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Wireville.com

Issue: December 2006
By: Frank Bisbee


Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces

Bisbee's Buzz

T’is the season to be jolly. The Holidays are here. The stockings are hung from the mantle with care, in hopes that St. Nick will soon be there. However, we have some good news and some bad news. Here’s the BAD NEWS first.

Financial Forecast 2007 based on some November numbers as reported by Associated Press.

For the first time in almost four years, the nation’s manufacturing sector has shrunk, and its fall is firing warning flares for the job market, economists said on Friday.

In a widely watched report, The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group based in Tempe, Ariz., said its manufacturing index came in at 49.5 in November, behind October’s reading of 51.2.  A reading below 50 indicates the sector is contracting.

Manufacturing had been growing since June 2003.  Industries such as wood, furniture, appliances, fabricated metal and transportation equipment all slipped last month, hit by a housing market slump and bloated automobile inventories.

The index was one of two worrisome economic reports Friday.  The Commerce Department said construction activity in October plummeted by the largest amount since 2001, and home building fell for the seventh month in a row, the longest decline on record.

Both reports raised concerns that the economy may be in for a hard landing, and stocks and the dollar fell.

Now here’s the GOOD NEWS.

The traditional late year slowdown in communications and cabling projects seems to be substantially lower than anticipated. We spoke with cabling and electrical contractors around the USA and found a general trend of increase sales. No decline is forecast for the first half of 2007. Many end users are implementing upgrades in infrastructure to accommodate improved services as they converge various systems. The SMART BUILDING trend is growing stronger everyday as we discover how these systems can reduce costs in other operational areas. Think outside of the box. The opportunities are more than traditional telecom and datacom. Wireless, access, security, energy control, life and fire safety systems including video are HOT.

To stay on top of the new market developments, subscribe to the trade publications for the latest news that you can use. Read them from cover to cover. You will get a great education and it’s free.

Next year, there will be lots of depressing news in the broadcasts. However, if you run a “tight ship”, your cabling business will be growing. The communication networks are the nervous systems of our buildings and our businesses.

But that’s just my opinion,

Frank Bisbee

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL AT BICSI (ORLANDO) IN JAN. ‘07

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

A Bright Idea Lives on at Christmas

Bethesda, MD – Electric Christmas lights gained popularity after World War II, due in part to the extension of electrification throughout rural America in the 1940s. However, like so much else in the history of electricity, the glowing holiday displays we now enjoy began with Thomas Edison.

First, a disclaimer:

A persistent legend credits Ralph Morris as the inventor of electric Christmas lights. The story goes that Morris, in a panic at seeing his son push a candle over on a Christmas tree, singed his own hair and nearly set the tree on fire rushing to the rescue. Legend has it that Morris then came up with the idea of pulling the lights from an old telephone switchboard and wiring them on a tree, thereby "inventing" the electric Christmas tree lights. This incident is true, but it happened in 1908 -- more than a quarter century after a close associate of Edison’s actually did the inventing.

What really happened:  

It all began in 1882, just three years after the incandescent bulb was invented. Edward Johnson, Edison’s friend and partner in the Edison Illumination Company in New York City, hand-wired 80 red, white and blue bulbs and wound them around a rotating evergreen tree in his home. The New York press was invited to view the spectacle, but sensing a publicity stunt, they refused. A lone reporter from the Detroit Post and Tribune witnessed the event and filed this report:

 “Last evening I walked over beyond Fifth Avenue and called at the residence of Edward H. Johnson, vice-president of Edison´s electric company. There, at the rear of the beautiful parlors, was a large Christmas tree presenting a most picturesque and uncanny aspect. It was brilliantly lighted with many colored globes about as large as an English walnut and was turning some six times a minute on a little pine box. There were eighty lights in all encased in these dainty glass eggs, and about equally divided between white, red and blue. As the tree turned, the colors alternated, all the lamps going out and being relit at every revolution. The result was a continuous twinkling of dancing colors, red, white, blue, white, red, blue -- all evening. I need not tell you that the scintillating evergreen was a pretty sight -- one can hardly imagine anything prettier. The ceiling was crossed obliquely with two wires on which hung 28 more of the tiny lights; and all the lights and the fantastic tree itself with its starry fruit were kept going by the slight electric current brought from the main office on a filmy wire. The tree was kept revolving by a little hidden crank below the floor which was turned by electricity. It was a superb exhibition.”

Despite the report in the Detroit paper, few Americans heard of electric Christmas lights until 1895, when President Grover Cleveland commissioned a White House tree lighted with Edison bulbs. The large evergreen featured more than a hundred multicolored lights.


Not long afterwards members of high society began hosting Christmas Tree parties. These were grand events since a typical lighted tree of the early 1900s cost upwards of $300 (more than $2,000 in today’s dollars), including the generator and wireman´s services.

Smaller and less expensive battery-operated lighting strings decorated the trees of those adventurous enough to do the wiring. An article in Popular Electricity Magazine described the wiring process and provided instructions on ordering the necessary wire, sockets and light bulbs. General Electric even offered miniature light bulbs for rent in some cities as an alternative to an outright purchase of the expensive lamps. However, such trees were still out of range for the average American family of the era.

General Electric first made electric tree lighting more affordable in 1903 when the company offered a pre-assembled lighting outfit for the first time. Still expensive at $12, many department stores in the larger, electrified cities would rent outfits for the season for $1.50. Called a "festoon,” the outfit consisted of eight green pre-wired porcelain sockets, eight Edison miniature base colored glass lamps, and a handy screw-in plug for easy attachment to a nearby wall or ceiling light socket. However, GE was unable to patent their festoon, leaving the market open for anyone to manufacture the strings.

More About Electric Christmas Tree Lights

The person responsible for popularizing Christmas tree lighting is Albert Sadacca. In 1917, when the continuing practice of lighting trees with candles caused a tragic fire in New York City, 15-year-old Albert had an idea.

Sadacca´s family had a novelty business selling wicker cages with imitation birds that lit up. Albert suggested that this parents begin making electric lights for Christmas trees. It was a good idea, but only one hundred strings of electric Christmas tree lights sold in the first year. Business increased dramatically, however, when Albert proposed painting the bulbs red, green, and other colors instead of using plain glass.

Albert eventually started NOMA Electric Company with his brothers Henri and Leon. Their multi-million dollar business was the largest Christmas lighting company in the world prior to 1965.

Public distribution of electricity was not common in the early 20th century. People living outside of major cities who wanted one of these illuminated trees had to supply their own electric power, usually from household generators. Electric socket outfits had not been invented, and this meant that all of the tree lights had to be wired by hand. Wiremen were generally hired to complete the tedious task of wiring the lights necessary to illuminate a room-sized tree.

In the beginning of the century, American homes were wired for lighting circuits only, with only a single light bulb socket in each room. Any additional electrical devices had to be powered from the ceiling outlet; wall outlets did not exist. The earliest Christmas lighting outfits used screw-in current taps from the ceiling. As electricity became more popular, outlets for wall lighting were added which made adding electric lights the Christmas tree easier.

In fact, the familiar bladed wall plug used today developed from a device originally used to facilitate the interconnection of Christmas light strings. Some prototypes of this device were used as early as 1917. It was patented as the “Tachon” connector in 1924. The 1924 Tachon started out as a screw-in type of connector with a safety cover, but soon evolved into the two parallel blade type.

More Historical Facts 

Many of the earliest Christmas lights burned so hot that they were about as dangerous as the candles they were advertised to replace.

Many of the earliest figural light bulbs representing fruit, flowers and holiday figures were blown in molds that were also used to make small glass ornaments. These figural lights were painted by toy makers.

Most figural Christmas lights were made out of milk glass for a specific reason. The paint used on the lights did not adhere well to glass, and as the lights were turned on and off, the constant expansion and contraction of the glass helped the paint to flake off even faster. It was discovered that milk glass looks better than clear glass when the lights have flaking paint, so the industry quickly and almost exclusively switched over to the use of the white milk glass by the late 1920s.

A common but incorrect belief in the early days of electric Christmas lighting was that Christmas light bulbs would burn longer in an upright position. Early decorators spent a lot of time making sure that the lamps were positioned upright on the tree.

True outdoor Christmas lights were not introduced to the public until 1927 -- almost 45 years after the first electric tree lights were demonstrated. Some sets were sold as outside units before 1927, but they were small, dangerous and extremely impractical for the average family.

In 1927, General Electric introduced outdoor lighting outfits that consisted of seven lamps wired in parallel so that the failure of a single lamp would not affect the rest. The earliest of these lights were round; by 1928, they had taken the familiar swirled or flame shape. General Electric and various Edison Electric distribution companies sponsored neighborhood "decorating with color-light" contests in an effort to induce sales of the new outfits.

The bell-shaped lights offered by General Electric in 1932 were originally designed as pint-sized streetlights for a model train station manufactured by the Lionel Company. But when it was discovered that they also resembled Christmas bells when hung upside down, GE offered them in festive colors as Christmas lights. They remained popular until the advent of World War II. (A working string of these antique lights now commands $5000.)

The miniature lights we use today are wired exactly the same way as our grandparents’ lights were – in series. This means that if one goes out, they all should go out. What is different about today´s lights is the fact that each little bulb has a shunt device in it, which prevents the string from going dark due to the failure of one or more lamps. The shunt device can only work if the lamp stays in its socket.

 NECA wishes you a bright holiday season and a happy, healthy, prosperous and safe new year!

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

HCM Announce UL Verification of 10-Gigabit Ethernet UTP Cable

Hitachi Cable Manchester (HCM), a leader in the manufacture of copper and fiber optic communications cables, announces the Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. verification of HCM’s Supra 10GTM cable.  The cable, tested to Draft 5 of TIA/EIA 568-B.2-10 (Category 6A), is the world’s first fully verified Category 6A cable.  Though other manufacturers have acquired the easier to achieve channel performance verification, which includes jacks, patch panels and patch cables, only HCM has been able to make a fully component compliant Category 6A cable.

Kevin Boisvert, Research and Development Manager for HCM, described the development process for the Supra 10GTM  as challenging.  “Testing to 500 MHz while surpassing the alien crosstalk requirements was not an easy task.  However, with HCM’s experience in developing and designing unique, high-performance category cables in shielded, hybrid and bundled cable configurations, I was confident we’d be able to engineer a cable that would meet and exceed the requirements of the standard.”  

Supra 10GTM is now available through HCM approved distributors.  For information on where to obtain the new Supra 10GTM, contact HCM at 800-772-0116 or visit their website at http://www.hcm.hitachi.com/.

For more information about UL Verification, please visit www.ul.com.

US LEC Appoints Tansukh V. Ganatra Interim CEO

US LEC Corp. (Nasdaq: CLEC - News) announced today that Tansukh V. Ganatra, US LEC Corp.'s Co- founder, past CEO and a member of the Board of Directors, has been named interim CEO to replace Aaron Cowell, who will leave US LEC effective December 4th, 2006. Mr. Cowell's departure was expected with an anticipated year-end US LEC/PAETEC merger closing. The merger is now expected to close in the first quarter of 2007. US LEC's Board of Directors has chosen Mr. Ganatra to assume his past role as CEO, on an interim basis, as the Company moves quickly toward completing the planned merger with PAETEC Corp. Since the merger announcement in August 2006, Mr. Ganatra has been actively involved in the design, evaluation, scheduled implementation, and financial impact of the combined US LEC/PAETEC integration plans.

US LEC's Chairman and Co-founder, Richard T. Aab, stated, "We believe that given the new company's S-4 filing on November 13, 2006, Mr. Ganatra's knowledge of this process and operating expertise will enable the companies to begin implementing those plans in a highly efficient manner as US LEC moves to close the merger in the first quarter 2007."

In commenting on the announcement, Aab continued, "Mr. Ganatra and Mr. Chesonis, PAETEC Corp.'s and the soon-to-be-merged entity's Chairman and CEO, have a working relationship and friendship that spans over 20 years. Mr. Chesonis is very supportive of Mr. Ganatra serving as interim CEO of US LEC. Mr. Chesonis told me that he looked forward to working with his old friend to complete the planned merger and integration process." Mr. Ganatra will be a board member of the new PAETEC Holding Corp. Mr. Aab further stated, "Aaron Cowell has been an integral part of US LEC's senior management team since the company's beginning. His leadership made significant contributions through some very challenging times in our industry's recent past and helped grow US LEC to become a leading telecommunications carrier. We wish him well in his future endeavors."

Mr. Ganatra (62) co-founded and became a Director of US LEC in 1996 and was the company's President and Chief Operating Officer from 1996-1999, when he became Chief Executive Officer. He retired as CEO in December 2001 and is a member of US LEC's Board of Directors.  www.uslec.com.

ERICO Expands Its Caddy Screw-On Conduit Support Offering

Caddy Screw-On Conduit Supports from ERICO Inc. securely attach EMT conduit or MC/AC cable to wood and metal studs. A new CS16 conduit support expands the series to handle up to 1-inch conduit or cable.

The supports comply with NEC 358.30(a) and CEC rule 12-1404 which require conduit support within 36-inches of an electrical box.

They are also gangable and handle one-half-inch through one-inch EMT conduit and MC/AC cable. The supports have an alignment tab that positively locates the fastener on the stud.

The alignment tab also serves to keep the conduit in line with the box knockout and support brackets. Use of the conduit supports eliminates offset bending of conduit.

“The ERICO CADDY product line is perhaps the greatest time saving “get it done right:” devices in all of the cabling challenges that we deal with.” According to Mike Rice, Lead technician/ Cabling Project Manager for Communication Planning Corporation.

ERICO - www.erico.com

ACUTA Finds Members Confident About High-Tech Funding Obstacles

College and university communications departments have ambitious plans to implement leading-edge technologies, and are optimistic that they will be able to overcome budget constraints, according to a new survey by ACUTA, the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education.

ACUTA surveyed more than 100 attendees at its Fall Seminars in Portland, Oregon, in October. Survey respondents represented institutions of all sizes, from smaller than 5,000 students to larger than 20,000. ACUTA is the only national association dedicated to serving the needs of higher education communications technology professionals, representing some 2,000 individuals at 800 institutions.

The survey found that nearly every school was seriously evaluating technologies such as Voice over IP (VoIP), wireless and cellular, Gigabit Ethernet, and advanced security. Sixty-seven percent – two out of three schools surveyed – are planning to implement one of those new technologies within the next 12 months.

What is standing in their way, the survey found, is the necessary funding required to put those technologies to work on campus. Forty-seven percent of the communications technology professionals say their entire schools are on tight budgets, and another 25 percent say they face severely limited departmental budgets.

However, a remarkable 93 percent of respondents optimistically say they expect to overcome those challenges in order to achieve their technology objectives. Their methods include some form of special funding mechanism, favored by 38 percent; technology fees for students, favored by 25 percent; a promotional campaign aimed at upper management, the choice of 23 percent; and cutbacks in other areas, 14 percent.

It is the technology professionals and their IT and telecommunications departments that are leading the drive to bring the newest technologies to campus, the survey found. At 39 percent of schools, the departments are pushing for those technologies as a means of filling specific, existing needs. Another 38 percent are pushing for them in preparation for anticipated needs. In another 17 percent of cases, the technology push is coming from the schools’ upper-level administration.

“Communications technology professionals clearly face a balancing act when it comes to finding the resources for new technologies,” said Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. “Our survey results reinforce how important it is for them to network with each other to share ideas and solutions to their common challenges.”

Other interesting survey findings include:

       * 78 percent of schools currently charge technology fees, either as a separate item      or as part of their dorm fee.

       * 33 percent of respondents report their departmental budget has increased steadily     over the past three years. Another 29 percent have seen no increases in three   years, and an unlucky 21 percent face smaller budgets than three years ago.

       * The most common benefits cited for the new technologies are improved connectivity, network convergence, and more end user features.

www.acuta.org 

Corning Cable Systems And Charles Industries Introduce OptiTect Sealed LCP Enclosure In Custom-Designed Pedestal

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) Telecommunications segment, and Charles Industries, Ltd., announce the availability of Corning’s OptiTect Premier Sealed Local Convergence Point (LCP) Enclosure in a custom-designed pedestal from Charles Industries.

The product is the result of a strategic relationship between Corning and Charles to provide best-in-class Telcordia-tested and RDUP-accepted fiber pedestal solutions. The collaboration allows Charles to provide their time-proven pedestal products, while Corning continues to offer its state-of-the-art fiber connectivity solutions within the unit.

The OptiTect Premier Sealed LCP Enclosure is a prestubbed, preconnectorized enclosure that provides the best protection from environmental conditions. It is designed to enable centralized splitting architectures to distribute up to 144 fibers in a sealed environment. It is now available in a Charles Industries pedestal that was specifically designed to house the sealed enclosure.

The feeder and distribution cables of the enclosure are sealed and tested in factory-controlled conditions, so no new personnel training or tools are required to ensure fast, simple and reliable installation and re-entry. It is designed to hold to up to five 1x32 splitter modules with preterminated SC UPC or SC APC adapters. The enclosure is prestubbed and preconnectorized with a feeder cable and 144-, 96-, or 72-fiber distribution cable.

Cable Systems Evolant® Solutions. Through its Evolant Solutions for FTTx Networks, Corning Cable Systems offers specialized portfolios of innovative products and services that enable customers to cost-effectively deploy fiber in the last mile.

Evolant Solutions for FTTx Networks encompasses state-of-the-art products that reduce the cost of deployment and increase the networks efficiency and reliability.

For additional information on Corning Cable Systems products and services, contact a customer service representative at 1-800-743-2675, toll free in the United States, or (+1) 828-901-5000, international, or visit the Web site at www.corning.com/cablesystems.

Bidding an IBS Job; How to do it right

By Deborah L. O’Mara

Every modern building needs lighting control; security; fire detection; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC); data networks; communications; supervision; power and backup; and more. With all this going on, it makes sense to tie them together in a logical manner. The result of a properly planned and executed integrated system is an efficient, safe, and secure building that operates to its full potential while saving energy—thanks to automation.

Because these systems can save energy, integrated facilities are also emerging strongly on the heels of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. LEED, administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, is a benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. Because LEED parameters give building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance and energy savings, commissioning is part of the process. For example, it’s not enough to install occupancy sensors or HVAC management or lighting controls. At the root of commissioning is the fact that to earn LEED credits, the plan/specification has to detail exactly how much energy will be saved for each device.

It’s time for IBS to become part and parcel with every new and upgraded facility. The benefit to the owner or property manager is in operation.

“When you integrate, you reduce the cost of operating the facility,” said Anil Ahuja, P.E., LEED, RCDD and senior vice president, CCJM Engineers Ltd. in Chicago. Ahuja is the author of “Integrated M/E Design-Building Systems Engineering.”

“An integrated building system is the demand of the market, the demand of the time,” he said. “Communications will generally be the backbone of an IBS.”

Ahuja said integration can save some 5 to 10 percent on total annual energy operation costs for a facility.

“If the contractor is savvy and smart, he can save a lot of money for himself and the owner by using the same voice/data interoperability communication for other mechanical/electrical controls.”

In IBS, the technology, software and interfaces that tie it all together are now ready for adoption. The software has moved from proprietary to parameters that mostly work on BACnet—a data communication protocol for building automation and control networks developed under the auspices of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)—or Echelon’s LonWorks control networking platforms. These are the two primary networks electrical contractors will encounter.

IBS must be custom-tailored to the application, but they may include scenarios such as using occupancy sensors to detect movement and activate or extinguish lights, motion detectors to trigger an alarm and record images through closed-circuit television surveillance, and even fire detection. Though required to be under its own control under life safety parameters, fire detection systems will interface with locking devices, doors and even elevators.

But, how do you spec it? You become an expert or you work with well-known and respected specialists in their appropriate disciplines. Many electrical contractors will have separate divisions to handle the work, but those who don’t can find industry partners to assist.

Get ready

Start with the actual plans or specification documents, and you need to know, of course, whether it is a design/build or a design/bid/request for proposal (also referred to as a hard bid). Design/build gives you the ability to select equipment specific to the facility. Design/bid may not have the same flexibility as design/build, but it may offer the ability to substitute products or “value engineer” the specification, so the contractor can select products based on the performance or end-use application.

If security is an overriding concern and the core of the automated system, a thorough analysis of the protected premises and a risk assessment are in order. If you don’t know how to do a risk assessment—what it generally does is outline what is at risk, why and how to protect it—then you might consider hiring an outside consultant who can tackle that task. Look for security consultants who are certified protection professionals (CPP).

Chances are, it will be a design/build project, because more electrical contractors are not only installing, but they are selecting the equipment and tying it to the network, HVAC and other controls. According to the “2006 Profile of the Electrical Contractor,” an independent study conducted by Renaissance Research & Consulting, New York, 43 percent of electrical contractors’ revenue was derived from design/build or design/assist work, and these numbers continue to rise (see excerpts of the study in Electrical Contractor, July 2006, page 36, or the full report at www.ecmag.com/research).

The second question to ask: is it a specification that follows MASTERSPEC 2004 MasterFormat or the 1995 version?

Peruse the plan

“Start with a visit to the table of contents of the specification to determine where the work is and what design specification system is being followed or adopted for the plan,” said Tom Montgomery, PE and principal, Spectrum Engineers Inc., Salt Lake City. He said the work could follow the Construction Specification Institute’s MASTERSPEC MasterFormat 1995, which puts the work primarily under the sections known as Divisions 13 and 16, or MasterFormat 2004, which organizes construction specification standards among 50 different divisions.

The General Services Administration (GSA) has adopted MasterFormat 2004 and requires design consultants to use MasterFormat 1995 or 2004. As part of a current interim adoption period, GSA has been allowing either version for use on GSA projects at the design consultant’s choosing.

Recently released, MasterFormat 2004 is representative of the present and future of integrated systems solution contracting. Because technology in electrical contracting and related construction disciplines has grown, it became necessary to reorganize and increase the number of divisions and, also, set up separate ones for integrated automation, electrical, communications, electronic safety and security, fire suppression, plumbing, and HVAC. These are located in a new subgroup of divisions called Facility Services.

The new divisions covering the electrical and fire protection systems include the following:

·         Fire suppression (Division 21)

·         Electrical (Division 26)

·         Communications (Division 27)

·         Integrated Automation (Division 25)

·         Electronic Safety and Security (Division 28)

·         Transportation (Division 33—includes traffic signals)

·         Power Generation (Division 46)

Once you know what guidelines or specifications are being followed, you can refer to the representative document, which gives detailed information on requirements and helps put devices to plan. From here, you should be able to compile the number of devices and other hardware and software as you assemble a complete parts list. Reserve the right to value engineer and substitute parts or products as long as it still meets the application.

Also critical, according to Montgomery, is to know what local codes, national codes and TIA or BISCI communications standards may come into play.

Planning an IBS requires a thorough analysis of the parameters and open lines of communication between contractor, owner and end-user, so the specification will meet the intended needs of the facility.   EC

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or domara@earthlink.net.

Williams Named Incoming Vice President-Elect For NAED's Eastern Region

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) has named Richard Williams, president and chief operating officer for Dominion Electric Supply Co., Inc., Arlington, Va., as the incoming Eastern Region Vice President-Elect. The Eastern Region Council, which serves NAED member businesses located in the northeastern U.S., elected Williams by majority approval.

"It’s all about striving toward your potential,” Williams said. “We all have to keep learning and growing, both as individuals and companies. I believe, as leaders, we have a deep responsibility to serve and help others reach their goals. NAED, in the past handful of years, has done a tremendous job transforming itself and thereby adding a great amount of value to its members and to the industry. I am excited about the opportunity as regional vice president to work with NAED and its members at large to stay focused on the commitment to helping those around us reach their potential."

Williams, who has been in the industry for 19 years, will direct NAED’s Eastern Region in 2008-2009. His company is active in the association, participating in many areas, including training, meetings, and NAED’s Performance Analysis Report (PAR).

Prior to joining Dominion in 1987, Williams worked in public accounting. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Maryland and an MBA in organizational behavior from George Washington University. Over the years, he has held positions of increasing responsibility and leadership at Dominion, including chief financial officer and vice president of marketing/strategic planning before becoming the company’s president.

As a NAED regional vice president-elect, Williams will be responsible for attending and helping direct the region’s conferences and council meetings. He will also be participating in NAED’s Membership and Strategic Focus Committees. He will assume more and more of the region’s leadership as he progresses toward the role of vice president. As vice president, Williams will preside at all Eastern Regional Council meetings and serve on the NAED Board of Directors.

The Eastern Region is currently directed by Sandra Rosecrans, president of City Electric Company, Inc., Syracuse, N.Y. In May 2007, Dan Gray, president and CEO of Independent Electric Supply, Somerville, Mass., will serve as Eastern Region Vice President for the 2007-2008 year. www.naed.org

Changing How We Think of Change

The National Electrical Contractors Association’s big annual get together continues to expand beyond our association’s convention and the NECA Show. Thus, NECA 2006 Boston offered a whole smorgasbord of educational opportunities. They varied in form and focus, but they were all related to the overall theme: “Take Charge of Change.”

The need to address change, not only to cope with it but also master it, is what brought the electrical contracting industry into being and continues to define our profession. But taking charge of change is about a whole lot more than acquiring technical expertise.

Consider integrated building systems (IBS), for example. IBS was the focal point of a special conference in Boston last month, as well as additional workshops and presentations, and was also highly evident at the show. This attention hallmarked the maturing of a market sector and, at the same time, identified pathways to future success, as that sector will continue to grow by an estimated 5 percent per year throughout this decade.

IBS refers to such applications as network cabling; sound; security monitoring; security, fire and life safety; access control; and wireless networking through integrated systems that allow one computer to monitor and control an entire structure’s operation. The overwhelming majority of NECA-member contractors are involved in this market, and a survey of all electrical contractors in the United States shows that most nonmembers are as well. More than 70 percent of the general population of ECs provide services in communications and connectivity and an even greater number work with automation and access controls.

As IBS work becomes more of a mainstay than a niche, many contractors are being forced to change the way they do business. An increasing amount of this type of work is being done on a design/build process, and that is facilitated by innovations in system interoperability, which enable one contractor to install and maintain products from different manufacturers so that they all work together and fulfill the building owner’s particular needs. But the necessary changes aren’t limited to how jobs are bid and how the technical requirements are met; they extend all the way to how jobs are manned and when.

For one thing, as customers increasingly embrace the concept of one contractor coordinating the entire low-voltage electrical infrastructure, providing exemplary customer service becomes all important, especially if the contractor hopes to provide ongoing services (moves, adds and changes). Customers want to know they can rely on the quality, professionalism and integrity of every member of the contracting company.

IBS customers also demand job site flexibility. They often want to be able to have work done on their facilities after hours and to have contractors available to work in multiple locations, and the like. These are all items I discussed at the NECA convention last month and in my talk to our labor partners in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers at their own convention.

As I told these diverse sets of conventioneers, technology has not just created the new materials and devices we install. Technology has not only created the data networks we build. It has also created the way we bid and contract for jobs from customers over those networks. It has created the need for highly trained and skilled electrical workers and for less-skilled support workers. Its a world that requires ready teams of service and maintenance workers around the clock.

Technology has created a new economy and a new kind of customer. These are the most important changes that must be addressed.

Milner Irvin
President, NECA

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine November Issue 2006

Fiber Takes The Blue Ribbon

By Jim Hayes

You would think that after being in a business for more than 25 years, you would have seen it all. But recently, I was introduced to the actual installation and splicing processes for ribbon fiber optic cable. While I had seen plenty of the cable over the years, I had never had the opportunity to work with it myself. Corning Cable Systems was training one of the trainers we work with and invited me to join the session.

Ribbon cable is widely used in outside plant telephone networks and submarine cables but, until recently, had rarely been seen in campus or premises applications. Ribbon cable is highly regarded for long-distance applications because it has several advantages over normal loose tube outside plant cable due to its unique construction.

In ribbon cables, the fibers really look like multicolored ribbons (see photo). The actual ribbons usually contain 12 fibers, although designs with 24 fibers are available. In the beginning, ribbons were made by placing fibers on double-stick plastic tape, but now they are more closely packed and held with adhesives. Consider the small size of a 12-fiber ribbon: 12 coated fibers, each 250 microns or 10-thousandths of an inch in diameter, create a ribbon only 120-thousandths of an inch—approximately ¹/8 of an inch—wide. Ribbons can be stacked up in a cable, so a ¹/8-inch square matrix of 12 ribbons equals 144 fibers. Cable designs with slotted cores can handle multiple ribbon fiber matrices and cables with up to approximately 2,000 fibers have been used.

Ribbon cable allows the largest number of fibers to be incorporated in the smallest diameter cable. This allows the use of smaller conduit or innerduct for a single cable or allows more cables to be placed in the same size duct. The smaller size also means lighter weight, especially if the cable is armored to prevent rodent penetration. The smaller size and weight allows longer cable runs to be pulled, reducing the number of splices necessary. Finally, ribbon cable is spliced by the ribbon, not the individual fiber, so splicing goes much faster.

All this means that ribbon cable is more cost-effective in longer outside plant runs, but ribbon cable is now finding a market in premises cabling. The most common application is for preterminated fiber assemblies, where racks of terminations are created from modules of 12 jacks of the connector style required by the customer. Each module has a multifiber connector that connects to a preterminated ribbon cable that runs between racks. Since the cabling is plug-and-play, the installer carefully pulls the cables, installs the racks, plugs it together and verifies the connections.

Preterminated premises cabling systems have obvious benefits in rapid installation and in creating large fiber count backbones in small spaces. Ribbon connectors are much smaller than a dozen traditional connectors, making the ends of the cable less bulky and easier to pull or place. Not having to terminate each connector can speed installation and using ribbon terminations saves space in the rack.

However, ribbon cable does require special tools and splicing equipment. Obviously, you have to open the cable by cutting the outer jacket and armor, if included, to expose the ribbons. Next the cable must be cleaned of any water-blocking gel or powder. Then each ribbon must be separated and handled individually.

Ribbon cable is never directly terminated; it is always spliced, either to another cable or to a breakout cable that has been factory-made with a bare ribbon on one end to splice to the cable being installed and connectors on the other end, made to the customer’s specification.

Special tools have been developed for ribbon cable splicing. Fiber strippers are designed to strip all the fibers in the ribbon at once. To reduce the stress on the ribbon, some strippers have heaters to soften the coatings for easy removal. Ribbon fiber cleavers can cleave 12 fibers as quickly as an individual fiber, with equal precision. Manufacturers offer custom cleavers that have fiber holders that transfer the fibers directly to the splicer. Fusion splicing machines align and fuse 12 fibers in practically the same amount of time as a single fiber. Splice protectors cover the entire ribbon. Since stripping, cleaving and splicing take about the same time as a single fiber, you can see how efficient and cost-effective ribbon cable installation can be.

The downside of installing ribbon cable, of course, is all these tools are expensive, especially the fusion splicer. The good news is that manufacturers such as Corning Cable Systems rent them, a much more viable alternative to owning for most contractors.EC

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

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine November issue 2006

Flexibility, Adaptability, Creativity, Technology Needed at Schools Today

Is your school system still teaching the classic three “R”s of rote, repetition and routine?

Most school districts still aren’t teaching skills needed for the Information Age. These people don’t seem to understand that we’re way beyond the Industrial Age. For the most part, they are teaching the classical three “R”s. I’m not talking about reading, writing and arithmetic. I’m talking about rote, repetition, and routine.

All of these add up to regimentation, which is what was needed to assimilate people into the Industrial Age workforce. At that time, those skills were needed on the assembly line, which required repetitive actions. Public schools got a workforce ready for jobs in mass production facilities (or – being more politically accurate – factories).

In 2005, I ended a column with:

While cute curricula with whimsical goals, folksy ideals and subtle promotion of political objectives might sound good in the coffee room, teachers should be pushed out into the real world and be replaced by those who have worked in it.

If nothing else, students would get a much broader insight into what they will need in the future and teachers would get the education they are missing.

What is the shelf life of education today? How long does a high school diploma serve you (or a college degree or M.B.A. for that matter)?

Many jobs today require continual education and being able to create new methodologies from scratch. Some require the skills to structure and develop a framework of policies and procedures where nothing currently exists. Still, many students are only trained to come in and handle routine, repetitive procedures.

FACT-Based Education

What is needed today is FACT-based education. FACT stands for flexibility, adaptability, creativity and technology. These are the skill sets needed for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs.

Today, good jobs in any industry require a multi-faceted person who can think quickly, adapt to new situations and learning issues and use some capabilities of technology as well as automated applications that facilitate performing tasks within the industry.

All industries have been swept into various forms of automated applications for travel, brokerage functions, financial and medical as well as the more traditional manufacturing and factory automation systems.

Simply getting a high school diploma or a GED is not education. What do you really qualify for today with a high school diploma? Not much. If you have less than that, forget it. Getting a bachelor’s degree or at least some post-high school vocational skills is the way to secure a job and some type of career path.

Welcome to Wal-Mart

With more international competition for jobs and technological consolidation, students need to gain the right skills and training more than ever to secure jobs in their areas.

With the cheap digital and satellite communications we have today, call centers can be placed anywhere in the world. If a country has a good, English-speaking workforce, all the jobs that people used to do in the U.S. as entry-level jobs are outsourced.

If the new skills aren’t mastered, the job market looks dismal. While there are a lot of lower-paying jobs in the retail and service industries, they don’t really pay a living wage.

Even those jobs are getting shuffled around because of technology. A colleague pointed out that McDonald’s has consolidated order takers for some restaurants into a call center in Denver. Though you may drive up to one in your neighborhood, the person actually taking your order may be a thousand miles away. They even claim their order accuracy has gone up.

General management skills that have been overlooked at many universities include writing well and being able to speak in front of people. As these are key executive skills, why are they not emphasizing them?

You don’t want to work for Wal-Mart? Can you get up and speak in front of an audience? Can you put together a PowerPoint presentation by yourself? Can you write well enough to produce a full-blown report or an in-depth analysis? Will you only read off a paper for a speech or delegate a report to someone else to write?

These sound more like the skills of a Wal-Mart greeter rather than an effective company manager. For those of you who send out e-mails with lots of typos, do you know what type of impression that makes to internal and external people?

Casual Doesn’t Mean Homeless

Many people have also said that sloppiness has crept into the workplace with dress codes that have been too laid back. The feeling is that companies and other organizations are now paying the price for this relaxation.

I see a trend at several places trying to reverse that negative tendency by requiring business dress during business hours. An owner of a business remarked that he doesn’t want people to come to work dressed for play. He wants them to come dressed to do business.

Does that sound too conservative to some of you? Learn to dress as if you’re taking the corporate jet to a meeting. Don’t come to work dressed to wash and gas it up. This is only becoming more and more important as many jobs are up for grabs in not just the domestic marketplace but the global marketplace as well.

When the education system is already lacking and leaving you under-prepared for the real world and real business situations, showing up dressed like you’re going to mow the lawn only puts you at an even further disadvantage.

Carlinism: If you can’t learn new skills or how to dress, you might as well practice the Wal-Mart welcome.

James Carlini will be the keynote speaker at “Justice: Media, Wi-Fi & You,” which is now rescheduled to Nov. 30 at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Carlini will also present how he pioneered measuring building intelligence at the annual BICSI winter conference in Orlando on Jan. 22, 2007. Also, check out his 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 2006 Jim Carlini

Ortronics/Legrand Expands Product Management Team

Ortronics/Legrand, a global leader in high performance fiber, copper and wireless structured cabling solutions, is pleased to announce the addition of two new product managers to the current product management team. Rudy Montgelas joins the team as senior product manager, fiber products, reporting to Michael Hines, director of product management for fiber and wireless. Al Fixl joins the team as product manager, copper products, reporting to Gregg Lafontaine, director of product management for copper.

In their new roles, both Montgelas and Fixl will have full responsibility for their respective product lines, including product strategy, new product development, and managing the product lines to achieve planned growth and profitability. "The expansion of our product management team will allow us to continue to grow our core businesses while we increase our focus on medium and long-term growth opportunities," states Mark Panico, president of Ortronics/Legrand.

Montgelas' work experience includes his most recent position as director/product group manager of fiber and cable management products for Hubbell Premise Wiring. Prior to Hubbell, he was business development manager for Ensign-Bickford Optics Company. Montgelas holds a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Texas in Austin, TX.

Fixl's work experience includes product management positions at MEMC, KLA-Tencor, and Schlumberger Technologies. He holds Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA as well as a Master of Business Administration from Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA. www.ortronics.com

New Technology Thwarts Terrorism

By Deborah L. O’Mara

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released some $399 million for critical infrastructure protection. Technology often jump-starts in the government market, as the rest of the industry takes stock of innovation, waiting for the eventual migration to private sectors and other industries.

These grants are being distributed to ports, transit and intercity bus systems to strengthen the nation’s ability to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies.

All this activity is sure to bring new breakthroughs at a rapid pace, moving quickly to encompass high- to low-risk applications. Indicators of this phenomenon can be seen in most markets. One comparison is the drop in price of microprocessors, surveillance technology, night imaging systems (many from the government sector) and even plasma screens and viewing monitors.

New technologies to detect chemicals and liquid explosives provide a snapshot of market innovation. Following the last liquid explosive terrorist attempt, the United States renewed its efforts to provide even more comprehensive security to vulnerable areas of the country, including seaports, airports, chemical and oil refineries and even major cities and transportation carriers.  

The EntryScan portal from GE Security, Bradenton, Fla., is one in a growing list of products designed for explosive detection. The company recently landed a contract for 147 of the “puffer” devices.

Here’s how it works: Passengers step into the portal and puffs of air are released as EntryScan analyzes for traces of explosives in seconds. These units are portable, making it feasible for nearly instant deployment. An EntryScan4 is lower in height and footprint.

Portable, mobile solutions bring security to areas never thought possible. They cost less and require less labor to install, and that’s critical for integrated systems contractors.

Isonics Corp., Columbia, Md., also has a product for these applications. The IMS “sniffer” technology detects explosives such as the substance used by the shoe bomber and the suspected substance in the liquid explosives plot. It is portable and detects traces of homemade explosives and chemical weapons in less than 15 seconds.   

Remember when biometric access control was deployed only at high-security and sensitive facilities? That’s changed too, and now these units, many of which originated from government beta test sites, are making their way to more campuses and businesses.

Convergence meets convenience

Ingersoll Rand (IR) Security Technologies, Campbell, Calif., reported that West Virginia University’s Student Recreation Center is using biometric hand reader technology to control access in addition to the card swiping system already in place. Handkey machines simplify credential management and ensure only authorized individuals enter the recreation center. Hand readers automatically take a three-dimensional reading of the size and shape and verify the user’s identity.

“The primary reason we brought in this device was convenience for students,” said Carolyn McDaniel, assistant director of Student Affairs Business Operations. “The students said they don’t want to bring their card. The Recreation Center is probably the place where cards are most often lost.”

The IR reader has a flat platen with five metal posts embedded in it. When registering, the user places his or her hand on the platen with each finger touching a corresponding post. The reader takes three measurements and saves the average to the student’s account.

Convenience is an important factor with biometrics, said Bashar Masad, marketing manager, IR Security Technologies. “If you wire keypads, you can sell biometrics, and it’s a great way to replace a lock and ‘sell up’ to your customers,” he said.

Portable, multifunction security is the way to go for many deployment environments. Reading cards and credentials in a mobile environment allows you to do more with technology, said Neil Fallon, commercial sales director, Datastrip, Exton, Pa. Datastrip’s built-in-pixel, digital still camera allows users to enroll individuals at remote sites and provide photo-based identity matching of criminal suspects and evidence at crime scenes. Fallon said the small-footprint, portable DSVII weighs a little over two pounds and offers the power of being able to capture images, store them on the Datastrip terminal or wirelessly transmit video for storage and processing at a central control.

“It’s like a small handheld computer, and the camera provides audit trail parameters. It can be used in all types of applications where it is too difficult to get a wired infrastructure,” Fallon said.  

Wondering what it all means? The big picture is that security has become a necessity from top to bottom in our society, and certainly, there’s a niche for the electrical contractor. EC

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or domara@earthlink.net.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine November issue 2006

The New ECmag.com

Something big quietly happened about a month ago here at your industry magazine. ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR launched a newly designed, completely revamped Web site. In production and planning for almost a year, www.ECmag.com will be a better link to current information and industry news with increased functionality.

For frequent visitors, we have expanded our content and will be featuring more than we had room for on our previous site. Web exclusives will be updated regularly.

Coming soon will be a new quick poll where you can weigh in on a variety of industry topics and some fun ones as well. Also upcoming will be a handy streaming commodity prices scroll, which will help you better estimate the job costs and invest in futures. Need to find a specific article or product? You will soon be able to use our better-than-ever search function, which will get you right where you need to be.

While reading this month’s issue, you’ll find references to the new Web site, directing you there to gather more information. Because the printed magazine has limited space, we’ll be able to bring you additional content and information on the Internet, offering you, our readers, a more complete package of resources.

Still, on its own, this November issue contains some intriguing stories, especially relating to the electrical contractor’s role in integrated building systems. Rumblings around the industry really seem to indicate that the EC is no longer limited to installing conduit, that you have put together a complete product and service offering to better compete.

Several stories will be of interest, especially, to the IBS contractor (or to those who are upcoming IBS contractors!). Just like with our new Web site, the Internet is a source for information to get you where you need to be. Turn to Jeff Griffin’s “Whole Building Design: Let the Internet Be Your Guide,” page 140. You can also learn about the role of an IBS-style contractor and become more versed in security installations with Susan Casey’s “Niche Marketing: Residential Access Control,” page 114. Finally, it’s important to know how to price an IBS job. Find what you need in “Bidding an IBS Job,” by Deborah O’Mara, page 102.

Enjoy your time reading this issue and exploring www.ECmag.com. Bear in mind that we are still working out some of the Web site’s technical kinks—we appreciate your patience! Feedback is welcome, just e-mail your comments to webmaster@necanet.org. EC

—Andrea Klee, Editor

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine November Issue 2006

Indiana University Honors Interactive Intelligence With Entrepreneurial Award For Innovation

Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ), a global developer of business communications software, has received the Indiana University Entrepreneurial Award of Distinction (IUEAD) in the category of Innovation.

The Innovation Award identifies companies that have pioneered new systems, products, or best practices to adapt to the ever-changing business climate, according to Donald F. Kuratko, executive director of the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and The Jack M. Gill Chair of Entrepreneurship in the IU Kelley School of Business.

“Interactive Intelligence clearly met our criteria for the Innovation Award with its ground-breaking IP-based unified communications software, which was first released nearly a decade ago to address the costly integration requirements introduced by the large legacy telephony vendors,” Kuratko said. “At the time considered bleeding-edge, today the company’s all-in-one, bundled suite approach is in use by major companies all over the world, and as a pioneer of this technology, Interactive Intelligence continues to be a front-runner, with more than 2,500 global customers, impressive year-over-year growth, and a ‘first-to-market’ approach that gives it a competitive advantage over much larger vendors.”

The Interactive Intelligence software, first released in 1997, was developed as a unified communications software suite that’s scalable and standards-based, offering single-platform architecture designed to eliminate the cost and complexity introduced by individual point products. The software is ideal for contact centers and enterprises of all sizes looking to decrease costs, increase productivity, and improve customer service through more effective interaction management.

Interactive Intelligence was founded in 1994 in Indianapolis, and while it has offices around the globe, the company remains committed to its presence in Indiana. As the only publicly traded information technology company left in the State, Interactive Intelligence boasts an impressive local customer base, including companies such as Angie’s List, Citizens Gas & Coke Utility, Eli Lilly and Company, Finish Line, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana University, Made2Manage, National FFA Organization, St. Vincents Health, and many others.

The 2nd annual IUEAD Awards were presented Oct. 19 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis. Interactive Intelligence received its award from among 68 nominees in the following categories: Spirit, Innovation, Growth, and Social Enterprise.

The IUEAD Awards are sponsored by the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the IU Kelley School of Business. For more information about the awards program, visit http://www.kelley.indiana.edu/jcei, or call 812.855.4248.

About Interactive Intelligence
Interactive Intelligence Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ) is a global provider of business communications software and services for contact center automation and enterprise IP telephony. Interactive Intelligence was founded in 1994 and has more than 2,500 customers worldwide. Recent awards include the 2006 Network World 200, CRM Magazine’s 2006 Rising Star Excellence Award, Network Computing Magazine’s 2006 Well-Connected Award, and Software Magazine’s 2006 Top 500 Global Software and Services Companies. Interactive Intelligence employs more than 400 people and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. The company has five global corporate offices, with additional sales offices throughout North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Interactive Intelligence can be reached at +1 317.872.3000 or info@inin.com; on the Net: http://www.inin.com.

Cabling Business Magazine Web Glossary a Big Draw

The Cabling Business Magazine web site is drawing quite a following with regards to its web glossary - the really only complete telecomm glossary on the web. "Readers are finding the glossary so helpful with research and it helps clear up some confusing terms," says managing editor Margaret Patterson. "We feel this is such a great service for our subscribers that they can now get the information even faster than before."

For more information about the glossary - go to www.cablingbusiness.com and check it out for yourself!

HAI's Omni And Lumina Controllers Now Offer Z-Wave Support

Home Automation, Inc. (HAI), a leading manufacturer of home control products since 1985, announced that its award winning Omni and Lumina controllers support Z-Wave technology today at the Electronic House Expo held in Long Beach, California.

Z-Wave is a wireless network protocol used in a wide variety of home automation devices made by numerous manufacturers. In addition to supporting standard Z-Wave lighting devices, HAI has worked in partnership with Leviton to support the advanced features of Leviton's ViziaRF series of lighting control devices, including lighting scenes and two way communications.

When used with an HAI Omni or Lumina home control system, Z-Wave devices are ideal for Multi-Dwelling Unit (MDU) applications. For single family homes and larger applications, HAI recommends the UPB technology used in HAI Lighting Control (HLC) products. HAI Omni and Lumina home control systems allow the use of multiple technologies in a single installation, maximizing both flexibility and choice of devices. 

"HAI recognizes the importance of supporting various technologies so both consumers and installers can enjoy a range of choices when deciding what products to integrate with an HAI Omni or Lumina controller," explains HAI President and CEO, Jay McLellan.  "All of our controllers now support a variety of lighting control products such as Lutron RadioRa, X-10, Leviton DHC and ViziaRF, Lightolier Compose, ALC Hardwire Lighting, CentraLite, and of course our own line of HLC products based on the UPB platform."

www.homeauto.com

Next SCTE Live Learning™ Event To Scope Out Ip Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)

The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) will present “An Overview of IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)” as the subject of its next SCTE Live Learning™ event, which is set for Wednesday, Dec. 20 at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

Internet Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) has become the platform of choice for the rollout of next-generation IP-based multimedia communications services. IMS originated in the wireless market and is on cable’s technology horizon in the form of PacketCable™ 2.0. This SCTE Live Learning™ session will provide a technical discussion regarding the basic functions and requirements driving the IMS architecture. The session also will review IMS’s core components and their roles, key interface highlights, and examine how it has evolved to meet the specific needs of cable.

SCTE Live Learning™—sponsored by Cisco Systems, Fujitsu, Motorola, and Scientific Atlanta, A Cisco Company—is a series of live, interactive, web-based seminars offered the third Wednesday of every month (except June). The events are free for SCTE members and $29 per seminar for nonmembers. Registration is required and “seats” are limited. Archived recordings are available to SCTE members only, and at no cost.

The presenter for the Dec. 20 event will be Jonathan Rosenberg, Cisco Fellow, Cisco Systems. Registration is available in the Education section of the SCTE website, www.scte.org.

NAHB Expects More Than 100,000 Attendees At Annual International Builders’s Show

2007 Show Will be Largest Ever

More than 100,000 housing professionals are expected to descend on Orlando, Fla., for the 2007 International Builders' Show (IBS). Hosted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the housing industry's largest annual light construction trade show and exhibition will be held at the Orange County Convention Center, Feb. 7-10.

How large? If you can imagine walking through every square foot of the landmark Chrysler Building, a 77-story New York City skyscraper, you have some sense of the size of the exhibition. Held in one of the biggest convention centers in the country, the 2007 IBS boasts the housing industry's largest new-product showcase at more than one million net square feet, with a record 1,800 exhibitors displaying the latest cutting-edge products, services, designs and technologies available to the home building community.

"The International Builders' Show continues to grow because it is the event of the year for builders who want to stay on the cutting edge," said NAHB President David Pressly, a home builder from Statesville, N.C. "With 450 new exhibitors, an impressive lineup of speakers and some truly amazing show homes, we expect this year's show to be the best yet and certainly not one to miss."

The exhibit floor will feature suppliers spanning more than 300 categories ranging across every aspect of the residential and light commercial construction fields. Building professionals looking for an edge on the latest in home building technologies can also visit nextBUILD,[tm] the newly renamed technology component of IBS, which will showcase more than 200 exhibitors. Builders and their affiliates will also be able to choose from more than 290 educational sessions and have the opportunity to earn credit toward a professional designation by attending pre-show educational seminars. For the first time ever, IBS will also feature two showcase homes--one new and one remodeled.

With attendance numbers rivaling a city the size of Boulder, Colo., convention caterers expect to keep busy. During the 2006 show, they sold the equivalent of 2.5 miles of hotdogs and sausages; 3,750 slices of bread or enough to span one mile; 2,000 pounds of salad; 3,000 pounds of potato chips; and more than 6,000 gallons of beverages, equivalent to the amount of gas needed to fuel a car for 13 years.

The 2007 International Builders' Show is not open to the general public. Building industry professionals and their affiliates throughout the housing trades are welcome to register by visiting the show's newly redesigned Web site at www.BuildersShow.com.

Discounted online registration ends Jan. 5, 2007. Attendees will be able to register on site at the show beginning on Sunday, Feb. 4. Visitors can also see what the show has to offer at www.BuildersShow.com/VTS, a virtual showcase for exhibitors and their products. IBS exhibit floor hours are listed below.

2007 INTERNATIONAL BUILDERS' SHOW

EXHIBIT FLOOR HOURS

Wednesday, February 7, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 8, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Friday, February 9, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Saturday, February 10, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Complimentary registration is available to credentialed members of the working press. Visit http://www.buildersshow.com/press for more information or to register.]

HCM Announce UL Verification of 10-Gigabit Ethernet UTP Cable

Hitachi Cable Manchester (HCM), a leader in the manufacture of copper and fiber optic communications cables, announces the Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. verification of HCM’s Supra 10GTM cable.  The cable, tested to Draft 5 of TIA/EIA 568-B.2-10 (Category 6A), is the world’s first fully verified Category 6A cable.  Though other manufacturers have acquired the easier to achieve channel performance verification, which includes jacks, patch panels and patch cables, only HCM has been able to make a fully component compliant Category 6A cable.

Kevin Boisvert, Research and Development Manager for HCM, described the development process for the Supra 10GTM as challenging.  “Testing to 500 MHz while surpassing the alien crosstalk requirements was not an easy task.  However, with HCM’s experience in developing and designing unique, high-performance category cables in shielded, hybrid and bundled cable configurations, I was confident we’d be able to engineer a cable that would meet and exceed the requirements of the standard.”  

Supra 10GTM is now available through HCM approved distributors.  For information on where to obtain the new Supra 10GTM, contact HCM at 800-772-0116 or visit their website at http://www.hcm.hitachi.com/.

UPS Systems: Who Really Needs One

By Darlene Bremer

Simply put, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a device that provides battery backup when the electrical power falls to unacceptable voltage levels. There are currently three types of UPS systems available that provide different levels of protection, depending on the needs of the application. An offline, or standby, UPS unit provides backup power to equipment but no power conditioning. A line interactive UPS is similar to offline technology but provides the user with voltage regulation. A true online double conversion UPS system offers the highest level of protection.

“This technology offers steady power output, backup power and power conditioning,” said Suzette Albert, product manager for Sola/Hevi-Duty, a part of the EGS Electrical Group, Rosemont, Ill.

While many people associate the need for backup power with lightning or other externally generated phenomena, 70 to 80 percent of events are actually generated within a facility. The typical small UPS system will provide backup power for only a few minutes during these events, providing sufficient time to power down the connected equipment, ensuring it loads in an orderly manner. Larger systems may offer enough battery power, however, to last for several hours.

“A real UPS system has no drop-off time and maintains constant power availability,” said Gus Nasrallah, senior product manager, power solutions for Leviton Manufacturing Co. Inc., Little Neck, N.Y.

UPS systems are used to protect all types of computer systems, from a single home computer to vast corporate networks, data servers and data centers, telecommunication systems, hospitals and biomedical environments.

“An installed UPS system is appropriate for any application where power supplies and power quality need to be protected for the security and safety of people, property or data,” Albert said.

The importance of UPS systems and the need for power quality and conditioning has grown as computer applications and telecommunications and automation systems have evolved.

“In today’s around-the-clock business environment, downtime just isn’t an option,” observed Chris Loeffler, product manager for Eaton Powerware, Raleigh, N.C. Downtime, even when measured in mere seconds, can carry a staggering price tag. According to Loeffler, studies show that businesses can lose $10,000 to several million dollars per minute when networks go down. Losses from a lack of backup power can be felt in terms of both damage to sensitive electronic equipment, which is now being used virtually everywhere and in everything, and a loss of data.

“For example, when Caterpillar’s Solar Turbine division lost its UPS system, it subsequently lost $4 million of revenue in just one day,” Nasrallah said.

The use of UPS systems to guarantee backup power is particularly important in the semiconductor industry, according to John Goosseff, three-phase marketing manager for MGE UPS Systems, Costa Mesa, Calif. “Even the most minor outage or transient voltage, spike or sag can cause millions of dollars in damaged products and materials,” he said.

Trends and advancements

The most current trend, according to Mark Szalkus, sales application engineering manager for GE Power Quality, is the demand by owners across industries for increased energy efficiency.

“Owners want to reduce energy consumption as much as possible, including the energy used by their UPS systems,” he explained. In the conversion process from AC to DC and back to AC power, UPS systems can lose as much as 9 percent efficiency. “Customers are looking at that power conversion loss as an additional cost and want it reduced.” 

Toward that end, the industry is researching ways to develop transformerless UPS systems to increase efficiency during the power conversion process and to develop new ways to store energy and eliminate batteries. In the meantime, maintenance-free batteries for UPS systems are in the marketplace. These dry cell, lead acid batteries, according to Nasrallah, don’t emit carbon, so they don’t require ventilation. “This feature is a critical factor in data centers or other applications that must remain cool.”

Another trend in UPS technology is toward more redundant and modular solutions that allow better maintainability of equipment without power interruption or risk of load loss, according to Goosseff. Modular UPS systems eliminate single points of failure through decentralized static bypass switches and controls that are distributed within each unit, rather than installed centrally, as they historically have been. Modular design includes built-in redundancies that provide extra assurance that if one UPS module in the system fails, the load will automatically be picked up by the other modules.

“Such redundancies are being demanded by customers for the added protection and to support the load,” Goosseff said.

In addition to modularity, scalability is becoming an increasingly important trend in the market and allows facilities to upgrade their systems in accordance to changes in load demands.

A growing trend in data centers is the demand for UPS systems that have a smaller footprint and that can reduce energy costs while delivering a scalable and flexible power protection solution.

“New blade server designs enable data centers to reconfigure their power system to meet the increasing demands required by their growth,” said Loeffler. Some blade servers meet these needs by offering the ability to expand UPS implementation up to 60 kW in a single enclosure by simply plugging additional parallel UPS modules into the existing system.

Market opportunities

The UPS system market in the United States is currently more than $2 billion, according to Nasrallah.

“The growing pervasiveness throughout the country of more sensitive electronics and electronic equipment that is more easily damaged by power outages, spikes and other power anomalies is one factor driving the growth of the UPS market,” he said.

Demand for UPS systems is also growing as facilities upgrade or replace existing systems to keep current with changes and advancements in technologies and efficiency, according to Albert. “The proliferation of sensitive electronics, from home computers to offices and factories, is contributing to market growth and making UPS systems a necessary commodity item.”

Actually, electrical contractors benefit from any growth in the UPS market since their expertise is required for the installation of any new or replacement systems.

“All UPS systems, even the smallest ones, require input power that needs to be wired by a licensed electrical contractor. And larger UPS systems typically require even more support from electrical contractors,” Loeffler said. In addition, a large percentage of UPS systems are being purchased through electrical contractors, giving those companies additional revenue from the product sale.

More specific opportunities in the UPS market can be found by electrical contractors in the data center segment. The prevalence of data centers in the country is growing, and they require more protected power to run the new blade servers.

“The increased power requirements of blade servers and the added investment in information technology (IT) equipment being made by data centers are opening the doors for electrical contractors to install UPS systems and expand these facilities,” Goosseff said.

The growth of data centers can partially be attributed to new construction, as companies consolidate their smaller locations into large, centralized facilities to reduce the overall operating expenses of their IT departments, according to Loeffler. In addition, conformance to privacy legislation, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), require additional computing and storage capacity.

“With upper management constantly pressuring their organizations to meet legal and operational pressures, the UPS opportunities in this market will continue to grow and prosper,” he said.

How to succeed

In order to take advantage of the increasingly growing UPS market, electrical contractors need to understand how to provide integrated solutions that include all aspects of the technology, such as batteries and building management systems. Basically, an electrical contractor should provide a complete protective solution to the customer and add value to its UPS installation.

“It’s important to understand the technology to choose the proper system for the application,” Nasrallah said. Factors to take into account include how much backup time is required by the end-user and the correct load capacity. “Oversizing the system does not help the end-user, nor does it provide increased protection,” he added.

Contractors also need to understand that UPS systems do not solve all power quality and output problems. Proper grounding must also be maintained and transient surges on the supply side of the system must be eliminated for the UPS to function properly.

“It’s also imperative,” Albert said, “to understand the customer’s business and what critical operations need the most protection.”

Contractors that succeed in the UPS market will work as partners with the end-user, the UPS OEM manufacturer and the facility’s engineering consultant in the design process to ensure that the customer is receiving the optimal system for the application and the most value. “The contractor can be integral in designing the UPS system’s infrastructure to optimize its energy efficiency and footprint,” said Brad Thrash, UPS product manager for GE Power Quality.

The future for UPS systems includes more intelligent systems with increased robustness, enhanced scalability and higher power density, according to Loeffler. With more functionality will come new platform design architectures to ensure the proper level of protection at all times and optimized system operation.

Demand for clean, reliable power will continue to drive UPS market growth, predicted Szalkus. “The continued evolution in technology to meet customer requirements for energy efficiency will lead to lower operating costs and improved energy storage.”

With growth rates predicted to be 10 to 15 percent per year in North America, the electrical contractor who does not pay attention to the market will miss a great growth opportunity.

“The electrical contractor that trains its personnel and understands UPS system applications and technologies can become an extremely valuable source of knowledge and solutions for the end-user,” Nasrallah said. EC

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

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine November issue 2006

Whole Building Design; Let the Internet Be Your Guide

By Jeff Griffin

THE idea that it makes sense for all components of a building to be compatible and to complement one another is not new. But as buildings and the ways they are used become increasingly sophisticated and complex, so does the task of planning, designing and construction to ensure that all systems function together. Indeed, the whole of a carefully planned, built and efficiently functioning modern building is greater than the sum of its individual parts and systems.

“The concept of the whole building process provides a platform for all parties involved in the design, construction, operation and use of today’s facilities to approach and execute a project in an integrated fashion,” said Dominique Fernandez, director of the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Whole Building Design Guide. “The goal is to create successful high-performance buildings. To achieve that goal, we must apply the integrated design approach and the integrated team approach to the project during the planning and programming phases of a project.”

Sound familiar?

For electrical contractors experienced in design/build projects, the description of the whole building concept may seem the same as that of the design/build approach to construction.

While many elements are similar, Fernandez said design/build is a means of executing the larger concept of the whole building process.

Architects and builders have long sought to coordinate all aspects of designing and constructing buildings, but the concept of the Whole Building Design Guide was not formalized until 1997, Fernandez said.

“The Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG), is the only Web-based portal providing government and industry practitioners with a one-stop access to up-to-date information on a wide range of building-related guidance, criteria and technology from a whole building perspective” she said. “It is a collaborative effort among federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions under the auspices of the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), a not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization that provides an authoritative national source of knowledge advice for both the private and public sector of the economy with respect to building sciences and technologies.”

The whole building approach is more comprehensive than design/build, taking into consideration operation of the structure, environmental factors and future requirements or modifications that may be necessary to keep the structure functional at the highest possible level of efficiency over its life cycle. It encompasses how the building and its systems can be integrated with supporting systems on its site and in its community, and how materials, systems and products of a building connect, interact and affect one another. It also provides the strategies to achieve high-performance, low energy, sustainable and secure buildings.

The WBDG Web site, www.wbdg.org, is an excellent source of information. To summarize some of its key points, there are two basic components to the whole building process. They are the integrated design approach and an integrated team process.

The integrated design approach

The WBDG describes the integrated design approach involving all stakeholders in a project—including the owner, designers, technical planners, those constructing the structure and operators of the building—working together to consider project objectives and the building materials, systems and assemblies from many different perspectives.

An excerpt from the WBDG says, “This approach is a deviation from the typical planning and design process of relying on the expertise of specialists who work in their respective specialties somewhat isolated from each other.”

Design objectives that must be considered in concert with one another include the following:

Building accessibility

Aesthetics of both exterior and interior

Cost effectiveness

Functional operation

Productivity of occupants

Security and safety

Sustainability

Historic preservation requirements if the structure is in a historic preservation district.

The integrated team process

According to the WBDG, it is essential, in practice, that all involved evaluate the design for cost, quality-of-life, future flexibility, efficiency, overall environmental impact, productivity and creativity. The process draws from the knowledge pool of all the stakeholders across the life cycle of the project, from defining the need for a building, through planning, design, construction, building occupancy, operations and maintenance.

An important element is the design charrette, a focused and collaborative brainstorming session held at the beginning of a project that encourages an exchange of ideas and information and allows truly integrated design solutions to take form.

“Team members—all the stakeholders—are encouraged to cross fertilize and address problems beyond their field of expertise. The charrette is particularly helpful in complex situations where many people represent the interests of the client and conflicting needs and constituencies. Participants are educated about the issues and resolution enables them to ‘buy into’ the schematic solutions,” reads the WBDG.

The whole building concept and design/build

Electrical contractors experienced in design/build will find many whole building elements similar or the same as the whole building process, making design/build an excellent approach to implement a whole building project.

Under the design/build approach to construction, the project owner executes a single contract with one entity for all design, engineering and construction services. Because this single contract results in a single source of responsibility, much of the design and performance risk transfers from the owner to the design/builder.

The Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) cites other design/build advantages that accrue both to project owners and to all members of the design/build team. DBIA studies have found that typical design/build projects are 6 percent lower in cost, 12 percent faster in construction time and 33 percent faster in total program time. In addition, design/build projects are well known for improved project quality and much lower rates of conflict and litigation.

Walker Lee Evey, DBIA president, said that design/build is suitable for almost all types of projects, including those which are large, complex and have extreme time factors. In the United States, design/build is used in both the private and public sectors, and the number of design/build projects continues to grow each year. 

“We estimate that today design/build accounts for approximately 40 percent of the market,” Evey said. “While the exact number is difficult to pin down because reporting systems are not consistent, the important point is the direction design/build is headed. In 1985, less than 5 percent of U.S. projects could be classified design/build. What is clearly visible is an extraordinary amount of growth in a remarkably short period of time.”

DBIA’s estimate that 40 percent of today’s projects are design/build closely parallels the findings of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR’s most recent “Profile of the Electrical Contractor” study: 43 percent of the responding contractors’ revenue was derived from design/build or design/assist work, with a vast majority of that figure representing design/build. To download a full copy of this study, visit www.ecmag.com/research.

What three contractors say

Clearly the benefits of design/build make it ideal for implementing the whole building process, and the electrical contractor plays a vital role in the execution of whole building concept and design/build projects. Observations of contractors experienced in design/build cite that benefits of that process closely parallel the key benefits of the whole building process.

“The design/build process allows the owner/end-user to be a part of the team and design process, thereby ensuring that the ‘little things’ are covered. We see much more satisfied clients as they receive what they really want. And the process also results in a project with largely minimized change orders and unforeseen expenditures. It provides a much more realistic budget for the owner/end-user with far less ‘blue sky’ and speculation about costs,” said Nick L. Cole, manager of construction services for Commonwealth Electric Co. of the Midwest, Lincoln, Neb.

Cole said the market is driving the trend to design/build because owners/end-users get what they want and save money, too.

Matthew Logan, who is responsible for business development for Coghlin Electrical Contractors, Worcester, Mass., believes design/build will continue to grow as long as construction continues to be cost and schedule driven.

“Owners will continue to look at this contract method for cost savings and compression in design-to-build time,” he said.  “The common element in all design/build projects is that owners or their architects are able to articulate clearly the scope of work or desired end result of the project. To be successful, an experienced team that includes architectural, electrical and mechanical members must have the ability to work in harmony with one another. Electrical contractors must commit to customer service, maintaining knowledge of the best and latest applications.”

James Mackey, president of Evergreen Power Systems Inc., Seattle, said the number of design/build opportunities is increasing as projects become more complex. He added that design/build creates a closer relationship among the developers, architects and end-users. 

“Projects have shorter design and construction schedules,” he said. “The electrical systems are designed to meet the owner’s requirements and not over-designed to limit the engineer’s exposure. Awards are based on reputation and performance, instead of just low number. There are far fewer change orders and claims.”

However, limiting costs can add design risks.

“One of the most challenging aspects,” Mackey said, “is extracting information and scope from the end-user, scope ‘creep’ and realigning the budget. These problems can be mitigated by drawing from related experience in similar work or working with developers in the past.”

Mackey also believes the trend toward design/build will continue. “With rising interest rates and construction costs, it is imperative for developers to minimize the design-construction time and bring their projects to market sooner,” he said. “Electrical contractors develop a reputation for design/build by shortening up the time it takes to design and build, by controlling costs, increasing flexibility and providing budget estimates for various design scenarios.”

Design/build and the larger whole building approach appear here to stay, and both are sure to evolve to better serve building project owners.

The WBDG Web site provides this view of what may be coming soon

“As buildings continue to change and grow in complexity, additional programs and information will have an impact on the entire design, planning and construction community. Among them is building information modeling (BIM) software that is the newest trend in computer-aided design. Many industry professionals forecast that buildings will be built directly from the electronic models that BIM creates, or that architects will no longer create drawings but will instead build buildings inside their computers. BIM has the potential to change the role of drawings for the construction process, improve architectural productivity and make it easier to consider and evaluate design alternatives. BIM will also aid in the process of integrating the various design teams’ work, further encouraging and demanding an integrated team process.”   EC

GRIFFIN, a construction and tools writer from Oklahoma City, can be reached at 405.748.5256 or up-front@cox.net.

Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine November issue 2006

SMP Data Communications to Participate in CSC’s Secure(it) Initiative

SMP Data Communications, a leading developer and manufacturer of high-speed cross-connect products for communication networks, has teamed up with Communications Supply Corporation (CSC) on a new strategic initiative called Secure(it).  The CSC Secure(it) program is focused on developing innovative products and solutions for secure network systems and information assurance applications. 

SMP has developed several enhanced security solutions in response to an increase in the deployment of secure networks by the Department of Defense.  These innovative solutions, which offer enhanced security levels for high-assurance network systems, include the Limited AxcessTM  (Patent Pending) and shielded network solutions.  The Limited Axcess solution provides physical layers of network security that are offered through a unique keyed plug and jack inter-connect system.  This system, which exceeds Category 6a requirements, physically restricts network access and offers enhanced system performance. The shielded network solution eliminates the threat of alien cross talk and external noise from wireless technologies.  This level of secure networking not only provides connectivity solutions ideal for the network administrator looking to protect data transmission, but also provides the ease of plug and play technology making it easier for moves, adds, and changes to a network system.  Both of these solutions will be featured in the CSC Secure(it) Program, and are slated for further expansion as the demand for secure structured cabling systems continues to increase.

SMP Data Communications, headquartered in Swannanoa, North Carolina, is internationally recognized for its role in establishing the world’s data/communications standards, through its innovative-patented technologies. SMP, founded in 1990, manufactures and develops copper and fiber passive connectivity hardware components for use in commercial and residential applications.  The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Preformed Line Products (PLPC) of Cleveland, Ohio.  For more information about SMP’s complete product line visit our website at www.smpdata.com

CONEST® Software Systems To Exhibit At BICSI 2007 Winter Conference

ConEst Software Systems, the leading developer of a fully integrated suite of electrical estimating software applications serving the electrical and datacom contractor industries, will be featuring their latest release of IntelliBid estimating software and RapidBOM design software at the BICSI 2007 Winter Conference in Orlando FL at Booth # 1110.

ConEst’s flagship estimating software, IntelliBid, continues to set itself apart from other mainstream programs with the company’s latest release, which includes an expanded database featuring over 70,000 electrical, low voltage, and structured cabling materials. The structured cabling database includes products from leading manufacturers including 3M, Avaya, Belden, Panduit, and Homaco to name a few.

According to ConEst President George Hague, “the expanded product database offers added flexibility for contractors working in the fast growing datacom markets. Additionally, this new version includes many exciting features that will dramatically increase the user’s productivity.”

ConEst will also be showcasing RapidBOM, a complete telecommunications network design system that automatically creates a Bill of Materials (BOM), including both material and labor costs, needed to totally design a network from the faceplate to the router. RapidBOM was designed by telecommunications professionals with expert industry knowledge and years of field experience. Among its unique features, RapidBOM boasts a regularly updated, electronically enhanced product catalog containing more than 100,000 products from more than 100 major manufacturers. www.conest.com

KITCO Fiber Optics Achieves ISO 9001:2000 Registration

KITCO Fiber Optics, a leading provider of fiber optic products to the military and commercial communications industry, is proud to announce that it has been registered as an ISO 9001:2000 compliant company.  ISO 9000 is a series of internationally recognized standards developed by the International Standards Organization (ISO) which define requirements for the implementation of quality systems in operational procedures.  The standards form the basis for a quality management system concentrating on customer focus, leadership and continuous improvement of quality within an organization.

"KITCO Fiber Optics has always been committed to designing and delivering quality products and services to our customers," said Geoffry A. Clark, President and CEO of KITCO Fiber Optics.  "ISO registration supports our Quality Statement which states that we are committed to continuing efforts to improve our business processes to provide our customers a level of service that consistently meets or exceeds expectations.  The tremendous dedication and teamwork of everyone in our organization resulted in our success in achieving this goal, and I am very proud of our joint accomplishment."

KITCO Fiber Optics is a leading provider of fiber optic connectorization products, training and consulting services to the military and commercial communications industry.  We specialize in the design and fabrication of fiber optic tools, tool kits and custom cable assemblies; producing private label kits for a number of major connector manufacturers and selling our own broad line of commercial and military products.  We develop curriculum and provide commercial and military training worldwide, and serve as the U.S. Navy's sole shipboard fiber optic trainer.  Our highly skilled field services team can respond to your fiber optic requirements anytime, anywhere - rapidly providing the best solutions for overcoming system problems or delays.www.kitcofo.com

Data Center World® Makes Landfall In Florida

By Layne Maly

Disney. SeaWorld. Universal Studios. Orlando is home to some of the world’s most well-known and popular tourist attractions. But in early September, these famous theme parks were not the only games in town that drew a crowd.

A record number of AFCOM members descended on Gaylord Palms in Orlando September 10-13 to participate in the fall Data Center World Conference and Expo. The conference boasted a sold-out trade show hall, 60-plus product and educational sessions and more than 650 attendees from 50 states, all 22 of AFCOM’s regional chapters and 13 foreign countries, including Israel, Brazil, Chile and Malaysia.   

“Data Center World continues to earn a global reputation for being one of the industry’s premier educational and networking events,” said Jill Eckhaus, AFCOM president. “Our members are motivated to learn and gather intelligence. Every year we work to provide the best possible experience including timely and relevant topics, speakers who are authorities in their fields, social activities and interactive venues for networking with peers and the industry’s leading solution providers.”

The prevailing feedback from attendees was that the mix of sessions, exhibitors, fun and sun delivered one of the best conferences ever.

Discussions Heat Up about Need to Cool Down

Data center managers wrestle with a multitude of issues on a daily basis. Power and cooling top the list. Conference attendees had ample opportunity to explore both.

Educational sessions added specifically to the schedule were: “12 Ways to Save Energy in your Data Center” presented by Emerson Network Power, and “DC Power in the Data Center: A Cool Alterative” presented by EYP Mission Critical Facilities.

AFCOM invited Bruce Shaw, director, worldwide commercial marketing, AMD, and one of 12 founding members of The Green Grid, to present the opening keynote address. He discussed the development and implementation of energy efficient solutions for data centers. His presentation cited survey results compiled in 2005 showing an alarming number of data center administrators do not realize a crisis looms. As a result, they are not making plans to deal with it.

While 71 percent of AMD’s survey respondents said that power and cooling were becoming an issue, 12 percent admitted they were unsure and another 17 percent felt they were not a problem. Shaw called these results troubling.

“Going forward, companies that view data center management as secondary functions, behind IT planning and decision making, will be at a competitive disadvantage,” explained Shaw.“ It is vital that data center managers become more knowledgeable about the server technology going into their data centers, including how distinct product features can help address issues like power usage. Organizations like AFCOM are key to helping raise awareness of the importance of data center management.”

Donna Manley, IT senior director for computer operations at the University of Pennsylvania and president of AFCOM’s Greater Philadelphia/Delaware/New Jersey chapter, agreed that power and cooling are of paramount concern.  

“The keynote raised issues that warrant discussion,” commented Manley. “I thought the presentation was very interesting. Shaw made a fascinating point about manufacturers not making power supplies more efficient because their customers are not asking them to. I found that compelling. Shaw translated a complicated issue into something understandable and manageable.”

Sessions, Tutorials, Virtual Tours, Oh My!

As with all Data Center World conferences, the educational agenda in Orlando presented attendees with an unparalleled opportunity to gather intelligence on the people, trends and technologies revolutionizing the data center industry.

Educational tracks covered best practices, data center management, facilities management, disaster recovery, preparedness and a new track designed to address the Five Bold Predictions presented by AFCOM’s Data Center Institute at spring 2006 Data Center World in Atlanta.

The three tutorials were well attended. They were: “Data Center Facilities Project Planning Workshop,” presented by the Bick Group; “How to Prepare for Grid Computing,” presented by the IDCP and Marist Center for Collaborative and On-Demand Computing at Marist College; and “The Future of Data Center Automation,” presented by Workload Automation. Also popular were the two virtual data center tours: “Anatomy of a Tier III Data Center,” presented by GMAC-Mortgage; and “MB Financial Bank,” presented by Fusion Infotek.

Paul Langford, operations analyst for Alberta Blue Cross, was present for the MB Financial Bank virtual tour. Asked to expand on what he called a valuable experience, he explained, “The subject matter was very closely related to what I am looking at doing now in my own facility. I’ll be able to take back a lot of what was presented to discuss as part of my renovation project.” 

Langford continued, “I found the Data Center World event an excellent place to find out about best practices in the industry. Although I have worked in IT operations for a number of years, I have only recently been directly involved in the planning and implementation of changes in the data center itself, such as rack placement, cooling, power distribution, UPS, room renovation, etc. Hearing from the presenters as well as talking to the attendees, I received a lot of information directly relating to what I am doing at work.”

Donna Manley, board president for the Greater Philadelphia/New Jersey/Delaware chapter and a frequent Data Center World attendee, stated, “All the sessions I attended were well presented and valuable. Many were standing room only. This Data Center World event again provided presentations and networking opportunities that were invaluable to both the tactical and strategic initiatives I have planned in the upcoming 18 to 24 months.”

For Ron Wilson, principal, Mazzetti & Associates, Irvine, Calif., two sessions hit home. The first was “An Alternative Data Center Design/Construction Delivery Model,” presented by JE Dunn Construction. “It was informative and provided another option to traditional construction process,” said Wilson. The second was “Consolidation–Paving the Way for the Next-Generation Data Center,” presented by HP as part of the new data center preparedness track. Wilson said, “It highlighted how a large data center with a mirrored site is more cost-efficient and fault-tolerant than many small facilities.”

AFCOM member Steve Gold of SJG Consultants in Oak Park, Mich., values Data Center World because it is free of the biases found at many other vendor-sponsored conferences, and the education sessions are always timely.  

After attending “Policies and Procedures for Data Center Excellence,” presented by Doug Hall of Target Technology Center, Gold said, “Every organization has unique circumstances, but this session provided attendees with a great set of templates to develop outstanding data center policies and procedures.”

Gary Miliefsky, founder and CTO of NetClarity, was a speaker in Orlando and lead the “Proactive Data Center Security” session. Participating at Data Center World for the first time, he was able to provide a fresh perspective on the value of the event. “Data Center World is a fantastic event,” said Miliefsky. “I was impressed with the location, the questions and interest by the attendees, and the overall interactions throughout the conference. From my perspective, it’s the only focused conference that covers the most valuable part of the corporate network: the data center.”

Attendees were equally impressed with Miliefsky’s contribution. His session addressed the need to focus on proactive data center security as part of a complete data center preparedness regimen. “Proactive network security is a new requirement for data center managers, so most of them are under more pressure to learn best practices for network security in their data center and all touch points that can connect to or have access to their network assets,” said Miliefsky.

The Benefits of a Balanced Meal

While education is always an emphasis at Data Center World, attendees also appreciate the time allocated for networking. To this end, one of the most popular events was the peer connection networking luncheon. Sponsored by Connectivity Technologies, the luncheon was designed to foster social interaction and to help attendees share experiences.

The importance of dialoguing with peers was not lost on Rocko Graziano, manager, enterprise data center and support services for L. L. Bean and president of AFCOM’s Boston/New England chapter. He credited the networking element of the show as a prime motivation for attending. “Data Center World in Orlando was well-attended, and the agenda of sessions and social events proved useful and fun,” said Graziano. “I was pleased with the variety of facility-related topics. The information about how to be more energy efficient will certainly help. However, the highlight for me was the opportunity to connect face-to-face with fellow data center managers.”

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Data Center World is an event that always strives to address its educational mission from soup to nuts. So, if the sessions were the soup, the Expo must have been the nuts. And, really good nuts at that, according to Tradeshow Week.

As testimony to the Expo’s value and success, AFCOM announced in Orlando that Data Center World was named to Tradeshow Week’s “Fast 50” list for 2006, an award bestowed to the nation’s fastest growing trade shows.

The Orlando Expo boasted a record number 85 exhibitors and mixed show veterans with a collection of first-timers but all leaders in their respective fields. The Expo kicked off with a festive cocktail party also sponsored by Connectivity Technologies, which afforded attendees and exhibitors with opportunities to discuss solutions to every conceivable facet of data center facility management and operations.

CITTIO, a software company based in San Francisco, was one of several companies that participated for the first time. When asked about his history with Data Center World, CITTIO CEO Jaime Lerner explained, “I got my first taste of AFCOM’s Data Center World a year or so ago as a session speaker. It didn’t take long to recognize why the conference has earned its reputation as being one of the premier educational events serving the data center industry.” 

Regarding his company’s inaugural Expo experience, Lerner said, “The experience was so positive because AFCOM attendees aren’t just looking for free T-shirts when they walk the show floor. They’re motivated to learn and gather intelligence. The value of being able to interface with data center professionals, demonstrate our ideas and get real-time feedback from the people who live and breathe this stuff is immeasurable.”

Lerner commended AFCOM and the Data Center World for its history of excellence.

“The reason people attend Data Center World and keep coming back is that there is value for everyone across every element of the show. The conference is incredibly well balanced and managed. Speakers are the best. Attendees get real-time information they can implement immediately in their data centers. It is always the right mix of sessions, exhibition time and social activities. There is no other event that caters so specifically to this audience or does it better.”

Heather Hirst, marketing coordinator for NER Data Products, Glassboro, N.J., echoed Lerner’s sentiments. “This was our twenty-first appearance at Data Center World and the Orlando event was one of the best yet. Attendees are well versed in every aspect of data center management and the relaxed nature of the Expo allows everyone a great opportunity to tap into the collective expertise. The knowledge we gain from our interactions at Data Center World helps us learn and evolve as a company and better address the issues AFCOM members are facing,” said Hirst.

Positive feedback came from the other side of the aisle as well. Ron Wilson expressed the value of the Expo from an attendee’s perspective. “I visited the Expo hall and found it valuable to see the current technologies and equipment available today,” said Wilson. “It helped to speak with vendors about current issues and potential challenges data center managers will face.”

Mission Accomplished…See You in Las Vegas

AFCOM’s Spring 2007 Data Center World conference is March 25-29, 2007, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Look for updates at www.datacenterworld.com.

NECA, IBEW Forge Unique Strategic Partnership With OSHA

Alliance Leverages Resources to Reduce Worker Injuries, Illnesses, Fatalities

Across America, thousands of union electrical workers and contractors are reaching greater heights of on-the-job safety, thanks to a unique national partnership joining the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and others within the electrical transmission and distribution industry.

Says E. Milner Irvin, president of NECA, “Whether an electrical worker, a contractor or a government regulator, we all share a common vision, of making safety in the workplace paramount in importance. All of us in the partnership are committed to giving electrical workers safer, healthier jobsites”

According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrical line installers and repairers rank among the top ten occupations for on-the-job fatalities, with a rate of 32.7 deaths per 100,000 employees – compared to a national average of 4 employee fatalities per 100,000. (National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2005, released August 10, 2006, www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cfoi.pdf.)  

Through the work of the alliance – now in its second year – the reasons behind those jobsite injuries and fatalities are becoming clearer, as partnership analysts systematically identify and evaluate health and safety hazards among workers in the electrical transmission and distribution industry.  In turn, those findings are being used by the partnership to anticipate and work to eliminate on-the-job injuries, through the promotion of best practices and the development of new health and safety training programs nationwide.

Earlier this year, classes were held in six locations around the country, to teach utility and line construction company trainers how to deliver a new 10-hour OSHA safety course for electrical line workers.  The course, created by NECA, IBEW and other members of the strategic safety partnership, aims at familiarizing line workers with OSHA rules for working on high-voltage utility power systems, while at the same time arming them with the latest in safety techniques and materials, including equipotential grounding and the proper use of personal protective equipment.  Now, the up-to-date trainers are back at work in their own localities, preparing safety training programs for area electrical workers.

Says Edwin D. Hill, president of IBEW, “Safety on the job has been a priority for our members since the brotherhood was formed more than a century years ago. Today, this partnership is one more step we can take to make a dangerous line of work significantly safer. What’s more, this unprecedented coalition embodies the willingness and commitment of the leadership of all the partners to put aside their differences, in order to focus on the singular goal of providing safe and healthful jobsites for workers in this industry.” www.necanet.org

DuPont Providing Alternative Water Supplies Near W.Va. Plant As Part Of EPA Agreement

DuPont Co. on Tuesday said it signed an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency establishing a new screening level for a synthetic chemical found in drinking water sources around the company's Washington Works site in Washington, W.Va.

The consent order agreement updates a previous EPA screening level to 0.5 parts per billion for perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, in any public or private drinking water system around the site.

Under the order, Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont will offer alternative drinking water or treatment for public or private water users living near the Washington Works plant if the level of PFOA detected is equal to or greater than the new limit. The agreement also affects people in West Virginia and Ohio living near the plant.

PFOA is a synthetic chemical that is not regulated under federal environmental laws, but is widely used to make substances including Teflon. EPA lowered the screening level based on newer data from experimental animal studies and elevated blood serum levels of PFOA found in the population surrounding the plant, as compared to levels found in the general U.S. population.

The chemical is very persistent in the environment and is found at low levels in the blood of the general U.S. population. Studies suggest it can cause developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals, according to the EPA.

Last week, an independent panel charged with reviewing possible health effects of PFOA on Washington Works employees filed court papers saying it wanted to do its own study on workers at the plant. DuPont has done its own studies on death rates among workers and said the chemical has no definitive link to human disease.

The three-member panel, created as part of a 2005 court settlement between DuPont and residents of the Ohio River Valley who said the company contaminated their drinking water, wants to study the occurrence of disease, not just death, among workers.

David Boothe, global business manager for DuPont Fluoroproducts, on Tuesday said the company set aside $15 million after the settlement and will use those funds to pay for the alternative water supplies required in the EPA order.

EPA is conducting a risk assessment to help estimate the amount of PFOA that people can be exposed to without experiencing adverse health effects. Based on those results, EPA said it will take further action if necessary. DuPont said it supports and is participating in that process.

ACUTA’S Winter Seminars Focus On Convergence Issues, Communications Network Best Practices

The infrastructure issues in a converged voice and data network, along with the best practices for a variety of communications technologies, will be the focus of the 2007 Winter Seminar of ACUTA, the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education.

The seminars are January 21-24, 2007, in Austin, Texas, at the Hilton Austin. They will feature presentations by representatives from a broad range of colleges and universities. Speakers from Cornell, Notre Dame, the University of Texas, Oklahoma State University, the University of Toronto, North Carolina State University, and many others will share their insight, experiences, and successes with their peers. The seminars will also feature a products and services exhibition area.

Educational sessions will address topics such as best practices in business continuity, emergency response, mobility, and procurement. On the convergence and infrastructure side, sessions will cover power and cooling needs, wireless communications management, cross-training of telecom and IT staff, and more.

ACUTA is the only national association dedicated to serving the needs of higher education communications technology professionals, representing nearly 2,000 individuals at more than 800 institutions.

“This first ACUTA event of 2007 provides a great opportunity for members and others to learn more about what their peers are doing right, both in their migrations to converged networks and in a variety of other infrastructure and management issues, “ said Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. “Our educational sessions, of course, are only part of the value of our seminars. Communications professionals can network with their peers and learn from each other, providing tremendous benefits to them and to their institutions.” www.acuta.org

New Splicer V-Groove Cleaning Kit

Today’s splicing equipment is fast, efficient, and requires minimal maintenance due to advances in splicing technology. However, contamination in the v-groove of the splicer is still a primary source of trouble for the splicing technician. This is especially problematic when splicing with a fixed v-groove fusion splicer. Environmental contamination, such as dust, dirt, and fiber coating debris, as well as, the silica deposits generated during the fusion process eventually find their way to the surface of the v-groove. This contamination will offset the fibers and degrade performance. To help control this problem, a disciplined cleaning regimen and specific tooling is required to ensure the splice is right the first time.

To solve these types of cleaning needs, AFL Telecommunications offers the all new Splicer V-Groove Cleaning Kit. This product integrates eight components into an affordable and effective inspection and cleaning solution for any fusion splicer. Small and lightweight, it fits easily into the Fujikura splicer transit case or it can be carried separately in its own carrying case.

Kit Includes:

• Scrubber Brush with stiff tapered nylon bristles

• Sweeper Brush with soft nylon bristles

• Eye Loupe with 3X to 12X magnification

• LED Pen Light with momentary or constant on switching

• Cleaning Fluid that is nonflammable and environmentally safe

• Lint-free Cotton Swabs

• Instruction Sheet with illustrations

• Canvas Carrying Case

Refill Kit Includes

To replenish the consumables within the kit, AFL provides a refill kit that includes the following components:

• One can of FPF1 Cleaning Fluid

• One Scrubber Brush

• One Sweeper Brush

• Ten packs CS-1 Cotton Swabs (250 swabs)

www.afltele.com

NEMA Publishes ANSI_ANSLG C82.14-2006, American National Standard For Lamp Ballasts—Low-Frequency Square Wave Electronic Ballasts—For Metal Halide Lamps

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), on behalf of the American National Standard Lighting Group (ANSLG) has published ANSI_ANSLG C82.14-2006, American National Standard for Lamp Ballasts—Low-Frequency Square Wave Electronic Ballasts—for Metal Halide Lamps.

This standard provides specifications for and operating characteristics of low frequency square wave electronic ballasts for metal halide lamps. Electronic ballasts are devices that use semiconductors to control lamp starting and operation. The ballasts operate from multiple supply sources of 600V maximum at a frequency of 60 hertz. The output frequency of electronic ballasts may be of some frequency other than 60 hertz. This standard only covers lamp operating current frequencies from greater than 60 hertz up to 400 hertz (some exclusionary frequency ranges may apply). An electronic square wave ballast is an electronic ballast whose operating lamp current waveform is essentially a square wave with defined rise/fall times stated in the C78.43 lamp standard.

ANSI_ANSLG C82.14-2006 may be downloaded free, or a hardcopy purchased for $50.00 by visiting NEMA’s website at http://www.nema.org/stds/C82-14.cfm, or by contacting IHS at (800) 854-7179 (within the U.S.), (303) 397-7956 (international), (303) 397-2740 (fax).

NEMA is the trade association of choice for the electrical manufacturing industry. Founded in 1926 and headquartered near Washington, D.C., its 430 member companies manufacture products used in the generation, transmission and distribution, control, and end-use of electricity. These products are used in utility, medical imaging, industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential applications. Domestic production of electrical products sold worldwide exceeds $120 billion. In addition to its headquarters in Rosslyn, Virginia, NEMA also has offices in Beijing, São Paulo, and Mexico City.  www.nema.org

Don't Miss The New FOSE

Save the Date for FOSE 2007

It's all happening March 20-22, 2007 at the Washington DC Convention Center. Make room on your calendar (and in your budget) for a learning experience that makes the other 51 weeks of the year a lot more productive! Register here.

Learn from the best at FOSE 2007

The 2007 version of the largest government IT trade show will be bigger and better than ever. FOSE 2007 will feature a new look and a redesigned program tailored to deliver the business management and technical content most relevant to government IT decision makers.

For example:

Enterprise Mobility Pavilion: Sponsored by Symbol Technologies, this exciting new destination at FOSE will provide you with firm grounding on how government is going mobile. Hear in-depth theater session on Healthcare Solutions, Supply Chain Solutions, Homeland Security/Defense/Law Enforcement Solutions, Global Enterprise Solutions, and Emerging Technology Solutions. Demonstrations by leading enterprise mobility companies will show you how government is taking technology to the edge.

Other exciting and informative destinations include:

Continuous Learning Campus

Data Center Pavilion

DoD Center

LOB City

The Secure Fortress

Small Business

and more...

Experience the Latest from Leading Vendors:

Connect with cutting-edge vendors for the best new technology and solutions for your agency, to see the complete Exhibitor List, view here...

Get the Newsletter:

Register today and you'll receive the FOSE 2007 Newsletter. Where you'll be kept up to date with everything you need to make the most out of your FOSE 2007 experience. Beginning in December, you'll get the latest news on networking events, sessions, speakers, new product launches, and more! www.fose.com

FOSE 2007 - Connecting Government Buyers with Technology

March 20-22, 2007 at the WashingtonDC Convention Center.

BuildingGreen Announces 2006 Top-10 Green Building Products

Denver, CO, November 15, 2006-BuildingGreen, Inc., publisher of the GreenSpec® Directory and Environmental Building News, announced the 2006 Top-10 Green Building Products. This fifth annual award, announced at the U.S. Green Building Council's Greenbuild Conference in Denver, recognizes the most exciting products drawn from additions to the GreenSpec Directory and coverage in Environmental Building News.

"The range of product types showing exemplary innovation is amazing," noted GreenSpec coeditor Alex Wilson. Three of BuildingGreen's winning products this year have the primary environmental attribute of saving energy. Two products save water. Three products are green in part because they are made from recycled waste; one is a system of salvaging material. Rounding out the list are an innovative way of turning an ordinary material, concrete, into one of the best flooring options for commercial buildings, and a provider of renewable energy credits, an excellent way for any building owner to support renewable energy.

"Most of the Top-10 products this year have multiple environmental attributes," said Wilson.

BuildingGreen's Top-10 product selections, as in previous years, are drawn primarily from new additions to the company's GreenSpec product directory. More than 250 product listings have been added to the GreenSpec database during the past year. "New products seem to be appearing at an ever-faster pace," said Wilson. The GreenSpec database his company maintains now includes more than 2,100 product listings. Not all GreenSpec product listings or Top-10 selections are new to the market. "While many of the products we add to GreenSpec are brand new and innovative, others have been around for a while." said Wilson. "In some cases, we like to see evidence of success in the real world before recognizing green products."

A big driver in the development of green products continues to be the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED® Rating System (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which awards points for the use of certain product types or for the energy or water savings that green products can achieve. "Designers of LEED buildings are looking for green products, and manufacturers are responding," said Wilson. In the online version of GreenSpec, users can find products organized by LEED credits.

The 2006 Top-10 Green Building Products are listed below. More complete descriptions and contact information is provided on the attached pages:

* Polished concrete system from RetroPlate

* Underwater standing timber salvage by Triton Underwater Logging

* PaperStone Certified composite surface material from KlipTech Composites, Inc.

* Varia and "100 Percent" recycled-content panel products from 3form, Inc.

* Recycled-content interior molding from Timbron International

* SageGlass tintable glazing from Sage Electrochromics

* Water-efficient showerhead with H2Okinetic technology from Delta

* WeatherTRAK smart irrigation controls from HydroPoint Data Systems, Inc.

* Coolerado Cooler advanced, indirect evaporative air conditioner from Coolerado, LLC

* Renewable Energy Credits from Community Energy, Inc.

About GreenSpec Directory: GreenSpec is the leading national directory of green building products. Products are selected by editors of Environmental Building News (EBN) based on criteria developed over the past 15 years.

Manufacturers do not pay to be listed in GreenSpec, and neither GreenSpec nor any other BuildingGreen publication carries advertising; both are supported exclusively by users of the information. "Our policy of not accepting money from manufacturers allows us to be objective in our review of products," said Wilson. A new 7th edition of the printed GreenSpec Directory will be published in 2007. The GreenSpec product database is also available online as part of BuildingGreen Suite, which is growing quickly in popularity. Environmental Building News, founded in 1992, is the oldest and most widely respected newsletter in the green building field. For information on BuildingGreen resources, visit www.BuildingGreen.com or call 800-861-0954.

EtherScope Network Assistant Reduces WLAN Rogue Hunting Time by 75%

Fluke Networks announced the release of new capabilities for its award-winning EtherScope Series II Network Assistant.

The new Security Scan and Locate features reduce the time to locate a rogue wireless local area network (WLAN) device by 75%, as measured by the time spent on the same task using an omni-directional antenna found on most PC radio cards.

The advanced WLAN Locate feature uses an external, directional antenna to quickly identify and pinpoint the location of unauthorized wireless access points.  This includes access points in ceilings and on floors above and below, which saves time in a multi-floor environment.  Combined with the EtherScope's handheld, lightweight package and easy-to-read, color touch-screen display, users will find rogue access points faster and easier than ever before.

New RFC-based throughput testing

Also new to EtherScope is the ability to test the performance of LAN and WAN links using commonly accepted RFC 2544 test procedures.  EtherScope Series II Network Assistant incorporates RFC 2544 tests for measuring throughput, latency and frame loss.  These tests are bundled together with EtherScope's current Internetwork Throughput Option and traffic generator. 

Private network owners and service providers now have the ability to perform a fast, easy and RFC-based means of verifying network performance.  Carriers can document the performance levels delivered to their customers.  Private network owners can verify the bandwidth received matches that which was purchased.

Russian Language Support

Concurrent with the new RFC 2544 tests and advanced WLAN Locate ability, EtherScope will now support Russian as a user-selectable language. EtherScope now displays its user interface, all desktop applications on the unit, report headers, and help screens in 8 different languages (English, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian), making EtherScope Network Assistant a tool for the truly worldwide nature of networking.  www.flukenetworks.com

Berk-Tek Introduces Fiber-in-a-Box

Optical Fiber installation just got easier.

Berk-Tek’s Fiber-in-a-Box solution is designed for fast, efficient, and simple installation of tight-buffered fiber optic cable in Plenum or Riser environments. Each box includes 1000 feet of 6 fiber or 12 fiber multimode Plenum rated (OFNP) distribution cable (62.5/125 micron) and features Berk-Tek’s adjustable

EZ-Brake™ system with anti-backlash control, all in compact, stackable, ready for installation, boxes.

 Berk-Tek’s Plenum-rated Premise Distribution cables are suitable for all optical network designs requiring high speed data applications. All dielectric cable construction has 900 micron buffered fibers surrounded by aramid yarns and jacketed with next generation lead-free polymer compound.

Ø       Configurations of 6 or 12 optical fibers

Ø       1000 ft. length in each box, sequential foot markings every 2 feet

Ø       Ideal for horizontal, backbone, or centralized optical cabling installations

Ø       Minimizes supply/distributor runs

Ø       Saves time and money

For more information on Fiber in a Box and the complete line of more than

100 industry leading Berk-Tek Fiber Optic, UTP, FTP, and coax cables, including

downloadable tech specs,www.berktek.com 

Hitachi Cable Manchester to Introduce New Catalog at BICSI

November 30, 2006.  Manchester, NH. Hitachi Cable Manchester will be introducing its newly revised premise cable catalog at the January 2007 BICSI show in Orlando, FL. The new catalog will include all the latest products from HCM, including the new Supra 10G, 10 Gigabit Ethernet UTP cable.

The catalog also offers useful installation information including a conduit fill chart and U.S. to metric conversion tables.

Visit HCM at booth 921 while at the BICSI show to pick up your new catalog.

HCM manufactures a wide range of copper and fiber optic communication cables.  Products include shielded and unshielded twisted-pair cables, high-pair copper backbone cables and a vast selection of fiber optic including indoor/outdoor plenum rated cables, loose tube, central tube and interlock armored cables.  The manufacturing facility is located in Manchester, NH.   http://www.hcm.hitachi.com/.

Rexel + GE Supply: Two Flags, One $13 Billion Company

By Joe Salimando

When word of General Electric’s sale of GE Supply (GESCO) hit the news, many electrical industry veterans shook their heads in wonder. Had the buyer, the Dallas-based operation of the Paris-based Rexel SA—a U.S. company built via acquisition—finally bitten off more than it could chew with the new acquisition?

Absolutely not, according to Dick Waterman, head of the new U.S. holding company that serves as the parent of Rexel’s U.S. operations and GESCO.

“We took a long, in-depth look at GESCO, and we saw some things that perhaps some other people didn’t see,” he said. “GESCO was functioning as an arm to sell GE products—we focused on the fact that there are a lot of things that the distribution arm was not doing that it could easily undertake. It was clear to us that the company was not as distribution oriented as it needed to be.”

That, he noted, is changing.

Rexel SA’s global 2006 sales are estimated at about $13 billion, with half of that total coming from North America. The company’s global gross margin in 2005 was 25.3%, a nice number, and one that sticks out among distributors. Further, Rexel increased its worldwide margins to 25.6% for 2006’s first half. And in the United States, according to Waterman, margins are well over the norm, although not as high as 25%.

“Margin is a mindset,” said Waterman.  “There’s a lot of tradition in this industry that says, ‘You have to sell a certain product at a certain margin’—which is true, if you’re not providing any services. I started a margin campaign when I arrived here [at Rexel’s Dallas headquarters] in 2001. We’ve been able to raise our margins every year.”

So did the company acquire regional distributors with even higher margins? “Actually, other than one or two of those, the companies we bought had lower margins,” said Waterman. “We’ve been able to take them up to our level.”

How? “It’s a number of things,” he explained. “Proper training is important, as is being selective in the customer base. Some people are willing to pay for services; others aren’t. There are some large customers that we don’t do business with for that very reason.”

Freeing GESCO from the links that bound it to General Electric should help, Waterman noted, adding that he believes that the company’s electrical materials sales will improve as a result. “GESCO was very much focused on the GE product; I guess because it had to be,” he said. “The company wasn’t taking advantage of its opportunities.

“I’m talking about selling materials that do not compete with the GE offering,” he said. “GESCO can do a lot better job of that—and will.”

Two names in the United States

One surprise for the market was the dual-banner strategy Rexel adopted after the acquisition process. While Rexel will continue to operate branches under that name, GESCO will continue to be run as an independent operation.

Why the dual-banner strategy? “In Canada, many years ago, I helped create a two-brand strategy,” Waterman explained. “We had two similar-sized companies—Westburne and Nedco—that were competing in the same market space, and the two-banner strategy worked. The companies continue to operate under those names.

“We separated the companies by vendor, product lines, and markets,” he continued. “Westburne offers Rockwell’s Allen-Bradley line along with Cutler-Hammer, and Nedco offers Schneider’s Square D coast to coast.

“It’s not that easy in the United Sates,” he added, “because we don’t have the same situation. Since Rexel came together via acquisition, we don’t have the same consistency there. We’re going to have some blending to do over the next couple of years.

“Rexel initiated a vendor consolidation effort in 2003, and this is still in motion,” he noted. “The company will continue in that vein over a period of time. We think that will help create a difference between the companies.”

Rexel’s acquisitions are moving it in a number of new directions. For example, the purchase of Capital Lighting & Supply in Hartford, Conn., which brought in $234 million in 2005 sales, added a national accounts sales operation with a focus on retail chains.

According to the Rexel release issued in mid-May on CLS, 30% of that company’s sales came from “major national retail lighting accounts”; that’s roughly $70 million per year.

To some extent, the CLS acquisition was lost when the world learned of Rexel’s acquisition of GESCO. However, the ad-dition of CLS boosted Rexel’s U.S. sales by roughly 10%. Bob Compagna of CLS now serves as president of Rexel’s New England division.

Further, the GESCO buy puts Rexel in several other businesses. There’s a logistics operation and a services business. “The logistics platform sells fasteners and other products,” Waterman said. “A fair portion of those sales are nonelectrical.”

A new CEO

Waterman has kicked himself upstairs,in a manner of speaking. As chief executive of the holding company, he won’t be directly running Rexel any more (he has also left GESCO’s executives in place).

So who’s running Rexel? Dan Palumbo, who has a unique background among large-company distributor executives, is CEO of the U.S. operation. Palumbo’s resume includes posts at Coca-Cola (where he was chief marketing officer) and Kodak, and 13 years at Procter & Gamble.

“The electrical industry is not known for its marketing ability and skills,” Waterman said. “Dan brings a lot to the party from this point of view. But this isn’t a first for us—we hired John Kudlacek [vice president of marketing and purchasing] several years ago, and his background was in marketing with NAPA, the auto parts group.

“With Dan’s hiring, we’re trying to get ahead of the curve,” he noted.

While Waterman did not directly relate Palumbo’s hiring to the looming intrusion of Home Depot Supply, he identified Home Depot as a prime challenge. When asked where his company would go in the future, he noted, “Being the biggest is nice. But being a well-run, organized, and profitable company is better for everyone—customers, shareholders, and the people who work for us.

“I see Home Depot as the biggest potential threat,” he added. “The company has said that it will be 20% of the market by 2010. What can be done about it? The best thing we can do is make sure that our customer base is happy.

“Happy customers,” he added, “will probably not flip over for a nickel.”

Changes in store

Whenever two companies as large as Rexel and GESCO merge, the process of change is in store. Over time, Rexel will make changes to the acquired company that fit with its overall company strategy.

If anyone is qualified to blend in a company the size of GESCO, it may be Waterman and his team. Waterman was president of Westburne from 1997 to 1999, when it made more than 30 acquisitions (some in the United States). He then moved with that company when Rexel bought Westburne. Upon arriving in Dallas as COO of Rexel in 2001, Waterman inherited the problems of a company that was put together rapidly via acquisition.

Rexel had 5,500 employees when Waterman arrived; not long after, it had 4,400. “That was just a matter of the company having put on fat in the 10-year run of good times,” he said. “We cleaned up some operations that were not profitable. It was merely a situation of normal business management.”

Recently, Rexel has experienced further expansion. Excluding acquisitions of other companies, the company opened eight new U.S. branches in 2006.

Are there branch closings and cutbacks in store for GESCO? In response to this Waterman said, “I think there are things that need to be changed over a period of time. The management team [at GESCO] is responding well to the ideas we have suggested.

“We won’t change things a whole lot—but the customers might,” he said. “What that essentially means is that we will, as always, respond to customer feedback. We will help fix the GESCO branches that have problem areas. We will help make these branches profitable. And if we can’t make them profitable, then that’s the customer speaking, telling the company that the particular branch probably should not be there.”

So will this result in plans for cutbacks,  or closings at the acquired company? According to Waterman, that’s not what the company has at the forefront of its plans. “We’re very happy with GESCO,” Waterman said. “Going forward into the future, we’re going to help make GESCO a better company—and I think we’ll have plenty of help from the employees who are with the company now.

“I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with many employees in middle management, and I’ve seen some great attitudes among them. These people like the fact that they are no longer working for a company that’s the stepchild of a manufacturer,” he said.

“Now the employees at GESCO are part of a company that’s in the distribution business. These people are excited, and I have a good feeling about that,” Waterman concluded.

Byline: Salimando is a contributing editor to TED and writes weekly for www.tedmag.com. He can be reached online at jsali@cris.com.

SIDEBAR:

Fact sheet

Rexel’s worldwide operations

• 2006 sales: Likely to come in around $13 billion

• Global snapshot: Fifty-three percent of the company’s second-quarter sales came from Europe—but that figure does not include U.S. sales of recent acquisitions (including GESCO and Capital Lighting & Supply, Hartford, Conn.). Second-quarter margins worldwide were 26%. As of June 30, Rexel had $1.15 billion worldwide in inventories, $2.5 billion in receivables, and roughly $4.7 billion in debt.

• U.S. sketch: Roughly 450 locations, 7,000 employees, $5.3 billion (estimated) in U.S. sales (includes foreign and nonelectrical sales of GESCO). These data are for International Electrical Supply Corporation, the holding company that is parent to Rexel Inc. and GESCO.

• U.S. markets breakdown: Commercial construction, 32% to 35%; industrial markets, 35%; residential, 19%; other, 11%

• North American sales: Using first-half run rates and acquisitions, Rexel SA’s sales in the United States and Canada—including GESCO, CLS, and more—could well be $6.5 billion or more. Two-thirds of sales of the North American ops are warehouse sales. Sales in the United States rose 20% on a constant basis in 2006’s first half, to roughly $1.36 billion.

• Ownership: Currently, the company is 100% owned by three entities: Clayton, Dubilier & Rice; Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity; and Eurazeo, a European firm. (If the CDR name seems familiar, note that it purchased Wesco from Westinghouse in 1994 and sold it in 1998.)

• Improving trends: Gross margins improved in Rexel SA’s second quarter of 2006 vs. one year earlier as follows: Europe, 27.4% vs. 26.6%; North America, 23.5% vs. 22.0%; Asia-Pacific, 27.1% vs. 26.7%. Company-wide, operating expenses dropped from 19.2% of sales in 2005’s second quarter to 18.9% in the second quarter of 2006. —J.S.

SIDEBAR:

• GESCO’s annual sales: $2.4 billion estimated in 2006. This includes nonelectrical sales in the United States and operations abroad (Ireland, Asia). In an Aug. 31 earnings phone conference call with analysts, Jean-Charles Pauze—chairman/CEO of Rexel SA—revealed that GESCO’s sales are distributed as follows: 91% United States, 7% Ireland, and 2% in five Asian countries.

• Price paid: Rexel paid $620 million to GE. It assumed $105 million of debt, and allocated another $60 million for various transition costs. A debt issue that raised $785 million to finance the acquisition and related costs, the company reported, drew bids from aspiring buyers for four times as much debt as offered.

• GE’s U.S. distribution sales: According to Pauze, of GESCO’s $2.2 billion last year, $1.7 billion was U.S. distribution of electrical equipment. And the company’s parent GE’s sales to GESCO were between 10% and 15% of GESCO’s sales, according to Pauze.

• Synergies: Official Rexel statements have talked about shared back-office functions. Initially, this will likely consist of consolidating items like tax and legal departments.

“This won’t all be in Dallas; some of it might happen at the GESCO head office in Shelton, Conn.,” Waterman explained. “Eventually, we’ll work our way through to combine some of the accounting,

as well.”

Pauze said that the company expects to have around $100 million in synergies between GE and its existing operations over the next four years. That $100 million total over four years, in theory, falls to the bottom line; it’s more than 13% of the purchase price.

• Future acquisitions: Waterman noted that Rexel will continue to acquire electrical distributors—and, after a time, GESCO will do so as well.  —J.S.

SIDEBAR

Rexel may go public in early 2007

Mid-September reports in The London Times and on the Reuters news service claimed that the owners of Rexel SA were considering selling shares in the company to the public in the first quarter of 2007.

As much as $5 billion might be raised in the initial public offering (IPO), which is called a “flotation” in Europe. Note that the three private equity firms that own Rexel SA reportedly paid roughly $4.5 billion for the company (in March 2005). Rexel also carries a shareholder loan of more than $1.2 billion on its books.

Specifics aren’t available—if the trio of owners floats Rexel SA for $5 billion, how much of the company will the public buy at that price? Officially, the company told Reuters, “The company and its shareholders constantly study and review various strategic alternatives, including an IPO. No decision has been taken yet.”

However, it’s reasonable to assume the following:

1. The three private equity firms will get most of their invested money out of Rexel via the IPO route.

2. The three firms—or perhaps only one or two—will retain a significant ownership share of Rexel SA after the IPO.

3. As a result of the IPO, the share retained would probably give the three owners a total return (cash out in the IPO plus equity in the company going forward) that dwarfs their original collective investment.

According to the Times, if the IPO takes place, it would be the largest by private equity firms. The record holder was the sale in 2003 of Yell, a British telephone directory firm (roughly $1.5 billion). —J.S.

Reprinted with full Permission of Ted Magazine November issue 2006

www.tedmag.com

Understand the True Cost of Cabling

The initial purchase price of a high-end network cabling solution can be twice as high—

or more—than that of a lesser system, making it crucial to stress the overall cost of ownership over the lifecycle of the product to potential buyers.

By Lee Arrowood

The ISO/IEC IS 11801 cabling standard for customer premises states that a cabling system is to have an anticipated usable life in excess of 10 years. Manufacturers’ system warranties, however, suggest that cabling systems are being designed with a usable life in excess of 20 years. For example, the Systimax Structured Connectivity Solutions extended product warranty from Commscope is for 20 years; Belden offers a 25-year product warranty and a lifetime application assurance program with its Belden IBDN Certified Structured Cabling System; the Siemon Company offers a 20-year warranty on its premium Siemon Cabling System; and Mohawk/CDT offers the SystemMATE warranty program, which lasts 26 years.

The knowledge that a cabling infrastructure system is being designed for a minimum of 10—and possibly more than 20—years factors into the average annual cost of ownership of the system. It also presents a challenge for distributors as they design and sell new network products to their customers.

Think back over the past 20 years and how applications and the need for bandwidth have expanded. One can only imagine how future applications will drive the need for increasing amounts of bandwidth—making it quite challenging to attempt to estimate what the needs of a network will be in five, 10, or 20 years.

However, distributors can provide options for customers based on data and forecasts of future long- and short-term needs, thus making it possible for customers to make informed decisions.

Short-term vs. lifecycle costs

The short-term costs of a cabling system are easy to calculate (see chart 1). Consider the example of a 48-user installation with average run being 150´ long. Assume that the installer will charge $100 per run to pull, terminate, label, and test each run per applicable ANSI/EIA/TIA standards. Also, assume that this is a nonplenum pathway.

Other important information:

• Once installed, the pathway will be in service for 30 years and will not require additional work.

• The patch panels, user outlet jacks, and patch cables will need to be upgraded each time the cable is changed.

• The electronics are not included in this example and, for the most part, is independent of this case. (Although some electronics will require higher-bandwidth cable, installing higher-bandwidth cable does not require new electronics; remember, the first rule from ANSI/TIA/EIA requires that it be backward-compatible.)

• The labor rate will increase at a rate of 5% per year over the 20-year period, so in year 10 the average labor rate per run will be $155.13.

Now take a look at the cost estimates in chart 2. Looking at the initial costs, it appears that the cost per user is much lower with the Cat 5e product. However, the “annualized cost per user” column is the one that will interest business owners (and their accountants) most.

Based on the current ANSI/TIA/EIA procedures, standards are being reviewed every five years. And considering what is currently in the works with new technologies, in the next five years the Cat 5e product will not be able to support some of the emerging technologies. It’s even possible to summarize cable plant lifespan this way: Minimum current cable Cat standard has a maximum expected remaining lifespan of five years; the next higher cabling standard, 10. When the enhanced versions of these cables are taken into consideration.

Furthermore, it can be assumed that for the Cat 5e, once five years have passed, the old cable will need to be removed and new Cat 6 or Cat 6e cable will be need to be installed—the data just further prove the point. All one really needs say is that after five years, the business owner will again need to spend major amounts of money to upgrade his or her computer network.

What about that warranty?

If a company installs the premium cabling systems today from a reputable manufacturer, the systems can work for at least 15 years and function quite well with the changing technologies. For example, manufacturers first introduced 300MHz to 350MHz cables in the early 1990s; most of those cables later became what is now rated Cat 5e and are still performing well in networks today. In the next five years they may become obsolete, but they will still have reached a lifetime of 20-plus years.

Some manufacturers have developed products that are far enough ahead of the  current standards that they can withstand the tests of time and technology. What if one of these ultra-premium products was added to chart 2? The result would be something along the lines of the last line in the chart. Could distributors sell that product to their customers? Perhaps. At the very least, they could provide customers with the data, and let them make the decision. n n n

Byline: Arrowood, RCDD, can be reached at larrowood@cfl.rr.com.

SIDEBAR

What’s the problem?

Slowing networks can be a frustrating problem—especially for small businesses. Because they tend to not have IT professionals on staff, many end up fighting the problem for months, wondering if there are viruses or computer problems at work. As the network response time continues to slow, they eventually hire help. Many times a new server is recommended—when the real problem is the network infrastructure.

Distributors’ service to smaller customers is to let them know that this problem can exist. A simple test involves attempting a large file (at least 100MB) download when there is no other traffic on the network. Then the same file is again downloaded at various intervals during the day. Try the download from two paths—first from the server, then directly from the Internet.

If the experiment yields fast downloads with no traffic and slow downloads during midday, there is definitely a network infrastructure problem and a consultant should be called in.—L.A.

TABLE

Item      Category           Retail Cost

Cable    Category 5e       $125.00

            Category 6        $165.00

            Category 6e       $205.00

                       

Jack     Category 5e       $6.50

            Category 6        $8.95

            Category 6e       $11.98

                       

48 Port Patch Panel       Category 5e       $350.00

            Category 6        $465.00

            Category 6e       $615.00

                       

7 ft Patch Cable Category 5e       $5.25

            Category 6        $9.75

            Category 6e       $12.50

Reprinted with full  Permission of Ted Magazine November issue 2006

www.tedmag.com

Anixter Posts 32% Sales Gain

By Joe Salimando

Sales in [Q2] reflect[ed] a significant acceleration of the trends of the past several quarters. We experienced very solid, broad-based sales growth in nearly all of the end markets we serve, and we made continued progress in our initiatives to grow our security business and supply chain service offerings.”

So said Robert Grubbs, president and CEO of Anixter International, in unveiling a second quarter in which Anixter’s sales hit a record $1.24 billion. That’s up $303 million, or 32%. Roughly $75 million of that—a quarter of the sales increase—came from companies recently acquired.

Organically (discounting those acquisitions), Anixter’s second-quarter sales rose by 23%. “This was one of the highest quarterly organic growth rates in the company’s history,” Grubbs said, “even after allowing for sharply higher copper prices.”

Copper, of course, is part of the story in much of Anixter’s growth, and in that of at least some of the companies in this month’s report. As Grubbs noted, copper prices in the second quarter averaged $3.39 per pound—up from $1.53 per pound in the second quarter of 2005.

Suppliers

• Acuity Brands. “Its operational momentum and relatively sparse analyst coverage is a good sign” is the word from SmartMoney.com in analyzing AYI stock. The Aug. 3 write-up noted that since Acuity’s spin off from National Service Industries in November 2001, Acuity’s stock price is up by more than 250%. Separately, on July 6 The Motley Fool (www.fool.com) compared Acuity to Hubbell, Cooper, Ecoloab, and Procter & Gamble: “The company is growing revenues about as fast as any of its peers, but net income is outpacing everybody from lamp makers to chemical competitors. All of these businesses are sporting much higher net margins than Acuity, which should leave plenty of room for future operational improvement.”

• ADC Telecommunications. The company generated $55 million in cash from operations in the year’s first nine months, up from $19 million one year earlier. However, the company is aiming higher: It’s cutting 225 jobs and closing two facilities. Stats of note: Global fiber connectivity sales increased 77% in the third quarter (compared to one year earlier) and was greatly aided by inclusion of sales from FONS, acquired on Aug. 26, 2005.

• Encore Wire. While the company’s sales are great, it’s making news in other areas. Encore was ranked No. 25 on Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 fastest-growing companies. It penned an agreement to distribute products from Electri-Flex to complement its new armored cable line and it expanded its revolving line of credit to $200 million (up 33%). For the record, Encore Wire’s sales rose 114% in the second quarter, hitting $362 million. Sales were up 43% sequentially (from the first quarter). The company has topped $1 billion in sales in the year ending June 30, and generated earnings per share of more than $5.

• General Cable. Copper’s high prices helped create a 19% year-over-year gain in metals-adjusted second-quarter revenues for General Cable, as it hit $987 million for the period.

According to the company, acquired businesses added $112.7 million of sales and accounted for 12.7 points of the volume growth in metals pounds sold in the quarter. However, as noted by the company, “The improvement in operating earnings was driven by increased factory utilization, and a significantly improved pricing environment across most of the company’s product lines and geographics, including a reduction in the time to recover raw material inflation.” Said Gregory Kenney, president and CEO, “For the first time in several years, all of our product lines are in the black.”

• Hubbell. Sales were up 16% in the second quarter and 17% for the first half, hitting $1.18 billion in the six-month period. Acquisitions accounted for 4% of the growth in both the quarter and half. “We continue to see strength in most of our markets,” said Timothy Powers, chairman, president, and CEO. “Electrical segment profitability is beginning to see the improvement that we predicted. Our production and delivery inefficiencies are being steadily resolved, contributing to improved operating margin percentages despite SAP implementation and new product launch costs.”

• Rockwell Automation. There’s so much cash flow being generated here that the company’s board has elected to put some of it to work for shareholders. The company will buy up to 9 million shares of its common stock before Sept. 30, 2007. At recent prices (upwards of $50 per share), the buyback—if completed—could absorb $450 million or more.Things are going so well that other investment efforts don’t have to stop. Free cash flow in the third quarter was $154 million. “Our businesses again captured share and outperformed underlying global markets,” Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO, said of the company’s fiscal third quarter (ended June 30). “During the quarter we increased the level of investment to accelerate and extend organic growth. The benefits of these investments will occur in future periods.”

• Tyco International. For the second straight quarter, Tyco’s gross revenues topped $10 billion. Free cash flow in the third quarter of fiscal year 2006 was $1.1 billion. Revenues in the fire and security business were $2.9 billion in the quarter, up 3% over the previous year’s results. Engineered products and services were up 7%, hitting nearly $1.8 billion in the quarter.

Contractors

• Emcor Group. Company revenues are up a bit more than 5% in the year’s first half—to $2.37 billion. This is an interesting development, considering that Emcor is the largest electrical and mechanical contractor in the United States; net income rose more than 112% in the second quarter.

• Integrated Electrical Services (IES). ”Don’t look at our old numbers” is what IES, which recently emerged from bankruptcy, put forth in a Sept. 11 SEC filing. Specifically, the company restated something it reported earlier: “Consolidated financial statements as of and for the six months ended March 31, 2004, and as of and for the years ended Sept. 30, 2002 and 2003, should no longer be relied upon.” Separately, the company’s Aug. 9 financial results release referenced “fresh start accounting.” So IES’s results for the third quarter of fiscal year 2006, without comparing them to previous years, were  revenues of $259 million.

Byline: Salimando also writes a weekly column for www.tedmag.com; he can be reached at wordsmith@verizon.net.

Reprinted with full  Permission of TED Magazine November issue 2006

www.tedmag.com

Graybar Offers Customers and Suppliers WiFi Access

By Darlene Bremer

In the winter of 2005, Graybar Electric of St. Louis got the idea that it could help its customers, suppliers, and staff be more productive by offering free wireless Internet (WiFi) access at its various locations across the country.

Deployment of WiFi service to 180 of Graybar’s more than 250 locations began in the spring of 2006 and was completed in October. To control costs, installation was performed by Graybar IT support staff during regular visits to branches; staff installed the wireless access points that broaden coverage.

“Implementation was a significant team effort involving IT, management, marketing, and operations staff at the corporate and district levels,” said David Moeller, national construction market manager.

Providing WiFi access is an important service addition for Graybar and has not disrupted the company’s mission-critical systems in any way. “The added traffic has not disrupted or slowed system access or computer activity at the locations providing the service,” Moeller said.

Since WiFi access implementation began, customers and suppliers have reported that they are very pleased to have WiFi access while visiting Graybar’s locations.

“They say that productivity has increased because the service is fast and convenient and employees are more mobile in conducting business,” said Moeller. An added benefit is that employees at each location are provided with wireless access to the Internet and internal systems, thus allowing them to be more mobile and to conduct business more efficiently.

To increase awareness about the new WiFi service with Graybar employees and guests, market-ing materials were provided to each location.

“We expect to see more people using the service as the initial implementation is completed and as more locations see the benefit and request deployment,” Moeller concluded.

Byline: Bremer can be reached at darbremer@comcast.net.

Reprinted with full  Permission of TED Magazine November issue 2006

www.tedmag.com

The Need for Strategic Planning

This month’s column is about something everyone needs to do to improve the industry; it’s a timely issue that most don’t do very well (if at all). The subject is planning, or more specifically, strategic planning.

Many people plan annually—calling it a budget for the next year. However, few sit down with a group of key employees and decide where the company wants to be in three years, how it will get there, and what needs to be done now to get the ball rolling. Too many people believe in miracles—or worse yet, rely on them.

When developed and implemented properly, a strategic plan is a competitive advantage. For the management team, the plan is a tool for better making decisions. For employees, the plan is a clear communication of why their roles are important to the future of an organization.

The strategic planning process can be complicated or simple, often depending on the size of the company. Large companies usually must invest a lot of time with a professional facilitator, but smaller ones will find a huge benefit in this area. They can easily gather their teams and have open and frank conversations about where they are going so they can put plans on paper. The thing to remember is that these efforts are never wasted; even the worst plan can be used later as an example of what to avoid.

It’s extremely important to develop a plan that can be implemented, one that won’t end up on a shelf. Good plans must not be too complex; avoid too much emphasis on planning and not enough on doing. It must be easy to communicate to everyone. Additionally, the plan must be tailored to the company’s specific needs, with special situations taken into consideration. The distribution business is people intensive, so staff interpretation and reaction to the plan are going to be extremely important.

Here are some things to help make the planning process successful:

1. Use the KISS method (“Keep It Simple Stupid”); keep it to one page.

2. Move the company toward its “big hairy audacious goal” with the plan and link the three-year strategic plan with the annual plan/budget.

3. Remember, it’s better to have a reasonably good plan that is implemented than a perfect plan that is too complex to get off the ground. As General Patton said, “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

4. Don’t be reluctant to write off losing or failing projects.

5. Get opinions and do a SWOT analysis (identify the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).

Choose the strategic planning team carefully, keeping it as small as is practical (eight to 10 participants is a good number). CEOs should be cautious not to dominate discussions and should allow others to air their views without repercussions. It’s also important not to rush the process or drag it out. Several meetings may be necessary over two or three months. Most likely, the larger the company, the longer this will take.

Make the process of developing the plan fun. A good plan will provide a road map for leading the company as well as helping every employee understand why decisions are made and how their individual jobs add to the well-being of the entire organization. Today’s younger employees, especially, want to know more about the big picture—where the company is headed and what’s in it for them.

Here are a few tongue-in-check guidelines for successful strategic planning:

• To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

• A computer might help with most problems, and if it doesn’t, a hammer will.

• The probability of an event occurring is in inverse proportion to its desirability.

• Teamwork is essential; it allows the opportunity to blame someone else.

• No one is listening until you make a mistake.

• Past experience is always true; never be misled by present facts.

• No matter how much you doubt the plan, make it sound convincing.

• The planner who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone to blame it on.

• Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

• Success always occurs in private, and failure in full view.

Byline: Duda is chairman of NAED and CEO/chairman of Butler Supply in Fenton, Mo. Reach him at 636-349-9000 or duda@butlersupply.com.

Reprinted with full  Permission of TED Magazine November issue

www.tedmag.com

Patience Pays Off

Selling test equipment can be a hassle—but it can also improve distributors’ bottom lines.

By Jim Hayes

The essence of being in the test equipment business is having customers who want delivery yesterday, and drop-shipped to the job site. Not only are managers expected to read customers’ minds, but they are also expected to take the blame whenever something goes wrong. This often includes diagnostic and corrective work, usually over the phone.

Most distributors have probably had the same experience. A customer calls from the field and orders test equipment he just realized he must have. Or he calls complaining that he received the box, opened it on the job site, and found that the batteries were not charged, or that he didn’t have the proper accessories to connect it, or that he couldn’t figure out how to use the equipment.

Some distributors report that they hate to sell test equipment because of the hassles and support issues that inevitably go with it. Some even wonder why they bother selling test equipment at all, as it represents only a small percentage of the total sales on a typical cabling order.

However, test equipment can be a highly profitable product line for those who understand the marketing and support required of test equipment.

The path to understanding

First and foremost, if a distributor is going to carry test equipment, salespeople need to ask every customer placing an order if he or she has all of the other hardware and equipment needed. When a customer calls to order a few boxes of Cat 5e cable, the salesperson needs to ask about the project: Are jacks, punchdown blocks, cable trays, wall boxes, installation equipment, etc., needed as well? The same is true for fiber-optics and wireless, where access points require cabling into the network.

Not only do salespeople need to ask about the extras customers may need, but they also need to question the quantity of each. Extra cable is needed for completing the whole distance of every link and adding service loops. For example, sometimes with custom-ordered fiber-optic cable, additional cable should be ordered to have it for restoration in the event of a cable cut or break. Installers always need extra UTP jacks and fiber-optic connectors, since some may be improperly installed or damaged and require replacement.

The last thing every salesperson should ask is whether the customer has all of the tools and test equipment  needed to complete the project. The salesperson need not know everything about test equipment, just what comprises the usual test set for each application. A crib sheet for sales with recommendations on testers for various types of copper and fiber cabling at several price levels (with notes on why some are more expensive—e.g., tests performed or internal data storage) is the best way to handle making recommendations.

Test equipment often has enough configuration options and accessories such that local stocking creates a problem. Some copper testers need special interface cables or test heads for different cable types. Fiber-optic testers have options for different fiber, wavelength, and connector types. Some test equipment is too expensive to stock. Certification testers for Cat 5e/6 and fiber-optic OTDRs cost a lot of money. Some of these instruments may continuously change with each new standard and technology, making instruments currently in stock obsolete or in need of reprogramming. It may only make sense to sell these testers if the manufacturer does the configuration and drop-ships directly to the customer.

Still, it’s the support issues that make selling cabling testers the most frustrating for distributors. Users always want a pass/fail tester. But when they fail, most testers require some training, experience, and analytical abilities to determine the cause of the problem. At this stage, distributors must generally defer to manufacturers for support.

Byline: Hayes, of VDV Works, can be reached at www.JimHayes.com.

Reprinted with full  Permission of TED Magazine November issue 2006

www.tedmag.com

Belden To Close 2 Plants, Eliminate 325 Positions

Cable manufacturer, Belden CDT Inc. said it would close two plants, eliminate 325 positions and take related charges.

The company said it would stop production at its plants in Quebec and Illinois by mid 2007, and take severance and non-cash asset impairment charges of between 15 cents and 20 cents a share mostly in the fourth quarter.

IRS Announces 2007 Standard Mileage Rates

The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2007 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2007, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (including vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

48.5 cents per mile for business miles driven;
20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and
14 cents per mile driven in service to a charitable organization.

The new rate for business miles compares to a rate of 44.5 cents per mile for 2006.  The new rate for medical and moving purposes compares to 18 cents in 2006. The primary reasons for the higher rates were higher prices for vehicles and fuel during the year ending in October.
 
The standard mileage rates for business, medical and moving purposes are based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. Runzheimer International, an independent contractor, conducted the study for the IRS.

The mileage rate for charitable miles is set by statute.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle, for any vehicle used for hire or for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.  Revenue Procedure 2006-49 contains additional information on these standard mileage rates.

Crossbow Introduces Wireless (#) Sharp Workshop

Do not be intimidated by ‘Techno Jargon’ Anymore

The Wireless (#) Sharp is a two day workshop ideal for Managers, Decision Makers, Technical Support, and Administrative Staff.

The Wireless (#) Sharp explains existing and emerging popular technical standards and demystifies ‘the techno jargon’ often heard around coffee shops!

Benefits:

·         Wireless (#) Sharp training ensures you have a broad base of knowledge and competency in wireless standards and technologies

·         Demonstrates your understanding of the differentiators among the latest wireless networking technologies

·         You are better prepared to plan, implement, outsource, and manage wireless projects

·         Wireless (#) Sharp will ensure your RFI’s,  RFPs, and  RFQs are accurate and detailed for wireless projects

·         Wireless (#) Sharp will enable you to manage vendor relations more effectively

·         You do not need to be a techno-nerd to go through the workshop

·          

Details about the Wireless (#) Sharp Workshop:

Gives a good comprehensive overview of wireless standards and technologies:


1.       Wi-Fi

2.       Bluetooth

3.       WiMAX

4.       ZigBee

5.       Infrared

6.       RFID

7.       VoWLAN


 

Workshop Dates:          January 17th and 18th 2007 / February 14th and 15th 2007

Times:                          9:00am – 4:30pm (Wednesdays and Thursdays)

Venue:             1245 South Winchester Blvd, Suite 108, San Jose, CA-95128

Sign-Up:                       Phone: 408-392-0016 / Fax: 408-249-8865

Email:              info@crossbowcom.com

(Onsite Classes also available – Minimum 10 attendees)

**Special Price:           $750.00* / Per Person [*Not including Exam fee]

**Fax filled out sign-up form to: 408-249-8865 before December 31st 2006 for this offer

Happy Holidays – May the year ahead be filled with Good Fortune.

Be Safe & Be Happy


REMEMBER TO RECYCLE, REDUCE AND REUSE

   
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