to Mascoma’s customers.

Panduit’s StructuredGround system helped the bank comply with the TIA-942 standard to improve system performance and protect network equipment and personnel. Innovative rack and cable-management systems helped complete the overall solution by managing, protecting, and showcasing MSB’s network equipment and structured cabling investments.

As Mascoma Savings Bank expands its business, the PanView System continues to serve as the foundation for greater control and manageability of its infrastructure. Because of the PanView system’s modular design, MSB can upgrade legacy panels with new, modular PanView patch panels to meet its changing requirements.

The next phase of this project includes expanding remote-monitoring capabilities by integrating Internet Protocol-based cameras in branch offices that will enable MSB even greater ability to manage multiple sites. Upon completion, Chris Irish will have the ability to direct staff at remote locations using the guidance and function of the patch panel LEDs; he will also have the ability to watch the execution of changes, adding better accountability and visibility of these changes.

“What’s refreshing is that since its initial installation, the PanView system has met and exceeded all expectations and aspirations promised,” adds Pete Hadlock, vice president at Defiance Electric and Crossover. “The PanView system has truly meshed all of the necessary components together into a complete solution that has brought our original vision for Mascoma to life.”

Port identification in focus

In one example of the PanView system benefiting MSB, the bank needed an additional outlet for a new printer, and a visual check indicated that all network ports were occupied. The bank contacted Defiance Electric & Crossover to inquire about new switches or equipment. Rather than installing new equipment, the contractor recommended using the utilization module to run a report of assets connected within the network to locate unused or underused ports.

The module found a port that had not been used for more than 90 days, and the system’s CAD module generated a two-dimensional map showing the port was located in a conference room near the desired location of the printer.

MSB simply reallocated the port, foregoing the cost of adding new equipment, and capitalizing on the assets it already owned. The entire process, from the initial phone call to the identification of the port, took less than 10 minutes.

Irish and Hadlock agree that as technology continues to advance, so do the advantages of the PanView system. Whether it is through its own capabilities, or through its integration and compatibility with other software packages, the system is delivering on the bank’s vision of a complete managed network system solution.

“The ability to create and implement remote work orders…has also saved countless hours of travel time, as well as the associated costs to the bank in staff mileage reimbursement and other travel expenses.”

The next phase of this project includes expanding remote-monitoring capabilities by integrating Internet Protocol-based cameras in branch offices.

MICHAEL PULA, product line manager with Panduit Corp. (www.panduit.com), collaborated with others across Panduit’s staff to author this story.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance www.cablinginstall.com 

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TIA Labeling Standard Marked For Changes

Some may think it more tedious at first, but in the long run, revised labeling for data centers could prove to be a huge troubleshooting time-saver.

A properly labeled and documented network is a task that most installers loathe and many still avoid when possible. But changes are on the way that, while at first may appear to make labeling more tedious, in the end will save data center managers huge amounts of time during reconfigurations and troubleshooting.

ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A Administration Standard for Commercial Telecommunications Infrastructure was last updated in early 2002 and reaffirmed in June 2007. Currently, a TR-42.6 Subcommittee on Telecommunications Infrastructure and Equipment Administration is finalizing Addendum 1 (TIA-606-A-1) to the current standard.

“We were completely satisfied with 606-A, but after it was reaffirmed, we realized that we needed to better identify racks, cabinets, patch panels, and cabling within data centers,” says Jonathan Jew, vice chair of the subcommittee and president of J&M Consultants, Inc. (www.j-and-m.com). 

Identifying racks and cabinets

Adding identifiers for cabinets and racks in a data center has become a necessity for all but the smallest of networks.

“The 606-A standard didn’t take racks and cabinets into account, which was really not an issue for small spaces with just a few racks,” says Todd Fries, marketing manager of identification systems for HellermannTyton (www.hellermann.tyton.com) and member of the subcommittee. “With today’s larger data centers, quickly finding the right patch panel and port starts with quickly finding the rack or cabinet that houses the patch panel. In the past, some have created their own system for identifying cabinets in a data center, but Addendum 1 is meant to simplify and bring consistency to the process.”

According to Fries, creating rack/cabinet identifiers in the data center will be accomplished by using X and Y coordinates that relate to floor tiles in a raised-floor system or to the number or rows and cabinets in a simple data center floor plan. The “X” coordinate is an alpha character and the “Y” numeric, resulting in a unique alphanumeric identifier for each rack and cabinet. The current draft of Addendum 1 specifies that the rack/cabinet identifier label shall be placed at the top and bottom on both the front and rear of each rack or cabinet.

Just as in 606-A, each telecommunications space also has a unique identifier where “F” is a numeric character that identifies the floor of the building, and “S” is an alpha character that defines the space. In Addendum 1, The XY cabinet identifier follows the FS identifier (FS.XY), creating an identifier for racks and cabinets that can be applied to any space.

“The X and Y coordinates for a rack or cabinet do not have to be based on grid coordinates,” explains Fries. “For smaller data centers, it may make more sense to use rows and racks or just racks. For example, R2R05 would denote Rack 5 located in Row 2, and R4 would simply denote Rack 4 in a small space that contains just a few racks.”

With FS.XY part of the identifier for all ports and links, data center managers can quickly and easily locate exactly which floor, which space, and which cabinet to go to for reconfigurations or troubleshooting. With downtime as the number one concern, the time saving could be significant.

Improved ports and panels

The current draft of Addendum 1 to 606-A also contains improved identifiers for patch panels and ports. Patch panel identifiers will now use one or two characters to designate the patch panel location starting at the top of the cabinet.

“We used to identify patch panels as simply A, B, C, D, etc., but Addendum 1 enables patch panels to be identified based on rack units, which makes much more sense,” says Jay Whitaker, business development manager for Panduit (www.Panduit.com) and member of the TR-42.6 Subcommittee. “Using rack spaces as part of the identifier allows data center managers to add a patch panel to an unused rack unit space without throwing off the sequence.”

Because a numeric character can now be used to identify a patch panel based on rack units, Addendum 1 also calls for the use of a colon between the panel and port identifiers. “When using rack units to identify patch panels, it would be confusing to use 0202 to denote Port 2 in the patch panel located at Rack Unit 2,” explains Whitaker. “By adding a colon [02:02], it becomes clear that it’s Patch Panel 2 and Port 2.”

According to Whitaker, Addendum 1 also addresses the labeling of sub panels. “Fiber enclosures may have six sub panels, and by labeling each sub panel, it becomes clear from the remote end exactly which sub panel a port is terminated to,” he explains. “This prevents having to check each sub panel to find the right connection, which is especially important when dealing with sensitive fiber connections that you don’t want to touch if you don’t have to.”

Addendum 1 also includes labels that identify where a group of ports on a patch panel connect to within the same space. The current 606-A standard simply identified the port, which can be ineffective for maintenance.

“What managers really need to know is where ports actually connect to on the other end,” says Whitaker. “Systems today are often mission critical, and with equipment being constantly upgraded and replaced, data center managers are starting to see the importance of being able to quickly locate where a specific connection is coming from or going to.”

On to 606-B

Addendum 1 to 606-A will likely be approved and published by mid-year following resolution of a few minor issues. “One minor issue facing Addendum 1 is the administration of backbone fibers and whether to identify by individual fiber strand, by port, or allow the option of both,” says Jew, vice chair of TR-42.6. “My hope is that the committee will agree to permit both.”

According to Jew, the TR-42.6 Working Group has granted approval to proceed with TIA-606-B, which will include Addendum 1, as well as expanded and new identification formats for other elements, such as horizontal links, backbone cables, outlets, consolidation points, fiber splices, outside spaces, and grounding and bonding systems. For example, GPS coordinates may be added to identifiers for outside maintenance holes, “SPz” may be used to identify splices where “z” is the approximate distance to the splice from the patch panel, and specific objects being bonded to a ground bar or bonding network will be identified in grounding and bonding systems.

“It is likely that we will also address automated management systems and possibly address non-telecom cabling, but so far, no specific content has been proposed,” says Jew. “My guess is that 606-B will take about two years to finalize.” He notes that under 606-B, 606-A formats will be permitted for existing administration systems where they are already in use, avoiding the need to create new identifiers and labels for existing elements.

There is also concern about the future 606-B standard meshing with international standards, and the subcommittee has submitted the current proposed changes in 606-B to ISO/IEC for incorporation in the revision of ICO/IEC 14763-2 Information Technology – Implementation and Operation of Customer Premises Cabling Part 2, which will replace a number of current ISO/IEC standards.

“There are two philosophies, one that resembles 606-B and another out of Sweden [SEK] that is somewhat different,” explains Jew. “Depending on workload, the ISO/IEC Task Group may decide on one of the proposals at the February 2008 Barcelona meeting, May 2008 Philadelphia meeting, or October 2008 meeting in France. We’ll have to wait to see which philosophy wins.”

Fighting resistance

But even as the TR-42.6 Subcommittee continues to improve the labeling standard and work on 606-B, the industry is still faced with the fact that not all installers follow the standard. There are concerns that the longer identifiers included in Addendum 1 will make labeling seem even more tedious.  But Jew says, “If labeling is automated, the slightly longer labels shouldn’t take all that much more time.”

Estimates show that only about 50% of installers are following the current 606-A standard, and specifications from designers and end users play a role.

“Typically, if the specification dictates that the installer follow the standard, they will,” concludes Panduit’s Whitaker. “However, contractors should always remind end users of the long-term benefits of following the standard, which include improved cabling infrastructure management over the life of the data center.”

BETSY ZIOBRON is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Cabling Installation & Maintenance. She can be reached at: bziobron@comcast.net

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance www.cablinginstall.com 

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Juiced Wired (and wireless) Apps Impact PoE+ Specifications

Whether it’s for fiber-to-the-home or a WLAN, the biggest difference between pending PoE Plus specifications and PoE is the amount of power that can be sent to each powered device.

The belief, long held by many, that Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) was the single driver of Power over Ethernet (PoE) specifications, is not historically accurate. Some may be surprised to hear that WLANs played a significant role in the formation of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE; www.ieee.org) 802.3af specifications for powering Ethernet devices over twisted-pair copper cabling.

They may also be surprised to hear that WLANs are one of the most significant drivers of the 802.3at Power over Ethernet Plus (PoEP) specifications currently in draft.

“People keep saying the main application for PoE is VoIP,” says Daniel Feldman, senior product manager with Microsemi (www.microsemi.com). “But the original call for interest in 1998 spoke of wireless LANs. More data was available on the WLAN market [than on the VoIP market]. The same thing is happening this time around with 802.11n,” he says, referring to the in-progress WLAN specifications that are playing a significant role in shaping PoEP.

“Today, Aruba, Cisco, Trapeze, and Mehru have already announced access points that require more than 13 watts—perhaps 16, 18, or 20,” explains Feldman. “They may not ship in huge quantities to begin with, but WLAN is one main driver of PoE Plus, because with 802.11n’s multiple-input/multiple-output [MIMO] signaling, a single 802.11n channel is equivalent to two channels in 802.11g.”

Healthy market, bright future

Michael Pula, product line manager with Panduit Corp. (www.panduit.com), says the push for extending PoE/PoEP’s drivers “is really market pull from vendors who now see the benefit of Power over Ethernet, but need more power to advance or bring to market their particular devices.”

In addition to MIMO wireless access points, Pula says, “We are seeing multi-function terminals and scanners that can take advantage of high power and reap the benefit of being untethered to an AC outlet.”

The current state of the PoE market is healthy, as Pula points out, and statistics help explain why PoE and VoIP are logically linked. “This past year, Venture Development Corporation (www.vdc-corp.com) estimated that more than 10 million PoE-enabled VoIP phones, over 1.5 million wireless access points, and over 1 million PoE-enabled IP cameras were shipped,” he says. “This data, along with the fact that new low-voltage devices, including RFID sensors, thin-client terminals, displays, and other products coming to market make the technological drivers for PoE very successful.”

Microsemi’s Feldman also points to residential wiring technology—fiber-to-the-home, in particular—as a potential driver of PoEP.

Verizon and AT&T are deploying optical network terminators outdoors. High-speed Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is available in two packages--regular wired and wireless. Users of wireless DSL are also potential users of PoE/PoEP that can come from the optical network terminator, if and when the manufacturers of those terminators incorporate PoE into their hardware.

More power to you

The most obvious difference between the in-the-works PoEP specifications and the existing PoE specifications is the amount of power that can be sent to each powered device. Feldman explains there are three ways to increase power, and the current thinking is that the task force working on the specifications will use all three.

“The first is to increase voltage,” he says. “For PoE, the voltage is 44 to 57. Max power is defined by max current times minimum voltage. If you raise the minimum voltage, you automatically raise power. So, the minimum voltage is being raised to 50.” Feldman points out that a minimum voltage of 50 will keep PoEP compatible with PoE.

A second way to increase power is to use all pairs in a cable. The 802.3af specification called for power to run over the data pairs or the spare pairs. 802.3at will allow power to run over all four pairs. “We’re not certain the task group will, in fact, use all four pairs,” Feldman notes, although it appears more likely to do so than not.

The other way to increase power is to increase current. But as Feldman notes, “This is a sensitive area because when you increase current, you increase the power dissipated at the cable, consequently increasing temperature. If the temperature rises enough, insertion loss increases and data transmission can be compromised. The IEEE asked the TIA [Telecommunications Industry Association’s TR-42.7 Committee] what they believe the maximum current should be.”

Pula takes the explanation from there: “For PoE Plus, the maximum DC current is approximately 720 milliamps (mA) per pair—this number is still under investigation—or 360 mA per conductor, up to 45° C maximum ambient temperature for Category 5e, 6, and 6A. Under 802.3af, it was 350 mA per pair.”

Pula continues, “For PoE, the specified current and power limits were designed to maintain cabling temperature rise of less than 10° and a maximum cabling temperature lower than 60° C. The maximum temperature is a combination of ambient temperature and expected temperature rise in the cabling. For PoEP, the maximum power inserted into any individual cable bundle should not exceed 5,000 watts up to 45° C. From 45° to 60°C, it is recommended that the user de-rate the application or usage of PoEP in the particular facility.”

He adds, “This can mean anything from reducing the number of cables in a bundle, to improving the mix of PoE and PoEP powering, or reducing the number of powered endpoints on a particular cable span. Temperature rise is a function of several factors that include current level, bundling, cable construction, DC resistance, and installation conditions. Overall, smaller bundles are helpful. But higher-performing cables with lower DC resistance, like Category 6 and Category 6A, generally have lower temperature rise and therefore fewer bundling constraints.”

Cabling implications

Importantly, the 802.3at specifications will require a minimum of Category 5 cabling, as opposed to the 802.3af specifications’ minimum of Category 3.

The specifications have gone through the Draft 1.0 process, and Draft 2.0 was scheduled for presentation early this month. While some optimists look to the fourth quarter of 2008 for ratification of the 802.3at specifications for Power over Ethernet Plus, others in the group believe it is more realistic that the standard will be finalized in the second quarter of 2009.

The 802.3at standard, like 802.3af, will include specifications for endspan as well as midspan powering of Ethernet devices. With endspan technology, the power source resides within the network switch, while deploying midspan technology means adding a powering device into a structured cabling system. Powering devices may be standalone, or the powering technology may be built into patch panels.

Feldman, whose company makes midspan devices as well as the silicon for endspan devices, emphasizes the utility and benefits of midspan over endspan, particularly when it comes to PoEP.

“It makes sense to have midspans or powered patch panels powering the pre-standard devices that are shipping now,” he says. “In general, midspan is a better choice because it protects your investment and you don’t have to replace the equipment every three years (the frequency with which many users replace their network switches). Rather, you replace them when you need more power.”

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN is chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance www.cablinginstall.com 

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Major Universities Graduating To 802.11n Before Standardization

Well-recognized institutions are rolling out the wireless technology well ahead of the specifications’ planned finalization.

A good year before the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE; www.ieee.org) will have the I’s dotted and T’s crossed on its 802.11n set of specifications for high-speed wireless local area networking (WLAN), manufacturers of pre-standard 802.11n products are boasting about the deployment of their wares. Several of these high-profile installations are taking place at well-recognized universities.

Most recently, Cisco Systems (www.cisco.com) announced that Duke University (www.duke.edu) plans to deploy more than 2,500 Cisco access points in what a company statement described as “the next phase of its mobility transformation,” serving the university’s Durham, NC campus of approximately 45,000 students, faculty, and staff.

“Wireless on our campus is absolutely critical for our 24-by-7 population,” stated the university’s chief information officer, Tracy Futhey. “Universities are an ideal testing ground for new technologies, especially wireless uses and devices, because students are spending their entire day on campus in a mobile manner. They live, learn, work, and play on campus. At Duke, we really have the opportunity to apply innovative wireless technology that can meet the demands of a diverse, mobile user base and enrich their academic and social experience as a result.

Futhey added, “We expect the campuswide 802.11n wireless network to increasingly be the primary mode of connectivity for data access and mobility applications. The value of a technology like 802.11n is about enabling new kinds of uses on our campus, giving our students new opportunities, and enabling faculty to push the limits and try things that were not possible before on previous wireless technologies.”

Doubling data rates

Cisco reports that during real-world tests, the university experienced predictable, reliable wireless coverage and consistent average data throughput of nearly 130 Mbits/sec with the vendor’s Aironet 1250 series access points. Other tests showed existing 802.11g clients connected to the 802.11n-based access points nearly doubled the data rates they achieved when connected to an older wireless network, Cisco reported.

Duke’s ambitious plans for its 802.11n network include expanded deployment of video applications, with streaming audio, video, and high-definition television transmitted over the WLAN. Additionally, course materials (including digital recordings of classes) will be available on demand via the WLAN.

“802.11n is clearly ready for prime time,” says Ben Gibson, Cisco’s senior director of mobility solutions, “and Cisco continues to deliver a reliable 802.11n solution to meet mobility needs. Duke is one of the first organizations to realize the benefits of a Cisco 802.11n wireless network and what it enables them to do—transform how they learn, live, and play.”

The access points are not the only pre-standard technologies set for deployment within the Duke wireless network. Powering those access points will be pre-standard IEEE 802.3at Power over Ethernet Plus technology built into Cisco switches.

Cisco’s announcement of the Duke installation may be the latest, but certainly is not the only case of an institute of higher learning adopting pre-standard 802.11n networking devices. Late last year, wireless technology provider Aruba Networks (www.arubanetworks.com) announced that Carnegie Mellon University (www.carnegiemellon.edu) is using its 802.11n devices within its academic campus in Pittsburgh, PA. Approximately 10,000 students and 4,000 faculty and staff members have access to Carnegie Mellon’s Wireless Andrew program, which began as a research project in 1994 to support the university’s wireless initiative, and was later expanded throughout academic and administrative buildings and residence halls. Carnegie Mellon’s upgrade to 802.11n products does not include residence halls initially.

At the time of the announcement, Carnegie Mellon’s assistant director of network services Dan McCarriar said, “We’re excited to once again be on the forefront of wireless networking in our deployment of a campuswide wireless LAN based on the emerging 802.11n standard. Our involvement in wireless networking since 1994 has given us a good appreciation of the challenges of wireless LAN deployment, especially in the mix of modern and historical buildings we have throughout our multi-acre campus. We also recognize what an indispensable tool the Wireless Andrew network has become for students, faculty, and staff at Carnegie Mellon. Not only do the products we deploy need to embrace leading-edge standards like 802.11n, they must also provide the best security, scalability, and reliability in our industry.”

Weakness becomes strength

The IEEE 802.11n specification will raise the throughput of wireless LANs by a factor of four or higher and guarantees at least 100 Mbits/sec of real data throughput, with data rates reaching 600 Mbits/sec in some cases. IEEE 802.11n owes its high-throughput performance to the latest wireless transmission advancement—multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO). The 802.11n wireless transmission technology is based on MIMO signaling, which turns the long-time weakness of WLANs—multipath—into a strength.

Multipath is common indoors, where the wireless signal reflects from walls, floors, ceilings, furniture, and people. Reflections add together in the air, presenting a challenge to the receiver that has to separate the original transmitted signal from the reflections. While today’s 802.11a/b/g radios struggle to separate the signal from this muddle, 802.11n MIMO radios actually take advantage of multipath to send multiple data streams via the available spatial paths.

“Today, we view Wireless Andrew as a complementary network to our campus wired network,” says Chuck Bartel, Carnegie Mellon’s director of network services. “But with the speeds 802.11n will offer, we can start to consider Wireless Andrew 2.0 as a replacement network for some of the applications now used on campus. The goal of the Wireless Andrew 2.0 project will be to provide connectivity that will rival the wired connections on campus today so that researchers and the rest of the campus community can benefit from the latest technological advances in wireless communication.”

Keeri Melkote, Aruba’s co-founder and head of products and partnerships, boldly stated, “802.11n is the first wireless technology that can truly displace wired networks, and its MIMO technology also improves the performance of legacy 802.11a/b/g clients while overcoming many installation issues. When coupled with Aruba’s ultra-high-performance mobility controller and our hardware-accelerated encryption and identity-based security, you have the makings of a completely wireless network that offers better security, lower installation and operating costs, and greater scalability than a wired network.” Carnegie Mellon’s Wireless Andrew 2.0 project includes Aruba’s mobility controllers as well as the company’s access points.

 Industry reports compiled by chief editor Patrick McLaughlin. Material provided by Fanny Mlinarsky, president and principal consultant at octoScope (www.octoscope.com) was also used in this article.

Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance www.cablinginstall.com 

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Communications News

The e-Waste Mess

By Ken Anderberg, Publisher/Editor, Communications News

It’s been awhile. In 1970, there was the first regular environmental column in the state of Georgia (probably in the South). In 1973, several years after the first Earth Day, there was the first and only environmental column in New Hampshire (probably in New England). There was the foray into helping protect the nation’s air quality as one of the founders of the New Hampshire Clean Air Alliance, after the enactment of the federal Clean Air Act. There was the national recognition from the Atomic Industrial Forum for a series of articles on nuclear power and the soon-to-be-operative Seabrook (N.H.) nuclear power plant.

Those were heady days for environmental journalism, a subject with plenty of controversy and disagreement. The business community, in particular, railed against the environmental movement, saying costs for basics like electricity would skyrocket, that cleaning our rivers and air would be too costly and that the effort lacked sufficient benefits. Of course, their dire predictions never came true, and, in fact, whole new industries were born to address the nation’s environmental directives.

Like I said, it’s been awhile since this writer took fingers to keyboard to rant about the pollution of our environment. Career changes, mostly, meant scant opportunity to cover the subject. Life changes meant scant time to indulge in private-sector initiatives. Maybe it was the institutionalization of the environmental movement that caused disinterest, or maybe it was burnout.

Maybe it’s time to reinvigorate the environmental message, to use my stage as the editor of an important technology trade magazine to address environmental issues, at least as they relate to our audience and the vendors who sell products to IT organizations worldwide. People, we do have a problem.

The technology sector has become a huge contributor to environmental (and human health) degradation in the United States and developing countries around the world. According to National Geographic (NG) in an eye-opening article in its January issue, 70 percent of computers and monitors and 80 percent of TVs end up in landfills despite a growing number of state laws that prohibit the dumping of e-waste, which may leak lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium and other toxics into the ground.

And not just in U.S. landfills. Most of the high-tech garbage ends up overseas, where it is sometimes repurposed but more often processed for precious metals and recyclable materials. Those processes, often done with the most primitive methods, are endangering human health and the environments in those countries.

In Africa and Asia, for example, computer wiring is burned to salvage the copper. Smoke from those fires contains toxic dioxins and heavy metals. While a four-foot square box of circuit boards could be worth $10,000 in recycled precious metals (gold, silver, palladium), shipping e-waste abroad is still more profitable than recycling. But recycling will be necessary as these overseas dumping grounds dry up due to new laws and improved enforcement, and as landfill space dwindles.

The U.S. Environmental Agency estimates that 30 million to 40 million PCs will be ready for end-of-life management per year over the next few years. It predicts that 25 million TVs will be taken out of service yearly, and that 98 million cell phones were discarded in the United States in 2005. That same year, EPA says, 1.5 million to 1.9 million tons of computers, TVs, VCRs, monitors, cell phones and other equipment was discarded.

That’s just the tip of this growing problem. According to the United Nations’ Environment Programme, 50 million tons of electronic waste is discarded worldwide annually. Less than 20 percent of that e-waste is channeled through recyclers, says NG, as much of the waste is sent to developing countries, where environmental enforcement usually is weak.

U.S.-based companies are starting to get onboard of what is euphemistically being called the “green” movement. Much of that impetus, however, may be a result of the European Union (EU) enacting strong pro-environmental laws.

The EU has already instituted measures, through its RoHS directive, restricting the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. This directive bans the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than agreed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury and other toxic materials.

The EU also forbids hazardous waste shipments to developing countries; requires manufacturers to shoulder the burden of safe disposal; encourages green design of electronics; and requires manufacturers to set up infrastructure to collect e-waste and ensure responsible recycling.

As a result, most U.S. cabling manufacturers who also sell in the EU have altered their manufacturing processes to comply with RoHS. If a U.S. company wants to sell its products in the EU, these proposed regulations will require them to document everything from the energy used in the mining of raw materials to the recycling or disposal of their products.

In our just-completed readership study, we asked subscribers, “How important is it to you that a vendor’s products be manufactured or developed with the environment in mind?” Nine out of 10 respondents say it is at least somewhat important. Seventy-one percent said they would be more likely to recommend or purchase an enterprise network IT product from an environmentally friendly manufacturer or developer.

U.S. tech manufacturers are taking notice, whether because of the EU strong-arming or customer requests. HP is putting recycled plastic into its printer ink cartridges and expects to use 10 million pounds of recycled plastic this year. Intel plans to purchase more than 1.3 million kilowatt hours in wind, solar and other types of green power, enough to power about 133,000 households. Dell, Apple, Panasonic, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Xerox and Motorola all have launched green initiatives.

U.S. companies, however, are way behind the EU in terms of recycling of e-waste. There are currently only four e-waste recycling plants in the United States, capable of safely and cleanly separating the good from the bad in motherboards, cell phones and the like. Europe has many more such facilities.

“Right now, we’re just trimming around the edges,” says Sheila Davis, head of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. “Companies really need to look at their entire footprint.”

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine www.comnews.com

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Ensure high-quality VoIP

by Stan Schreyer and Dale Tesch

One of the biggest challenges organizations face when implementing voice-over-IP (VoIP) systems is matching the high quality of service that employees are accustomed to from the traditional voice network. VoIP is an application that does not tolerate any disruptions or delays. When the application performs poorly, end-users experience crackling on the lines, delays in hearing a caller’s voice and possibly dropped calls.

Two issues can cause VoIP to perform poorly–latency and network congestion. Latency is the inherent delay for voice traffic to travel long distances over the wide-area network (WAN). Network congestion occurs when a high volume of network traffic competes for a fixed amount of bandwidth. Network traffic spikes can wreak havoc with call quality because less bandwidth is available for VoIP calls.

WAN optimization technology can address both latency and network congestion. WAN optimization appliances can be used to get a clear picture of how network bandwidth is being used and how the network traffic patterns vary over time. The appliances can generate a variety of graphs to show top applications and URLs being accessed by network users, as well as top users of the network. Traffic spikes can be identified quickly based on the time of day, day of the week or month.

After identifying the top applications consuming bandwidth, the WAN optimization appliance can be used to control network traffic, including VoIP. A portion of network bandwidth can be reserved for VoIP calls. The appliance can also classify, compress and accelerate other applications (e.g., HTTP, FTP, CIFS) to free additional bandwidth for VoIP traffic.

Ideally, WAN optimization appliances should be installed at each location where VoIP will be implemented. This enables two-way prioritization of traffic between the data center and a branch office or between two branch offices.

Some customers prefer to work with a network integrator that specializes in WAN optimization. Network integrators can install an evaluation appliance, provide immediate feedback on network usage and recommend how much bandwidth to reserve for VoIP calls. They can also set all network policies to classify, prioritize and accelerate non-VoIP traffic.

Whether keeping the work in-house or using an integrator, look for a WAN optimization solution that is easy to install and use.

Some WAN optimization appliances come with a preconfigured default policy to begin optimizing and accelerating traffic on the network immediately. The default policy helps network administers bypass some preliminary configuration steps and can be modified to suit the changing needs of the business over time.

This feature allows the appliance to automatically discover other WAN optimization appliances in the network. This feature is important for accelerating applications between corporate locations, which helps free bandwidth for VoIP calls.

Peer-to-peer applications for downloading of videos and audio files can consume large amounts of bandwidth, negatively impacting VoIP call quality. Ideally, a WAN optimization solution should have the ability to limit or block this type of recreational Internet traffic.

WAN optimization appliances do require some level of ongoing maintenance. Ongoing monitoring of VoIP performance is recommended. Monitoring the impact that adding more network users, applications and traffic may have on VoIP call quality also is important.

Network policies can be fine-tuned accordingly to ensure consistent high-quality VoIP calls. This may involve reserving a larger percentage of bandwidth for VoIP, reprioritizing network traffic or accelerating new applications WAN optimization technology plays a key role in achieving high-quality calls. Optimization can also reduce overall network operating costs and ensure proper prioritization of all network traffic. Furthermore, optimization helps companies take a proactive stance on capacity planning for VoIP systems and the underlying Internet communications links that support it.

Stan Schreyer is a vice president for Exinda Networks, Boston, and Dale Tesch is director of sales for Invercence Corp., Portsmouth, N.H.

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine www.comnews.com

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Integrate Automation of Facilities

Consolidating the command and control of disparate functions can simplify the experience of the operator.

by David Heinen

Many buildings today contain a wide assortment of technology–from electronic equipment for access control, video surveillance, fire and intrusion detection to heating, cooling, energy management and lighting systems–all designed to maintain and protect the physical structure and secure its occupants and assets. Running and monitoring these systems is time consuming, costly and poses a significant challenge for organizations, especially those with buildings in various geographic locations.

Managing the multiple screens and interfaces of these systems can also take its toll on employees, resulting in slower response times during an incident. The reaction time of a security officer or facilities employee can often be impeded by the need to manually process information from these isolated systems.

As a result, building owners and facility and IT managers are investigating systems that can monitor the health of an entire structure or campus environment, and manufacturers are responding by producing tools to bring together these multiple components onto a single platform. A building integration system that encompasses an entire facility or multiple locations across diverse geographies can streamline complicated processes and serve as a management dashboard for operators.

The ability to consolidate the command and control of these disparate functions into a single platform with an integrated graphical user interface can simplify the experience of the operator, speed reaction times and result in action plans that are more appropriate and targeted to specific situations. A well-thought-out action plan tells the operator what to do, how to do it and delivers the details required to complete the response correctly, the first time.

With an integrated system, communication between the various functions becomes automatic. For example, when the fire alarm is pulled on the sixth floor of a 12-story office building, emergency exits are instantly unlocked on all levels, and the voice evacuation system delivers clear instructions, specific to each floor or zone, on exiting the building. If the fire alarm system is alerted of smoke, the air handling software immediately powers down fans to avoid spreading it throughout the building.

Automated response steps

If an alarm is raised in a specific area of a building, signifying a possible intruder, an integrated system can automatically bring forth the predetermined action plan for such events and zoom in on a graphical map of the affected area. The graphical maps typically originate from the AutoCAD drawings used in the building design and/or construction.

Other associated files, such as video or images of the area, or documents detailing any hazardous chemicals stored onsite and how to handle them properly, can also be brought to the operator’s attention. If the operator does not acknowledge the alarm in a certain amount of time, the system can forward the message to the next authorized responder. Once the incident has been handled, an event log can be created that reports the actions the operator took while processing the alarm.

Efficiencies can also be achieved in non-emergency situations. On top of notifying proper personnel whenever there is a system malfunction, environmental and lighting controls, tied into the building’s access-control system, can link the use of heating, cooling and lighting to occupancy of a particular room or zone, instead of more traditional scheduled changes. This approach ties energy use to need, such as turning on the lights and HVAC system when an employee enters a certain area, instead of using regular schedules that may or may not reflect the actual behavior of building occupants.

Combining access control with video surveillance is another example of the power of integrated systems. For instance, security directors can enhance their access control for particularly sensitive areas of a facility by setting card readers for video verification of the person requesting access. When a person presents credentials to the reader, her recorded photo image is displayed on the operator’s screen for comparison to the live image from nearby cameras. The operator then unlocks the door after confirming the authenticity of the cardholder’s identity.

For security and life safety systems, IP technology delivers a common language, where devices and systems can work together and allow for the integration of other building control functions. Getting the most accurate, up-to-date information from an integrated system, however, does not happen simply because the pieces are networked. The technology that supports the standards necessary for integration need to be ensured in order to achieve comprehensive building management. With Web server applications and standards such as BACnet, LON and OPC, many manufacturers have eliminated the technological roadblocks to achieve automation.

Bidirectional communications between subsystems also helps ensure that exchanges between hardware and software occur as quickly as possible. This is paramount in an emergency when decisions are made based on snapshot assessments of the situation.

The transfer of application-related information between systems is accomplished with a single underlying database, as maintaining one database is easier and results in more accurate information. System communication should be automatic and instantaneous. For example, updates to human resource information when employees are hired or leave the company should, by design, also be made to the access-control system. A delay of hours or even minutes could provide a disgruntled employee the opportunity to damage company property.

review business needs first

A unified look for alarms and alerts from all systems (e.g., access control, video surveillance, fire alarms) allows for a more consistent response from facility officers and reduces training time for operators.

Just because the capability is available does not mean full-scale integration is appropriate for every enterprise. Each integration project should begin with a thorough discussion of the organization’s business needs and goals.

Also important is to engage all stakeholders early in the planning, design and bid stage of the project. If other groups within the organization, such as human resources or legal personnel, are expected to review recorded video or be involved in response and action plans, their input should be gathered during the initial design stages.

This communication and defining of requirements will help ensure a full understanding of the ultimate goal of the system and the impact to the business environment. In most cases, if all of these items are considered, a system can be designed that can scale as the organization grows or as it seeks to expand system capabilities.

Once the goals of the system are determined, and the search begins for manufacturers and integrators, there are a number of factors that should be considered.

Look for technology providers that have built simplicity into the installation process, such as templates for predefined response action plans, easy configuration menus and information import/export tools that use common file formats. The system should also allow for manual triggering of an alarm in case the operator is alerted of a possible dangerous situation.

Scalable and modular systems may be more appropriate if a phased approach is planned in order to spread the costs and integration work over a period of time. Readily available training and technical support, during an installation and after completion, is also paramount for these types of complex systems.

When chosen and designed carefully, a building integration system that offers automation through IP technology can achieve significant efficiencies in staffing requirements and energy costs. While the acquisition cost for the equipment and the labor rates for any involved integrators can range anywhere from the tens of thousands to millions of dollars depending on the size and complexity of the system, the resulting cost and productivity savings can more than pay for this expense over time.

David Heinen is product marketing manager, enterprise systems, Bosch Security Systems, Fairport, N.Y.

Reprinted with full permission of Communications News Magazine www.comnews.com

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Connector Specifier

RoHS Compliance Forecast: More Substances Under Scrutiny

The honeymoon may be over this year, with stricter enforcement expected—and even more equipment, retardants, and plasticizers coming on the watch list.

http://cs.pennnet.com/display_article/322184/42/ARTCL/none/none/1/RoHS-compliance-forecast:-More-substances-under-scrutiny/?dcmp=CSNews

clear=all> BY MATT VINCENT

In the two years since the adoption of the European Union’s (EU) Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, the global manifestation of RoHS-like laws and initiatives is inexorably on the rise. For 2008, industry experts see the global RoHS outlook expanding most dramatically in Europe, while posting slow but steady growth in China and Asia, and continuing to wink steadily on U.S. horizons (mostly in California).

At this point, the endgame seems certain: The demands of the competitive marketplace, coupled with concerns of sound business methodology, will serve to draw manufacturers everywhere into the spotlight of RoHS compliance.

RoHS part deux

Since the inception of RoHS as an addendum to the EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) legislation, the European Commission (EC) has led the way in increasing the scope of the directive and associated mandates, and will continue to do so this year.

“We’ve now got ‘RoHS 2, The Sequel’,” asserts Gary Nevison, director for legislation and environmental affairs for electronic components distributor Newark (www.newark.com), part of the global Premier Farnell Group. “It’s likely that, in coming years, there’ll be more RoHS reviews than there were Rocky movies.”

The EC has appointed Germany’s Oko Institute as RoHS technical consultants, tasked with assessing a complete review of the scope of products to fall under EU RoHS, along with types of restricted substances, and all of the directive’s current 29 exemption categories.

Nevison adds, “Just as businesses in America are probably starting to get used to the idea of RoHS as it was, now it will change. Will it change dramatically? It’ll definitely change—more products likely, more restricted substances likely, and exemption under review. That’s pretty significant.”

On the product front, EU RoHS originally covered eight of the 10 WEEE categories of product; omitted were medical equipment and monitoring and control equipment, including test equipment. Nevison maintains that “what is likely to happen, versus certain to happen, is that these products will now be included within scope—but not right away, to give manufacturers the chance to make the necessary design changes.”

Results of this particular review are expected by June or July, with implementation expected by about 2012.

Other “gray areas” in the original legislation slated for clarification, and for which Nevison says stand to expand the scope of products covered by RoHS, include “fixed installation” systems, such as CCTVs, alarms, heaters, air conditioning; “large scale stationary industrial tools” (i.e., permanently fixed production line equipment); and “spare parts,” most likely to be defined as products used for repairing other pieces of equipment, such as fuses.

Additionally, restricted substances expected to come under review include flame retardants and plasticizers (i.e., substances used to increase the flexibility and pliability of plastic).

As for the review of the 29 existing and seven newly proposed exemption categories, Nevison says, “that’s just to ensure that there are no suitable, more environmentally-friendly substances that can be used. And the onus is on industry to demonstrate that any suggested alternatives are no better for the environment or human health than what is currently specified. If an alternative that’s more suitable is found, the exemption will be withdrawn.”

Significantly, Nevison notes that “just about every single piece of equipment depends on at least one exemption, based on the fact that most pieces of equipment have passive components—connectors, capacitors, resistors, etc.—that rely on the ‘lead in glass’ exemption. It will be interesting to see if any of these exemptions are withdrawn.”

Enforcement far Reaching

On the EU RoHS enforcement front, Nevison opines that “most of the enforcement authorities around Europe agreed there would be a ‘softly, softly’ approach until around about this time (2008). I think most authorities said right from the start, right from July 2006, that 18 months would be the honeymoon period, and then enforcement would get stricter. Time will tell if it does. But stricter enforcement, I think, can be expected this year.”

Indeed, last October, the EC initiated legal proceedings against eight member states that failed to adequately implement RoHS or WEEE into national law (the deadline for transposition was August 2004). The commission charged that Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, Denmark, Malta, Finland and Sweden had not properly implemented or transposed the directives.

First enacted in December 2006, the EU’s REACH [Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals] legislation has been widely coined as “the nightmare after RoHS” and/or “RoHS on steroids.” REACH is comprised of 849 pages of legislation and an additional 2,000 pages of guidance notes. Part of the legislation’s goal is to establish a comprehensive database of chemical substances that are manufactured, placed on market, imported, or used in the European community. Registration is required for manufacturers, producers, or importers with a ton or more of specified chemical substances (testing requirements increase with tonnage).

“RoHS was simple,” opines Nevison. “It was eight product categories [large household appliances; small household appliances; IT and telecom equipment; consumer equipment; lighting equipment; electrical and electronic equipment; toys; automatic dispensers] and six substances [lead (PB), mercury, cadmium; hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB), polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)], whereas REACH is chemicals pretty much wherever they’re used.”

Nevison continues, “I was here at the early days of RoHS when everybody was in denial. It’s even harder to get the message across to businesses now on REACH, because the view is, ‘Oh, that’s chemicals—it’s nothing to do with us.’ That’s not true. So, getting the message across on REACH will be every bit as difficult, if not more so, than RoHS.”

Substances covered by REACH include adhesives, paints and lubricants, and products in containers, such as printer cartridges or marker pens, where chemicals are intentionally released. Further, by mid-2009, the European Chemicals Agency expects to produce a list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) requiring authorization for use and placement on the market.

“These are the real ‘nasties’,” adds Nevison. Substances covered include those that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, bioaccumulative, or toxic for reproduction. “Basically, if you want to sell any of these outside the EU, regardless of weight, use would have to be authorized.”

He continues, “Probably the most bizarre figure is that, of the 30,000 most popular chemicals that are used, by volume, only 3% of them have been fully tested. There’s no safety data on 21% of them and inadequate safety data on 65%. So, REACH is about having to register, and authorize, and provide the necessary level of safety data on these chemicals.”

December 2007 saw the rollout of an extensive REACH fee structure that sent a wave of “sticker shock” throughout the electronics manufacturing industry. The move sparked concern within the electronics industry that REACH could result in costly business disruption for companies that do not address this year’s pre-registration deadlines (June through November), in addition to subsequent timetables for authorization.

“If companies in the U.S. and China want to ship chemicals in, they’ll have to go through a European representative and, depending on what the chemicals are, will have to be registered and authorized,” states Nevison. “This is particularly hard on the Chinese, because they’re shipping about 10 billion dollars a year of chemicals into Europe. And it’s expected that with all the registration and authorization they would have to do, their costs would go up 7%. So, the competitive edge that they’ve had in the past may be eroded somewhat.”

In late 2007, the UK’s Chemical Business Association (CBA) issued a statement complaining that the REACH fees proposed by the European Chemicals Agency were “out of control” and “excessive in principle and practice.” The CBA contended that the fees represent a leap of 200 to 500% over the fees originally proposed by the EC, and have “reached a level where they are completely unacceptable and would inflict significant damage to the competitiveness of the industry.” The CBA also charged that multiple registrants for the same substance will “inflate the Agency’s revenue to a level which is completely unjustified in relation to the work it is actually required to do.”

Nevison sums, “The costs of having chemicals registered and authorized are absolutely huge. Authorization of the use of a chemical can be as much as 50K euros each time.” In fact, Nevison claims that the EC has suggested that 2% of all chemicals used are expected to become obsolete, as manufacturers seek to avoid the costs of putting them through the REACH process.

Slow progress elsewhere

Shifting to the other side of the globe, China RoHS gained significant traction in 2007, with the inception of the country’s ubitquitous “green arrow/orange circle” labeling schemes and the issuance of its Electronic Information Product (EIP) compliance list. This year, the Chinese standard is forecasted to make steady progress, if somewhat slower than expected, with the release of a catalog of products and product categories subject to restrictions of listed toxic and hazardous substances and/or elements.

“China RoHS is sluggishly getting up to speed,” allows Nevison. “In March of last year came the labeling stage, but stage two—which was the important part, where they’d release this catalog of substance restrictions, with implementation dates, exemptions, and products that would have to be tested within China and certified before they could be sold—that’s not now expected until late 2008.”

The reason for the delay?

Nevison explains, “Unlike RoHS in Europe—where it tends just to be one ministry, one government department in each country that’s responsible—in China, there are several ministries who all have their fingers in the pie, and there was some debate as to which ministry would actually put the catalog together. There were some meetings at the back end of last year that worked out the way forward. The end result was that we won’t see any products at all until late 2008, and that may only be a small sample. The full catalog could be delayed into 2009.”

Elsewhere in Asia, Nevison reports that RoHS movement in South Korea is now expected by the middle of the year, as opposed to the beginning, with laws in Thailand and Taiwan expected to be based mainly on EU RoHS standards. In Australia, Nevison says that companies have taken a voluntary approach to RoHS compliance, obviating a need for governmental legislation “because so much of their equipment is already shipped into the EU.”

As for the proposed version of RoHS in Norway—widely regarded as a kind of “super-RoHS” for being much broader and more stringent than the EU directive—Nevison reveals, “That’s been put on hold. They were looking at 18 substances in consumer products [and] that’s been scaring everybody. But it’s now not likely to happen. It’s been postponed [as of January 2008]. It was a slight over-reaction, because only five of those substances are used in electrical and electronic equipment.”

Noting that the common theme running through all the various RoHS initiatives around the world is maximum permitted levels of hazardous substances, Nevison concedes that “no two are exactly the same; there’s no harmonized approach.”

Whither America?

The common refrain surrounding the topic of RoHS-type legislation within the U.S. is one of, “So Far, It’s Being Handled On a State-by-State Basis.” In Washington, the scenario can be described as vague, at best. “The last thing I heard was that the EIA (www.eia.org) actually put forth to the Bush administration a platform for a federal law very much like EU RoHS, but that’s the last I heard of it,” offers Newark’s public relations/communication manager, Janice Fleisher.

The best known example of stateside RoHS legislation is in California. Attempts to expand the state’s directive toward greater stringency died last October with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s veto of Assembly Bill (AB 48), which would have greatly expanded the scope of California RoHS to mirror the European RoHS directive.

The governor cited three main objections to the California bill as written:

That the approach taken is largely unworkable and will result in unintended and potentially more harmful consequences;

That the language for exempting spare parts and refurbished products deviates from the EU directive and will make many electronic products prematurely obsolete, forcing their retirement years earlier than necessary, and;

That the bill is too broad in scope and could prohibit the sale of “tens of thousands” of electrical and electronic products for the state’s consumers and businesses.

To paraphrase one of the governor’s more famous movie roles, Nevison’s view toward California’s enhanced statute is: It will be back. “He was concerned about the effects on spare parts, and the availability to repair and upgrade older equipment, so he sent it back,” observes Nevison. “From Europe, we look across the pond, and say, yeah, that will reappear—later this year, probably.”

Adds Fleisher, “The reality is, we have a global economy, so it’s very hard to hide your head in the sand unless you’re a very small player. You pretty much have to comply with what’s out there if you want to compete in the world. That’s pretty much what you have to do to really stay competitive.”

Joel Pekay, global marketing and business development director for restricted substances at Intertek ETL Semko (www.intertek-etlsemko.com), echoes this notion. In a presentation, “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide: RoHS is Just the Beginning,” delivered in January at the telecommunications association BICSI’s Winter Conference in Orlando, FL, Pekay urged manufacturers to promote their “green” products, going so far as to suggest that “if you can be green, you will sell more product.”

Managing risk

Among the possible risks to electronics manufacturers and distributors failing to grasp initiative in steps toward approaching general RoHS compliance, Pekay cited loss of sales, brand erosion, negative brand impact, negative publicity, obsolete inventory, and product recalls. For these companies, Pekay went on to assert that the big question is, “how do we comply with as many laws as possible without bankrupting ourselves? How do we start? And the next question is, where are your products sold or distributed?”

One answer is for companies to manage risk systematically by educating and collecting information at the level of the supply chain, requiring component companies to verify and validate their products.

Pekay concludes, “The key is managing risks, deciding what level of compliance is safest. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two businesses with the exact same approach.”

MATT VINCENT is senior editor for Connector Specifier. 

Published with permission of Connector Specifier - March, 2008 www.connectorspecifier.com

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A ‘scary’ but not harsh directive

The EU’s Energy-using Products (EuP) directive came into full effect in August 2007. The law looks at broad categories of products such as washing machines, dishwashers, HVAC systems, televisions, etc., where they’re sold in significant number across Europe. Of the directive, Newark’s director for legislation and environmental affairs, Gary Nevison, offers, “It really impacts the design engineer, but it’s not as harsh, it’s not scary as what the likes of REACH is.”

The EuP directive looks at what can be done throughout the lifecycle of products to reduce their overall energy consumption, for significant, positive environmental impact. “That includes the mining of the metals right through to the recycling of them,” says Nevison. “China will probably have some copycat-type legislation.”

According to Nevison, the European Commission (EC) is reviewing 14 broad categories of product, and throughout 2008-2009 will issue what are known as implementing measures, “which are mini-directives that will give recommendations on how products should be re-designed—the impact on the design engineer when he’s sitting down and thinking about how to design a product.”

Nevison continues, “And it could be, for example, to use LCDs instead of cathode ray tubes because they’re less hungry for power, to design products with good ventilation and low power dispersion so you don’t need to use thirsty fans, to use more efficient power management type devices. All these things will have to be looked at. And the design engineer will have to follow these implementing measures over the next couple of years.”

As this article went to press, Nevison revealed that the EC has outlined a further 25 product categories to be reviewed over the next two to three years. “So, in total you’ve probably got over 40 product categories—wide, broad-based product categories—where reviews will be taking place as to how the energy consumption can be improved.”—M.V.

Published with permission of Connector Specifier March, 2008 www.connectorspecifier.com
Author(s) :   Matt Vincent

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Electrical Contractor Magazine

Ladder Safety School

Protecting new workers from fall hazards

On the morning of Oct. 9, 1996, a 34-year-old male electrician apprentice was fatally injured in a fall from an extension ladder. The California Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (CA/FACE) was contacted to conduct an investigation. The employer was an electrical contractor that had been in the business for six years and employed 18 people. The apprentice had been with the company for three years. The job supervisor had been acting as supervisor for only three weeks and was unsure of his new safety responsibilities and how much time he should devote to safety.

The contractor had written procedures for the assigned task, and the victim had received training in the proper use of a ladder. In addition, each morning, safety tailgate talks were given reviewing the specific job hazards for the day.

The contractor was finishing construction in the storeroom of a large commercial building that would soon open as a retail store, and the victim was moving an exit sign that had emergency lighting attached. The task at the time of the accident was to rewire the sign, which included changing the existing conduit and then covering the junction box. The junction box was attached to a ceiling truss, so the victim was to use a 35-foot extension ladder. The top of the ladder rested on a 4-inch automatic sprinkler feed pipe that ran perpendicular to the ceiling trusses, and the ladder was stabilized against storage shelves. The victim had worked off the same ladder at the same location the day before the accident. The supervisor had checked with the apprentice at that time to be sure he was comfortable working in this position. The apprentice stated he was and could complete the job. The day of the incident, he climbed the ladder to begin work on the junction box that was energized with 277 volts AC.

In order to reach the junction box, the victim, while standing on the ladder, would have to reach back or turn around on the ladder. The job supervisor and another electrician also were working in the storeroom. When they heard a noise, they ran to the source and found the victim had fallen off the ladder onto the concrete floor and was bleeding. The supervisor used rags to try to stop the bleeding, while the electrician ran to the nearest phone to call 911. Paramedics found the victim unconscious. He was transported to the hospital where he was treated for severe head injuries. The victim died five days later in the hospital.

During the investigation, the ladder was found to be in good working order, and the position of the ladder was stable. The fall may have been caused by the victim overreaching, which put him off balance, his feet not fitting properly on the ladder rungs due to his body position. He also could have been shocked by an energized circuit. The autopsy didn’t show any burn marks. However, this is not unusual when electrical contact is made with low-voltage circuits. The cause of death was cranio-cerebral blunt force trauma.

CA/FACE arrived at the following recommendations:

Employers should use an aerial lifting device to access heights where workers are required to use both hands, tools and to shift body position. The area where the ladder was set up was cramped because of the installed shelving. The ladder was extended with the top resting on a 4-inch automatic sprinkler feed pipe. Since the conduit and junction box were located about 4 feet behind the pipe, the victim would have needed to stand near the top of the ladder and work directly over his head. Alternatively, he would have had to turn around, facing away from the ladder to reach the junction box overhead. Either way, the apprentice would have had nothing to hold onto or lean on if he were to lose his balance. A safer option would be to reach the electrical conduit and junction box with an aerial lift. The platform would have allowed much better footing, and the guardrail most likely would prevent a fall. Had an aerial lift been used, this incident may well have been avoided.

Employers should perform an initial assessment of the job prior to beginning work to determine the safest methods of performing required tasks. After the accident, the ladder was found to be in good condition and stable; however, it may not have been the best choice for the job. Had an assessment been done, it would have shown that a ladder could not be placed so a worker could access the area safely. As the ladder was placed, the junction box to be worked on would have been located behind the angle of the ladder.

Employers should ensure job supervisors are trained and aware of their safety responsibilities and duties. The supervisor at the time of the incident thought his safety responsibilities were safety meetings and paperwork and that the employees were responsible to take care of themselves. Normal industry practice is to designate job supervisors as the employees responsible for safety on the job. An experienced employee is needed to perform safety duties, such as audits, inspections, observations of work habits and discipline. Had an experienced supervisor examined this job, he may have declined the use of a ladder and used a safer method of accessing the electrical junction box.

This incident again illustrates the importance of basic safety practices. Any new hire’s introduction to a construction firm should include new employee safety training. By following these simple recommendations, yet another fatality could have been avoided.           

KELLY is a safety and health specialist with Intec, a safety consulting, training and publishing firm that offers on-site assistance and produces manuals, training videos and software for contractors. She can be reached at 800.745.4818 or dkelly@intecweb.com. This article was edited by Joe O’Connor.

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

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BIM: The Next ‘Next Big Thing’

“Just when CAD estimating and PR software finally sink into our brains, we will have to start thinking seriously about and learning how to estimate with BIM.”

Those words are from an article by Stan Shook in the November 2007 issue of this magazine. It’s about keeping up with estimating software and technology, but the intended audience is not limited to the people we pay to do takeoffs. Electrical contractors and principals also need to keep up with innovations, or they will be left in the dust by competitors who do.

The acronyms in the opening sentence refer to computer-aided design, plan recognition and building information modeling (BIM). The latter is expected to become as prevalent in the construction industry as CAD, which, you may recall, was “the next big thing” just a few years ago. Some industry insiders think 2008 will mark the tipping point when BIM is embraced by a critical mass of owners, designers and builders.

BIM refers to a methodology for storing complete information about a building in a computer model rather than relying on static, two-dimensional drawings to communicate design ideas and guide construction. However, it’s much more than a 3D program producing planar views of a facility. In fact, BIM actually deals with five dimensions; the fourth is time (scheduling and construction sequencing), and the fifth concerns costs and resources.

Applied to the life cycle of a building project, BIM involves the entire project team. It requires interoperative software, allowing for real-time feedback from team members when, for example, a designer changes a lighting specification or a contractor identifies a new supplier or increases manpower. It takes into account how a single change will impact the work of all team members and the products and systems they install, so potential clashes are detected before they become real problems.

BIM is catching on with such major clients as Disney, Intel and even America’s largest construction buyer, the federal government’s General Services Administration (www.gsa.gov/bim). It is being pushed by the Construction Users Roundtable (www.curt.org), which includes more than 50 of the United States’ largest corporate clients—e.g., Citigroup, General Electric, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Procter & Gamble, et al.

The Associated General Contractors, America’s largest construction trade association, also promotes BIM; it has a new Web site devoted to it (www.bimforum.org) and is working with owners, architects, engineers, insurers and more than a score of contractor organizations to develop a BIM addendum for construction contracts (www.consensusdocs.org). At the same time, the National Institute of Building Sciences (www.nibs.org) is writing a standard on how to format information, so all BIM users can work together effectively.

And, I’m proud to say, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is right in the thick of all this activity. Our association is actively researching the topic and sharing what we learn in these pages, at www.ECmag.com, www.electrictv.net and our various other Web sites; through educational programs; and at upcoming events, such as NECA 2008 in Chicago.

BIM already draws subcontractors into project collaboration at an earlier stage than standard construction. Still, more electrical contractors will become involved in BIM as its use spreads to smaller projects and to the ongoing maintenance and operations of structures built through this methodology. NECA wants you to be ready for it.

But don’t limit yourself to using only NECA resources. Also explore on your own. There’s a reason this column contains more references to Internet sites than usual. Those who learn all they can about BIM now can get in on the ground floor and rise to the top before the window of opportunity closes.

Milner Irvin, President, Neca

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

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Green Building Puts Down Roots In U.S. Cities

It’s a trend that could leave small towns green with envy. According to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), programs designed to encourage more environmentally friendly building construction have grown by a whopping 400 percent in U.S. cities since 2003.

The numbers are relative. The report, titled “Local Leaders in Sustainability,” examines the growth and effectiveness of so-called green building policies in 661 cities with populations greater than 50,000. Only 92 of the cities examined—14 percent—were found to have some sort of green building program in place. The AIA expects that figure to rise to 20 percent next year. It also asserts that the total number of cities with green building programs is greater because many smaller communities with programs were not represented in the study.

Highlighted programs include such features as “green grants,” which permit streamlining for buildings with LEED certification and green design assistance. The study finds that the western region of the United States has the most cities with green programs. Forty-two cities in six states—46 percent of the cities in the report—have green building programs.

The movement toward more green building has gained momentum as politicians, city officials, architects and builders focus on the degree to which buildings and their construction contribute to greenhouse gases. According to the report, buildings currently account for nearly 50 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, and the design and construction of green buildings will have a significant impact on the effort to reduce these emissions.

—Rick Laezman

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

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Be a Designer

Network design for fiber optics

Many columns have focused on components and installation issues specific to fiber optics. Component selection and installation all must be preceded by the design process, where the overall network is configured. As a result, it seemed appropriate to devote a few columns to the topic, which will run over the next several months.

Fiber optic network design refers to the specialized processes leading to a successful installation and operation of a fiber optic network. It includes determining the type of communication system(s) that will be carried over the network, the geographic layout—premises, campus, outside plant (OSP), etc.—the transmission equipment required and the fiber network over which it will operate. Next to be considered are requirements for permits, easements, permissions and inspections. At that stage, the designers consider actual component selection, placement, installation practices, testing, troubleshooting, and network equipment installation and startup. Finally documentation, maintenance and planning for restoration in the event of an outage comes into play.

Design requires working with higher-level network engineers, usually from information technology (IT) departments, and cable plant designers, such as the architects and engineers overseeing a major project. In addition, contractors involved with building the projects should have input. Other groups also may be overseeing various parts of the project that involve the design and installation of fiber optic cable plants and systems. These groups include engineers or designers involved in aspects of project design, such as security or CATV, industrial system designers or specialized designers, such as a BICSI registered communications distribution designer (RCDD) for premises cabling.

Designers should have an in-depth knowledge of fiber optic components and systems, installation processes, and all applicable standards, codes and any other local regulations. They also must be familiar with most telecom technology (cabled or wireless), site surveys, local politics and where to find experts in those fields when help is needed. Obviously, the fiber optic network designer must be familiar with electrical power systems, since the electronic hardware must be provided with high-quality, uninterruptible power at every location. And if they work for a contractor, estimating will be a very important issue, as that is where a profit or loss can be determined.

Those involved in fiber optic project design should have some background in fiber optics, such as having completed a Fiber Optic Association (FOA) certified technician course. Also, they may have other training in the specialties of cable plant design, such as electrical construction apprenticeship, RCDD, SCTE or ISA training. It also is very important to know how to find in-depth information, mostly on the Web, about products, standards, codes and, for the OSP networks, how to use online mapping services, such as Google Maps. Experience with CAD systems is a definite plus.

References for the fiber optic designer’s bookshelf include the FOA text, the Fiber Optic Technicians Manual and the NECA/FOA-301 installation standard. When it comes to the National Electrical Code, there is Limited Energy Systems published by the NFPA. There also are dozens of books on communications system design, but unfortunately, the fast pace of development in communications technologies means many textbooks are hopelessly out of date unless they are updated frequently. Better to rely on the Web, especially the Web sites of well-established manufacturers, if you ignore the obvious hype in most white papers.

Getting trained specifically in fiber optic network design currently is difficult. The material is covered in part in some advanced fiber optic courses offered by the FOA-approved schools and by large manufacturers that help you understand how to build networks using their products. The FOA is developing a curriculum to allow more of its schools to offer a design specialty course and the new FOA design certification, which is expected to be available shortly. As with any new program, some bugs will be worked out in the beginning, but the bulk of the required material has been agreed on by a committee of experienced fiber installers and trainers working with the FOA.

So please read the columns over the next few months, as they will cover fiber optic network design from beginning (communications systems and their fiber optic needs) to end (restoration and maintenance), with a few detours along the way. When finished, you should have a good overall knowledge of the subject. You might even want to clip these pages and save them, and remember, they will be available on  www.ecmag.com               

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 www.ecmag.com 

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Master of the ‘Smart House’ Business

Popularly called a “smart house,” integrated homes are a world of bundled wiring, central processors, buses, touchpads and touchscreens. It’s a burgeoning market, as technically savvy homeowners look for contractors who can provide one-stop shopping and service. With a little education, some partnering with other service providers and the will to manage projects, electrical contractors (ECs) can lead while significantly improving their margins through smart home installations.

Take the lead, and earn more when automating a home In its “Fifth Annual State of the Builder Study” issued in January 2007, the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) director of research Joe Bates said, “Home technologies are, without a doubt, helping to counteract the slumping housing market. Consumers are increasingly asking for installed technologies, whether it’s for a home theater room or an intricate home network complete with servers and structured wiring. Clearly, builders, contractors and consumers believe that these offerings are no longer just ‘the wave of the future,’ but a reality from which builders and contractors are reaping the benefits.”

Home automation represents 10 percent of Wilcox Electric and Service Inc.’s business. Based in Normal, Ill., Dan Wilcox, owner and president, expects that business to grow.

“I think that as customers get more familiar with smart homes, the more they want them. Our future in smart homes is unlimited,” Wilcox said. But Wilcox also is concerned.

“If electrical contractors don’t act on this interest now, we’ll lose the business to other installers, such as audiovisual techs,” he said. “Home automation offers us the rare chance to take a project leadership role. Increasingly, builders and homeowners want it simple. They want one guy to get it all done.”

Smart houses first received national exposure in 1985 through the National Association of Homebuilders. Today, controlling lighting, HVAC and security has never been easier. Home-control manufacturers have advanced and simplified their technology for installers and consumers alike. The ability to operate one’s home through a personal computer or cell phone is making the capabilities and pitch for smart home technology very attractive in the luxury home market and beyond.

Leaving money on the table

Thomas Pickral Jr. is the manager of business development for Home Automation Inc. (HAI), a manufacturer of home-control products based in Metairie, La.  He said ECs are leaving money on the table when they simply prewire and trim a smart home.

“A contractor that takes the lead is the one who will make more money,” Pickral said. “The margins are so much better, averaging 30 percent when installing home-automation technology. Our experience is most lighting control systems are being offered through low-voltage installers who are not really qualified. Audiovisual and systems-integration people recognize the value in being a one-stop provider. They also view the EC as a secondary person, someone they can bring into a project. That’s backwards. The truth is nothing can happen without the EC. If the EC takes the lead, they’ll be the one to land such work, hands down, every time. But electrical contractors need to be prepared.”

Schneider Electric, Palatine, Ill. also manufactures home-control products. Dan Loncar, western sales manager for its Square D installation systems and controls, said, “By default, electrical contractors are already in [home automation]; you need an EC to wire a system.”

“Don’t be intimidated,” Loncar said. “Start small with what you know. Begin with a package that controls some lights for the homeowner, and then add more control down the line, such as security. You build a home-automation package. Word of mouth is really strong in this sort of work, too. The customer shows it off. Interest builds with each successful installation.”

Training and partnering

Intimidation, fear or lack of interest holds back many ECs from even considering home-integration technology. All three men stress the world of smart homes isn’t as difficult or as complicated as one might think.

“Home automation has gotten easier as manufacturers are consolidating their products into a single platform,” Loncar said. “Communication between components is much better. A lot of manufacturers have training programs covering everything from the topology of integrated wiring, to system programming and handling add-ons that might include HVAC, security or audiovisual.”

Wilcox found it difficult to get technicians willing to learn high-tech installations.

“I don’t feel dealing with controls should be so foreign to an EC,” Wilcox said. “In fact, having an electrical background helped me better understand controls. It’s rewarding how you can add components to make everything work. It’s exciting.”

HAI’s Pickral also urges ECs not to walk away from what may be viewed as a computer-based endeavor.

“The EC doesn’t need to be the programming expert,” Pickral said. “In fact, you can offer full service without being a specialist in all smart house services. There are plenty of people to partner up with to bring the expertise. For instance, collaborate with someone who is more computer-centric who can do the programming. Just remember, you are the lead.”

Pickral said that while he sees some ECs come through his company’s training classes, more still need them.

“Classes are an excellent opportunity to network,” Pickral said. “Learn from others. Find potential partners. A manufacturer’s training class is the best way to find these people. In our training, we wish we saw more ECs because CATV and other low-voltage contractors, notably in AV and IT trades, are looking for them. At the very least, you can refer business back and forth.”

Technology makes it easier

Advancements in residential lighting control may help ECs confidently take a lead role in home-automation work. Companies such as Schneider Electric’s Square D and Colorado vNet in Loveland, Colo., offer distributed wiring architectures. This alternative approach forgoes a central processor linking each smart house application directly through a single network/bus line.

“With a distributed system, the control wiring for dimmers, relays and switches can be simply linked from unit to unit rather than back to one central controller giving shorter runs and lowering the wiring system cost,” said Gregory Voss Jr. of Bader Rutter & Associates, a public relations firm representing Schneider Electric. “With a centralized system, if the central controller fails, the entire system goes down. In a distributed system, each device works independently of the others, providing a more reliable, robust lighting control network throughout the home or office.”

“A homeowner may ask an electrical contractor for something out of the normal realm, such as tying in controls of an HVAC system or multiroom audio,” Loncar said. “A distributed system can make it easier for the EC to handle such requests and become that one-stop contractor.”

HAI also works to tie in all possible smart house applications into one system. “Our big push is simplification of the setting and programming of our systems for installers and the end-user,” Pickral said. “Programming lighting without a laptop is one advance. Wireless systems are entering the market, too. Such progress is making it easier to retrofit home automation.”

The incremental sell

Smart houses are a relationship business. Customers like to live with one add-on for a while and then recognize potential growth. Sharing the latest and greatest in home automation is a one-step-at-a-time process.

For Wilcox Electric, its home-automation business started with a power line carrier control system for a customer’s holiday lights. Along the way, Wilcox’s automation work and project sophistication grew.

“We’ve been doing different things in home automation one piece at a time,” Wilcox said. “A lot of our work is lighting control. Hit the garage door opener, and several lights in the house come on. With security, I can give you a button at your bedside to activate the outside lights. We also do whole-house audio.”

One product Wilcox uses is Lutron Electronics’ wireless RadioRA, a simple starter pack or mini lighting control package intended to help people get comfortable with the idea of home automation. RadioRA provides one-touch wireless control of all home lighting, by using master lighting controls to manage interior lights, exterior lights and Lutron’s Sivoia QED controllable window treatments. RadioRa’s scalability can control up to 64 dimmers.

“Most customers don’t go full blast at first,” Wilcox said. “It’s incremental.”

Wilcox mentioned that dialers also are an easy and simple introduction to home automation. His United Security Products (USP) dialers are sensors that can be installed to alert customers through their cell phone of pending crises, such as an over-taxed sump pump, a loved one’s health emergency or home intrusion.

Learn by doing

Wilcox’s confidence in smart house technology grows along with his familiarity with it. He now goes after business with builder and commercial customers. He’s installing a Square D Clipsal C-Bus network system in a school auditorium. His biggest venture, however, will be a marketing one as he uses the same product to transform his own home into a smart house model.

“With this project, I’m learning how to install this network system, as are four of my technicians,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox hopes to be done in May 2008. His project also will serve as an example of how home automation can be retrofitted into existing houses. The house will feature controlled lighting; security cameras and closed-circuit television; controls to set or run paddle fans, drapes and light a fireplace; and the ability to turn on and off power outlets in the kitchen and other vulnerable areas remotely.

“Right now we don’t advertise home-automation capabilities,” Wilcox said. “My house will be the advertisement. It will sell our message that home automation is here, and we have the latest and greatest stuff to sell.”   

GAVIN is the owner of Gavo Communications, a marketing services firm serving the construction and the landscaping industries. He writes trend, design and other business articles.

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

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Smart House Wiring Primer

One major motivation for the smart house idea was the creation of a unified wiring bundle that would substitute for a home’s diverse collection of wires. In effect, an EC then could handle all the wiring, since it would bundle electrical, telephone, security, cable television and computer home networking, saving money and time.

Integrated wiring traditionally consists of three cable groups:

• Branch cabling—power and digital data (includes a conventional power cable and a digital data cable)

• Applications cable—digital data and DC -voltage for sensors

• Communications cable—video coax and -telephone wires

For a good overview and specifics regarding home automation and structured wiring, visit www.broadbandutopia.com. If you are comfortable with smart home wiring but weak on programming, there is a certification program offered through the Computer Technology Industry Association at www.comptia.org. Investigate its DHTI+ certification for home technology professionals.

Local trade schools also may have excellent curricula to help you train for the world of smart homes. Wiring, lighting and home-automation manufacturers also offer their own training.

A new organization has formed called the Home Lighting Control Alliance. This consortium of lighting control manufacturers, systems integrators and support organizations states its purpose as being “to promote the awareness, value and benefits of lighting control products for residential applications.”

Visit www.homelighting-control.org to learn more about this market.

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

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Cabling At Home

Designing residential cabling systems

One would think designing large commerical cabling systems would be more difficult than residential, but that does not seem to be the case. Commercial systems today have a big advantage over residential, as a limited number of standards cover almost every application. In any given office, one needs to worry only about installing telephones, computers and perhaps a few security devices. Traditional telephones use twisted-pair wire with analog plain old telephone service (POTS) or proprietary digital systems at relatively low speeds. Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phones share the computer network cabling. Computers use Ethernet for cabled connections over copper to the desktop and fiber backbones or wireless connections. Commercial security and building management systems are migrating to using the same structured cabling as computers and phones. Thus, the choices are relatively easy to make.

Residences, however, have many more options. Phones, computers and some security systems can be connected just like a small office, but home automation and entertainment options are many and varied. Most have their own standards you must track down and try to understand. At a recent trade show, I counted seven different cabling types touted as “standards” in one vendor’s booth. Granted, many entertainment standards are designed around simply connecting clusters of devices, such as stereo systems, TVs with cable or satellite boxes, or home theater, not building permanent in-wall cabling connections. But standards that aim at permanent applications need to be understood in order to properly design home cabling.

Another, and perhaps the most important, difference between residential and commercial installations is the cabling’s physical location. Offices are designed for easy cabling installation and moves, adds and changes (MACs). From initial design, commercial buildings include areas set aside for equipment (telecom rooms) and cabling (pathways and spaces), generally designed around hardware meeting industry standards such as TIA 569. Cables run through open spaces, usually terminating at drops to modular furniture, making MACs and upgrades reasonably easy. Homes, however, usually put cables inside permanent walls and generally do not have areas set aside for placing and powering equipment.

This is a very important issue in residential cabling, both for single-family residences and multidwelling units (MDUs), which include apartments or condominiums. With so many different interconnection standards among entertainment devices and the rapid development of new technologies, such as TV over the Internet (IPTV), along with the obvious fact that people occupying the residence grow up and/or change often, this becomes a major challenge for the cabling contractor.

Finally, in commercial installations, the contractor, end-user and, perhaps, the architects or communications systems providers generally have the opportunity to discuss the cabling system before it is installed. Discussions include the overall goals of the design; types of communications systems to be accommodated; provisions for power, grounds and AC; documentation requirements; and even the provisions for MACs.

Unless you are dealing with a large developer, MDU or custom-designed home, this is less likely in residential work. While cabling contractors can bring lots of knowledge and experience to the project, they generally are not involved until it is too late to affect the design. Since the quality of the installation and the likelihood of providing better satisfaction to the residents depend heavily on the design, convincing developers or builders to have you involved as early in the process as possible is highly advisable.

Residential interfaces

The first consideration involves determining how to connect the residence to the incoming services or, more generally, any services that may be available to the residence. For single-family homes, that means providing conduits to the street for services, including electrical, telecom, CATV and an option for other communications services provided by the city or independents.

The conduits need to terminate at a convenient place at the residence, called a “distribution center” in TIA-570. Some building codes now are specifying an internal area for the communications connections, because many, such as fiber to the home (FTTH), have electronics that prefer more temperate indoor conditions rather than exposure to the elements. Wherever the termination occurs, provisions for installing equipment must be made, as many connections require more than passive cable connections today. FTTH requires an optical network interface (ONI). CATV will require a cable modem for the Internet connection and perhaps an amplifier if the home has many TV outlets. Municipal or independent networks also will require their interface boxes. Satellite TV, if used, also will connect to this location, usually through the attic from a roof-mounted antenna.

At this location, modular connections must be provided for all services to allow changes and troubleshooting. You also need to provide space for support equipment, such as routers and hubs to allow connecting multiple computers to the Internet or media center equipment that controls entertainment storage, selection and play. With more electronics involved, power becomes important, and astute users include uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to ensure availability of services or at least controlled power shut-off in case of power failure or brownouts.

Having remodeled several houses of my own, I don’t believe that an in-wall box can possible provide adequate space. My current residence has two large ones; however, most of the equipment sits on a wire-rack shelf in a small closet we built just for the equipment we needed to support our home office and multiple room connections. A better solution would be in-wall termination boxes for all the cabling with outlets that stick through the covers for connection to electronic hardware on a shelf or rack.

What do you do in an MDU? There are two approaches. The traditional approach has one entry facility for all units with telephone and video cables to each unit. That’s OK for cable modems or DSL, but what about FTTH? One can locate the ONI in the entry facility and use video or data cables (Category 5e/6) to the unit, or one can provide space to bring fiber directly to the unit, the preferred method in the Far East where FTTH is much more widely used than in the United States.

Distributing through the home

From the distribution center, cables are connected to outlets in a star wiring architecture just like commercial cabling. TIA 570 offers two options for voice, data and video cabling inside the home. Grade 1 includes one Cat 5e cable for voice and/or data and one 75-ohm coax cable (RG-6) for video to each outlet. I highly advise against this option, as the new resident will be calling someone to angrily demand to know how they connect both a computer and phone at this location with only one cable. You can use a splitter, but finding one is not easy. You cannot get them at Radio Shack.

Grade 2 is the better way, with two Cat 5e (or, even better, Cat 6) and two coax cables per outlet. That means each outlet supports a computer, a phone and TV from CATV or satellite without modification. Grade 2 also allows for two optical fibers, but although I highly promote fiber, I cannot tell you today whether the fiber should be multimode, single-mode or plastic. Installing one is an iffy proposition.

One could use telephone wire and coax, I suppose. The FCC requires telephones use at least a Cat 3 four-pair cable, which is inadequate for computer use, but Cat 5e is about the same cost. One could use coax for networking, using the Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MOCA) standard, which is being used in older residences by Verizon for its FTTH connections, but it is not widely available to the average consumer.

Stick to Grade 2 cabling, and use a bundled cable. Bundled cables have two Cat 5e/6 cables and two coax cables and install like one cable, reducing labor costs for pulling cable.

TIA 570’s outlet recommendations include one in the kitchen, one in a family room, one in a den or study and one per bedroom. Everyone who has children knows that one outlet in each bedroom is mandatory to maintain peace. But one needs to be in every room, and two are preferred for family rooms or dens, especially when considering the number of people working from home these days. At least one outlet should be placed outdoors, and one also should appear in the garage, especially if it also is a workshop.

Realize that you don’t necessarily have to use these just for computer hookups or TV. Having that outlet allows placing security cameras around the house, too. In fact, one can use power over Ethernet (PoE) from the distribution center to power surveillance cameras at any Cat 5e/6 outlet.

I have not mentioned wireless yet, but it’s part of the plan, just not as the primary connection. Laptops now are more popular than desktops, and mobility is a big selling point. Having a residential cabling system as described allows adding access points (wireless routers) anywhere in the house, providing the desired mobility, especially outdoors for those who like to work on the patio. Just don’t plan on using them as primary connections, especially when Internet protocol TV becomes more widely used, as the bandwidth requirements of streaming IPTV will overwhelm wireless networks, especially in a home where two, three or more viewers may be watching different programming at any one time.

Some residential systems are strictly custom and must be considered individually with the owner. Home entertainment, home theater and audio throughout the house usually requires custom design and some specialized cabling, such as speaker wires. Home automation is likewise custom, depending on the systems in the house and the degree of automation. Security systems (surveillance, intrusion and fire alarm) also require their own cabling and probably will be covered under building codes. Having a distribution center in the home where these systems may be sited adds convenience, especially since most security systems require a phone or Internet connection.

Pathways for residential cabling are the biggest problem. Sure, you can install the communications cabling just like electrical cable, sealed in the walls, as has been done with telephone cables for the last century. But with residential electronics changing all the time, it is folly to assume the cabling you install today will support all future applications. Ideally, one would install conduit to each outlet or baseboard pathways, so the cabling could be updated easily. This certainly is worth discussing with the developer and architect, as savvy homebuyers will understand the importance of providing for updates and, at least according to some builders I have discussed this with, are willing to pay extra for it.

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 www.ecmag.com 

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Shades of Green

Prosperity comes to those who branch out

If you’ve been reading Tom Glavinich’s Integrated Building Systems columns, you probably picked up a running theme. He introduced it in his January 2007 column:

“Concern over the environment and global warming grows, and the public becomes increasingly aware that residential and commercial buildings use a large portion of the U.S. energy supply and produce an equally large amount of greenhouse gases. Therefore, the drive to make buildings more energy efficient and environmentally neutral will increase.”

This concern is inspiring the development of new applications for technology that could slow down the growth of electrical energy consumption. A lot of that technology will mean increasing business for the electrical contractor (EC) that is willing to branch out beyond its traditional specialties.

Electrical work falls into four general areas: power, control, information processing and communication. Developments in all of these areas can contribute to the goal of making buildings more energy efficient and environmentally neutral. As an example, power can be generated and distributed in new ways. Instead of completely relying on energy generated at a central plant and then transmitted over power lines to feed a large area, power can be generated at a building or neighborhood level.

A few advantages come to mind. Energy losses due to power traveling over long transmission lines can be reduced. Local generation can come from a variety of sources, designed for what is most practical in a given area. For example, photovoltaics could be most effective in sunny areas. There also are fuel cells, which can be installed anywhere and are efficient and nonpolluting.

The significance for the electrical contractor is that there is much electrical work involved in this:

Power: Local power sources must be coordinated with utility power. Energy requirements may vary over the course of a day, presenting the local source with peaks and valleys in load requirements. During a peak, the facility being served may receive power from the utility. During a valley, the local power source may have a surplus, which it can feed back onto the power grid—a process called net metering. This involves complex power wiring, including the installation of an automatic transfer switch (ATS) designed so if there is any disturbance to the utility during the transition between sources, the alternate source and the load will be either nonexistent or at least kept to a minimum.

Control: The unusual power wiring for this arrangement type is just one part of the picture. It is necessary to have a control system that senses the amount of energy being drawn and decides whether there needs to be a switchover. This might incorporate a programmable logic controller (PLC) or a computer-based system with specialized software. The control system must be integrated with the automatic switch by any one of a variety of methods. How to interconnect the sensing and control circuits with the power switch leads the designer to consider a range of choices. For example, this can be viewed as an isolated system, independent of other systems in the facility. It then might be feasible to hard wire each system component, although even within the confines of an isolated system, the designer might choose a standard serial bus, such as RS-232 or Modbus, in order to reduce the quantity of wires that need to be run. However, it might be a good idea to coordinate this system with the other building systems as part of a building management system (BMS) or when implementing a green building  system. That would impact the interconnection decision. Modbus or Ethernet or another control platform, for example, can be used to integrate and control most building systems, and the power source is the most basic of those systems. 

Information processing: The control system depends on the accumulation and analysis of data, such as instantaneous load requirements, condition of the local and utility power sources, level and stability of voltage and frequency, and anticipated requirements based on history, time and day of the week. A central computer, either on its own or with operator intervention, decides to override the preprogrammed transfer of power or to adjust building systems, such as HVAC and lighting, to optimize the balance between local and utility power.

Communication: A critical system, such as the transition between local and grid-supplied power, requires good, real-time information. As the systems in a building become more complex, it becomes more important to constantly monitor the systems and to alert the staff of any problems. Building managers should always be aware of the status of their electrical power feed. This information also must be sent to the utility, so it can have a clear picture of conditions on the power grid.

In addition, Internet protocol (IP), which is being used in more applications, is a means of integrating control, data processing and communication and should be considered for new installations.

This is just one example of how the movement toward conserving energy will offer many challenges and opportunities to the electrical contracting community.

Finally, I want to thank Doug Sandberg of ASCO Services Inc., Florham Park, N.J., for a very helpful discussion of automatic transfer switch applications.       

BROWN is an electrical engineer, technical writer and editor. He serves as managing editor for Security + Life Safety Systems magazine. For many years, he designed high-power electronics systems for industry, research laboratories and government. Reach him at ebeditor@gmail.com.

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

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Power Outlet

How 170 Schools Stay Connected

 “The data center has hundreds of servers connected to Cisco switches via Ethernet,” explains Rob Carlisi, a systems engineer who works for the Orange County (Fla.) Public School district.

“That means there are a lot of cable connections. Keeping those connections organized plays a key role in our operations efficiency.”

Orange County’s more than 170 schools educate 177,000+ students in grades K-12. Each school has file and print servers, but the district’s IT heart, in downtown Orlando, is the Educational Leadership Center (ELC).

Here, the Information, Communications and Technology Services department, in which Carlisi works, keeps things humming. The ability to properly identify cable connections is critical—especially during troubleshooting.

Quickly identifying the connection, fixing any problem, and getting the system up and running are key to keeping any downtime to a minimum. How does one go about doing this?

PLANS A&B FAIL

ICTS staff began with a handheld electronic label printer. But heat in the data center (which is fairly typical) took care of that plan. “I’d label 30 or 40 cables one day, and the next day the labels would be peeling off!” Carlisi recalls.

Plan B: “I began to go back and wrap each label with Scotch tape,” he says. “Not only did they look messy, but it wasn’t an efficient use of my time.”

Was there a better way? Searching for an answer, Carlisi contacted Rexel, which had supplied the ELC with many of its telecom solutions.

What came back was an immediate recommendation for industrial label printers, manufactured by RHINO.

PLAN C WORKS!

Unlike office label printers (Plan A), the RHINO printers are designed specifically for industrial and commercial use. They feature a myriad of functions for labeling networks.

Carlisi checked out the printers online (www.dymo.com) and, following a recommendation from Rexel, accepted a visit from a RHINO executive. The demonstration sold Orange County—but the performance has exceeded expectations.

“Compared to the old labels, they are like night and day. I haven’t had one RHINO label that ever peeled, even a little,” Carlisi says.

What’s more, when the school system’s future fiber optics connections dictate a different approach, the RHINO3000 printer will be used to create flag labels—ideal for the thin diameter of fiber strands.

“We are constantly installing new servers in the data center, and we will continue to keep them labeled with RHINO,” Carlisi says. “RHINO printers have saved us countless amounts of time in doing our job. They have easily paid for themselves.

Everyone who uses them here loves them.”

[story submitted by Dymo to Power Outlet]

Reprinted with permission of Rexel, publisher of Power Outlet magazine. www.rexelusa.com/Poweroutlet.aspx

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The Burning Question

In the first of a two-part article, our datacom expert tackles the difference between various cable materials—and their fire ratings. Haven’t yet tuned into this controversy? Here’s your chance to catch up.

By D.A. “Bo” Conrad, RCDD

There is developing controversy surrounding the optimal fire-safety solution in plenum-rated environments. Should one pull unprotected plenum-rated cables vs. cables with lower fire ratings inside conduit? Each side offers numerous studies and tests that will, in time, directly affect the wire and cable, chemical and steel conduit industries— as well as industry standards and, subsequently, local fire codes.

How do you balance safety and electrical performance? Contractors have a variety of testing options to measure the transmission properties of the cable; Level IIe, III, and IV testers for compliance testing Category 5e, 6, and 6A respectively.

However, there are no field testers available for measuring fumes and toxic gases.

This is left to the manufacturers, who seek compliance through approved testing laboratories.

Table One provides fi re-ratings for low-voltage communication cables from the National Electrical Code (the NEC is authored by the National Fire and Protection Association NFPA-70) and the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC). The highest rating currently is for plenum; the lowest rating belongs to those used in residential settings.

Options include UTP/ScTP (Article 800), optical fiber (Article 770), and coax (Article 820). The suffix defi nes the fi re-rating . . . P = plenum, R = riser, G = general purpose, and X = residential.

Concurrently, the CEC classifies Fire-Temperature FT 6 for plenum and minimum FT4 for a lower riser-rating.

TESTING

Both NEC and CEC ratings are required for a cable manufacturer to sell cable in the U.S. and Canada. Manufacturers obtain fi re-rating for their products by having them tested by approved, independent, third-party testing laboratories.

Fire-rating designations will predominantly reference Underwriters Laboratory (UL) for the USA, CUL for Canada, and/or Edison Testing Lab (ETL)—Semko (division of Intertek Group) for the USA and CETL for Canada.

NFPA 262 UL 910 uses the Steiner Tunnel testing method to acquire a communication plenum rating (CMP) and UL 1666 for riser-rating (CMR). To some vendors, testing to these NFPA parameters is outdated and needs to be re-evaluated.

TERMINOLOGY

The term “riser” originated from elevator shafts. This used to be the method of access for cabling between floors in high-rise buildings. Elevator shafts are classified as a temporarily “confined space.”

Accordingly, the codes in earlier times had less fire-restriction than on the horizontal plenum environments.

“Plenum” is NEC shorthand for “return air plenum space.” It is defined as the “trapped air” (like your lungs or a balloon) between a drop ceiling and floor/roof without a dedicated HVAC return duct. Plenum areas also include raised floors over a certain height determined by local code taking into consideration sprinkler system requirements.

Note that a new proposed NEC fi re-rating— Limited or Low Combustible (LC) (said to be forthcoming)—is claimed to have the highest fire rating. This LC rating is still being evaluated by the NFPA and is not listed in the 2005 or the 2008 NEC.

CABLING & THE HVAC SYSTEM

Pulling fire-rated telecommunication cables through the drop ceiling plenum areas or “voids”—unducted return ventilation air ceilings or floors—is the most common practice. Cables are supported using a variety of methods in keeping them off the drop ceiling “T” bars supports and lighting fixtures.

Support methods include: “J-hooks,” cable tray, ladder racking, bridal rings, trapeze, etc.

Unless the local code dictates, pulling cable through conduit is not a common practice. Differences can be found in cities such as Chicago and Las Vegas, where even doorbell wiring needs to be in conduit.

Unprotected and protected (conduit) horizontal cabling—now regarded as part of the HVAC return ducting system—offers the potential of spreading heat and smoke to other inhabited areas of the building not protected by firewalls.

THE CONTROVERSY

The primary controversy centers on what economical method provides the best protection to reduce the propagation of smoke and toxic gases in case of a fi re. Is it the higher fi re-rated cables . . . or non or lower-rated cables installed in (EMT) conduit?

Remember, everything burns; even steel and brick will burn if heated to a high enough temperature. Also note: The purpose of fire-protection systems is to buy time to evacuate.

That “time” question contributes to a secondary controversy: What is the by-product or toxicity when the cable and even conduit burns?

Some studies show a strong 15% to 20% annual increase in computer cabling usage. This has been created by the upgrade of cables (say, from Category 5e to 6), which seems to happen every three or four years. Simply stated, a high percentage of abandoned cable (usually low-fire rating) cabling is not being removed (although required by the 2005 NEC).

So when a location is upgraded from Cat 5e to 6, the old cable remains in the ceiling. Like the California fires, this presents a dangerous high fuel-load situation and raises life-safety concerns.

A TOUR OF CABLE TYPES

Table One defines the UTP cable components as an average percentage by weight of a Category 6 cable. Note that the copper conductors represent approximately 50% of the weight of the cable and the other 50% the jacket, insulation, and spacer (separator) material.

For CMP fire-rated cables, the majority of the cable manufacturers use low fire-load Perflouropolymer (PFP) for the insulation around the conductors (or fiber strands) and the spacer. The first generation polymer was called Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) also known as “Teflon.”

You will run across the term “fluorinated”. This means replacing hydrogen atoms with fluorine to become polytetrafluorotheylene. The desired characteristic about Perflouropolymer is that it will “self extinguish” and does not easily propagate down the cable length when the heat source is removed—in comparison to CMR- and CMX-rated cables.

Another attribute of PFP is having improved wearing and anti-reflective properties. This is well-suited for other applications such as commercial storage tanks and fiber optics.

Another misconception is that a CMP-rated cable’s jacket is not PFP but typically made up selectively or collectively of Flame Retardant Polyvinyl Chloride (FRPVC), Flame-Retardant Polyethylene (FRPE), High- Density Polyethylene (HDPE), and possibly Polypropylene (PP).

Outside Plant (OSP) cable jacketing—not requiring a fire rating unless used inside the building within 50 feet—requires better UV-blocking and reduced water migration. The polymers best-suited for OSP applications will use Medium Density Polyethylene (MDPE) or Polyurethane.

Note that PU is also used for Mil-spec cables. Experienced cable experts can even smell the difference!).

Commonly black but offered in a variety of colors, these sometimes have an interstitial “ickypic” fill to impair water migration.

LSZH or LS0H is defined as Low-Smoke Zero Halogen (a noxious fume) material whose name alone defines its fire-rating characteristics. This material is a requirement to obtain Mil-spec approval, shipboard/aircraft ratings, in raised floor workplaces in the UK, and frequently required under the Department of Transportation (DOT) rules.

Primary reason for LSZH is the material specification focuses on reducing deadly toxic gasses and smoke—the leading cause of deaths in a fire. It reportedly has saved thousands of lives in fires—such as in the Bay Area Rapid Transport, when a fire developed in the tube between Oakland and San Francisco. No one died; all were able to escape the fire and fumes.

Note: LSZH does not have the same high-temperature rating as CMP. The term “Crosslink” denotes the intermolecular bond between long chain thermal plastic polymers affected by chemical or radiation techniques —e.g., “irradiated cables”.

Defining fi re-retardant properties, PFP has a higher FT rating than FRPVC, FRPE, HDPE, and PP. It exhibits extreme temperature properties ranging from a low of -25°C to - 40°C to a high of 200°C to 270°C.

Defining better electrical performance includes:

1. The insulation resistance value or ability to resist the fl ow of current through it; and

2. The dissipation factor, which reduces power loss when increasing the frequency (the lower value the better).

Here in comparison studies, PFP also has a unique combination of having both fire and electrical performance—with no other materials or additives needed to be added to the polymer like FRPVC.

PFP, having improved electrical performance over FRPVC is the main reason why PFP is used as the primary conductor insulation material for high-bandwidth telecommunications cables (like Category 6). It also has lower UTP propagation delay skew characteristic.

Conrad is owner of Crossbow Communications (www.crossbowcom.com).

Reprinted with permission of Rexel, publisher of Power Outlet magazine. www.rexelusa.com/Poweroutlet.aspx

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Copper Prices: Where To In ’08?

All markets move in waves, but for most commodities—such as the global market for copper—demand and supply take turns at pushing and pulling. Since 2001 (when copper went for 65 cents per pound), the red metal’s rally has been stunning. Topping out in May 2006 near $4.00/pound, copper’s price has stayed high.

And with it, the electrical products market has felt repeated and deep impacts. At a recent regional conference of electrical distributors, for example, an executive from Siemens Energy & Automation displayed a chart showing the products his company supplies, and which metals went into each. Every single product needs copper to be manufactured; it was the only such always required component.

Electrical suppliers do not own mines. The questions commodities analysts have been asking about the copper market are simple:

1. When will the surge of demand from China and elsewhere in Asia subside?

2. As more and more copper mines open (or re-open), when will supply finally catch up with demand?

Unfortunately, the answer to Question 1 is shrouded in mystery. China’s demand has blindsided analysts (and commodity traders) frequently in the past seven years. Analyst predictions for 2006’s highs topped out at $2.00 to $2.25, as they didn’t see the super-surge coming; and copper’s fall in price—from near $4 in May 2006 to $2.40 in January 2007—blindsided many.

China’s role is substantial and growing, according to analysts at Citigroup. That country’s share of world copper consumption is expected to hit 27% in 2010; it was 13% in 2000.

PREDICTIONS

John Mothersole of Global Insight has taken on copper prices twice in front of an audience at the McGraw-Hill Construction “Outlook” conferences. He’s a commodities analyst—and forecasts price movements for a wide range of items that are heavily used\ in residential and commercial construction.

In October 2006, he predicted copper prices would collapse in 2007, falling all the way to $2.60 during the year. Despite that January blip, his forecast proved off-the-mark—something he noted in his October 2007 presentation. Copper was the only place his wide-ranging predictions came up short, he said.

What’s his take on 2008? Copper prices to average roughly $3.25 for the year.

At Credit Suisse (according to an Oct. 15 report), analysts have studied 66 copper projects (mines) that are now being developed—or are in planning stages. Over the long term, this new supply will stabilize the market,and perhaps even reduce copper prices. In 2008, however, a “significant spike” could take place.

Much of the Credit Suisse report leads analysts to opposite conclusions. Some note that it’s not likely that all (or even most) of those 66 projects will become productive mines. Others look at the report’s projection that Chile will contribute only 25% of new supply and express doubt . . . over the past 17 years, that country has provided two-thirds of the world’s increased copper supply.

 Of note along those lines: The government-run Chilean Copper Commission in early November boosted its forecast for ’08 copper prices. Where this group had in August said copper would average $2.70/pound in ’08, as of November the forecast was boosted to $3.10/pound.

Included in the Chilean report: Global copper supplies from mines were estimated to increase by 3.7% in 2007. Earlier, the forecast was for a 7.7% supply gain.

And then there is the most bullish forecast. In October, a Bloomsbury Mineral Economics analyst (speaking at “Copper Day” in London, an event sponsored by Mining Journal) predicted copper’s price would hit $4.08/pound by 2009.

Reprinted with permission of Rexel, publisher of Power Outlet magazine. www.rexelusa.com/Poweroutlet.aspx

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Outlook For ‘Green’

“Green” construction was one focus of the “Outlook ‘08” conference sponsored by McGraw-Hill Construction. Reasons included:

§         Rick Fedrizzi, founding chairman (and still CEO) of the U.S. Green Building Council, was a speaker.

§         MHC’s newest publication—which has already won several awards—is the quarterly GreenSource magazine (find it at http://greensource.construction.com).

§         Judging by audience response to Fedrizzi’s presentation, the more than 400 attendees wanted to hear about things green.

What’s driving the environmental/sustainable construction movement? There’s much more than hype.

As a result of real-world proof (and some hype, perhaps), green buildings are the hottest thing in construction. See Figure Three. “One estimate for 2006 indicates that 2% of the nonresidential building stock in the U.S. was registered under the LEED criteria issued by the U.S. Green Building Council,” according to Bob Murray, chief economist for MHC.

Note that by “nonresidential building stock,” Murray is referencing all nonresidential buildings standing and in use (including those under construction).

LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. There is a “LEED-EB” standard for existing buildings, which is why the figure has gotten so high (relatively speaking) so quickly.

 But there is more coming. “Since it’s likely some owners are using green materials and design without registering . . . this is viewed to be a conservative estimate. By 2010, it’s expected that green buildings will comprise 5% to 10% of the nonresidential building stock.”

Save the date: If you’re interested in environmentally friendly construction, sustainability issues, electrical goods recycling, and related topics, be sure to see the next issue of Power Outlet—out in Spring 2008—which will focus on these topics in an expanded format.

Reprinted with permission of Rexel, publisher of Power Outlet magazine. www.rexelusa.com/Poweroutlet.aspx

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Don’t Distance Yourself From Remote Monitoring

By Mark Lamendola

You’ve used a portable humidifier, right? You check the gage or peer into the tank to see what the water level is. That’s an example of local monitoring; you must be where the action is to see what it is.

Industrial control systems have, for decades, monitored conditions and events at a system level in such facilities as power plants, paper mills, and refineries. These systems monitor thousands of data points from a central location (the control room).

Operators aren’t looking at the minutiae of every process, though. That would overwhelm them with a mind-numbing flood of data. The system provides operators with “condensed” information (typically alarms and summaries).

What happens in the control room is the old “data into information into knowledge” transformation. What the operators see is useful because it’s manageable.

Remote: The Next Level

Operators of gas pipelines were among the first to take monitoring to the next level: remote. Operators in Houston, for example, monitor and control gas pipeline stations in New Jersey.

What about a facility’s electrical distribution system? Prior to the late 1990s, applying these remote abilities to electrical systems was relatively rare. These days, remote monitoring is common. What’s changed in the past 10 years or so?

Advances in technology changed everything. “Smart” devices, expanded bandwidth, and Internet Protocol (IP) made it practical and affordable to remotely monitor industrial electrical systems.

And, in a word, the transformation is now complete. In many cases, what was once not economically feasible is now economically imperative.

Remote Expertise, Too

Remote monitoring works—if you have the expertise to correctly interpret and act upon the information.Most people who have that level of expertise developed it through exposure to many sites, typically in a consulting role.

So . . . as the monitoring is “remote”—why not make the expertise remote, too? Why not outsource the monitering?

Outsourced power quality experts can monitor the electrical systems of many clients, from a central location. But they don’t sit there poring over raw data. When the power monitoring system highlights a condition that needs attention, someone on the team will access the system and apply a protocol for determining what’s going on.

What happens next? The team may subsequently notify the client with specific recommendations to avert problems ranging from excess power consumption to outright disaster.

One reason companies adopt remote monitoring is that management has a strange preference for fixing an emerging power problem, rather than waiting for a transformer to blow (or for a problem to take out $80,000 of equipment before someone realizes the power system is having problems).

Unfortunately, these systems are not yet universally applied. Some companies “save money” by eliminating such “unnecessary” maintenance as cable testing. Disaster prevention just drags down this quarter’s earnings, so why do it?

Such “thinking” applies to other uses of remote monitoring. For some options, see the accompanying short item.

You now know just enough to be dangerous; this article conveyed only a basic understanding of remote monitoring. For any monitoring system to be more than a collection of wall ornaments, you must use the information it provides.

Going back to our humidifier example, there’s no point in checking the water level if you aren’t going to take corrective action when it’s low. With power systems, things are more complex and the consequences potentially much higher. These systems are pointless without a well-considered implementation plan.

Monitoring Options

Here’s a quick quiz for you to give yourself. How many of these uses do you think are worthwhile?

1 – Power consumption trending. Track over multiple intervals to optimize operating lines for various load conditions. Result: Substantial energy savings and reduced wear on equipment.

2 – PQ monitoring. Measure, log, and analyze such PQ parameters as kVA, kVAR, and power factor. Do the same with various aspects of current and voltage, such as high, low, and mean reading out in RMS and peak. And, of course, these systems let you monitor everyone’s favorite: Harmonic content.

3 – Power quality trending. Acting in a timely and accurate manner on PQ trending allows you to meet the utility’s demand factor requirements, determine if system configuration changes are needed, determine what power factor correction changes to make, and see problems in existing PQ correction equipment.

4 – Peak monitoring. By monitoring peak demand, current, and power, you have a means of verifying utility charges and metering.

5 – Neutral and ground monitoring. Monitoring current on the neutral/ground bond allows you to know when there’s a low grade fault on the system or if there are undesirable currents flowing on the ground conductor. Identifying and correcting such problems early may prevent nuisance operation of the ground fault protection system.

What’s Your Plan?

We all love choices. Remote monitoring systems allow you to choose from four levels.

Basic. Monitor voltage (phase to phase and phase to neutral), current (phase and neutral); kW, kVA, kVAR; and demand.

Intermediate. Additionally, monitor harmonics (voltage and current), plus such transient events as sag, surge, and impulses.

Advanced. If conditions merit, add waveform capture (of transient events) to your list of goodies. If you’re looking at advanced systems, evaluate their event analysis features as well.

Individual branch circuit monitoring. This is what it sounds like: monitoring each breaker in a standard 42-pole distribution panelboard. The system may use “smart breakers” or another technology.

Where To Put The Monitors

  • Monitoring equipment may be installed in any or all of these locations:
  • Service(s).
  • Generator distribution switchgear.
  • Mechanical plant switchgear (Chillers and related devices).
  • General power switchgear.
  • UPS System input and output distribution switchgear (Typically 480 VAC).
  • Critical power distribution from UPS (Typically 208/120VAC from PDU’s).
  • Individual branch circuit monitoring.

Installation Tips

  • Installing during the construction process provides lowest cost and best aesthetics.
  • Equip all CT’s with shorting blocks. This allows you to replace front end components without having to power down the equipment or have dangerous voltages present at the secondary of the CT’s.
  • Create accurate as-built drawings upon completion of the work.
  • Make terminations to terminal blocks, for ease of replacement of failed components.
  • Verify that the voltage sensing leads and the CT’s are properly located for the type of monitoring that is desired. This is especially important if the switchgear has multiple power sources.

Credit line: Lamendola is an electrical expert who has written for several industry magazines. He is the proprietor of www.mindconnection.com and www.codebookcity.com.

Reprinted with permission of Rexel, publisher of Power Outlet magazine. www.rexelusa.com/Poweroutlet.aspx

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TED Magazine

Reconsider Your Environmental Impact

Recently, it seems everyone within the electrical channel has been inundated with information regarding “going green.” Aside from the great opportunities that exist to profit from selling green products, we have a social responsibility to make changes in our personal and professional lives so as to protect and improve our environment.

The electrical distribution industry is uniquely positioned to make a significant impact here, and I believe that if we are able to start small in our homes and businesses, our collective efforts will make a significant, positive impact on the environment.

At Border States, it is fundamental to our core values to use our resources to enhance the communities in which we live, and we are committed to environmental stewardship.

Here are a few things that we do to reduce waste, lower energy consumption, and make the supply chain more green:

• To encourage our employees to use lamps that are more efficient in their homes, some Border States branches collaborated with one of our lamp vendors to run a CFL promotion for our employees. Additionally, some branches use CFLs as door prizes at company meetings and events in order to promote the use of more environmentally friendly lamps.

• While we would love to work in a paperless environment, we know that is impossible, so we strive for a less-paper one by promoting electronic processes. We encourage customers and vendors to use EDI for purchase orders, order acknowledgements, invoices, etc., and we have implemented online signature capture for proof of delivery. In addition, all employees are encouraged to make fewer hard copies of meeting materials and post soft copies of the materials on our intranet, collaboration rooms are set up online with employees, and company news­letters are delivered electronically.

• Our facilities are also a green target. Motion sensors, automation, and generators are used to reduce energy consumption. This year, we are pursuing Energy Star rating for our buildings via lighting upgrades.

• We have also made some changes in warehouse and delivery procedures. In our warehouses, we recycle pallets, reels, and cardboard boxes. PeopleNet, Skybitz GPS, and communication systems have been installed in our fleet to reduce fuel consumption. These help us eliminate unnecessary delivery miles, reduce idle time, improve customer service, and reduce our delivery costs.

• Truck capacity is optimized by coordinating shipments with manufacturers and customers. Our company is also evaluating lease options for hybrid vehicles and converting our trucks to meet the new clean air requirements.

• With the help of graduate students at North Dakota State University’s Transpor­ta­tion Institute and industrial engineering department, we are utilizing linear programming science to optimize material flow throughout the supply chain.

• Beyond warehouse recycling, we recycle paper, ink jet cartridges, phone books, plastic bottles, and aluminum cans. Our company is also working with Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore program to reuse and/or recycle slightly used or damaged material.

These are just a few things that we are doing at Border States to lessen our environmental impact and make the supply chain greener. And while most of the environmental work we do is neither expensive nor time consuming, it still results in improved productivity and profitability.

I encourage all of NAED’s members to take a look around their businesses and homes and identify ways that they can reduce the amount of waste they generate and the amount of energy they consume. If we all work to­gether to make small changes, we will have a dramatic impact on our environment—to our benefit, and to the benefit of generations to come.

Miller is CEO of Border States Electric in Fargo, N.D. Reach her at 602-206-9502 or tmiller@border-states.com.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com  

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Evolve Or Die

In my December column, I used the quote from Charles Darwin: “It’s not the strongest that survive. It’s not even the most intelligent. It’s the one that adapts to change.” This again came to mind when reading the January issue of CE Pro magazine. In an article entitled “Prediction: Channel to Grow 75% in 5 Years,” Karen Wertman, CEO of Sausalito Audio, said, “Evolve or die.”

Wertman, a custom electronics integrator, emphasized that integrators need to continually educate themselves or they could lose business to the big boxes or independent competitors who adapt better to change. Does this sound familiar?

While the article noted that the custom home integration business should in­crease from $9.8 billion in 2007 to $17.4 billion in 2012, home integrators appear to be a little worried because security dealers are adding traditional home automation and other residential systems to their product lines. What caught my eye is that the list of product categories that securities are now selling had many products that should be, or traditionally have been, sold by electrical distributors—including low-voltage and structured wiring, integrated and lighting controls, power quality products, and surge protections. Other product lines include home theaters; audio, fire protection, and CCTV systems; HVAC controls; and home and wireless home networks.

Not that integrators are looking to throw a wet blanket on the security dealers’ initiative, but, according to Robin Ford, vice president of business development for Global Cache, security installers presumably know very little about control and automation, lighting, and entertainment systems. Ford predicts a potential for shoddy work and warns integrators to be aggressive in education to stay on top of the business.

I think that a lot of the work that integrators do rightly belongs to the electrical industry. But we aren’t talking about theft here—we’re talking about business. No one has a right to anyone’s business unless they earn it. Integrators wouldn’t exist unless they offered a service that customers wanted that the electrical industry didn’t offer. Security dealers must believe they have some talent or service to offer that integrators and electrical distributors don’t currently offer.

So what can be said about this? I think Wertman said it best: “Evolve or die.” We need to look for new opportunities and educate ourselves about them. As someone who works for electrical distributors, I want our members to retain as much market share in as many product categories as possible—including expanding into some complementary product lines that make sense to their businesses.

Naber is president of NAED and publ­isher of “TED” magazine. Reach him at 314-812-5312 or tnaber@naed.org.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com  

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Current Words Of Wisdom

“Distributors who found ready customers in nearly every nonresidential market will have to work harder in 2008.”

—Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America,

“The construction roller coaster,” page 11

“It’s not uncommon to see a company’s sales drop by a third or more as a direct result of information piracy.”

—Peter Ratcliffe, sales manager, LockLizard, “Keep secrets safe,” page 22

“The demand for green building products and services could grow to $20 billion in 2010.”

—John White, energy management and environmental solutions manager, Eaton, “Green builds,” page 26

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com  

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Green Builds

The demand for sustainability in construction projects is on the rise.

According to McGraw-Hill Construction Analytics, the annual U.S. market in green building products and services has grown from more than $7 billion in 2005 to more than $12 billion by the end of 2007. John White, energy management and environmental solutions manager for Eaton Corporation’s Electrical Group, believes the growth potential is huge.

“The demand for green building products and services could grow to as much as $20 billion in 2010,” said White, “and I expect green electrical power distribution products to at least match that growth rate. As electricity price and volatility continue to rise, products that manage electrical power will become critical elements for nearly all building operations.”

While many factors fuel demand for green electrical power distribution—rising energy costs, federal mandates, societal pressures, and, as White puts it, “the simple fact that it’s the right thing to do”—one of the biggest is the growing impact of the LEED Program, launched in 2000 by the USGBC.

Green growth

Ultimately, using green products brings greater value to the building owner or operator in the form of energy savings, comfort for the building’s occupants, and improved property values, according to Dave Davidson, Solutions Center manager at Eaton.

“Electrical engineers are beginning to understand their vital role in this green building movement, and are getting involved in LEED certification by specifying products based on sustainability merits, whether that means they are smaller, more efficient, or manufactured in a sustainable way,” said Davidson.

Another segment receiving considerable attention in the quest for greener performance is lighting control, said Scott Jordan, product marketing manager for SquareD/Schneider Electric.

“Historically, going green meant changing out lamps and ballasts with little regard for how much the lighting system was operating when nobody was occupying the room,” he said. “But now customers are demanding further reductions in energy cost, and lighting control is often the most attractive technology from an ROI standpoint.”

Tom Braz, general manager for Hubbell Building Automation, expects 15% to 20% compounded annual growth for lighting control products for the next 10 years—at least. “The applications for these products and systems cut across most vertical markets,” he said. “There’s been significant interest in deploying these techniques in educational institutions, governmental and office buildings—especially those trying to meet LEED certification—and numerous other market segments.”

Integrated switchboards are also experiencing the movement toward sustainability and LEED applications. “Both institutional and governmental installations, especially those that are being considered for retrofitting, are growth markets requiring space-saving solutions such as integrated or customized switchboards,” said Doug Carolan, business unit manager of commercial distribution and control assemblies for Eaton’s Electrical Group. Products to enhance data center applications are also in demand.

Donald Millstein, president and CEO of E-Mon, anticipates substantial green product growth for the next few years. “We expect it to exceed 15% annually in the foreseeable future,” he said. “Primarily, the greatest growth markets for metering technology are related to energy conservation for LEED and EPAct compliance, and include HVAC, lighting controls, and other energy management controls.”

Slowdown spreads green

Somewhat ironically, the current slowdown in the U.S. economy is also supporting the movement toward green technologies. “What we have experienced is that when the country comes out of a recessionary period, technologies that were once optional become essential,” Jordan explained. “The slowdown provides an opportunity for electrical distributors to talk to their customers about these technologies.”

Opportunities include targeting the engineering community working on the LEED projects and providing product bundles to assist in these endeavors. Ultimately, distributors who position themselves as the go-to vendors for LEED construction projects and green initiatives will realize a strong market advantage.

Carazo provides B2B marketing services for electrical industry organizations. He can be reached at dcaraz@optonline.net.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com  

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Green Products Can Open New Markets

Ask yourself: What green products can I offer that my competitors aren’t selling? Can I differentiate myself by promoting more energy-efficient products? What new markets can I enter with green products? For green building products, no stage is larger than the an-nual, international Greenbuild conference.

LifeGuard, a low-smoke, nonhalogenated electrical cable manufactured by Houston Wire & Cable, received Greenbuild’s Top 10 Green Building Products Award—and created another market for an Alabama electrical distributor.

“LifeGuard gave us something to sell that our competitors were not selling,” said Greg Lewis, president of Lewis Electric Supply, Muscle Shoals, Ala., and a partner in the Electric Supply Alliance (ESA). After a fire at one of Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) facilities, ESA presented LifeGuard. “The TVA liked the fact that it had no halogen and no lead,” Lewis said. “We are now selling a lot more cable to the TVA.”

Electric products gain national recognition through awards—and also through certification. Linda Chipper­field, Green Seal’s vice president of marketing, identified four organizations that are certifying electrical products: one German, one Canadian, the EPA’s EPEAT for electronics, and the EPA/DOE’s Energy Star program.

Energy Star is big. “Most of the products we sell for the residential market are Energy Star compliant,” said Greg Bennorth, director of marketing services for Universal Lighting Technologies.

“Consumers look for the Energy Star label,” added Colleen Applebaugh, PR communications specialist for Osram Sylvania. “Retailers want to stock their shelves with Energy Star products because it is an easy indicator that the product should do well.”

Carl Freiburger, sales promotion manager for East Dubuque, Illinois-headquartered Crescent Electric Supply, concurred: “There’s definitely an advantage to promoting Energy Star products.”

Of course, proven energy savings is the key. “Almost everybody is willing to look if they can save money. Our customers are most familiar with energy-efficient lamps and ballasts,” said Debbie Gillespie, branch manager for WESCO in Evansville, Ind.

Another standard, NEMA Premium, which is just being launched, sets standards for the efficiency of electric motors and recognizes qualifying products. “I suspect it will have a strong impact,” said Bennorth.

LEED certification is also increasing. “There is a conglomeration of things that make a building environmentally friendly—including energy-efficient drives, occupancy sensors, dimming ballasts, LED exit signs, and daylight sensors,” noted Freiburger.

“I don’t think our customers can afford to turn their heads any longer—energy costs are not going down,” Freiburger warned. “Customers that embrace energy-efficient products are the customers who will be in business in the future.”

It only makes sense, then, to ask yourself: What green products can I introduce to help my customers—and my distributorship—survive and thrive?

Jan Niehaus, a freelance writer, is a member of the USGBC and numerous environmental organizations. She can be reached at JanNiehaus@charter.net or 314-644-4135.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine www.tedmag.com  

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A Matter Of Trust

The rise of web-based applications just might change the future of cabling.

About five years ago, some tech leaders were promoting the idea of web-based applications. Instead of loading application programs on a PC, people would use web-based applications like word processors or spreadsheets and save the data on a remote server, all run by an application service provider. This idea died a quick death, however, as privacy concerns bothered many potential users.

Nowadays, the same idea is making inroads because so much has changed in the technology fields—with the implications for PCs and cabling being potentially enormous. The biggest change is in portable computing. Laptops, every one of which is equipped with built-in wireless, now outsell desktop computers. Blackberries and smart phones are used as portable Internet devices, especially as many phones add web browsers and WiFi capability. Internet access in cars and planes is also nearing reality.

Because all of these various devices access the same information, the Inter-net uses a common language for web pages: Most people have used others’ computers to access email through webmail servers; some corporate data systems allow users to access certain databases with secure web browsing; nearly everyone has purchased something online at some point; and many have used cell phones or PDAs to access the web to find store locations and phone numbers and buy movie tickets.

The second change is that younger Internet users have very different views on online privacy: The web is their community, and online privacy isn’t a big concern.

Google Docs

Many people use Google, at least as a search engine. Now Google offers Google Docs. Users can sign on for a free account (or paid premium account) and have access to web-based word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. The documents can be accessed from any web-connected computer or other web-enabled device. Google Docs even allows collaboration, where multiple contributors can edit a document, with each change saved separately for comparison.

If users migrate to web-based applications like this, devices like smart phones could be used to access and edit documents—and PCs with giant hard drives to store giant programs and files could be reduced to simple, lightweight laptops.

Of course, for this to happen, wireless access would need to be faster and more robust, but that appears to be happening already. In this scenario, hard-wired cabling to the desktop could become less important, maybe even irrelevant, to many users. Backbone cabling and connections to wireless access points could be all that remains.

Privacy is the issue many users still cite as a potential problem, and businesses may be wary of using such a service for confidential documents. But considering the ease with which hackers have accessed many corporate and government accounts in the past, Google’s security might be better than that of most companies. (I’d certainly trust its backups more than my own.) Ultimately, the future of cabling could all come down to whom one is willing to trust.

Hayes, of VDV Works, has been active in the VDV cabling business for more than 25 years. Find him at JimHayes.com.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com  

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It’s Good To Be Dense

Data center expansions and upgrades spell solid sales ahead for patch panels that increase density and expand capacity.

According to Keith Kosanovich, senior product manager of copper systems for Leviton Network Solutions, the U.S. market for patch panels will grow 6% to 8% in 2008 vs. 2007, which is consistent with 2007 annual growth over 2006. “Demand continues to be driven by both large telecommunication room and data center applications, with data center applications growing in the double digits,” he said.

“Initial industry projections for 2008 were anticipated as 8% growth,” said Gregg Lafontaine, senior product manager, copper products, for Ortronics/Legrand. “However, that’s been softened to 5% to 6% growth.”

Data centers are driving the market for patch panels, due to their critical importance to organizations and the significant investment these organizations are pouring into improving data center performance or expanding operating facilities. These investments continue to drive growth in product categories such as patch panels.

Kosanovich said that data centers rely on high-performing 1000BASE-T (1G) and emerging 10GBASE-T networks to support critical business applications. “High-performance patch panels as part of high-performance cabling systems help businesses leverage their IT investments,” said Kosanovich.

Lafontaine noted several forces behind this situation, saying, “Many data centers are aging and will require major up­grades. Data centers must also expand in order to handle increased information flow and storage needs, and their systems require redundancy to safeguard against catastrophic loss of the facility.

“One change we’ve noticed is the increased density of port deployment in racks, which we’ve answered by marketing angled and curved patch panel designs that can double rack capacity,” he continued. “Maximizing space allocation available for patch panels within the IT environment is a growing problem. This is especially true within the fast-growing data center market segment.

“The need for greater connector and port density has become significant,” he added. “The main driver for this is the number of racks and cabinets needed—which add floor space and expenses for power and cooling.”

Mark Dearing, product manager of copper solutions for Leviton Network Solutions, explained further: “The rising cost of real estate has led IT managers to better utilize available floor space—which leads to better rack space utilization. Why waste rack units on passive equipment like patch panels and cable management when they could be used to house valuable active equipment, such as switches or servers?

“Vertical patch panels are a recent addition to the Zero-U equipment offering,” he continued. “While designs vary by manufacturer, all are mounted vertically in the back of the cabinet, typically on the opposite side of the cabinet from vertical PDUs to maintain separation of power and data cables.”

“Patch panels are critical to the network because they connect the passive structured cabling system to the active network electronics,” explained Kosanovich. “The biggest trend in patch panels is the increase in the variety of patch panel solutions available. To support a wide variety of applications, Leviton offers patch panels to support high-density, unshielded, shielded, high-performance [Cat 6a/10G], angled, recessed, preconfigured, modular, and vertical applications. Patch panel customer requirements are different for each project. This breadth of panels allows Leviton to offer the right solution for our customer installations.

“The newest technology is Cat 6a/10G, which is defined by industry standards and is becoming a significant option for end-users focused on migrating to higher-speed networks,” he continued. “In the past, fiber-optic cabling systems were the only viable option for 10G, but advances in copper have created a solid option.”

“Also impacting the market are performance upgrades from Cat 5e to Cat 6 and from Cat 6 to 10G,” said Lafontaine. “Outside of the early adopters, there’s a huge portion of the market waiting for the 10G TIA cabling standard ratification in order to embrace Cat 6a. Currently, 10G networks represent about 5% of new sales, but are expected to grow significantly.”

“Electrical distributors that have a voice and data group are best positioned to drive buying decisions and increase sales by finding the right product for a specific installation,” said Kosanovich.

Carazo provides B2B marketing services for electrical industry organizations. He can be reached at dcaraz@optonline.net.

Reprinted with full permission of The Electrical Distributor Magazine  www.tedmag.com


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