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Wireville.com

Issue: October 2007
By: Frank Bisbee


Datacom/Telecom Glossary
In This Issue

Bits N' Pieces


BISBEE’S BUZZ

October often means Autumn and closes with Trick or Treat. This year, we are experiencing a heat wave and it just doesn’t feel much like Fall. The season still means Budget Planning for 2008. The challenge remains to forecast the trends and the market ahead. The correct plans have big paybacks for the manufacturers, distributors, contractors, and even the consumers.

In the communications cabling industry, we see several hot areas for the upcoming year. The convergence of these areas is often summarized under the headings of SMART BUILDINGS & HOMES

  • SAFETY – PERSONAL & STRUCTURAL
  • SECURITY – PERSONAL & STRUCTURAL
  • INTEGRATION OF VARIED SYSTEMS
  • ENVIRONMENTAL FRIENDLY (LEEDS)
  • FIBER OPTICS (FTTX)
  • SURVEILLENCE
  • ACCESS CONTROL
  • SMART BUILDING SERVICES
  • IP CONTROLS – REMOTE MONITORING
  • REUSE-RECYCLE-REDUCE
  • REDUCED TOXIC MATERIALS
  • ENERGY CONTROLS & EFFICENCY
  • INREASED NETWORK SPEEDS AND CAPABILITIES
  • DATA STORAGE AND PROTECTION

Most of these HOT issues were well represented at this month’s super successful NECA Annual Conference in San Francisco. www.necanet.org

We also found several articles that pave the road to understanding in the September/October issue of Canada’s leading cabling industry’s publication - Cabling Networking Systems Magazine (www.cnsmagazine.com). Here is a good article from that issue (You can see the whole issue online).

Intelligent Cabling & The ITIL

If high availability, converged networks are to become a reality, a fundamental change in network infrastructure change control, configuration and problem management processes will be required.

The migration toward the goal of high availability, converged corporate networks is set to provide a considerable challenge to those wishing to reap the undoubted business benefits.

By Tony Beam

Corporate information networks of the 21st century have become the core upon which successful organizations are based and their competitive advantage derived.

The critical nature of the corporate network is beyond doubt and its importance as the primary source of commercial activity and communication is growing exponentially. Consequently, there is a rapidly growing demand for network infrastructures that offer levels of IT service availability akin to those provided under a utility business model.

This demand has also been fuelled by the trend toward the convergence of voice, data and video services, to include non-traditional IT service systems (HVAC controls, Lighting controls, IP security surveillance and access control systems), a move which will only be possible if the near 100%, 24/7 service availability currently enjoyed by voice networks is not compromised.

The migration toward the goal of high availability, converged corporate networks is set to provide a considerable challenge to those wishing to reap the undoubted business benefits.

It will require system downtime reductions in excess of 80% to achieve this goal, however, it is extremely unlikely that improvements of this magnitude can be delivered by the manual infrastructure management systems and processes in use today.

If high availability, converged networks are to become a reality, a fundamental change in network infrastructure change control, configuration and problem management processes is required.

The realization that the 100% availability of IT services will assume ever-greater significance has led to the introduction of IT Service Management. Setting the benchmark for ‘best practice’ in service management is ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), which has been adopted as the de-facto global standard.

While past attempts at service improvements were primarily focused on investments in technology, the ITIL approach differs in that it defines the processes within the particular services to be performed, thereby providing a ‘best practice’ framework for continuous IT service delivery and management.

Subhead: Change management

At the core of the ITIL framework is the network configuration and change management processes. The accuracy and quality of the information contained within the main configuration management database (CMDB) is fundamental in ensuring the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of all associated IT Service Management processes, particularly in complex environments.

Similarly, the management of changes to this information is also critical as the network manager must know the exact implications of carrying out any changes before they take place. Avoiding the potential for a ‘butterfly effect’ to develop as a result of a poorly executed change or problem resolution is essential if 100% service availability is to be maintained.

Creating such systems and processes based upon a traditionally managed cabling infrastructure is an impossible task, as the connectivity and asset information contained within traditional tools and documentation processes, being manually maintained, is inevitably inaccurate, outdated and therefore cannot be integrated into the core CMDB. This creates a large degree of uncertainty concerning the physical location and associated connectivity and accountability of network devices. It also severely limits the quality of IT service delivery and management.

By adopting the correct “intelligent cabling management system,” which involves both hardware and software tools as a key part of their cabling strategy, organizations can create a platform capable of addressing these problems, providing a 100% accurate, real-time, trusted source of connectivity and asset information that can be integrated within the core CMDB and consequently, the associated IT Service Management tools and processes.

Any physical changes to the network configuration are automatically updated and reflected across all management processes, aiding communication between organizational work-streams and co-ordinating events.

Market acceptance growing

Intelligent cabling infrastructure management systems have been on the market in excess of five years from a number of different manufacturers.

Most importantly, they have experienced continuance improvements both in hardware and software plus overall reduction in price and ease of installation.

Now it is possible to say that reliable, cost-effective systems are on the market, which meet the needs and requirements of an effective cabling infrastructure management system to support IT services.

Market acceptance over the past five years has been mixed depending upon the industry and the customer location. No doubt the industry that has accepted the intelligent cabling infrastructure systems has been the financial industry closely followed by any customer data or call centre locations.

Other industries where adoption is strong are communications and media providers, health care and government institutions.

Oddly enough the deployment of intelligent cabling systems have seen the greatest adoption in what would be considered the “developing countries” such as India, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Mexico and Russia. The country of exception would be the United Kingdom where this technology was first introduced and has seen widespread adoption based on the recognized benefits.

In Canada and the U.S., adoption has been slow, but growing with indications that numerous enterprise customers are giving strong considerations.

The primary reason that adoption has been slow here and in the U.S., is likely because intelligent cabling management systems are most cost-effectively implemented with new builds and major renovations versus trying to retrofit existing cabling systems.  Additionally, it is often difficult to the reach the decision maker who oversees this area, and to get them to understand that there are now new and better methods.

First and foremost the customer needs to insure that the system supports their IT service practices and provides them the information that they need 24 hours, 7 days a week and that the process ensures 100% accuracy of the information.

The software along with the hardware must provide an automated, accurate, real-time physical layer management system.

This combined system should proactively respond to changes in connectivity and intelligently record your cabling system and its devices with accurate documentation. It should offer an integrated work order system, which can use the compiled information to provide automated design and change recommendations as well as monitoring the work order progress, therefore eliminating time-consuming, often paper laden manual work order processes.

From the hardware prospective, the customer needs to be assured that the system fully supports all the various cabling solutions available to include unshielded and shielded twisted-pair, and fiber optics to include 62.5, laser-optimized 50 and single-mode in the various connector types (Duplex SC, MT-RJ, and Duplex LC).

Especially for data and call centre applications the system should support the plug-and-play solutions involving MPO for fiber optics and MRJ21 for copper.

The hardware should be easy to install and most significantly not only support cross-connect applications (between patch panels), but also interconnect applications (between patch panel and switch). 

Of significant importance is that the hardware system needs to be self-discovering of connectivity in the case of power, system or network outages so that information remains accurate and up-to-date.

Additionally, it should support massive connective changes but not requiring patch cords to be removed sequentially or having to follow blinking LED lights, which would require mandatory use of a work order system.  It needs to allow multiple technicians to work at the same time and to remove, add and change patch cords in whatever way is most efficient for business continuity.

Information alerts

The hardware system should be fully-integrated with the software system to provide the technician in the telecommunications closet with the information and alerts necessary for them to perform their assigned work actions. It should also provide them access to their assigned work actions, both connectivity and general.

It should provide the technician with immediate positive or negative feedback on performing connectivity changes, such as good or bad audible tones. Finally, it should immediately feed into the software database connectivity changes, specifically the completion of work actions, as well as provide the technician the ability to input the completion or issues associated with general work actions.

The software in conjunction with the hardware needs to provide the following:

Real-Time Monitoring -- this automates the process of discovering, documenting, monitoring, and managing the physical network’s connections and its devices.

Location Based IP-Device Discover -- the system needs to not only discover IP-devices attached to the network and their status but also correlate that to the connectivity database to provide its physical location.

Flexible Alert System -- the ability to send out alerts to designated individuals based on a flexible filter system based on such items as location, time, authorized or unauthorized changes.

Comprehensive and Flexible Work Order System – the ability to assign access rights and privileges as determined by the administrator allowing authorized users to select proposed moves of workstations, phones, printers or other equipment. Moves can be performed singly or in bulk, as in departmental relocation. The system should automatically generate auto-routing, and a step-by-step work order and schedule, which can be accepted or revised by the user. Tasks should be able to be divided and distributed between various supervisors and technicians. Work orders should include connectivity traces, wiring closet diagrams and floor plans.

Detailed Reports -- the software needs to provide a library of detailed reports of cable, port and asset utilization and physical configurations. These reports are invaluable to network administrators and asset managers.

The adoption and implementation of an intelligent cabling and infrastructure management system can insure the optimization of ITIL processes and the resulting improvements in work-stream productivity and efficiency, ensuring organizations that automate and integrate the management of the physical layer as an integral part of the IT Service Management platform, will attain the goal of continuous service delivery and maximize the return (ROI) on their IT investments.

Tony Beam is the product management director for AMPTRAC Connectivity Management System from AMP NETCONNECT, a division of Tyco Electronics.

Reprinted with permission from Cabling Networking Systems Magazine (www.cnsmagazine.com)

We agree. At the core of the ITIL framework is the network configuration and change management processes. Smart management means saved dollars and higher consumer values.

Have a Safe & Happy Halloween… and Pray for Peace.

But that’s just my opinion,

Frank Bisbee
Heard On The Street" Monthly Column
www.wireville.com
4949 Sunbeam Rd, Suite 16
Jacksonville, FL 32257

Industry News

Leviton Manufacturing Mourns Passing Of CEO And Chairman Harold Leviton

Harold Leviton’s dedication to the electrical industry and its key professional associations is legendary. He served on many industry association and civic boards over a span of decades, rarely missing a meeting. Well into his late 80s he traveled around the world to position his third-generation family business, formed at the turn of the century, into a global industry leader. His life revolved around his family, his company, his hobbies and generous philanthropic and civic pursuits.

With great sadness Leviton Manufacturing Company announces the passing of its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Harold Leviton, age 90. Leviton passed away Saturday afternoon September 8, 2007 with his family at his bedside. He is survived by his wife of more than 66 years, Shirley, daughters, Patricia, Adrienne, and Elizabeth, son-in-laws, Donald J. Hendler, Steven B. Sokolow and Andrew Kriegman, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"I am deeply saddened that our industry has lost one of its foremost icons," said Donald J. Hendler, Leviton company president. "Those of us who knew Harold had a deep admiration and tremendous respect for him as a businessman with infinite passion for the electrical industry. Harold took great pride in assuming leadership of our large, private, family company and in ushering in another generation. His legacy of continuing the family business will be carried forward. I am proud to accept leadership responsibility on behalf of Harold and the Leviton family.”

Born in 1917 in Brooklyn, New York, Harold Leviton grew up with “electricity” and a passion for the electrical business running through his veins. While his young contemporaries were out playing stickball or softball on Saturdays, he regularly accompanied his father on visits to the family’s Greenpoint, Brooklyn factory, where he spoke to employees at all levels of the company and learned the business from the ground up.

After graduating from the University of Miami with a business degree in 1940, he began full-time employment at the company. Starting out in the stock room, he made his way through the company’s purchasing and personnel departments and eventually became Director of Personnel, where he instituted forward-thinking policies and diversified the workforce well before the nation’s anti-discrimination laws were legislated. With the passing of his older brother Bernard and his father Isidor two years later in 1965, he found himself sitting at the company’s helm as its President, CEO and Chairman. Under his 42-year long leadership, Leviton Manufacturing grew to become one of the leading companies in the electrical industry with a product portfolio consisting of more than 25,000 products used in homes, businesses and industrial facilities. 

In addition to presiding over the company, Harold Leviton stood as a commanding presence and outspoken advocate for safety standards in the electrical industry.  Recalling the day he received a letter from a parent thanking him for saving her child’s life, he described the experience as a defining moment – one which exemplified why he chose a career in electrical manufacturing. A mother had found a hairdryer in the bottom of the bathtub with her child. After removing her child from the bathtub she learned that the GFCI the hairdryer was plugged into had tripped, saving her child’s life. “This is perhaps one of the best examples of giving back,” he recalled. “Through the industry’s involvement in safety standards, we gave back a child’s life.”

Leviton served as Chairman of NEMA’s (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) Wiring Device Section and Building and Equipment Division and as an honorary member of its Board of Governors and Chairman of the Electrical Manufacturing Council. In addition, he served as Vice Chairman Emeritus of the National Electrical Safety Foundation (NESF).

His keen sense of social responsibility and concern for the nation’s youth led him to institute the Leviton Industrial Arts Award, which has since become a prestigious accolade for New York City High School students in the electrical trades. Leviton played an active role with the United Jewish Y’s of Long Island as both a benefactor and one-time President and Chairman of its Board. He was also a founder of Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) and a benefactor of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

During his lifetime, he received numerous distinguished awards, including the Anti-Defamation Torch of Liberty Award; the Wire and Cable Club of America’s Charles D. Scott Distinguished Career Award; NEMA’s Falk Award; and the Medal of Merit of the Portuguese Communities, for the philanthropy and goodwill he extended to those of Portuguese descent after a devastating volcano struck the Azores.

His civic activities were many and varied, and included serving as a Trustee and Deputy Mayor of the Village of Hewlett Harbor, New York and Vice President of the Board of the Woodmere (New York) Academy. An avid salt-water game fisherman and golfer, his signature hobbies included creating latch hook rugs and cork trivets, which he often gave as gifts to friends, customers and associates.  The staff of the Leviton Company will deeply miss him and are comforted by the legacy of market innovation, philanthropy and goodwill he leaves behind. Services were held Monday, September 10, 2007 at Temple Israel nearby his hometown of Hewlett Harbor.  www.leviton.com.


Quickly And Economically Bundle And Position High-performance Cable With The Caddy® Mille-tie™

CADDY® Mille-Tie from ERICO® offers a quick and economical solution for bundling and positioning high-performance copper and fiber cable. The ties are ideal for use in cable trays, non-continuous fasteners (J-Hooks, etc.), surface raceways, wireways, service poles and in-wall cabling. They separate cables for voice, data, video, alarm and building automation systems in horizontal and backbone pathways, simplifying installation and identification for testing and troubleshooting.

The innovative design of the CADDY Mille-Tie helps protect cables from installation damage and promotes maximum signal throughput. “Intelligent grip” technology naturally controls and adjusts the level of tension to help ensure the perfect grip. CADDY Mille-Tie holds cables in place and reduces the risk of compression damage and slippage problems often associated with traditional nylon and fabric cable ties.

CADDY Mille-Tie cannot be over-tightened. The tie forms a smooth contour around the cables to eliminate gaps and pinch points, greatly reducing the chance of detrimental hot spots forming in the cable. They are easy to install, leave no sharp edges when cut and can be quickly removed by hand. Additionally, one strip can replace four or five conventional ties, reducing stock requirements and waste and speeding installation.

CADDY Mille-Tie is available in three versions: Plenum-rated for air-handling spaces, low-smoke/zero halogen certified version and heavy-duty for containing and supporting bulkier cables (up to 35 lbs). The heavy-duty version easily accommodates bundles in excess of 6” dia. and is suitable for outdoor use.

For more information, call 1-800-853-0878 or visit www.erico.com.

ERICO® is a leading global designer, manufacturer and marketer of precision-engineered specialty metal products serving niche markets in a diverse range of electrical, construction, utility and rail applications. The company is headquartered in Solon, Ohio, USA with a network of sales locations serving more than 25 countries and with manufacturing and distribution facilities worldwide. ERICO’s well-known brand names include: CADDY® electrical and mechanical fixings, fasteners and supports; CADWELD® welded electrical connections; CRITEC® surge protection devices; ERICO® rail and industrial products; ERIFLEX® low voltage power distribution; ERITECH® facility electrical protection; and LENTON® concrete products. Visit ERICO online at www.erico.com .


Entrust(tm) Line Interactive UPS Systems Introduced Entrust UPS Products

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Entrust Features

·       USB Communications - HID compliant USB communication that is

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

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

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

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

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

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

reduction of hazardous substances (RoHS) in electronic equipment.

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

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

·       Larger Load Capacities - Para Systems has increased the capacities

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

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

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

Background Para Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of power technologies including the Minuteman(r) uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) for mission-critical equipment protection such as computers, telecommunications systems, security systems and Internet devices.  Minuteman(r) UPS products range from 400VA standby units to true sine wave, line interactive and on-line models rated up to 10kVA.

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

(KVM) systems and surge suppressors.

Additional corporate and product information is available at the Company's website www.minutemanups.com. A free UPS sizing and selection tool is available at www.sizemyups.com that can determine which Minuteman(r) UPS units can best meet your application's power protection needs. 


Graybar has “partnered” with IBEW Local Union 164

GRAYBAR & IBEW #164—a Sept. 14 article in The Paramus (N.J.) Post noted that Graybar has “partnered” with IBEW Local Union 164 “to establish a customized training laboratory featuring Square D” products. IBEW 164 is known as one of the most advanced local unions in the country it has a 40,000-square-foot training facility that, according to the newspaper, “is one of the most technically advanced centers of its kind in the state.” “We are committed to partnering with industry leaders like IBEW Local 164 for the purpose of advancing training methods. Like 164, our goal is to preserve worksite safety,” said David Pfenner, branch manager for Graybar. www.graybar.com


Bines Joins Alpha Technologies As South East Regional Sales Manager

Larry Bines has over 30 years of experience as Sales Manager for Power Protection Products in various industries. Over the past few years, Larry has held the positions with companies such as Magnetek, Para Systems and Wavetek. Larry’s extensive knowledge and experience in both AC and DC power protection industry will be a perfect fit in his new role with Alpha.

With 30 years of experience in power protection, Larry, along with the rest of the Alpha Team, can offer the right solution for various markets that require continuous clean reliable power. Larry Bines will be reporting to Frank Albano, Vice President of CPS.

Alpha Technologies is the leader in providing AC Power Backup to key markets such as Traffic, Security, Data Communications, Medical, and OEM. Alpha Technologies has a strong network of global partners who work together to provide high-quality, feature-rich AC UPS and battery backup power systems that are engineered to meet current industry requirements and withstand harsh environmental conditions. Alpha Technologies is a member of The Alpha Group which provides Total Power Solutions and is the leader in the power industry with thirty years of outdoor power expertise, and over one-million systems installed globally.

Please join me in welcoming Larry to Alpha Technologies. We all look forward to his contributions to the Alpha Group. Please contact www.alpha.com for all of Larry’s contact information.


Harger’s Grounding Busbars & Line Card

Harger Lightning & Grounding proudly introduces its complete line of grounding busbars.  Harger also introduces its new Line Card as a quick reference guide for your grounding needs. Harger ground bars are UL Listed and meet the requirements for electrical grounding as well as BICSI and ANSI-J-STD-607-A telecommunications standards.  Options include insulator bracket kits, tower mount kits, Ultraweld exothermically welded pigtail conductors, plexiglass covers, and compression lug kits. Standard ground bars are available for equipment racks and specialty ground bars for FAA applications.  Custom designed ground bars are Harger's specialty and we provide this service at no extra charge. Please contact our factory with your specifications.

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


Graybar Takes A Stand Against Private Labeling

Graybar, one of the nation’s leading distributors of electrical and communications products and related supply chain management and logistics services, stated its opposition to private-label products at the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) Annual Meeting May 5-9 in Washington, D.C.

In the May show issue of TED Magazine, NAED’s publication on the electrical distribution industry, Graybar placed an ad with the headline ‘“No.” (Graybar takes a public stand on private labeling.)’ Here the company outlined its stance and encouraged the industry to follow suit.

“A number of people walked up to me at the meeting and thanked us for the position Graybar is taking, and we think it’s important,” said Robert A. Reynolds Jr., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Graybar.  “We believe that working with our suppliers, not against them, is in everyone’s best interest throughout the supply chain – right down to our mutual customers.  That’s why we refuse to develop and market our own products.”

In the ad, Graybar expressed its belief that distributors should focus on the important role of distribution rather than circumventing the traditional manufacturer-distributor relationship to create their own competing brands of products. Reasons cited included breaking healthy industry alliances and potentially increasing customer liability.

 “Our relationship with our suppliers and their brands is very important to us,” Reynolds emphasized.  “It’s about trust, loyalty and partnership.  We have had many supplier relationships for 82 years, and we don’t want to jeopardize them in any way.” http://graybar.com


Addison Commercial Real Estate, Inc. Joins TCN Worldwide As Its Newest Member

Grafton D. “Duke” Addison, III, President and CEO of Addison Commercial Real Estate, Inc. has announced they are the latest member to join TCN Worldwide, a growing international commercial real estate organization.  Addison Commercial Real Estate Inc. is the largest independent/ privately held commercial real estate firm in Northeast Florida, and will serve as the exclusive TCN Worldwide affiliate in the Jacksonville, Florida marketplace. 

Recognized as one of the top ten brokerage firms in both leasing and sales volume throughout the greater Jacksonville area, Addison Commercial Real Estate, Inc. completed the largest office sales transaction in the City of Jacksonville in 2006 by selling five (5) suburban office parks, totaling 739,968 sq. ft., for $73.9 million dollars. The 14-year old, 8 agent firm is a full-service real estate brokerage company specializing in office, industrial, retail, land and investment sales.  In addition to Commercial Leasing and Sales, Tenant and Landlord Representation, Property Management and maintenance are key areas of focus.

Duke Addison said the following: “We are thrilled to join TCN Worldwide and their national network of brokers.  Their platform will launch our firm to new heights and deliver our clients/employees an expanded level of resources.  TCN’s culture and values are a perfect match to our own.  When competing against national firms the only edge they had over our firm was they had a national presence and we didn’t.  Our decision to join TCN levels the playing field and in my opinion now gives us the clear advantage.  While real estate is mainly a local business, a national presence is critical in obtaining corporate accounts.  TCN affords us the ability to maintain our entrepreneurial spirit at Addison Commercial and make decisions locally yet utilize our field offices around the country and throughout Florida to serve our clientele.  TCN has representation in the following Florida cities:  Orlando, Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and now Jacksonville.  In just a few days we have already begun to refer business to our partner offices in Chicago, Atlanta and Tampa.  We anticipate many new assignments headed our way as we grow our relationships with other member firms within the network.  This is an excellent tool in our kit for our experienced agents, new agents and recruits.”

Ross Ford, President and CEO of TCN, added “We are extremely pleased to welcome Addison Commercial Real Estate, Inc. to our growing organization. As TCN Worldwide continues to expand, the key to our success remains our ability to attract the finest local firms in key markets around the world.   Addison Commercial Real Estate, Inc. represents the type of outstanding firm that has become synonymous with TCN Worldwide.”

About TCN Worldwide:

TCN Worldwide, a consortium of independent commercial real estate firms, provides complete integrated real estate solutions locally and internationally.  With approximately $13.9 billion in annual transactions and over 100 million square feet of space under management, the organization ranks as one of the largest service providers in the industry.  An extensive range of real estate services coupled with a personal commitment to exceed client expectations is what allows TCN Worldwide to be a leader within the commercial real estate industry.  Formed in 1989, TCN Worldwide is comprised of 61 offices and over 1,200 commercial real estate professionals, which serve more than 200 primary and secondary markets worldwide. www.acrei.com  http://www.tcnworldwide.com


Coleman Cable Increases Production Capabilities To Provide Wide Range of Cost-Competitive Welding Cable Products

Coleman Cable Inc. (CCI) announces an increase in production capabilities and expansion of its welding cable product line to cover the wide variety of performance requirements for welding, power supply and battery power applications in the industrial and construction markets.

”We’ve recently completed significant investments in our welding cable production facilities to increase our capabilities and solidify our leadership position as a highly cost-competitive resource for top-quality welding cable products,” remarked Jeff Johnston, Executive Vice President, Operations of Coleman Cable, Inc.  “CCI’s advanced manufacturing process controls, quality assurance processes, extensive engineering resources and vertically integrated copper fabrication facilities enable us to provide our customers with the best possible service and products available.”

CCIoffers three different constructions and performance characteristics, backed by three widely-recognized brand names: the Royal® brand of EPR (rubber) welding cable; Seoprene® brand of thermoplastic elastomer, MSHA-approved welding cable; and Super Excelene® brand UL-listed, thermoset (rubber) welding cable. www.colemancable.com


Solis Energy Unveils its Complete Solution for Reliable Outdoor Power Generation, Connectivity & Emergency Back-Up Supporting Traditional & 'Green' Powering Initiatives

Solis Energy, a global provider of continuous outdoor power generation and connectivity, today announced its suite of powerful, unique products that provide customers with easy, immediate access to 100 percent power necessary to run critical, low-wattage devices (typically 100 watts or less), wherever they are located, even where grid-supplied electricity is unavailable.  Such critical, low-wattage devices and applications include security/surveillance cameras, WiFi hotspots, WiMax radios, lights, traffic control sensors, and more. 

The use of low-wattage electronic devices and applications is exploding as the demand increases for ubiquitous wireless access and as security requirements are heightened globally. With the resulting rapid expansion of WiFi technology and the growing deployment of security technologies and devices, businesses, utilities and government entities now demand easy, cost-effective ways to reach and guarantee 100 percent power to run these vital applications. These needs are currently unmet by existing products - until now. Solis Energy is uniquely targeting these growing markets with its suite of innovative products. 

Solis Energy designs and manufactures turnkey, stand-alone Solar Generators with Smart Enclosures - that support today's enormous Going Green initiatives to conserve the global environment with renewable energy sources - Outdoor Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), Streetlight Power Tap Adapters, and soon, devices for multiple DC power or Power over Ethernet (POE) requirements, and Remote Power Monitoring (RPM)  Combined, this solution  creates the most reliable, rugged and cost-effective independent outdoor powering solutions for low-wattage applications and devices on the market today. 

"Our products provide continuous, reliable outdoor power generation, connectivity and emergency/secondary power back-up, anywhere it's needed - including remote locations that don't have power. Whether on-grid or off-grid, our products are easy to install, requiring no special expertise, and they give our customers the ability to take control of their outdoor power," said Solis Energy's Founder and CEO Robert Reynolds. 

Independent testing lab Technology Assurance Labs' Co-Founder Douglas S. Peeples commented, "We find Solis Energy's solutions to be 'engineer friendly,' having been designed by engineers with actual field experience.  The component selection and layout is first rate.  The lab sees their products as robust, and they will fare well in extreme climates.  Engineers should give fair consideration to the product set and not be fooled by its modest cost."

Established in Sept. 2005, Solis Energy was founded by seasoned executives and engineers whose values stemmed from the critical infrastructure and high reliability demands of the telecommunications industry.  Solis Energy's products were built from the ground up to provide cost-effective, reliable and rugged outdoor power generation and connectivity to support the most mission-critical low-voltage applications and electronic devices, regardless of their location.  Solis has already gained an impressive list of highly visible customers locally and globally, including, local/international airports, municipal WiFi projects (including the WiFi network in Orlando, provided by SmartCity), local/international theme parks, public utilities, corporate enterprises and telecommunications companies.

Solis Energy's products are distributed globally through resellers including Cypress Equipment and Power Products Direct, and are field proven on applications by Motorola, SkyPilot Networks, Airaya, F4W, and others.

Solis Energy's product suite includes the Solar Power Plant SPP Series Solar Generators with Smart Enclosures, Outdoor Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), Streetlight Power Tap Adapters, and soon, devices for multiple DC power or Power over Ethernet (POE) requirements, and Remote Power Monitoring (RPM):

Solar Power Plant SPP Series

The Solar Power Plant SPP Series is a complete platform of solar generators with Smart Enclosures that provide a renewable energy source for powering applications and devices where conventional power doesn't exist or isn't viable to install. It is ideally suited for low-wattage requirements and can be easily mounted to a pedestal, side of pole or wall location.  The Solar Power Plant SPP Series support today's enormous Going Green initiatives to conserve the global environment with renewable energy sources, and they make great business sense.  The one-time capital expenditure for a Solis Energy Solar Power Plant is often less expensive than having an electrician and/or power company extend power, and it includes integrated brownout and blackout protection.

Outdoor UPS Series

Solis Energy's AC>DC Outdoor UPS Series is ideal as a secondary power source for routine applications or as battery back-up power for short-term emergency needs to maintain vital applications like wireless communications and video surveillance security systems. 

Streetlight Power Tap Adapters

Solis Energy's Streetlight Power Tap Adaptor provides easy access to 120 vAC power from outdoor lights for running devices and applications like security/surveillance cameras, WiFi hotspots, WiMax radios, traffic monitoring or Solis Energy's AC>DC Outdoor UPS systems.

Squid and Octopus

Available later this year, the Squid and Octopus are DC to DC converters that deliver field configurable 12-, 24- or 48- volt output over two or more independent circuits, perfect for multiple DC power or POE requirements. 

Remote Power Monitor (RPM)

Available later this year, the Remote Power Monitor (RPM) provides highly scalable real-time visibility to remote power plants.

Based in Orlando, Fla., Solis Energy is a privately held, independent global provider of reliable outdoor power generation and connectivity for low-wattage applications and electronic devices, such as WiFi hotspots, WiMax radios, lights, sensors, security/surveillance cameras, traffic monitoring and other low-voltage electronics. 

Solis Energy's products include reliable, rugged and cost-effective Solar Generators with configurable output in Smart Enclosures to power applications where grid-supplied electricity is unavailable, Outdoor Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) for emergency back-up or secondary power, Streetlight Power Tap Adapters, and Remote Power Monitoring (RPM).  Today, Solis Energy products power vital applications and devices to public utilities, state/local/municipal government, local/international theme parks, local/international airports, telecommunications companies and corporate enterprises. www.SolisEnergy.com.


Anixter International Inc. Announces Executive Management Changes

Anixter International Inc. (NYSE: AXE - News), the world's leading distributor of communication products, electrical and electronic wire & cable and a leading distributor of fasteners and other small parts ("C" Class inventory components) to Original Equipment Manufacturers ("OEMs"), announced that Robert Eck has been promoted to the newly created position of Executive Vice President -- Chief Operating Officer and that Dennis Letham has been promoted to the position of Executive Vice President -- Finance and Chief Financial Officer.

Mr. Eck, age 49, has been with the Company's operating subsidiary, Anixter Inc., for 17 years in a variety of staff and commercial positions. His most recent position, held since 2004, was Executive Vice President -- Enterprise Cabling and Security Solutions. In this role Eck has overseen annual sales growth specific to this end market of approximately 16 percent, including significant growth from our initiative to develop our security products business. Previous key positions include Senior Vice President -- Physical Security Products and Integrated Supply (2003) and Senior Vice President -- Integrated Supply Solutions (2002).

Mr. Letham, age 56, has been with Anixter for the past 14 years and has served as Senior Vice President -- Finance and Chief Financial Officer for the past 12 years. During this time he has overseen the finance, accounting, tax, internal audit and legal activities of the Company.

Commenting on these appointments, Robert Grubbs, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "The creation of the Chief Operating Officer position is a result of the Company's rapid growth over the past few years. We feel Bob Eck's strong track record at Anixter has proven that he possesses the qualities and experience necessary to support our continued success. Over the past year, Mr. Letham has taken on added responsibilities outside of the finance and accounting areas, most notably in human resources. His promotion reflects the added duties he has assumed."

Sam Zell, Chairman of the Board, said, "Over the past four years sales at Anixter have more than doubled. Included in this growth has been a series of acquisitions in the North American and European OEM Supply marketplace, which now generates in excess of $1 billion in annual sales for the company. This rapid growth and diversification of end markets has brought new organizational challenges and complexity. These executive management changes reflect the Board's desire to ensure there is sufficient depth and breadth to the management team in order for the Company to continue to execute effectively on all of its growth strategies."

Anixter International is the world's leading distributor of communication products, electrical and electronic wire & cable and a leading distributor of fasteners and other small parts ("C" Class inventory components) to Original Equipment Manufacturers. The company adds value to the distribution process by providing its customers access to 1) innovative inventory management programs, 2) more than 350,000 products and over $1 billion in inventory, 3) 226 warehouses with more than 5.5 million square feet of space, and 4) locations in 251 cities in 49 countries. Founded in 1957 and headquartered near Chicago, Anixter trades on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AXE. www.anixter.com.


Preventing Abandoned Cable In Your Building

Traditionally, when an office building is constructed, vertical cabling backbones are installed and then it is left up to individual tenants to install horizontal cabling to serve their unique needs.

With the transient nature of building occupancy, generations upon generations of horizontal cabling is left abandoned in air handling spaces. This not only creates an unsightly mess that is impossible to maintain, but combustible materials and flame retardants found in CMP and LC cable create toxic gases with or without the event of a major fire. As a result, the National Electrical Code among others have adopted criteria surrounding the removal and/or identification of abandoned cable.

These requirements have created a costly and unpleasant situation among building owners, managers, tenants and service providers all willing to pass the removal responsibility and associated costs onto others.

As a building owner, you can avoid this costly nightmare by installing an Electec EZ-Cabling horizontal cabling solution that all your future tenants can tap into based on their specific requirements.

EZ-Cabling is a removable, reusable and recyclable cabling system that landlords can offer tenants as part of their total package. All site connections are plug-in type requiring no tools, allowing for a truly modular cabling system that is flexible and easily maintained.

By providing consolidation point outlets at predetermined intervals, building owners can offer as dense a connectivity solution as is required by the tenant, without changing or adding horizontal cabling in air handling spaces.

Electec’s patented design provides mechanical and EMI protection in a flexible, easy to use, non-combustible construction. EZ-Cabling is available in Cat 5e and Cat 6 configurations. Low-Smoke Zero-Halogen (LSOH) cable and customized solutions are also provided.www.electeconline.com


Leviton Succession Plan Preserves Family Lineage

 Donald Hendler Named CEO;

Stephen Sokolow Named Chairman of the Board of Directors

In his appointment of Donald J. Hendler as CEO, and Stephen B. Sokolow as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Leviton Manufacturing Company, Harold Leviton, through a carefully-architected succession plan, ensured that the Company his father started in 1906 would continue to serve the marketplace as a private, family-owned and operated company. Leviton, CEO and Chairman of the Board, passed away earlier this month, leaving two of his sons-in-law to lead the Company as it progresses through its second hundred years in operation. Hendler, who in 2005 was named President, will assume the additional title and role of CEO. Sokolow, who was named Vice Chairman of the Board that same year, will succeed as Chairman of the Board.

“The Leviton family business will continue to grow as we embark on our second century in business,” said Donald Hendler, President and CEO of Leviton. “I am proud to accept leadership responsibility on behalf of Harold and the Leviton family. We have a number of exciting initiatives planned for the coming months and both Steve and I look forward to the opportunity of implementing these and moving the Leviton Company forward in the same friendly, family atmosphere that has become so much a part of our heritage, philosophy and culture.”

In a career spanning more than 37 years, Hendler has held key positions at Leviton. Before his appointment as President, he served as Executive Vice President, where he directed strategic planning, human resources and distribution initiatives, as well as sales, marketing and product development for Leviton North America and subsidiary, American Insulated Wire. He also has held various positions of prominence within the industry, having served on the Education Foundation for the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) and as a member of the Government Relations Committee of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).  In addition, he has served on the Advisory Committees of both IMARK and Affiliated Distributors.

Sokolow began his career at Leviton in 1961, starting out as a summer intern and working his way up to facilities manager and numerous other positions before his appointment to Executive Vice President, where he directed the Company’s manufacturing, engineering, distribution and information technology operations. Sokolow has served the industry as Technical Chairman of the Electronic Data Exchange Joint Committee of NAED, NEMA and NEMRA* and was Chairman of NEMA’s Wiring Device Section. He is a recipient of Electrical Wholesaling magazine’s prestigious GEM (Ganzenmuller Electrical Marketing) Award, which honors those who lead a company to greatness in electrical marketing.

With its roots established at the dawn of the electrical age, Leviton is one of the world’s most diversified electrical manufacturing companies, manufacturing products for nearly every connectivity need, from electrical receptacles to optical fiber components. www.leviton.com 


Small Distribution Companies Fall Short On Web

A study that compared how small distribution companies use the Internet with uses to which it’s put by other small companies says that you and companies like yours “are lagging the national averages in most categories.”

Co-sponsored by Business Today magazine, the study—performed by the Small Business Research Board (see information on these organizations below)—the study reportedly found:

52.7% of small distributors have Web sites. Yes, that means 47.3% of small distributors do NOT have Web sites (compared to 42.7% for all types of U.S. small businesses).

Of those, almost 47% can sell something from the sites.

Of the small distributors with Web sites, 26.9% say they’ll sell get more Internet sales in the next 12 to 24 months; few saw e-commerce sales declining.

22.4% of the small distributors with Internet sites said that “up to 25% of [their] products are available for sale online and another 16.3% said 26% to 99% of their products could be purchased online.” How many said 100% of their products could be found and purchased online? 12.2%.

22.4% (yes, the same figure as directly above) of the small distributors said 26% to 100% of their revenue came as the result of e-commerce. Another 26.5% said they got up to 25% of their revenue from online transactions. www.ipa-iba.com 

See a release on the survey here.


Berk-Tek Introduces World’s Smallest Round Augmented Category 6 Compliant UTP Cable

New Holland, PA – September 6, 2007… Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, a leading copper and fiber optic cabling manufacturer, announced the introduction of their new LANmarkÔ-10G2 UTP cable, featuring the world’s smallest round outside diameter of .300” nominal.  This cable is designed and guaranteed to meet the electrical component requirements of proposed TIA-568-B.2-10 standard for Augmented Category 6 supporting IEEE 10GBASE-T out to 100 meters.

The new LANmark-10G2 cable was engineered using a patent-pending design that incorporates four twisted pairs cabled with three monofilament elements to ensure a completely round cross-section.  The unique geometry and pair configuration in the cable creates a significantly reduced cable diameter, while preserving the industry leading alien crosstalk performance of the original LANmark-10G. 

“The biggest challenge in producing a copper UTP cable for 10 Gigabit applications is eliminating the alien crosstalk between neighboring cables.  The key is to keep the pair with the longest lay length furthest from adjacent cables, ” explains Frederic Jean, Senior Product Development Engineer.  “Our patent-pending design is an industry break-through that allows us to accomplish this and reduce the overall cable size,” he explains.

“The new LANmark-10G2 UTP cable provides significant space savings in horizontal and vertical pathways and simplifies installation over other 10G cables on the market,” states Jim Frey, Copper Product Manager.  “With a small round design and reduced bend radius, high-density installations are easier and the smaller size allows for better airflow in the pathway, which is a major concern in data centers, where 10G is most often deployed.”

The new LANmark-10G2 cable is part of the NetClear GTX 10 Gigabit UTP channel solution from Berk-Tek and Ortronics/Legrand.  Together with the Ortronics Clarity10G UTP TracJackÒ modular outlets, patch panels and patch cords, NetClear GTX is guaranteed to meet or exceed all TIA 568-B.2-10 component and channel requirements.

“When tested to Category 6A internal permanent link or channel requirements, using a NetClear approved handheld tester, the NetClear GTX system is guaranteed to support 10GBASE-T 10 Gigabit transmission for a full 25 years,” states Todd Harpel, Director of Marketing. “No further alien crosstalk testing is required if the system is properly installed according to the latest standards and current NetClear data sheet requirements,” he adds.

About Berk-Tek, A Nexans Company

For more than 45 years, Berk-Tek has been a leading manufacturer of more than 100 different network copper and fiber optic cable products. The company has led in the development of high-performance and enhanced fiber optic and UTP cables designed to transport high-speed data and voice transmissions. Berk-Tek has major manufacturing facilities at New Holland, PA, Fuquay-Varina, NC and Elm City, NC. For more information, visit www.berktek.com.

About Nexans

Nexans, the worldwide leader in the cable industry, brings an extensive range of advanced copper and optical fiber cable solutions to the infrastructure, industry and building markets for telecommunications and energy networks. With an industrial presence in 29 countries and commercial activities worldwide, Nexans employs 21,000 people and had sales in 2006 of $8.8 billion. Nexans is listed on the Paris stock exchange as NEX. Visit www.nexans.com.

Editorial Contact: Carol Everett Oliver

Tel: 717-682-7336

E-mail: carol.oliver@nexans.com


Elastomer Specialist Bhawan Patel Becomes Technical Manager For TEKNOR APEX TPE Range In Europe

Teknor Apex Company has appointed Bhawan Patel as thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) technical manager for the European operations of the company’s Thermoplastic Elastomer Division, it was announced today by Suresh Swaminathan, vice president in charge of the division. Patel will be based at the UK headquarters of Chem Polymer Ltd., a Teknor Apex subsidiary.

Patel brings 30 years of management, research, and technical support experience with polymer technology, practically all of it in the rubber industry. As an inventor or co-inventor, he has received twelve patents involving rubber formulation and processing.

“Drawing on a wealth of expertise in elastomers, Bhawan Patel will provide valuable product development assistance and technical support for our European customers, working with them and our sales and marketing team, including our network of TPE distributors throughout Europe,” said Swaminathan.   

Patel comes to Teknor Apex from Milliken Specialty Elastomers Ltd., which he joined in 1983 and served in technical management positions before becoming director of development in 2001.  Previously he worked in the laboratories of Phillips Rubber Ltd. and other companies, focusing chiefly on quality control and testing of rubber formulations.

He holds several certificates and degrees in polymer technology, including the degree of Master of Science from De Montfort University in Leicester, UK.

###

The THERMOPLASTIC ELASTOMER DIVISION of Teknor Apex Company is a leading manufacturer of TPE compounds, including ElexarÒ, MonpreneÒ, TelcarÒ, Tekbond®, TekronÒ, and UnipreneÒ products.  Headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, U.S.A., the Division is an international supplier to the appliance, automotive, construction, medical-device, wire and cable, and other industries.  Other plastics businesses of TEKNOR APEX include the Vinyl Div. (flexible vinyl), Chemical Div. (plasticizers), Specialty Compounding Div. (toll and custom compounding), Teknor Color Company (concentrates), Chem Polymer (engineering thermoplastics), and Singapore Polymer Corp. (diverse compounds and masterbatches). Visit the web site: www.teknorapex.com.


General Cable Corporation to Acquire the Global Wire and Cable Business of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., Further Building a Worldwide Leader in Energy Infrastructure Cable

General Cable Corporation (NYSE: BGC - News; the Company) announced that it has agreed to acquire the global wire and cable business of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX - News; Freeport), which operates as Phelps Dodge International Corporation (PDIC). PDIC was acquired by Freeport as part of the acquisition of Phelps Dodge Corporation in March 2007. The purchase price is approximately $735 million, subject to adjustment as provided in the Stock Purchase Agreement. In addition to utilizing its available cash, the Company has secured commitments from Merrill Lynch Capital Corporation to provide an increased secured revolving line of credit and an additional secured interim loan necessary to fund the purchase price.

On an annual basis, General Cable estimates that the acquisition will contribute approximately $1.4 billion in revenues at current metal prices and is expected to be accretive to earnings in the first full year by $0.20 to $0.30 cents per share based upon 2006 results. The combined companies expect to derive additional benefits over time through cross-selling opportunities, logistics and purchasing synergies, and the implementation of best practices throughout the entire organization. PDIC's performance in the first half of 2007 continued to trend positively.

Key Strategic Rationale

The acquisition offers General Cable an opportunity to further enhance its global scale and worldwide leadership in the wire and cable industry with critical mass in many emerging markets. PDIC brings a number of very positive characteristics, including:

Complementary geographic coverage focused on energy infrastructure, construction and industrial cables serving emerging and faster growing markets in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, as well as India and China.

Experienced management team doing business in 45 countries around the world.

Demonstrated expertise in aerial and buried high-voltage transmission systems.

Addition of a well-recognized, highly respected brand in the wire and cable industry with more than 50 years of history.

Shared business philosophies of safety, Lean manufacturing, and a "One Company" approach to internal operations and customers.

Accretive in year one with significant upside potential.

"The acquisition of PDIC is truly a unique opportunity, greatly accelerating our initiative to expand into many of the faster growing emerging economies of the world," said Gregory B. Kenny, President and Chief Executive Officer of General Cable. "We are effectively merging one company principally concentrated in North America, Western Europe and Oceania with one focused in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. In addition, PDIC shares many of the same philosophies that have defined General Cable over the years which include an emphasis on safety, Lean manufacturing, strong operating systems and a "One Company" approach to internal operations and customers. PDIC has an experienced and disciplined management team led by Mathias Sandoval, President of Phelps Dodge International Corporation," Kenny continued.

"Mr. Sandoval has spent 24 years with PDIC and has developed a reputation for operating effectively in multiple cultures. His strong and sustaining global vision has underpinned superior operating results and exceptional asset utilization. We are delighted that Mr. Sandoval has agreed to continue to lead the PDIC organization post-acquisition, as well as assume additional operating responsibility for certain existing General Cable assets. Mathias' skills will complement the General Cable senior management team who have successfully expanded the geographic footprint and served markets of the Company over the last ten years. We also believe there is an opportunity to utilize capacity within the PDIC organization to support our recent expansion into new markets, utilizing less capital than previously contemplated," Kenny said.

PDIC has manufacturing and distribution facilities around the world with leading market positions in South and Central America, Africa and Southeast Asia. PDIC has approximately 3,000 employees. In addition to 10 majority-owned manufacturing and numerous distribution facilities, PDIC also has equity positions in wire and cable companies in China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. For the year ended December 31, 2006, PDIC reported revenues of approximately $1.2 billion and operating earnings of approximately $77 million. In the first six months of 2007, PDIC's operating performance continued to strengthen as did its revenue base.

PDIC has little geographic overlap with General Cable. Sales are primarily focused on energy products for utility, industrial and construction applications. Additionally, PDIC has copper and aluminum rod mills on three continents, a source of competitive advantage in developing regions.

Just over half of PDIC's revenues are generated from manufacturing assets located in South and Central America, where leading market positions are held and where General Cable has a minor presence. PDIC brings over $200 million of revenues in sub-Saharan Africa, where General Cable participates on a much smaller scale. PDIC is a leader in Southeast Asia and India with positions that nicely complement General Cable's current activities in India, China and Oceania. As well, PDIC has equity investments in two companies serving the Chinese energy cable market as well as one in the Philippines. PDIC also has well developed global sales channels for its energy infrastructure products made in Thailand and South America.

Based on reported 2006 sales of $4.8 billion, the combined companies would have approximately 44% of revenues in North America, 27% in Europe and the Middle East, 15% in South and Central America, and 14% in Africa/Asia Pacific.

Transaction Details

Under the terms of the transaction, which has been unanimously approved by General Cable's Board of Directors, General Cable will acquire 100% of the shares held by Freeport and its subsidiaries in the various entities comprising Freeport's wire and cable business. The purchase price is subject to adjustment to take into account the net effect of any dividends and other distributions made from, and capital contributions made to, the entities being acquired from March 31, 2007. In addition, as part of the transaction, General Cable will be assigned the rights in the "Phelps Dodge International Corporation" and "PDIC" brands well known in the wire and cable industry. Subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and the receipt of clearances or waivers from competition and regulatory authorities in relevant jurisdictions, the transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2007.

Merrill Lynch & Co. acted as exclusive financial advisor and provided a fairness opinion to General Cable in connection with the transaction. Blank Rome LLP and Norton Rose LLP served as General Cable's external legal counsel.

Third Quarter Update

"The markets are behaving approximately as we anticipated with telecommunications and housing related cable demand remaining soft, offset by energy infrastructure requirements and the continued benefits of our Lean manufacturing initiatives. We continue to expect revenues of approximately $1.1 billion for the third quarter and earnings of $0.85 to $0.90 per share, consistent with our previous guidance," Kenny concluded. www.generalcable.com


NetTool™ Series II Inline Network Tester Offers Innovative Way To Detect Spyware, Adware, And Viruses During Troubleshooting

Fluke Networks, provider of innovative Network SuperVision Solutions™ for the testing, monitoring and analysis of enterprise and telecommunications networks, today announces the new NetSecure option for the NetTool™ Series II Inline Network Tester.  The NetSecure option lets network technicians solve one of today’s most frustrating problems by identifying rogue applications like spyware, adware, and viruses during network connectivity and performance tests.

“Malware has evolved from a security issue to a performance issue,” said John Burke, Principal Analyst at Nemertes Research.  “The impact of malware, especially spyware, on enterprise applications’ performance continues to grow, with more than 80% of enterprises saying that malware affects management of desktops.”

NetTool’s new NetSecure option addresses this issue by testing for spyware, adware, and viruses while solving connectivity issues.  This eliminates wasted technician time using trial and error troubleshooting methods.  NetSecure also reduces maintenance costs, by detecting rogue applications based on actual port behavior, not definitions or signatures which become outdated and require constant updates.

“The new NetSecure option is a powerful addition to the NetTool Series II,” says Adam Welch, Fluke Networks Marketing Manager for Termination and Test Tools.  “It really showcases the value of solving a range problems during frontline testing.  Network technicians are able to fix more problems faster with this handheld inline tester.”

NetSecure is a software option that quickly loads into the NetTool Series II Inline Network Tester.  NetTool is a handheld, front-line troubleshooting tool; its simple one-step NetProve test pinpoints problems so that technicians, regardless of skill level, can quickly and easily recognize the source of the problem.  At the desktop, it can quickly detect cabling problems, speed/duplex mismatches, and DHCP failures. For VoIP phones, it can be used to troubleshoot connectivity issues with its inline boot log, call quality metrics, and Power over Ethernet (PoE) detection.  All test results can be saved and uploaded to assist in trouble ticket routing and resolution.

The new NetSecure option for NetTool also helps enterprises protect against future attacks by supporting the 802.1X authentication protocol.  The 802.1X capability is important in two key ways.  First, it can be used to verify proper authentication settings by emulating a client on the network, thus preventing downtime and troubleshooting after moves, adds, and changes.  Second, it can be used to troubleshoot user authentication problems inline by displaying the 802.1X authentication process and flagging reasons for failure.  Most authentication failures are due to user password issues.  NetSecure helps technicians avoid time-consuming trial and error by showing these and other failures immediately.

Product Availability
The NetSecure Option for NetTool Series II Inline Network Tester is available for immediate delivery as a stand-alone upgrade from Fluke Networks resellers worldwide.  Also available is the NetTool Series II Network Service Kit, which includes the NetTool Series II Inline Network Tester, NetSecure Option , VoIP Option, Wireview Cable IDs #2-6, IntelliTone 200 Probe, NiMH Batteries and Charger and a deluxe carrying case. www.flukenetworks.com


Belden Announces Executive Appointments

Naresh Kumra, President, Belden Asia/Pacific, has been appointed an officer of the Company. Mr. Kumra will oversee the entire Belden Asia segment, including the recently acquired LTK Wiring business. Mr. Kumra, who is 37, joined Belden in March 2006 as Vice President, Business Development, and in June 2006 was named President, Belden Asia/Pacific.

Belden has hired Peter Leung as Vice President and General Manager, LTK Wiring, a business acquired by Belden in March 2007. He will report to Naresh Kumra. Mr. Leung has general management experience with several U.S. multinational companies in Asia, most recently as Vice President and General Manager of Alcoa Closure Systems International in Beijing, China, and International Paper (Asia) Ltd. In Guangzhou, China.

Louis Pace, currently Belden's Vice President, Business Development, has been named President of the Specialty Products Division and has been promoted to an officer of the Company. The Specialty Products Division encompasses the Mohawk, Thermax and West Penn Wire brands and has operations in the United States and Mexico. Mr. Pace, age 36, joined the Company in May 2006 as Vice President, Marketing, for the Specialty Division, and in June 2006 he was promoted to Vice President, Business Development.

John Stroup, President and Chief Executive Officer of Belden, said: "Louis played a pivotal role as Vice President, Business Development, in the three very successful acquisitions that Belden cultivated and closed almost simultaneously this spring and knows how to get results through our strategy deployment process. Naresh pulled together our 2006 strategic plan with me, before taking charge of our Asia business. I have confidence in his ability to drive Belden's continued rapid growth and integration in the Asia/Pacific region."

Daniel Krawczyk has been hired as Vice President, Business Development, to replace Mr. Pace. Mr. Krawczyk most recently served as Manager of Mergers and Acquisitions and Strategy with DTE Energy, a diversified energy provider, and has previous experience in product line management, strategy, finance and engineering with Delphi Medical Systems Corp., Delphi Automotive Systems Corp., and Ford Motor Company.

Belden has also hired Wolfgang Babel, Ph.D., to be Managing Director of Belden Automation, which comprises the recently acquired Germany-based businesses Hirschmann Automation and Control and Lumberg Automation Components. Dr. Babel served most recently as Managing Director of Endress + Hauser Gesellschaft fur Mess und Regeltechnik mbH & Co., KG, in Gerlingen, Germany, designers and manufacturers of measurement equipment and process instrumentation. He held progressively responsible positions with Diehl GmbH &Co. KG, an electronics and munitions company. Dr. Babel takes over from Reinhard Sitzmann, Chief Executive Officer of Hirschmann Automation, who has served in that capacity during the transitional period.

Robert Canny, the former president of the Specialty Products Division, has elected to pursue other interests. http://www.belden.com.


Planet Associates Declares BICSI Conference A Success

Leading Provider of Infrastructure Relationship Management Tools Showcases Planet IRM and iiPDF Products to ITS Professionals

Planet Associates Inc., the leading provider of Infrastructure Relationship Management (IRM) software and services, announced the company is pursuing a long list of sales leads culled from its appearance at the BICSI Fall conference.

BICSI, a professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry with information, education and knowledge assessment for individuals and companies, serves more than 24,000 ITS professionals, including designers, installers and technicians. The 2007 BICSI Fall Conference, held in Las Vegas, hosted nearly 4,500 attendees, exhibitors and guests during preconference seminars, committee meetings and exhibiting hours.

Planet’s booth featured live demonstrations of the company’s flagship product, Planet IRM. The infrastructure management tool provides a visualized repository for an organization’s entire physical layer. Planet IRM consolidates copper and fiber infrastructure distribution and test results, asset inventory, physical and virtual circuit information, and supporting data into a centralized visual database with vast reporting and analytical capabilities.

“Attendees and other exhibitors were impressed with our product’s ability to help users visually manage their infrastructure and quickly produce reports. Seeing it live, they were amazed at how the tool could increase productivity and drastically reduce errors in IT infrastructure management activities,” said Mary Jane Viscomi, Director of Marketing, Planet Associates. “We are actively pursuing leads generated by the show and have been receiving many inquiries.”

At the conference, Planet Associates demonstrated how the product allows users to quickly locate and “drill down” on any device, cable or location. Additionally, the company exhibited the newly launched Planet eVolution web portal and iiPDF (intelligent infrastructure PDF) software, which brings transferable layered data to minimally trained field personnel for use with disaster recovery and routine maintenance activities through an Adobe PDF format.

About Planet Associates Inc.

Planet Associates Inc., located in Neptune, N.J., develops, licenses and supports the Planet® IRM family of physical infrastructure relationship management software products. Planet IRM is uniquely capable of total enterprise network asset consolidation, with project scopes ranging from individual Data Centers to entire global organizations. For more information on Planet IRM software, call Planet Associates at (732) 922-5300, email info@planetassoc.com or visit http://www.planetassoc.com


APWMayville Delivers Several Hundred Mini Max™ Wall Cabinets To St. Paul School District For Classroom IT Upgrades

APWMayville, a division of Mayville Products Corporation, announces the completion of a multi-year installation project with St. Paul School District in Minnesota that saw hundreds of its cabinets installed.  APWMayville Mini Max™ Wall cabinets were installed in various district schools over the course of the rollout to improve IT capabilities in the classroom.  The final 10 cabinets were installed this summer.

Gene Osterberg, Owner/President of the Genesis Technical Marketing and APWMayville’s sales representative for the school district, said that the district wanted a cabinet that could fit securely on the wall in the back of the classroom, and provide plenty of ventilation for heat-generating equipment while minimizing its noise level.  The school district also wanted to ensure the cabinets had security features to guarantee that only administrative personnel could access the equipment.

“The Mini Max Wall cabinet offers enough space to house equipment for classroom IT upgrades without being obtrusive to the classroom,” said Osterberg.  “Tests and evaluations proved that these cabinets could handle the weight and were durable.  The cabinets also did not sag over time as did some lower quality products.   The cabinets are built to prevent unauthorized access by having non-removable hinges.  The lockable design ensures only administrative staff have access.  Vented side panels allow plenty of air flow through the cabinets while suppressing noise.  Other products with completely perforated side panels allowed an unacceptably high ambient noise level in the classroom.”

Each cabinet houses a Cisco IT switch and a fiber panel that connects to various data drops in the classroom for computer connections.  The fiber panel can handle up to 70 computer connections and an Ethernet backbone runs from each cabinet to the main school server, while various CAT6 cables connect to main and intermediate distribution frames for server connections and electrical power.  A UPS system backs up all power on the server rack in the main distribution frame.

Peoples Electric of St. Paul led the cabinet installations for each classroom.  Mike Smith, Project Manager, Peoples Electric said that the cabinets are the right size, depth, and construction for the school district and are spacious enough to house additional equipment as classrooms expand.  “The extra space in the cabinet allows for larger fiber panels, and those extra ports can be used to simplify cable runs if a classroom wants to add more computers,” said Smith.  “Instead of making 150-to-200 foot cable runs down the hallways, the staff can make 50-70 foot runs inside the classroom.  Once everything is terminated, it’s all set.  The switches and the ports are right there, and that cuts down on the school district’s costs in the long run.”

The cabinet, with three distinct sections, is easy to maintain.  Access to the rear of the cabinet is made easy as the center area of the cabinet swings out from the wall for access to the rear of the equipment, its connections, and cable runs.  The front door of the Mini Max Wall cabinet swings open for access to front panel equipment settings. www.APWMayville.com


Brad Leland Joins Leviton As Vice President Of Sales For The Voice & Data Division

Leviton is pleased to announce the appointment of Brad Leland as Vice President of Sales for the Voice & Data Division.

Leland will have overall sales management responsibility for the voice and data U.S. distribution sales team and will oversee the continued implementation of Leviton’s strategy to accelerate revenue growth and to work closely with our key partners.

Leland brings to Leviton an extensive sales management background with three decades in the Communications, Data and Network industry. Most recently he was Vice President of Global Channel Sales at JDSU for their Communications &Test business group.  For 19 years he served at Fluke and Fluke Networks in various Sales, Market Development and Marketing roles.

Prior to Fluke, Leland worked for the GTE Corporation. His diverse sales experience spans channel development, wholesale distribution sales, specification initiatives and managing direct and non-direct sales teams. Throughout his career, Leland has developed strong relationships with many of Leviton’s Agents, Distributors, Consultants and Customers.

Leland holds a BA in Marketing from the University of Washington as well as an MBA in Finance from Seattle University.

Leviton Voice & Data, a Division of Leviton Manufacturing Company, Inc., is dedicated to producing complete system solutions for network infrastructure, incorporating copper, fiber and power innovations for enterprise, data center, industrial and residential applications. www.leviton.com


Electronic Packaging Systems Joins SMP Data Communications Sales Team

SMP Data Communications, a leading developer and manufacturer of high-speed cross-connect products for communication networks, is pleased to announce the addition of Electronic Packaging Systems in Canada to the SMP Sales Force. 

Electronic Packaging Systems (EPS) has been serving the data and telecommunications markets in Canada since 1971.  They are widely respected for their extensive product knowledge and their strong relationships with leading manufacturers. EPS is a stocking representative that allows end users a “One-Stop Shopping” solution for better design and control of their projects.   EPS represents SMP Data Communications from Montreal to Toronto to Vancouver. 

“In an effort to strengthen our growing customer base in Canada, SMP is pleased to partner with Electronic Packaging Systems.  Their expertise in the industry and their reputation in the Canadian provinces are a great asset to SMP and we look forward to seeing great things from this group” stated Bill Reynolds, V.P. and General Manager of SMP Data Communications. www.smpdata.com


ConEst Software Systems Announces Release Of RapidBOM 6.0

Today at the 2007 BICSI (Building Industry Consulting Service International) Fall Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, ConEst Software Systems, a leading provider of estimating, design build, project management and billing software for the electrical, low voltage and structured cabling industries, announced the release and general availability of RapidBOM version 6.0.

RapidBOM is a complete telecommunications network estimating 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 contains a regularly updated database of key product information from cabling manufacturers as well as industry-standard labor units. In all, over 150,000 products and more than 130 telecommunications manufacturers are represented in RapidBOM’s database.

RapidBOM also boasts an internal intelligence system that validates the design against BICSI, TIA and EIA standards, thus limiting errors in the design process by preventing an estimator from creating a substandard, or incomplete, design.  RapidBOM ensures that all of the parts of a network build have been accounted for so that bids are fully priced and that no time is lost on site for lack of appropriate materials.

“On the strength of our well-received v5.5 release, we are excited to introduce RapidBOM 6.0 with advanced estimating capabilities,” said Heidi Tilley, RapidBOM Product Manager.  “This release, with its emphasis on labor factoring, will enable those with more sophisticated estimating and pricing needs to achieve greater efficiency in preparation of their bids as well as to enhance their confidence in the quality, accuracy, and completeness of their estimates.  Equally as important, this release paves the way for a new pricing structure that will enable a larger proportion of voice and data contractors to benefit from RapidBOM.” www.conest.com


New Replicator™ Kit Series Enhances 9513 SAN Switches

Fiber Connect, Inc., a Leviton company specializing in the design, engineering and supply of infrastructure products used in Data Center environments is pleased to introduce the Replicator Kit Series. This innovative series of products supports the new high density SAN switches available from Cisco, Foundry Net, Brocade and others.

The key component in the Replicator Kit Series is the Port Replicated Patch Panel, which incorporates Logical Port Management (LPM). LPM simplifies physical patching between the switch and associated equipment by directly replicating port configurations at the MDA.

Associated trunks, MTP panels and harnesses complete each kit. MTP harness technology at the switch provides superior cable management and scalability. Quick delivery, custom length, factory pre-terminated trunk cables provide connectivity between the MDA and the switch with minimum slack.

First in the series, the 9513 Replicator Kit was developed to support the high-density fiber based 9513 Cisco Switch. Various Replicator Kits are available, tailored to specific equipment. Customers only need to specify the type of product that is going to be deployed, port count and length of trunk needed.

Kits are available in Multi-mode (62.5/125um, 50/125um & 50/125um 10Gig “Aqua”) and Single-mode versions. All factory terminations feature a maximum insertion loss of .5dB, well below industry standards, ensuring 10Gig capability. Component test results are supplied with each shipment. www.leviton.com


Harger’s Lightning Protection Equipment Line Card

Harger Lightning & Grounding proudly introduces its Lightning Protection Equipment Line Card. The Line Card is a quick reference guide to Harger’s line of structural lightning protection products that meet the requirements of NFPA780, Underwriters Laboratory, US Department of Energy, US Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, National Aeronautical Space Administration and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Harger produces traditional Franklin Style Lightning Protection Systems that utilize the technology universally recognized and approved by the worldwide academic community. Harger does not produce unapproved non-conventional lightning protection devices such as early stream emitters (ESE) and charge transfer systems (CTS); which promote technically unaccepted claims of increased areas of protection, or the ability to prevent lightning strikes entirely.

Years of proven performance and independent laboratory and field testing by the world’s leading lightning researchers have proven that the traditional Franklin System is an effective approach to the mitigation of structural damage from a direct lightning strike.

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


Allen Tel Itroduced Nw 10Gb Cat 6A Laser-optimized Fiber Jumpers

Allen Tel introduced their new 10Gb Cat 6A laser-optimized (aqua jacket) fiber jumpers last month.  Customers at BICSI Las Vegas saw it for the first time, and several of them immediately contacted their Graybar sales teams to place orders.

Allen Tel Products, serving the telecommunications industry since 1952, continues to selling products and services exclusively through Graybar.  Graybar provides best-of-class supply chain services, with local inventories of Allen Tel in over 240 locations.

From engineering to finished goods, Allen Tel provides quality voice/data solutions which exceed expectations:

·         A comprehensive line of standards-compliant Cat 5e, Cat 6 and fiber solutions for network connectivity applications.

·         Specialty commercial and industrial telephones.

www.allentel.com


MTP to MTP Fiber Trunk Cable Assemblies Deliver In Less Time

Leviton is pleased to announce the Quick Ship program - delivering custom made MTP to MTP Fiber Trunk Cable Assemblies with reduced shipping time.

Now, Leviton can build and ship up to 144 fiber count custom length multimode and single-mode MTP to MTP fiber trunk cable assemblies in five working days after receipt of purchase order.

Leviton’s Voice & Data Division is dedicated to producing complete system solutions for network infrastructure. The company boasts advanced technologies including the Cat 6A eXtreme® 10G system with patented Retention Force Technology for unequaled durability and reliability, FastCAM™ Fiber Optic Connectors for fast field termination, and one of the broadest patch panel lines in the industry. www.leviton.com


Corning Cable Systems OptiTect Cabinet Family Provides High Density, Scalability For FTTx Deployments

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE:GLW) Telecommunications segment, is highlighting its OptiTect™ Cabinet family at the 2007 OSP Expo in San Jose, Calif. In its booth (#103), Corning is featuring the latest addition to its cabinet offering, the OptiTect Local Convergence Cabinet, LS Series.

With the continued rise of FTTx deployments, there is an increasing demand for solutions that meet the unique requirements of these networks. The OptiTect Local Convergence Cabinet, LS Series, is ideal for customers looking for higher density, flexibility and scalability. The new cabinet will be available in scalable sizes up to 864 fibers.

The LS Series Cabinet contains best-in-class fiber management, with a truly innovative method of splitter module loading and parking. Its jumper routing and slack storage allow FTTx providers to install cabinets quickly and easily on day one, as well as maintain fiber organization and protection throughout the life of the network.

The OptiTect Local Convergence Cabinet, LS Series, is a full-feature solution that includes “pass-through” patch panels for commercial services or customers who require dedicated fibers that bypass optical splitters. The cabinet allows for multiple feeder and distribution cables for added flexibility in network deployment. It also features a replaceable shell. If a deployed cabinet sustains exterior damage, the shell can be easily replaced without having to interrupt services and install a new cabinet, saving time and money.

The LS Series Cabinet features a revolutionary splitter module design. The new modules, which are approximately 40-percent smaller than traditional modules, are more compact and robust to meet the requirements of even the harshest installation environments. The new splitter modules are also backwards-compatible with other Corning Cable Systems OptiTect Cabinet designs. www.corning.com/cablesystems.


Berk-Tek Introduces Outdoor LANmark™-6

Copper and fiber optic cabling technology and solutions leader Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, announces the release of their newest Category 6 cable, designed for outdoor installations. The unique construction of the LANmark-6 OSP (outside plant) cable includes a water-blocking gel compound within the core that encases the four UTP copper pairs and a rugged, but flexible, black polyolefin, UV-resistant jacket for a total O.D. of .250”.

The new Berk-Tek LANmark-6 OSP cable meets the TIA/EIA-568.B.2-1 industry standard requirements for a Category 6 cable, but is specifically designed to support facilities, such as portable classrooms, detached garages, guard shacks and other wet locations.  This cable is also ideal for exterior security cameras, located outside buildings or even on parking lot lights. This UTP cable can provide data, video and power on all four pairs through PoE capabilities, including adhering to the proposed IEEE 802.3at PoE Plus addendum. In addition, this cable complies with the stringent NEC codes, which require outdoor-rated cables to be used when conduit is located below the floor in slab-on-grade construction.

 “Conventional Category 6 LAN cables, designed for indoor high-speed data, voice and video applications, do not meet specific codes for outdoor or wet locations due to the threat of moisture and extreme temperature fluctuations, which affect critical electrical characteristics,” explains James A. Frey, Copper Products Manager for Berk-Tek.  “The new LANmark-6 OSP cable provides full Category 6 performance to these difficult locations,” he adds.

“LANmark-6 OSP rounds out our offering of UTP cables for all indoor and outdoor environments,” states Todd Harpel, Director of Marketing for Berk-Tek.  “From our LANmark- 6 UTP cable that has been redesigned without the cross filler, to our new LANmark-10G2 cable, featuring the industry’s smallest round 10G UTP cable O.D., Berk-Tek offers the most comprehensive line of Category 6 cables available on the market,” he adds.

The new LANmark-6 OSP Category 6 cable will be available on reels beginning October 1.

About Berk-Tek, A Nexans Company

For more than 45 years, Berk-Tek has been a leading manufacturer of more than 100 different network copper and fiber optic cable products. The company has led in the development of high-performance and enhanced fiber optic and UTP cables designed to transport high-speed data and voice transmissions. Berk-Tek has major manufacturing facilities at New Holland, PA, Fuquay-Varina, NC and Elm City, NC. For more information, visit www.berktek.com.

About Nexans

Nexans, the worldwide leader in the cable industry, brings an extensive range of advanced copper and optical fiber cable solutions to the infrastructure, industry and building markets for telecommunications and energy networks. With an industrial presence in 29 countries and commercial activities worldwide, Nexans employs 21,000 people and had sales in 2006 of $10 billion. Nexans is listed on the Paris stock exchange as NEX. Visit www.nexans.com.


Lynn Electronics Corporation Announces The Expansion Of Its Manufacturing Facility

Lynn Electronics Corporation announces the expansion of its manufacturing facility in Ivyland, PA. This expansion doubles their capacity to manufacturem copper, coaxial and fiber optic patch cords and cable assemblies. Lynn Electronics is committed to accommodating quick turn requirements and providing proactive responses for pricing and delivery requests. In addition, recent expansion of its 100,000 square foot warehouse allows LYNN to inventory a complete line of Voice, Telco and Data products resulting in the fastest delivery and response time in the market place. www.lynnelec.com


Leviton Expands Audio/Video Products

Leviton has expanded its A/V product line, introducing connectors for a wider variety of high performance and high definition applications.

The expanded line provides quality connections for audio, video, and multimedia equipment, in residential, educational, and enterprise environments.

New connectors include 3.5 mm stereo, HD-15 (screw terminal), HDMI and DVI-I, with additional RCA QuickPort connectors in new colors for composite and component video. www.leviton.com


IDEAL Launches 10-Gigabit Ethernet

Deployment of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) networks in enterprise LAN and data storage environments brings a whole new challenge to network designers and cabling installers.  Alien Crosstalk (AXT) is a side effect of transmitting ever-increasing frequencies over twisted pair cabling that needs to be tested in addition to traditional certification to ensure that inter-cable crosstalk does not hamper 10GbE data transmission.

Adding additional testing capability to the LANTEK series of LAN cable certifiers, IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC. today announces its new 10-Gigabit Alien Crosstalk Testing kit, an add-on kit that allows LANTEK 6A and 7G models to perform complete alien crosstalk testing in compliance with proposed international testing standards. The LANTEK10GBKIT consists of two dual-head AXT adapters and twelve specialized AXT terminators. With this kit and a simple software update, any LANTEK 6A or 7G LAN cable Certifier can be upgraded to offer standards compliant alien crosstalk testing.

The unique combination of hardware and software allows the LANTEK to fully test and certify that a cabling system is 10GbE capable faster than any other solution on the market today. The dual-head adapter allows each LANTEK handset to transmit on a disturber cable and detect the alien crosstalk on a victim cable from both sides of the link simultaneously reducing test times by as much as half compared to other solutions when performing a full PSANEXT (Power Sum Alien Near End Crosstalk) and PSAACR-F (Power Sum Alien Attenuation-to-Crosstalk Ratio Far-end) certification. The inclusion of 12 AXT terminators in the kit also maximizes productivity for single person operation. An additional time saving feature is the ability of the LANTEK to perform all of the AXT measurements and calculations in the field without the use of a personal computer and complex testing software. This capability allows any technician to run the test system following the cues intelligent graphical user interface and get instant pass/fail results in the field.

In addition to the AXT adapters and terminators, the kit also includes a padded carrying case, printed user’s guide, four 7-foot test interface cords, 12 1-foot terminator patch cords and IDEAL’s AXT reporting software. The software allows users to easily upload, view and print complete AXT certification reports without performing any additional analysis since all the computations are performed on the LANTEK during the testing process. The software is compatible with Microsoft Windows VistaÒand is also available free from IDEAL’s website allowing installers to send electronic test results to their customers who can print the reports as needed.

The LANTEK 10-Gigabit Ethernet Alien Crosstalk kit, part number LANTEK10GBKIT, available in November 2007 will sell for a trade price of $1995. www.idealindustries.com


ELECTEC Building Wiring Systems Paving The Way To Safer Cabling Alternatives

ELECTEC Ltd., a Canadian innovator of manufactured wiring systems is paving the way to safer plenum cabling alternatives with EZ-Cabling™.

The pre-terminated horizontal cabling solution features an Ultralx™ flexible steel armour which, in addition to EMI and mechanical protection, offers a non-combustible fire barrier which prevents the cable from being a dangerous fuel source in the event of a fire.

“When EZ-Cabling was first conceived, it was to address green building/abandoned cable issues and provide improved labour efficiencies. It wasn’t until we became more educated about the materials being used as flame retardants in CMP and Limited Combustible 'plenum' communications cables that we realized we had also developed the safest alternative to plenum rated cable.” VP of Business Development, Chris Pezoulas continues,“With all that we know today about the toxic nature of Teflon, FEP and PFOA, it astounds me that the policy and code makers in North America have ignored the toxicity of plenum cable flame retardants. Exposed plenum cable in air handling spaces is a chemical nightmare.”

Current flame testing in North America for plenum cables measures fire and smoke but disregards the toxicity and corrosivity of resulting gases, both of which are significant threats to life and property. Even without the event of a fire, the heat decomposition of FEP (fluorinated ethylene propylene), may emit colourless and odourless hydrogen fluoride (HF) gas, which becomes hydrofluoric acid in the eyes, nose and throat of individuals exposed to the gas.1 HF is the most toxic, corrosive and reactive of all the halogens.

Canadian and US Military departments avoid the use of CMP cable, opting for safe alternatives such as the European standard Low Smoke Zero Halogen (LSZH) cabling. “LSZH cable is being made by all the major domestic manufacturers, it’s the standard across Europe, it’s accepted by stringent military specs here, but isn’t suitable for installation in our buildings?” Electec uses a LSZH material for EZ-Cabling zone boxes and terminal housings and offers a LSZH-cable version in addition to their standard construction.

While waiting for building codes to reflect the toxicity of Teflon, FEP and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) could take years, Electec have a solution today and continue to develop. “I urge engineers, consultants, specifiers, building owners and contractors alike to look at the cable they are contemplating installing in their air handling spaces and seriously consider setting a higher standard, not only for themselves, but for anybody that may ever occupy the space they are realizing.”

For additional reading on this topic, click on the following links:
Building Fire Concern: Teflon on Cabling Can Be Toxic When Heated
www.electeconline.com

Association News

BICSI Fall Conference Concludes On A Funny Note

The closing keynote at the 2007 BICSI Fall Conference brought streams of laughter to the audience as Rita Rudner provided comic relief with her funny insights on relationships and differences between men and women. “Rita is a complete joy to listen to,” said BICSI President John Bakowski, RCDD/NTS/OSP/WD Specialist, “What a great way to close this very successful conference.”

A full week of educational presentations, exhibits, networking and memorable events concluded today, as 26 attendees were extremely excited to discover the results of their credentialing exams. In addition to four individuals who received their network transport systems (NTS), outside plant (OSP), and wireless design (WD) credentials, 22 new registered communication distribution designers (RCDD) joined the growing ranks of BICSI certified information transport systems (ITS) professionals.

After a successful opening general session on Tuesday, conference attendees had the opportunity to design their own schedules on Wednesday, selecting from over 16 Concurrent Session presentations. The wide assortment of session topics included increased project management productivity, best practices for critical fiber optic networks, 10GBASE-T, data centers, smart horizontal cabling, air-blown fiber and alien crosstalk (AXT). “I really enjoyed all of the sessions that I chose to attend,” said 12-year BICSI member Shari English, RCDD, of Montreal, Canada. “The quality of the speakers continues to get better and better at every conference.”

The closing general session commenced with a presentation on the process of developing the soon to be released Information Transport Systems Installation Manual, 5th edition and updates to the BICSI Installation Program. Following was Peter Mocco presenting, “Unprecedented Technologically Advanced ‘New Urbanist’ Community on the Gold Coast.” Mocco spoke about the convergence of fiber to the home, triple play and full automation in a Jersey City, New Jersey community that is setting a precedence for the “smart home” revolution. 

Throughout this Fall Conference, attendees took the time to stop by the BICSI Cares booth and offer their donations to charity. The BICSI Cares presentation was a poignant moment during the closing session, as representatives from the Angel Kiss Foundation (AKF) were presented with a check for $31,500. “I am completely overwhelmed by this generosity,” said Lisa Fleck, president on the AKF Board of Directors.

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BICSI is a professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry with information, education and knowledge assessment for individuals and companies. BICSI serves more than 24,000 ITS professionals, including designers, installers and technicians. These individuals provide the fundamental infrastructure for telecommunications, audio/video, life safety and automation systems. Through courses, conferences, publications and professional registration programs, BICSI staff and volunteers assist ITS professionals in delivering critical products and services, and offer opportunities for continual improvement and enhanced professional stature.

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


BICSI Unveils New Merchandise Line


BICSI releases new, expanded BICSI Gear clothing line at upcoming conference and at BICSIGear.org

Tampa, Fla., September 5, 2007— BICSI announces the debut of its new line of clothing, accessories and products under the BICSI Gear collection. The apparel choices include an expanded range of men’s and women’s high-quality polos, sweaters, dress shirts, t-shirts and outerwear from top manufacturers in a variety of color selections.

BICSI Gear will have a first showing at the BICSI Store during the upcoming 2007 BICSI Fall Conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, September 10-13. BICSI Gear product representatives will be on site to provide conference attendees with an unprecedented customer service experience.

The BICSIGear.org Web site officially debuts this month with a rich set of content including a featured product of the day section, new shopping cart functions and a product search feature. In addition, a new BICSI Gear Account function provides customers with a faster checkout process, quick access to order history, and the option to sign up for e-mail updates on new product promotions.

The BICSI Gear line also features a larger assortment of unique accessories and tools to support information transport systems (ITS) professionals whether they are in the office, on the road or enjoying leisure time. “Our credential holders are always looking for new ways to show off their BICSI credentials,” said David C. Cranmer, RCDD, BICSI Executive Director. “We are pleased to bring quality, comfort and style to our members through the BICSI Gear clothing and accessories line.”

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BICSI is a professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry with information, education and knowledge assessment for individuals and companies. BICSI serves more than 24,000 ITS professionals, including designers, installers and technicians. These individuals provide the fundamental infrastructure for telecommunications, audio/video, life safety and automation systems. Through courses, conferences, publications and professional registration programs, BICSI staff and volunteers assist ITS professionals in delivering critical products and services, and offer opportunities for continual improvement and enhanced professional stature.

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


CABA Internet Home Alliance Research Council (IHA-RA) Invites You To The Family Ecosystem Forum Oct 30th 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regards,

Ron Zimmer, President & CEO

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


World’s Three FTTH Councils Join Together To Issue First Official Global Ranking Of FTTH Market Penetration

Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan are the world leaders in the percentage of homes that receive broadband communications services over direct fiber optic connections, according to a new global ranking of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) market penetration issued jointly by the FTTH Councils of Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America.

According to this first ever official ranking of FTTH deployments in the world’s economies, 21.2 percent of homes in Hong Kong are wired with FTTH, followed by South Korea at 19.6 percent and Japan at 16.3 percent.  Scandinavian countries occupy the next three positions, with Sweden having 7.2 percent of its households connected to FTTH, Denmark at 2.9 percent and Norway at 2.5 percent.

Taiwan, Italy, People’s Republic of China, The Netherlands and the United States round out the top 11 economies, with FTTH penetration rates of between 1.4 and 1 percent of households.  Only economies with penetration of 1 percent or more were included in the ranking.

The three regional FTTH Councils joined together to create this first official global FTTH ranking in order to provide the telecommunications industry, governments and regulators with a unique snapshot of international fiber access penetration.  Going forward, the councils will update and re-issue the rankings on an annual basis, as well as work jointly to further refine the research methods in order to provide more in-depth information.

Announcing the release of the global ranking at the FTTH Council Asia-Pacific’s Beijing Conference today, Shoichi Hanatani, President of the FTTH Council Asia-Pacific said, “For the first time we have a tool to monitor the transition that is now occurring around the world, from legacy copper loops to powerful new optical fiber access networks.”

The global ranking follows the unified definition of FTTH terms announced by the three councils last year, and which has formed the basis for recent market research by each council. For completeness and accuracy the ranking includes both FTTH and FTTB (fiber-to-the-building) figures, while copper-based broadband access technologies (DSL, FTT-Curb, FTT-Node) are not included.

 “By pooling the data from three regional market studies, the compiled information completes a dedicated resource for global telecommunications professionals to compare industry research from different regions of the world, and open some eyes to the wider FTTH picture,” said Joeri Van Bogaert, President of the FTTH Council Europe.  “This will be useful in monitoring the success of government and regulatory policy in supporting the historical transition to fiber-based broadband.”

“With this global ranking, it is now evident which countries are FTTH leaders and which are FTTH laggards,” said Joe Savage, President of the FTTH Council North America.  “What is most interesting is how the leading economies in FTTH penetration are also those with clear public policies aimed at promoting deployment of next-generation broadband networks as a matter of strategic national importance.” www.ftthcouncil.org

About the Fibre to the Home (FTTH) Council Europe -- The FTTH Council Europe www.europeftthcouncil.com is a market development organisation with a mission to accelerate the availability of fibre-based, broadband access networks to consumers and businesses. With few exceptions, Europe lags well behind the US and Asian tiger economies in the availability of high-speed broadband services (100 Mbps and upwards). The Council believes that the development of fibre-based access networks is fundamental to the deployment of such services, and hence to reaping their benefits for European citizens and businesses.   The Council's charter is to work with European governments, policy-makers and opinion leaders qualify and quantify the benefits to be gained from fibre-based broadband access networks, and to identify and help to erode the barriers to their development. Council members are drawn from the telecoms (vendors), broadband content and academic sectors.

About the FTTH Council Asia-Pacific – The FTTH Council Asia-Pacific www.ftthcouncilap.org is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, promote and accelerate FTTH and the resulting economic and quality-of-life enhancements across the Asia-Pacific region. Formally registered in February 2005, and with over 40 member organisations spread across the Asia-Pac region; this Council maintains close links with sister organisations in Europe and North America. The Council is a group of leading telecom, networking, and infrastructure companies whose mandate is to promote the extension of fiber access across the Asia Pacific region including Greater China, Korea, Japan, SE Asia, India, Thailand and Australia.

About the FTTH Council North America – Now in its sixth year, the Fiber-to-the-Home Council is a non-profit organization established to help its members plan, market, implement and manage FTTH solutions. Council membership includes municipalities, utilities, developers, and traditional and non-traditional service providers, creating a cohesive group to share knowledge and build industry consensus on key issues surrounding fiber-to-the-home. Communities and organizations interested in exploring FTTH options may find information on the FTTH Council web site at www.ftthcouncil.org.


Leadership Announced For CABA's Internet Home Alliance Research Council

The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) announced (August 15, 2007) the following appointments:

Carol Priefert from Whirlpool Corporation, has been appointed Chair of CABA's Internet Home Alliance Research Council. As Chair of the Council, she will lead the development and selection of new research projects, oversee projects in progress, and assist with the Council's budgetary process. Priefert is a Senior Manager at Whirlpool. She has been closely involved with measuring consumer interest in the benefits of home consumer technologies through the Internet Home Alliance. Over the past few years, Priefert has been involved in developing market research to determine consumer interest in connected home technology, their sources of product information, and criteria for purchases.

David Dollihite of Direct Energy was named Vice-Chair of CABA's Internet Home Alliance Research Council. As Vice-Chair of the Council, Dollihite will assist the Chair with her duties, and take a special interest in projects focused on the energy sector. As Vice President of U.S. Home Services for Direct Energy, a North American leading retailer of energy and related services, Dollihite is focused on the development of products and services for the residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) market. He brings 20 years of experience to his role, eight in the energy industry and 12 years in related energy and chemical industries.

"We are pleased that industry executives of such high caliber will lead CABA's Internet Home Alliance Research Council for the next year," states Ronald J. Zimmer, CABA President & CEO. "We can expect under their guidance that more companies will work collaboratively to develop and test new, innovative technology-driven home concepts and solutions."

CABA's Internet Home Alliance Research Council is a cross-industry network of leading companies engaged in collaborative research, the Alliance's research projects enable participating companies to gain important insights into the sector and leverage those insights into viable new business opportunities.

The Research Council utilizes systematic and proven project management techniques to maximize the benefits of research collaboration for all participants. Using these techniques, members determine their mutual research goals and objectives and are able to work together to accomplish what may be impossible to do individually.

Funded solely by each project team, members are able to drive their research agendas and maximize their collaboration experience. Council initiatives ensure that team members are provided with critical market data that helps them refine their product development and marketing efforts.

More information about the Council is available at: www.caba.org/iha.

About CABA
CABA is the only industry association to offer industry intelligence to stakeholders in all areas of home & building automation. CABA's resources cover areas such as HVAC, lighting, security, A/V, communications technologies, energy management and controls. A number of resources are available through the association including iHomes & Buildings magazine, research, CABA's forums, CABA's monthly eBulletin, Information Series reports, Event Reports and the CABA web site. Please visit www.caba.org for further information.


IBEW International Secretary-Treasurer Joins Labor Relations Town Hall Meeting during NECA 2007 San Francisco

NECA (National Association of Electrical Contractors www.necanet.org ) announced that IBEW International Secretary-Treasurer, Jon Walters, will be joining the panel of distinguished speakers appearing at the first-ever Labor Relations Town Hall meeting during NECA 2007 San Francisco. Also on the panel from the IBEW is International President Ed Hill. NECA's representatives on the Town Hall panel are NECA CEO, John Grau, and Vice President of Labor Relations, Geary Higgins. The meeting will be moderated by Mark Breslin, a famed labor negotiator and arbitration specialist, well-known for his uncompromising and frank manner. IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) is the most well respected skilled labor organization and continues to set the benchmark for quality training and workmanship. www.ibew.org

The Labor Relations Town Hall Meeting is being offered in response to requests from NECA members for a forum devoted to labor relations, and is only open to NECA 2007 San Francisco registrants. It will be an interactive event with time for questions and comments from the floor after the panel members have addressed the audience regarding some of the key issues shaping the electrical construction market today. It is a not-to-be-missed session, and is only happening at NECA 2007 San Francisco.

The September 2007 issue of Electrical Contractor Magazine contained an amazing wealth of information about this conference and expo. www.ecmag.com  Check it out online. This is one of the premiere events of 2007.


TIA Applauds House For H.R. 694

TIA applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for voting last night to approve a bill that advances investment in broadband infrastructure and opportunities for access for minorities across the U.S. The U.S. House overwhelmingly supported H.R. 694, the Minority Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology Act of 2007, last night and TIA urges the Senate to do the same. In the world of technology convergence, next-generation networks are revolutionizing the way that we communicate with one another. It is imperative that all Americans have equal access to new technologies in order for the United States to compete in the global marketplace.

H.R. 694, authored by Representative Edolphus Towns (N.Y.-10), would provide up to $250 million in grants for minority-serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-serving institutions. The grants would go to HBCUs and similar institutions -- including institutions "with a sufficient enrollment of needy students" of all ethnicities, as defined under the Higher Education Act of 1965 -- for technology upgrades and infrastructure, in addition to funding services for technology degrees and educator training. The bill, if enacted, would require program assessment every three years by the National Academy of Public Administration.

TIA believes H.R. 694, which passed by a vote of 331-59, is a significant step toward accelerating broadband deployment, and also toward our stated goal of higher levels of minority management and ownership in the tech and telecom sectors as stated under our Diversity NXT program launched after this year’s NXTcomm show.


The Telecommunications Industry Association is the leading trade association for vendors in the information, communications and entertainment technology industry. TIA serves suppliers to global markets through its leadership in standards development, domestic and international policy advocacy, and facilitating member business opportunities such as the co-owned NXTcomm. For more information, go to http://www.tiaonline.org.


New NAED Study To Examine Future Opportunities In The Residential Construction Market For Electrical Distributors

A new study being funded by the NAED Education & Research Foundation is looking at future directions of the residential construction and remodel market as they impact electrical distributors. The study, "Emerging Trends & Traps in Residential Construction: The NAED Roadmap to Future Opportunities," was selected and funded by the NAED Foundation's Channel Advantage Partnership endowment council and associates. It is a part of growing repository of research on strategic electrical industry issues for members of the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED).

The study will examine the size, projected growth and major trends foreseen in the residential market over the next five years. Scheduled for completion in fall 2007, the project is being conducted by Michael Marks of Indian River Consulting Group.

The research will analyze various product segments in the residential market, and determine those which are at risk of moving away from the electrical distribution channel, while also identifying potential viable new product segments. In addition, researchers will study customer buying behavior to provide members with more insight on the future of the market.

To complete the study, Marks and his research team will conduct more than 100 personal interviews and three in-depth surveys with electrical contractors, distributors, manufacturers, and builders.

According to Marks, the residential construction market has grown and consolidated over the past five years, so the dynamics of buying and delivering electrical products to both the new construction and remodel markets is changing. The study will help both electrical distributors and manufacturers to examine these trends so they can grow sales and margins in the future.

Funding for this project is provided by NAED Education & Research Foundation through the Channel Advantage Partnership endowment. More than 43 electrical distributors and manufacturers have pledged more than 7.5 million since the endowment's creation in 2003. The NAED Foundation supports projects and programs that strengthen the electrical distribution channel.

NAED is the trade association for the $70+ billion electrical distribution industry. Through networking, education, research, and benchmarking, NAED helps electrical distributors increase profitability and improve the channel. NAED's membership represents approximately 4,200 locations internationally. http://www.naed.org


NAED Announces 2007-2008 Conference Schedule

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) announces its 2007-2008 conference schedule, which includes its national Centennial Celebration event, as well as regional conferences, niche meetings, and market area meetings.

2007-2008 Meeting & Conference Itinerary: 

National Electrical Leadership Summit (formerly NAED Annual Meeting), May 17-21, 2008, San Francisco, Calif. (registration opens in January)—In a new format with a new name, this conference focuses on strategic planning and industry trends. NAED's National Summit will be the culmination of the association's year-long centennial celebration, and it will feature highly-acclaimed speakers, seminars, and panel discussions on the latest channel trends and research endeavors.

NAED Regional Conferences enable companies to focus on tactics within each region.

Eastern Region Conference, Nov. 14-17, 2007, Hamilton, Bermuda (registration open) — Featured Keynote Speaker: Frank Abagnale, acclaimed author and authority on identity fraud, who inspired the recent hit film, Catch Me if You Can.

Western Region Conference, Jan. 16 - 19, 2008, Phoenix, Ariz. (registration opens in October) Featured Keynote Speaker: Jim Morris, whose amazing story of making it into baseball's major leagues at 35 was made into the Disney movie, The Rookie.

South Central Region Conference, Feb. 20-23, 2008, Palm Desert, Calif. (registration opens in November) — Featured Keynote Speaker: James Bradley, author of New York Times Bestseller and feature film, Flags of Our Fathers.

NAED Niche Meetings are designed for specific industry groups to focus on the issues most relevant to their profession or area of expertise.

HR & Training Conference, Oct. 8-10, 2007, St. Louis, Mo. —This new NAED event offers innovative recruitment, staff development, and management solutions to industry human resources professionals and trainers. The conference features education tracks in both HR and training.

Women in Industry Conference, June 23-26, 2008, Sonoma, Calif. —After a successful debut in 2007, this conference will address topics specifically relating to women distribution professionals and provide ample networking opportunities.

Leadership Enhancement and Development (LEAD) Conference, July 17 - 20, 2008, Washington, D.C.—This conference promotes industry involvement and professional development among emerging channel leaders. Attendees will gain insights from industry experts and their peers.

AdVenture Electrical Sales & Marketing Conference, August 2008, Chicago, Ill.—This event focuses on electrical industry marketing and sales staff, providing sessions on strategic planning, best practices, and trends.

NAED Area Marketing Meetings provide members within their local area with additional opportunities for networking and building industry relationships. Please check NAED.org for updates and additions to NAED's Market Area Meeting schedule.

Missouri River Club Conference, Oct. 7-9, 2007, Lake Ozark, Mo.

Mid-Atlantic States Conference, Nov. 1-3, 2007, Charlotte, N.C.

Lake Michigan Club Holiday Party, Dec. 5, 2007, Chicago, Ill.

For more information or to register, contact the NAED Conference Department at (888) 791-2512 or customerservice@naed.org. Online registration will be available approximately three months in advance for the annual summit and regional conferences at www.naed.org.

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


NEMA Welcomes New Associate Members

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is pleased to welcome new associate members:

Engineered Polymers Industries.—Engineered Polymers Industries Is a provider of prime polymers, specializing in offering lower-cost alternatives to a wide range of thermoplastics covering extensive applications.

Greenlite Lighting Corp.—Greenlite Lighting Corp. is a provider of CFLs to Canada and the United States.

ELTEK International Laboratories—Eltek Labs is an evaluator of electrical insulating materials, electrical insulation materials, and electrical devices.

Environmental Management Consultants, Inc.—Environmental Management Consultants is a full-service environmental management, remediation, industrial health and safety firm providing services to industry within the continental United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and certain countries in Latin America and Europe.

Allen Ray Associates—Allen Ray Associates is a research company providing market reports that identify changing issues and market trends.

J.R. Bailey Utility Consulting—J.R. Bailey is an energy consulting firm.

NEMA is the trade association of choice for the electrical manufacturing industry. Founded in 1926 and headquartered near Washington, D.C., its approximately 450 member companies manufacture products used in the generation, transmission and distribution, control, and end-use of electricity. www.nema.org


BOMA International Announces 12 Essential Tips For Emergency Planning During September National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. To bring awareness to the importance of emergency planning in commercial real estate, BOMA International has released its top 12 ways for property professionals to be prepared for any emergency situation that may arise.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Preparedness Month is a nationwide initiative to encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools. The threat of emergencies can be reduced through prevention, early detection, notification, effective evaluation or relocation measures. BOMA International encourages its members and all property professionals to play an active role in all aspects of disaster preparedness.

Begin your preparedness planning now. Here are some guidelines to help you get started or to augment an already existing plan:

1.       Review your building’s emergency preparedness plan – have you put together a preparedness team to deal with emergency issues when they arise?

2.       Have your preparedness team take part in “what if” exercises, in which team members propose responses to a number of emergency scenarios.

3.       Develop a multi-layered crisis communication plan that creates a fast and effective line of communication with tenants, local authorities and agencies, and the media.

4.       Determine how your company’s leave and salary policies will apply in emergency situations, such as a pandemic flu outbreak, when a significant portion of your workforce may not be able to come to work.

5.       Identify essential personnel and consider cross training personnel to provide those critical services.

6.       Identify building elements that may warrant special attention in the event of a natural disaster, such as roofing materials, flashing and coping materials, roof vents and air intakes, awnings, gutters and downspouts, roof-mounted, post-mounted or suspended signage, free-standing equipment and siding materials.

7.       Review local evacuation procedures and identify the agency that will issue evacuation orders.

8.       Determine how the evacuation order will be communicated and where evacuation routes and shelters are located

9.       Make certain all of your tenants are aware of the building evacuation procedures, and encourage tenants to participate in evacuation drills

10.   Appoint a re-entry team to access building damage after the disaster.

11.   Include a list of primary, secondary and out of region suppliers to ensure an organization’s ability to rebound from a catastrophe is not hindered by a lack of resources.

12.   Consider identifying off-site work facilities or telecommuting capabilities to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster.

“Preparedness is paramount to protecting lives and business operation in the event of an emergency,” said BOMA International Chairman and Chief Elected Officer Brenna S . Walraven, RPA, CPM, Executive Managing Director, National Property Management, USAA Real Estate Company. “A well-planned, regularly reviewed and practiced emergency preparedness plan is more crucial than ever and is a property professional’s best defense when disaster strikes.”

Participate in National Preparedness Month with BOMA International by ensuring that your building or business is ready. Whether you need to create an emergency preparedness plan or augment an existing one, learn about sheltering in place or best practices from industry experts, BOMA International has all of the answers you need.

BOMA International offers guidance on designing an emergency preparedness plan to help commercial property professionals prepare for any type of situation.

The Property Professional's Guide to Emergency Preparedness (book)
This publication provides a broad approach to emergency planning with emphasis placed on preparedness, evacuation, terrorism, natural disaster, communication, recovery and emotional reaction. Appendices provide an explanation of the Homeland Security Advisory System, best practices for mail center security, a sample emergency evacuation plan, disaster relief resources and a list of FEMA publications.

Are Your Tenants Safe? BOMA's Guide to Security and Emergency Planning
This document provides a framework for a comprehensive approach to emergency planning. Main sections: Creating an Emergency Plan, Considerations for Specific Emergencies and Security Threats, Planning, Choosing Security and Dealing with Media are included. Checklists and a sample fire emergency plan are provided.

Pandemic Flu Tenant Brochure (brochure)
Pandemic Influenza: Are You Prepared? was developed to assist BOMA members in communicating with their tenants on important issues relating to pandemic influenza. The brochure is a powerful tool to relay information on the potential impacts associated with pandemic influenza, the importance of developing proper planning in the case of an outbreak and methods of implementing procedures to help individuals protect themselves.

When Disaster Strikes, What Really Matters? (white paper)
This White Paper from BMS CAT provides helpful checklists and tips for preparation before, during and after a disaster strikes your building, including information on mitigating existing damage to reduce business interruption, and, should the need arise, cost effective recovery solutions.

Emergency Preparedness for Natural Disasters (audio seminar)
Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Even blizzards. Few areas are immune from some sort of natural disaster. And, if your building is prepared for these types of emergencies, you’re prepared for most others.

Emergency Preparedness in the Wake of the 9/11 Commission Report (audio seminar)

The 9/11 Commission Report makes clear that commercial property owners and managers represent the first lines of defense in national emergencies. The report recommends standardization of emergency preparedness and business continuity plans—and most importantly, use standards of preparedness to assess insurability and credit-worthiness. This audio seminar explores the implications of this report and how they will affect the commercial real estate industry.

For a full list of BOMA and other publications related to safety and emergency preparedness, visit the “BOMA Store” at www.boma.org/bomastore.

The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International is an international federation of more than 90 local associations and affiliated organizations. BOMA’s 16,500-plus members own or manage more than 9 billion square feet of commercial properties in North America and throughout the world. The mission of BOMA International is to enhance the human, intellectual and physical assets of the commercial real estate industry through advocacy, education, research, standards and information. Founded in 1907, BOMA International celebrates 100 years of commercial real estate in 2007. Learn more at www.boma.org.


ACUTA Honors Two Of Its Communications Professionals Members With Top Leadership Awards

Two committed and highly involved members of ACUTA, the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, have been honored with special awards by the organization.

Sandra Roberts of Wellesley College and John Bradley, retired from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, received special salutes from the organization, the only national group dedicated to serving the needs of higher education communications technology professionals. It represents nearly 2,000 individuals at 770 institutions.

Roberts received the Ruth A. Michalecki Leadership Award, recognizing outstanding leadership by a member. Roberts has served in numerous ACUTA volunteer roles, including four years as chair of the Vendor Liaison Committee. She has participated in numerous conferences and seminars and has mentored many new member and vendor attendees. Roberts, who is Director of Telecommunications at Wellesley College, is also a newly elected director-at-large for ACUTA as well.

Bradley was honored with the Bill D. Morris Award, named for a popular past president. ACUTA gives the Morris Award to the member who best exemplifies the dedication, vision, professionalism, and leadership that Morris brought to the organization.

Bradley joined ACUTA in 1988 and played an active role until his retirement earlier this year from RPI, where he had managed computer operations and telecommunications during his 28-year career. He served as ACUTA’s secretary/treasurer from 2001 to 2003, was a director-at-large from 2003 to 2007, and has led numerous educational sessions.

“ACUTA is an organization blessed with great volunteers, people who are willing to give of their valuable time to benefit their peers and the group,” said Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. “We appreciate the opportunity to recognize the efforts and the leadership of Sandra Roberts and John Bradley through our annual awards.” www. acuta.org


ACUTA’S Fall Seminars Target Mobile Communications, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery Challenges

The challenges facing colleges and universities in mobile communications, business continuity, and disaster recovery are the focus of this year’s Fall Seminars of ACUTA, the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education.

The seminars are October 14-17 in Minneapolis, at the Minneapolis Hilton. They will feature presentations by representatives of large and small institutions from all over the country. Representing schools such as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Syracuse University, the University of Oregon, Michigan State University, Morrisville State College in New York, and the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, presenters will share their insight, experiences, and successes with their peers.

Educational sessions concentrating on converged mobile communications will address topics such as campus Wi-Fi, wireless local networking, mobile phone financial issues, and mobile integration. On the business continuity and disaster recovery side, presenters will cover campus emergency response, emergency notification options, campus security issues, and more, and also stage a simulated IT department disaster.

ACUTA is the only national association dedicated to serving the needs of higher education communications technology professionals, representing some 2,000 individuals at 770 institutions.

“This year’s Fall Seminars will deal with some of the most pressing issues facing ACUTA member colleges and universities,” said Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. “How to cope with the surge in wireless communications and deal with emergencies on their campuses are major concerns today. In our seminars, the educational sessions combine with extensive networking opportunities, so communications technology professionals can learn from each other, developing information sources and contacts that benefit them and their institutions.” www.acuta.org


CABA Endorses NextGen Tours

CABA is pleased to announce the endorsement of Realcomm's NextGen Tours. As an added bonus any individual that books a tour and gives code "CABA+" will receive $500 "CABA dollars" to purchase CABA research, conference registrations or proceedings, membership, etc. with their registration on either of the tours mentioned below: 

Realcomm's NextGen Tour – Dubai

November 1-7, 2007
http://www.caba.org/tours.html

Don't miss this opportunity to see the exciting growth taking place in Dubai, the heart of the entire Middle East!! With over 200 projects under development, there's no place else in the world where such massive and innovative commercial real estate development is taking place. Visit the Burj Dubai, shop at a 12M s.f. mall, witness the palm islands, have a drink at an underwater hotel, and experience an indoor ski slope. Join us as we explore these and other amazing projects in this 22nd Century City!


IEC Announces 2007 InfoVision Award Finalists Recognizing Top Telecom Innovations

The International Engineering Consortium will announce winners at the Broadband World Forum Europe 2007 next month in Berlin

The International Engineering Consortium (IEC) announced the finalists of its InfoVision Awards program giving tribute to the technologies, applications, products, advances and services judged as the most unique and beneficial to the information and communications technologies (ICT) industry.

The finalists were selected by a panel of judges chosen from the Broadband World Forum Europe 2007 Technical Program Committee, which consists of industry's experts from vendor companies, service providers and industry associations. The IEC will announce winners at the Broadband World Forum Europe 2007.

"Innovation is the driving force behind progress and success in our field so we're extremely excited to honor the individuals and companies committed to advancing the ICT industry. We must also thank our judges who have invested their time analyzing hundreds of InfoVision submissions this year," commented IEC President John Janowiak. "The interest surrounding the InfoVision Awards and the BBWF Europe is indicative of the importance of broadband technologies in every consumer's life and the IEC is pleased to play this role."

The 2007 InfoVision finalists include the following companies and products in their respective categories:

Category 1: Access Network Technologies and Services

Ericsson — EDA 1500 High Density GPON Solution

Huawei Technologies — SmartAX MA5600T Series Product

TANDBERG Television— The iPlex UltraCompression HD and SD IPTV Head-End

ZTE Corporation — ZXA10 C220+ ZXDSL 9806H

Category 2: Network and Services Management and Operations

Alcatel-Lucent — Alcatel-Lucent 5650 Control Plane Assurance Manager (CPAM)

Telcordia — Telcordia Integrated Inventory

Qosmos — Qosmos Q-Work

VPIsystems — OnePlan

Category 3: Wireless Broadband

Motorola — Motorola wi4 WiMAX Flexible Access Point

Philips — CKC7720N Wireless EMTA Cable Gateway

Telstra Corporation — BigPond Wireless Broadband

Category 4: Content, Entertainment, Applications, and Services

Accenture — 3 Italia Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld (DVB-H)

Cisco Systems — Cisco Content Delivery System (CDS) - Internet Streaming

Netineo — Netineo

RADVISION — SCOPIA Interactive Video Platform

Thomson — Thomson DCI8000 Triple Play High Definition Video Recorder

Category 5: Broadband Appliances, Devices, and Home Networking

2Wire — MediaPortal

Enure Networks — ServiceShieldTM

Ericsson — W25 — Full Service Broadband via HSPA for Fixed Installations

Pirelli Broadband Solutions — Pirelli Dual Mode Phone DP-L10

Thomson — Thomson ST620 gateway with 3G Back-up

Category 6: Enabling Silicon and Component-Level Technologies

Infineon Technologies — Low Cost ADSL2+ SoC Promotes Broadband Penetration in Emerging Markets: AMAZON-SE

Thomson — Thomson VIBE Compression Platform Powered by Mustang Chipset

Wavesat — WiMAX Mini-PCI Module

Category 7: Network Core Innovation and Advances

Ciena — Ciena FlexSelect 40G Shelf

Juniper Networks — T1600

Nokia Siemens Networks — PBB-TE Carrier Ethernet Switches hiD 66xx Product Family

Nortel Networks — Electronic Dynamically Compensating Optics (eDCO)

Category 8: Metro Network Technologies and Services

Hatteras Networks — Hatteras Ethernet Service Edge HN-4000 and HN-400 Carrier Class Service Delivery Product Family

Huawei Technologies — OptiX OSN 6800 & 3800

Meriton Networks — Meriton's CET (Carrier Ethernet Transport) Capability and Feature-Set: Implemented on the 7200 OSP (Optical Switching Platform)

ZTE Corporation — ZXMP M800 Metro DWDM System

Category 9: New Product Concepts

Alcatel-Lucent

Italtel

QUALCOMM CDMA Technologies

Soapstone Networks

Thomson

Entries were judged by a panel of industry experts according to the following criteria:

·         Value of service or technology in solving recognized technology problems, meeting network requirements, optimizing service and performance, and/or enhancing customer service

·         Overall quality of innovation and contribution to technology advancement

·         Originality and vision

·         Potential contribution towards positive industry growth and service

·         Market success/acceptance (where applicable)

·         Contribution to end-user quality-of-experience and service efficiency

InfoVision winners will be announced during an awards ceremony on Tuesday, 9 October 2007 at 11:30 a.m. at the World Forum.

Products eligible for InfoVision Awards were commercially announced or in deployment in Europe prior to the Broadband World Forum Europe 2007 (with the exception of submissions in the New Product Concepts category).

The Broadband World Forum Europe conference and exhibition has grown significantly since its début in 2001, offering a wide range of information and communication technologies topics under the large umbrella of broadband. This year's World Forum features more than 260 industry leaders speaking in more than 50 keynote addresses, plenary panels, and workshops, complemented by more than 110 top vendors from around the globe displaying the latest products and services in broadband technology. Additional featured programming includes the co-located Broadband Content Forum and the InfoVision Awards. With the support of Official Host Sponsor Deutsche Telekom AG, the IEC expects to draw more than 7,500 from more than 120 countries to the Estrel Convention Center this 8-11 October 2007. For full information, visit www.iec.org/events/2007/bbwf  www.iec.org


CEA And EH Publishing Renew Partnership Through 2011

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® and EH Publishing, producers of the Electronic House Expo (EHX), today announced the renewal of their partnership through 2011. Originated in 2002, the partnership is designed to help foster further growth and development of the consumer electronics industry, including the residential home systems market that EH Publishing specializes in.

“We are delighted to be working once again with EH to promote EHX, one of the fastest growing residential technology events, and the other industry initiatives that we collaborate on to benefit the CE industry,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA. “EHX is a terrific compliment to CEA’s flagship event, The International CES, and exhibitors should be confident that their show investment is helping to grow the CE industry via activities such as education, training, standards development and market research through CEA’s direct outreach.”

“I am pleased that EH and CEA will continue a great relationship that benefits the custom electronics industry,” said Ken Moyes, President, EH. “EHX will continue to serve tens of thousands of dealers and will produce significant funds for CEA to use in supporting the industry needs.”

EHX Fall 2007 will take place November 6 – 9, 2007 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California. Event details are available at www.ehxweb.com.

The Electronic House Expo (EHX) Fall is the emerging opportunities event for the $15 billion custom electronics industry. The Electronic House Expo (EHX) Fall focuses on emerging opportunities for the $15 billion custom electronics industry. Held in the trendsetting southern California, EHX Fall shows integrators how to capitalize on the new digital custom electronics products and services such as media centers, IP-based home control and Fiber-To-The-Home, helps them address the green trend and puts them in touch with vital business advice such as how to structure highly-valued custom integration businesses.

EH Publishing, Inc. is the information leader and resource for the electronic home industry. Serving the technology and construction markets, EH Publishing, Inc. reaches more than half a million home electronic professionals and consumers worldwide. Founded in 1994, EH Publishing, Inc. has defined, cultivated and raised awareness of the $15 billion electronic/installed home industry through its products, which include print publications, on-line publications, trade shows and market studies. EH Publishing, Inc. is the industry's source for home technology information and market analysis, with the targeted print and on-line publications: Electronic House, Home Electronic Ideas, CE Pro, CE Pro Retailing, ChannelPro, TecHome Builder, Live Sound, and targeted tradeshows: Electronic House Expo (EHX), TecHome Builder Conference and Expo (TBX.), Worship Facilities Expo (WFX), ROBOBusiness Conference and Expo, RoboDevelopment Conference and Expo, and the Consumer HealthTech Summit. To find out more, visit www.ehpub.com.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the $148 billion U.S. consumer technology industry through technology policy, events, research, promotion and the fostering of business and strategic relationships. CEA represents more than 2,100 corporate members involved in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution and integration of audio, video, mobile electronics, wireless and landline communications, information technology, digital imaging, home networking, multimedia and accessory products, as well as related services that are sold through consumer channels. CEA's resources are available online at www.CE.org, the definitive source for information about the consumer electronics industry. CEA also sponsors and manages the International CES – Where Entertainment, Technology and Business Converge. All profits from CES are reinvested into industry services, including technical training and education, industry promotion, engineering standards development, market research and legislative advocacy.

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • CEA Industry Forum
    October 15-17, 2007, San Diego, CA
  • Digital Hollywood Fall
    October 29-November 1, 2007, Hollywood, CA
  • EHX Fall 2007
    November 6-9, 2007, Long Beach, CA
  • Future of Television Forum
    November 8-9, 2007, New York, NY
  • CES New York Press Preview Featuring CES Unveiled
    November 13, 2007, New York, NY
  • CONNECTIONSTM Europe: Strategies for Digital Living Markets
    December 4-6, 2007, Berlin, Germany
  • CES Unveiled: The Official Press Event of the International CES
    January 5, 2008, Las Vegas, NV
  • 2008 International CES
    January 7-10, 2008, Las Vegas, NV
  • Digital Music Forum East
    February 26-27, 2008, New York, NY
  • EHX Spring 2008
    March 11-15, 2008, Orlando, FL
  • 2008 PARA Conference
    March 12-14, 2008, Orlando, FL
  • Digital Patriots Dinner
    April 2, 2008, Washington, DC
  • CEA Washington Forum
    April 2-4, 2008,  Washington, DC
  • International CES/Hometech
    May 25-27, 2008, Dubai, UAE
  • SINOCES 2008
    July 10-13, 2008, Qingdao, China

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www.CE.org

Article Contributions

BuildingGreen

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

All materials Copyright BuildingGreen, Inc. 2007


Use Performance-Based Transportation Credits in LEED

Alex Wilson

While the prescriptive approach in LEED to site and transportation issues has served an important role, it's time to provide a more rigorous basis for these credits. Specifically, I believe that the points addressing transportation should be changed from a prescriptive basis (provide bicycle racks, limit parking, etc.) to a performance basis. To do this, USGBC should champion research to develop building-specific metrics for measuring the transportation energy intensity of new and existing buildings. A huge body of research has already addressed these issues, but that research has been done largely on a community scale. To be used in LEED for New Construction and other building-specific LEED rating systems, we need building-specific metrics.

To read the full article:
http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=160902a.xml


Ground-Source Heat Pumps:Tapping the Earth's Mass

Backpage Primer from Environmental Building News

Ground-source heat pumps (GSHPs), often called "geothermal heat pumps," exploit the relatively stable temperatures found just 5 feet (1.5 m) or more below the surface, either depositing or extracting low-intensity heat. Heat pumps--whether ground-source or air-source--are basically air conditioners that can be run in reverse to provide heating as well as cooling.

To read the full article:

http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=160920a.xml


Green building advocates (among them the editors of EBN and the GreenSpec Directory, both published by BuildingGreen) have long sought an electrical cable product that meets their standards. According to GreenSpec, the product should be free of heavy metals and halogens (including chlorinated, brominated, or fluorinated substances), and compliant with RoHS, the European Union's Restriction of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment regulation. The product should also perform up to relevant flame retardancy standards.

To read the full article:
http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=160909a.xml


BuildingGreen, Inc. is publisher of the nation's oldest publication on sustainable design and construction and the leading national directory of green building products. For more information on BuildingGreen and its resources on environmentally responsible design and construction, visit www.BuildingGreen.com , e-mail info@buildinggreen.com, or call 800-861-0954 (outside the U.S. and Canada, call 802-257-7300). BuildingGreen is an independent, socially responsible, company based in Brattleboro, Vermont.


Electrical Contractor Magazine

Sorry, What Did You Say?

Protection can prevent hearing loss

No one would disagree that a job site is a noisy place. So noisy that it can lead to hearing loss over time. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has named hearing loss one of 21 priority areas for research in the future. Hearing loss is 100 percent preventable.

The problem is even minor hearing loss cannot be restored. Using some simple precautions can keep hearing loss to a minimum. NIOSH states that 30 million Americans are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. NIOSH also states there is a good amount of misunderstanding about how hearing loss occurs and the importance of hearing protection on the job. The following is a series of frequently asked questions that will help to increase understanding about hearing loss and prevention.

Q: Don’t we lose hearing as we get older?

A: True, most people’s hearing gets worse as they get older, but for the average person, hearing is not impaired much before the age of 60. This is typical of someone not working in the construction industry and who is exposed to loud noises for many years. It is said that at age 25, a carpenter has “the ears of a 50-year-old.” This means that at the quarter-century mark, this carpenter has the hearing of someone twice his age who has worked in a quiet job.

Q: Why does loud noise harm hearing?

A: Loud noises can damage delicate cells in the ear responsible for hearing. This loss usually is gradual during long exposure to loud sounds. Loud sounds cause these cells to be overworked, which eventually leads to the death of the cell. When enough cells are damaged, a hearing loss will result.

Q: How loud is too loud?

A: Sound is measured in decibels. Normal conversation occurs at about 60 decibels. Running a hand drill measures at about 98 decibels, and a chainsaw ranks at about 110 decibels. NIOSH estimates that exposure to noise at chainsaw level can cause hearing loss in as little as a minute. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), prolonged exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.

Q: How can I tell if the noise level is dangerous?

A: There are two good rules of thumb. First, if you must raise your voice to be heard by someone that is an arm’s length away, the noise level probably is hazardous. Second, if after leaving the noisy place your ears ring or sounds seem dull or muffled, again the noise level probably was hazardous.

Q: Will you be able to hear backup beeps and other warning sounds while wearing hearing protectors?

A: In fact, fatal accidents do occur on job sites because people don’t hear the warning sounds. However, this usually happens when the background noise at the site was too high, not because the person was wearing hearing protection. Hearing protection brings all sound levels down equally. The warning beeps can still be heard, they just don’t sound as loud as without the protection.

Q: It sometimes is necessary to listen for sounds the machinery and equipment make. Won’t hearing protectors interfere with this?

A: Hearing protectors decrease the noise level, not eliminate it. However, some hearing protectors can make noises sound different, which may make listening to your machine more difficult. If listening to subtle differences in the sound of your tool or machine is important, there are hearing protectors that can provide flat attenuation.

Q: How long does it take to get used to wearing hearing protectors?

A: Getting used to hearing protectors is no different than getting used to a new pair of shoes. Sometimes it takes no time at all, and other times you have to break the shoes in. In order for hearing protectors to be comfortable, they must be the right size and not worn out. Workers also may need more than one type of protector at their job. If the hearing protector being used is not suitable for the work being done, they probably will not be comfortable.

Q: How often should my hearing be tested?

A: If you are regularly exposed to noises at hazardous levels, your hearing should be tested annually. Anyone who notices any change in their hearing should have their hearing tested at that time.

Q: Where can I get a hearing test?

A: At the following Web sites, you can find information on where to get a hearing test.

The National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) at www.hearingconservation.org

The American-Speech-Language-Hearing­ Association (ASHA) at www.asha.org

American Academy of Audiology (AAA) at www.audiology.org

Your job shouldn’t cause hearing loss. Yet many people in our industry lose hearing every year because of exposure to hazardous noise levels. Many accidents and injuries on the job site are difficult to prevent, but hearing loss isn’t one of them. Simple prevention by using hearing protection can prevent any permanent hearing loss. EC

O’CONNOR is with Intec, a safety consulting, training and publishing firm that offers on-site assistance and produces manuals, training videos and software for contractors. Based in Waverly, Pa., he can be reached at 607.624.7159 or joconnor@intecweb.com. KELLY is a safety and health specialist with Intec.


We Don’t Mean To Brag

But here it comes, anyway. In your hands right now is the largest issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine ever. At a whopping 318 pages, this September issue is the biggest one ... since last September’s (it has surpassed that record-breaking page count by 10 pages)! So, obviously, we are very excited to be able to provide you with all this editorial content. We’ve worked hard to put it together, and we hope you enjoy reading it.

But that’s not the end of our reasons to boast. ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR recently won two Apex Awards for Publication Excellence. The first award was for the cover of the January 2006 issue, designed by our creative graphics partners, BonoTom Studio. We also won for the magazine and journal design and layout for the entire March 2007 issue. We’d love to thank our fans, all the folks at BonoTom Studio and our families, without whom this wouldn’t be possible.

Our last reason to toot our own horn comes courtesy of our publisher, John Maisel, who was recently featured on the online video news source for the electrical industry, ElectricTV (www.electrictv.net). Feel free to check it out in the Web site’s archives, as Maisel speaks about the large role you electrical contractors are playing in this world of integrated building systems. You can also find a link to the interview at www.ECmag.com’s Web Exclusives section.

Before this brag fest gets out of hand, let’s talk about this issue. We’re pleased to offer you 15 features, ranging in topics from the expected—Jeff Griffin’s NECA show special feature, an overview of the host city, San Francisco—to the unexpected, a look at the potential for electrical contractors in data centers by Russ Munyan (page 302). We have a few product-related focus stories as well. Dan Carazo writes about cable trays (page 184), and James Benya writes about T5 and T8 ballasts and lamps (page 190). The latter story provides plenty of technical information, which might help you on your next job. You can find a focus on maintaining power quality by our resident PQ expert Richard Bingham (page 78). In addition, explore how building a strong relationship with your general contractors can positively increase your business potential by reading Jeff Gavin’s focus (page 62), which, finally, gets me to my point.

It’s important to note that, despite all these accolades and kudos, the reason we’re here is to inform you, the reader. It’s nice to be recognized, but we’re ultimately focused on our role as an educational and informational source to help you better succeed. We cherish that role, and we hope that you continue to read, as we continue to grow.

Thank you, dear readers. EC

—Andrea Klee, Editor


Think NECA. Think Green.

“Think NECA” will be a highly visible theme when America’s leading power system, lighting and cabling exposition is held in San Francisco next month. It is intended to encourage industry participants to look to our association for training, education and networking.

However, NECA also wants to encourage electrical contractors to think in color. Specifically, in healthy shades of green.

For the first time ever at the NECA Show, an entire day of seminars and an entire section of the vast exhibit area will put attendees in touch with experts and key players in the wind, solar and renewable energy industries. While this focus may seem new, it didn’t sprout up overnight.

The seeds were planted long ago, as early as the 1960s. But, now we have a new sense of urgency concerning global resource depletion. The good thing is it’s balanced with new confidence, as technology catches up with the imperative that buildings function well in terms of resource use and energy conservation. That was the gist of an article in the July issue of this magazine, and NECA certainly is not the only one saying it.

A just-released McGraw-Hill report on “The Greening of Corporate America” finds that one in four companies anticipate more governmental mandates for green building standards and one in three now view sustainable construction as mainstream. They have good reason to think that way since 11 federal green initiatives relating to construction procurement now are in effect, and 22 states and 75 local governments have thus far adopted initiatives requiring contractors to build to green standards.

A couple of other impressive numbers: This summer, the U.S. Conference of Mayors—more than 1,100 of them—unanimously adopted a resolution for community schools to be built green. Around the same time, the U.S. Green Building Council welcomed its 10,000th member company. Council members are builders, designers, legislators, policymakers, educators, manufacturers, developers, activists and scientists. Finally, the McGraw-Hill report says the green building industry, which scarcely existed just a decade ago, now is worth more than $12 billion and is growing exponentially every year.

NECA has been cultivating the green building market for some time, with the fruits of our efforts most apparent in the fields of training, education and research.

For example, the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee for the Electrical Industry (NJATC), which NECA and IBEW jointly sponsor, just announced the publication of a groundbreaking work, “Photovoltaic Systems”—the first and only comprehensive guide to the installation of commercial and residential solar energy systems. NJATC has been training journeymen in the design and installation of solar energy systems for more than a decade.

And, ELECTRI International, NECA’s research affiliate, is spearheading a number of activities in this regard. One of these, which is documented in this magazine (on page 309), includes providing a significant research grant to a student team at Pennsylvania State University to design and construct a demonstration solar home as part of the Energy Department’s Solar Decathlon on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in October.

However, in light of the fact that foundation research often leads to the development of NECA management education courses, more immediate results may be obtained from an ELECTRI International project on “Emerging Green Markets: The Role of the Electrical Contractor on Green Building Projects.” NECA conventioneers will be the first to learn about key findings and strategies for green business growth.

But, you can be sure it won’t be the final word on this subject. Green is here to stay. And so is NECA’s involvement in this important market.

Milner Irvin


IBEW Recognizes Downtime-Reduction System

The cost of unscheduled downtime is a problem for almost every industry. In fact, a comprehensive study of manufacturing facilities found an open-circuit event resulted in an average of 41 minutes of downtime, including 11 minutes on average to notify maintenance and 24 minutes on average for troubleshooting. Downtime costs can range from $300,000 to millions of dollars per site per hour. In addition to an idle work force, downtime causes disruption to an integrated supply chain and the loss of scrapped work-in-process, both of which can be very expensive.

That is one of the main reasons the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has recognized the Cooper InVision Downtime-Reduction System as being a product and program that can make a significant impact on its members in the field.

Introduced in spring 2007, the system is a wireless technology for industrial and commercial applications that can help identify open-circuit events caused by short circuits and overloads. In effect, the system minimizes the potential safety risks and also alerts maintenance workers of the correct personal protective equipment to bring to the open-circuit location. For more information, visit www.cooperbussmann.com/invision EC


Municipal Wireless Coming To Riverside

While other providers continue to fight the growing trend of Municiple Wi-Fi networks, AT&T has decided to launch one of its own.

This summer, in a move that is sure to catch the attention of its competitors, AT&T announced it was launching its first municipal high-speed wireless Internet service in Riverside, Calif.

The telecommunications company has teamed up with the Mountain View, Calif.-based wireless Internet provider, MetroFi, to deploy the Wi-Fi mesh technology on existing, city-owned infrastructure. The network initially will cover a three-square-mile area that includes downtown and adjacent industrial and commercial sites.

With 300,000 residents, Riverside is one of the fastest growing cities in California.

When fully built out, the network will be the nation’s largest, spanning a 55-square-mile area of the city, and providing free Internet access to low-income residents and a subscription-based service for out-of-towners.

A number of cities across the country are deploying municipal Wi-Fi networks, despite opposition from broadband providers who fear the competition and object to the loss of revenue to the free, municipally owned services. Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco have deployed similar networks.

In addition to the free and subscription access provided to residents and visitors, the network is designed also to provide wireless broadband services for municipal departments. The initial emphasis seems to be on law enforcement.

“We anticipate great benefits of the system for our public safety agencies,” Riverside Mayor Ronald O. Loveridge said.

The city is testing the service to run video to and from police department patrol cars. Additional applications available will include traffic monitoring and coordination, video surveillance to minimize graffiti and illegal dumping, and facility security. EC

Rick Laezman


NAED Study To Examine Product Liability Issues

The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) Education Research Foundation has commissioned a study on product liability exposure as it affects electrical distributors and installers in today’s global marketplace. The study, “Product Liability Exposure: How to Manage and Mitigate the Risks in Today’s Global Market,” is a part of growing repository of research on strategic electrical industry issues.

Scheduled to be completed in early fall 2007, the study will address potential risks brought on by increased global sourcing. Examples of possible risks include counterfeit products, poor performance to specification and private-label products.

The research will assess the level of risk to distributors and installers, review recent legal cases in the industry, compare liability laws between individual states and identify the protections available. It also will highlight industry best practices.

“Historically, electrical distributors and installers had developed relationships with a limited number of well-known manufacturers who stood behind their products,” said John Selldorff, president and CEO of Legrand North America and the research project’s task force chair. “However, today’s global marketplace has increased the amount of electrical products being sourced from manufacturers outside the United States, from unknown manufacturers and through import brokers. The application and enforcement of product liability is no longer as clear as it once was.”

NAED has contracted with Bernie Heinze, attorney with the Sequent Insurance Group, to conduct the study. Heinze has represented and defended electrical utilities, distributors, suppliers, installers and component part manufacturers in product liability and contract matters.

More than 41 electrical distributors and manufacturers have pledged more than $7.5 million since the endowment’s creation in 2003. EC

By Stan Shook


Estimating The Streets Of San Francisco

What to look for at the NECA Show NECA Show is just weeks away, and what a glorious location 2007

The NECA has chosen this year—San Francisco—where wishes come true and everybody leaves with a new takeoff on life. Host to incredible food, swanky clubs, gorgeous skylines, amazing bridges and freezing cold summer temperatures, San Francisco is one of the most diverse, hilly and complicated cities in the world … to estimate. Make sure you bring comfortable walking shoes, a winter coat for your crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge and my column from September 2006, “Estimating the NECA Show” (find it at www.ecmag.com).

All the software companies will be there, showing off their latest, greatest releases and new technologies. ConEst will present Sure Count symbol recognition and takeoff software—a stand-alone program that can send counts directly into its IntelliBid software. Accubid and McCormick also will present breakthroughs in CAD estimating technology, so make sure you get a demo. Also, be sure to check out Estimation’s booth for its digital on-screen takeoff software. All these innovators are the future of estimating.

Another hot topic on the show floor you will see and hear a lot about: value engineering (VE). VE has become a critical part of pricing and building most projects these days. The questions are easy: How can we save the client money? How can we build this project cheaper than everybody else? How can we build it on schedule with limited labor resources? How do we turn a 4,000-hour job into a 2,800-hour job? How do we perform two estimates in the same time? The answers will be at the NECA Show.

Tip: Visit Cablofil’s booth, and check out the VE Plus Program. The company has teamed up with Legrand, Southwire and Pass & Seymour with a cutting-edge approach to helping electrical contractors make greater profits by value engineering projects using their labor-saving materials.

There also will be a couple of technical workshops and lectures on estimating. Get there early for my lecture, “The Future of Estimating: Today’s Estimators Estimating with Tomorrow’s Technology,” (Saturday, Oct. 6 at noon) on the show floor. To quote the NECA Show Web site, I’m presenting “a discussion on how estimating will change dramatically in the near future. The implementation of CAD recognition, 3-D design software, B.I.M. technologies and other software breakthroughs will require estimators to change the way they think and estimate.” Wow! I better get to work on this soon!

I also recommend getting a seat for George Hague’s (ConEst Software) technical workshop on design/build estimating (Monday, Oct. 8, 10:30­–11:20 a.m. on the show floor, Room 2).

And before or after the show, as you hike your way through the city (do not call it “Frisco,” the locals will hate you), you are going to see an amazing amount of construction happening everywhere. So many different shapes, sizes, heights, exteriors, colors, metal, concrete and glass—all squeezed together without an inch in between. Then, at night, from the vista point at the top of Twin Peaks (bring your coat!), the lights put on a show that will give you an entirely different perspective on the term “electrical.”

While you’re out and about, think about how you would estimate the projects here. Look at the buildings underway. Look at their sizes, shapes, the number of stories and how they interact with the buildings next to them. Try to see through the walls. Find all the electrical stuff. Observe the realities of electrical construction in the center of a mega-city.

Try to study each building’s physical location, the parking situation, coordination, where deliveries might arrive and how materials and electricians get to the 46th floor. Think about the concept of lost labor, how you would estimate it and what your labor units account for. There is a “high-rise” factor, but do you apply this factor as you estimate or after, during your recap? Is that one a NECA 1, 2 or 3 project? How about this one? A NECA 5? Perhaps there should be a 5th labor column?

A few buildings I recommend trying to see and study for estimating:

■ The new Federal Building, electrical by Rosendin Electric

■All of Moscone Center and the entire Yerba Buena Gardens and Center

■The de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, electrical by Cupertino Electric

■The Transamerica Pyramid

■The Embarcadero and Embarcadero Center

■AT&T Park, home of the Giants, and surrounding areas

Estimating any size project in a major city is different from a new, ground-up building on a giant open lot. You can lose thousands of dollars on the tiniest project and millions on the large ones. Think about this as you roam down the aisles at this year’s NECA Show and while hitting the yellow brick streets of San Francisco, as you search for the place to leave your heart. EC

Shook is the president and chief estimator for his estimating company, TakeOff 16 Inc. He has worked in the electrical construction industry for more than 18 years. Reach him at 707.776.0800 or sfs@TakeOff16.com.


A Matter of Choice

Take the quiz first, then read

Which Cabling Components Should You Choose?

With so much changing in technology and standards, figuring out
what components to use in an application can be tricky. Let’s look
at some voice/data/video jobs and see what we should use today.

1.   In a large corporate backbone, connecting many telecom rooms and thousands of users and supporting Ethernet LANs, wireless access points and VoIP, the backbone cable should be ________.

A. 62.5/125 micron multimode fiber and single-mode
fiber

B. Laser-optimized 50/125 micron multimode and single-mode fiber

C. Category 6 unshielded twisted pair cable

D. Augmented Category 6 unshielded twisted pair cable

2.   Desktop connections for a small-business LAN, supporting just 100base-T Ethernet, only needs ________.

A. Cat 5e

B. Cat 6

C. Cat 6A

D. Fiber, either 62.5/125 or 50/125 micron

3.   A corporate network needs to upgrade electronics from gigabit Ethernet to 10 gigabit Ethernet. It is currently using Cat 6 installed. You should ________.

A. First test the installed Cat 6 per TIA TSB-155

B. Install Cat 6A

C. Install laser-optimized 50/125 micron fiber

D. Install laser-optimized single-mode fiber

4.   A company wants to use UTP cable for security cameras instead of coax, so the best choice is ________.

A. Cat 3

B. Cat 5e

C. Cat 6

D. Shielded twisted pair equal to Cat 5

5.   A large government office complex wants to install more than 100 surveillance cameras connected to a central monitoring room. What cable would be the best choice?

A. Cat 5e

B. Cat 6

C. Cat 6A

D. Fiber optics, either 62.5/125 or 50/125 micron

6.   A company is upgrading its backbone to 10 gigabit Ethernet on laser-optimized 50/125 fiber. To prevent mixing the new fiber with current 62.5/125 fiber, you should ________.

A. Use the recommended aqua color-coded fiber jacket on all patchcords

B. Use LC connectors instead of the current SC or ST styles

C. Mark all cables and patchpanels with aqua-colored tags

D. All of the above

7.   A high-tech company’s building is being designed to include a major facility for Internet servers as well as corporate servers and more than 1,500 desktops with two PCs each and VoIP phones.

A. This is a good candidate for fiber to the desktop with OM3 laser-optimized fiber.

B. Augmented Category 6 will be adequate for all their needs for at least 10 years.

C. Each desktop will need six UTP cables.

D. Telecom closets are not needed since there is no POTS (plain old telephone service).

8.   You decide to use fiber to the desktop, so you do not need to set aside rooms for telecom infrastructure on each floor of the building. However, you will need media converters or fiber-to-copper hubs near the PCs for the 1,000 base-T ports on the PCs and VoIP phones.

True

False

9.   The server rooms in the new facility will house hundreds of high-speed servers and terabytes of storage. Besides communications cabling, you also need to consider _____.

A. Uninterruptible power

B. Data-quality grounds

C. Air conditioning and its power needs

D. All of the above

See my Fiber Optics column on page 36 for more on this topic.

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

Answers: 1. B   2. A    3. A   4. C    5. D    6. D    7. A    8. True    9. D

Now That You Have taken the test here is the article.

In the quiz we ask some questions about choosing voice/data/video (VDV) cabling components for various applications. With so much changing in communications, cabling technology and standards, figuring out which components to use in a particular application can be tricky.

In a large corporate backbone connecting many telecom rooms and thousands of users, supporting Ethernet LANs, wireless access points and VoIP, what is the backbone cable of choice? Certainly it would be fiber optics, as the limited performance of unshielded twisted pair (UTP) copper, even augmented Category 6, along with the bulk of multiple UTP cables, eliminates it from consideration.

But which fiber is preferred? The old standby of 62.5/125 micron multimode (OM1), laser-optimized OM3 50/125 micron multimode or single-mode fiber? The superior performance of laser-optimized 50/125 for networks at gigabit speeds and above makes it the most popular choice for backbones today. But inexpensive single-mode fiber, cheaper than kite string and monofilament fishing line, as one market researcher describes it, makes adding a dozen single-mode fibers to a hybrid backbone cable design a no-brainer.

Suppose a corporate network owner wants to upgrade his electronics from gigabit Ethernet to 10 gigabit Ethernet. He currently has Cat 6 installed. He should first test the installed Cat 6 per TIA TSB-155, a new method of determining the ability of Cat 6 installations to support 10Gbase-T. If the cabling fails, he could install Cat 6A, but at 10 gig, he is going to have to deal with installing a non-standard UTP cable that requires transmitters that cost as much as fiber and use four to eight times as much power, right on the limits of server power capability. It makes much more sense to install laser-optimized 50/125 micron fiber if an upgrade is planned.

What if a company is upgrading its backbone to 10 gigabit Ethernet on laser-optimized 50/125 fiber, but its current backbone is 62.5/125 fiber? It must be concerned about not mixing the two fibers because of the excess loss encountered. There are three things the company should do to distinguish the two multimode fibers:

1.Use the industry-standard aqua color coded fiber jacket on all patchcords.

2. Use LC connectors instead of the current SC or ST styles, especially sensible since most gigabit equipment  uses LC connectors on transceivers.

3. Mark all cables and patchpanels with aqua-colored tags.

Finally, consider a new office building for a high-tech company being designed to include a major facility for Internet servers as well as corporate servers and more than 1,500 desktops with 2 PCs each and VoIP phones. This is a good candidate for fiber to the desktop with OM3 laser-optimized fiber. A centralized-fiber cabling architecture eliminates the need for telecom closets, saving the costs of data power and grounds and AC in each closet. A single desktop or clusters of desktops can be served with local fiber to Cat 6 switches or each unit can use a fiber to copper media converter. In a properly designed network, this fiber solution can be less expensive on an as-installed basis. Plus, it allows for future upgrades.

Every application is different, with size and complexity needing to be considered in order to properly choose a cabling solution. For example, if a small business only needs a simple LAN supporting just 100base-T Ethernet, it probably only needs Cat 5e to the desktop. Cat 6, Cat 6A or fiber is overkill for low-speed desktop connections. Small office LANs rarely are physically large enough to need telecom rooms, so every desktop can be directly connected to the server using inexpensive Cat 5e cable.

What about video?

Heightened concern over security has led to an increase in the use of video surveillance cameras. Traditionally, video has been transmitted over coaxial cable unless the distance is too great where fiber is used. Now, a third choice—UTP cabling—is available, a reasonable choice if the monitoring points are within the range of the cabling used for the corporate network. If the camera is just sending video down the cable, using a balun to convert from coax to UTP, it is important to consider the bandwidth capability of the cabling, making Cat 6 a good choice if the distances are long. If the camera has an IP interface, standard network distances will apply.

Another video application is home theater. With digital TV, DVI and HDMI cables are used to connect the TV and media center. In cases where distances are longer than DVI or HDMI standards, optical fiber converters are available at a reasonable price. EC

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


By The Bay

By Jeff Griffin

NECA 2007 San Francisco is sure to please

The last time NECA’s convention and trade show was held in San Francisco was 16 years ago, and those who haven’t visited since will notice many changes. Yet in many ways, the city by the bay remains the same.

Cable cars, elegant Victorian homes, Chinatown, Coit Tower, North Beach, the Golden Gate Bridge and other landmarks seem unchanged, waiting to be enjoyed again. And the food! Whether your taste is for fine French and Italian cuisine, Asian specialties, other ethnic fare or simple American dishes, San Francisco is renowned for excellent dining.

It is easy to see and do a lot in a short period of time in San Francisco—hotels, restaurants and attractions are concentrated in a 47-square-mile area, making the city very walkable. And if the hills are too much or the distance is too far, most destinations are only a short cab ride away.

Covering everything there is to see and do in San Francisco in a short magazine article is impossible. Good guidebooks are available in bookstores, but before purchasing one, be sure it is a recent edition so information will be current. An easy, quick reference is the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau Web site, www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com.

Neighborhoods

San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods. Some of the city’s most interesting and accessible neighborhoods are near the convention center and NECA hotels, perfect for visitors with busy convention schedules.

South of Market (SoMa): The underground Moscone Center, location of the 2007 NECA convention and trade show, is located in SoMa, which has changed significantly since the NECA show’s last appearance in San Francisco. SoMa encompasses about two square miles of fine restaurants and nightclubs, art galleries, theaters and a variety of shops. The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., is a $44-million entertainment and art complex. The center is surrounded by the beautifully landscaped Yerba Buena Gardens. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art at Third and Howard streets houses more than 15,000 works of art, including paintings and sculptures, photography, architecture and design, and media arts. The California Historical Society’s new downtown museum at 678 Mission St. showcases the rich legacy of the Golden State. AT&T Park at Third and King streets, perhaps the country’s most scenic Major League Baseball venue, is home to the San Francisco Giants. There are tours daily. Call 415.972.2212.

Adjacent to SoMa, off Market below Golden Gate Avenue, the Civic Center is a concentration of government buildings, performance halls, museums and galleries, and restaurants. It includes Beaux Arts jewels City Hall and the War Memorial Opera House in the War Memorial Performing Arts Center, which also contains the Herbst Theatre, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall and Veterans Building. Nearby are the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., containing 15,000 items spanning 6,000 years of Asian history, and the San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St., with more than 1 million books and 400 electronic workstations.

Also south of Market Street, the Mission District is the heart of the city’s Hispanic neighborhood. Located along 24th Street is the district’s colorful collection of restaurants, taquerias, Mexican bakeries, fresh produce markets and specialty shops. Mission Dolores, 16th and Dolores streets, is the oldest structure in San Francisco. The mission contains the city’s largest concentration of murals, which are painted on buildings, fences and garage walls throughout the neighborhood.

Bounded by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton streets, Union Square is the landmark park in the heart of the city. It was reopened five years ago, following 18 months of renovations that added four grand entrance corner plazas bordered by the park’s signature palms. The naval monument topped by the Goddess of Victory statue was constructed in 1903. Streets around the square have hotels (the St. Francis is one), major retailers and specialty boutiques, galleries and fine restaurants.

Chinatown is a short walk from Union Square, with the main entrance at the Dragon’s Gate at Grant Avenue and Bush Street. This bustling city within a city is crowded with exotic shops, upscale restaurants and inexpensive eating spots, food markets, and temples, all best explored on foot. Chinatown’s busiest street is Grant, also the city’s oldest street. Portsmouth Square at Clay and Kearny streets is a hub of activity. The Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny St., rotates exhibits of Chinese arts and crafts.

The former Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Exchange at 743 Washington was the first Chinese-style building constructed in San Francisco.

Centered along Columbus Avenue, North Beach comprises less than a square mile and reflects a rich Italian heritage. Bakeries and delicatessens serve up traditional Italian delicacies. The neighborhood is packed with cabarets, jazz clubs, shops and galleries, family-style restaurants, and gelato parlors. A focal point of activity is Washington Square, bordered by Union, Filbert, Powell and Stockton streets, with the landmark Saints Peter and Paul Church, just off the square on Filbert Street. On the top of nearby Telegraph Hill is Coit Tower, offering magnificent views of the surrounding city and San Francisco Bay.

The low-lying stretch of Union Street west of Van Ness Avenue was the first neighborhood in San Francisco to convert gingerbread Victorian houses into trendy boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. A stroll along this pleasant street’s sidewalks is a delightful way to spend an afternoon or evening. The Octagon House, Gough Street at Union, an eight-sided structure built in 1861, now is the site of a shop offering antiques and artifacts dating from the American Revolution. The Vedanta Temple, 2963 Webster St., is one of the city’s most unusual buildings, combining Colonial, Queen Anne, Moorish and Hindu architectural influences.

There are magnificent views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge in Pacific Heights, San Francisco’s most prestigious neighborhood, where the elegant mansions are simply breathtaking. Perhaps the most impressive concentration is on Broadway’s high ground between Webster and Lyon streets. Of historical and architectural interest are the Spreckels Mansion, 2080 Washington St.; the Whittier Mansion, 2090 Jackson St.; and the Bourn Mansion, 2550 Webster St.

Haight-Ashbury rests just below Golden Gate Park’s narrow panhandle, extending east from the park. The street sign at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets remains a popular photo location. The area that once was home to the ’60s counterculture is much more genteel today. Vintage clothing stores and record and book shops keep that era alive, and it’s easy to imagine members of the Grateful Dead at their old home at 710 Ashbury or to picture Janis Joplin coming out of the house at 112 Lyon Street.

Other attractions

Fisherman’s Wharf at Taylor Street and the Embarcadero is one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist attractions. That said, the area long ago lost its original charm as a place to glimpse life on the waterfront and has become a shopping venue catering to tourists that includes Pier 39, a long, narrow shopping mall extending into the bay. Never been there? Take a look, but there are too many other interesting things more worthy of visitors with limited free time. Just to the west is Ghirardelli Square, a national historic landmark also turned into a shopping center.

The Embarcadero follows the bay’s waterfront from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street. Recent renovations have transformed the landmark Ferry Building into a vibrant public space, housing high-end retailers, a food hall, restaurants and a farmers’ market. The Ferry Building also is the terminal for ferries to Marin County, Vallejo, Oakland and Alameda. Ships from all corners of the world can be found at the deep-water piers along the Embarcadero, with most passenger ships docking at Pier 35 near Fisherman’s Wharf. Open to the public, Pier 7, at the foot of Broadway just north of the Ferry Building, is the longest pier in the city and offers excellent views of the downtown skyline. Promenades extend along the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building, past the base of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to the South Beach area near King Street.

Due west of the Civic Center, Golden Gate Park covers more than 1,000 acres (it is larger than New York’s Central Park) and is a perfect spot to get away from the city’s bustle and enjoy hundreds of gardens, wooded walking trails and lakes. There is a Japanese Tea Garden, Conservancy of Flowers and Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Currently closed for renovations is the California Academy of Sciences, including an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum. Park headquarters is at Stanyan and Fell streets, 415.831.2700.

San Francisco’s cable cars not only are an efficient means of transportation but are a destination in their own right, being designated as national landmarks. The first cable car went into service in 1873, and by the 1890s, eight companies operated 600 cars on 21 routes. They remained a primary mode of public travel until the 1906 earthquake destroyed the system. Today’s cable cars run on three routes that reach many of the city’s attractions (the Powell-Hyde route is the most scenic). San Francisco’s cable cars are the only vehicles of their kind still operating. To learn more, visit the Cable Car Museum on Mason Street at Washington.

Two of the world’s great bridges are in San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge crosses the mouth of San Francisco Bay—the Golden Gate—to connect the northern tip of the city to Marin County. Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, the bridge is 1.7 miles long, and its twin towers are 746 feet high. A significant engineering achievement designated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Wonders of the World, it is regarded by many as the most beautiful bridge in the world, and it is the most recognized icon for the city. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is a year older and much longer and is constructed of double-decked suspension, truss and cantilever bridge structures, and it includes a tunnel. Its full length is 8.4 miles. Major spans from each shore connect to Yerba Buena Island in mid-bay with the tunnel through the island’s rocky central hill. The 10 lanes of traffic—five taking traffic west on the upper level, five eastbound on the lower level—carry an average of more than 280,000 vehicles per day. The Bay Bridge is a vital link in the Bay Area’s traffic system, but it never achieved the mystique of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Of course, one of the favorite San Francisco tours is to Alcatraz—best known as a maximum-security prison from 1934 until 1963—which housed many dangerous and notorious prisoners, including Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. Tours recently were expanded and include visits to cramped cells where prisoners lived, the mess hall, library and the “holes” where problem prisoners could be placed. Just one-and-a-half miles off Fisherman’s Wharf, the island now is a part of the Golden Gate Recreational Area. For tour information and reservations, call the Blue & Gold Fleet, 415.705.5555.

There are many side trips available to San Francisco visitors: Oakland and Berkeley just across the Bay Bridge, the Muir Woods and rugged coastline north, the wine country farther north. But one of the best also is one of the closest. Spend a few delightful hours and relax in Sausalito. Get there by ferry, or drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. The ferry landing puts passengers in the heart of this quaint, laid-back town of 8,000. The main street, Bridgeway, runs along the waterfront and is lined with specialty shops, jewelry stores, art galleries and restaurants, with more of the same on less-crowded Caledonia Street, one block inland. Stroll down Bridgeway and enjoy the San Francisco skyline across the sparkling waters of the bay. To get there by water, take the Golden Gate Ferry Service from the Ferry Building, 415.923.2000, or the Blue & Gold Fleet, which departs from Fisherman’s Wharf. EC

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

By Jeff Gavin


Building a Strong GC Relationship

Whether it’s a bid, design/build or design/assist, the relationship you create with the builder determines how likely it is you will work together in the future. Responsiveness, a positive attitude and a sense of teamwork all are traits a general contractor (GC) appreciates from subcontractors and other construction stakeholders. Subcontractors appreciate the same from those they work with. Unfortunately, obstacles can emerge when attempting to build that good working relationship. Fostering open communication, preplanning and a mutual desire for a project well done smooths out the rough patches and brings out the best in everyone.

“Everyone has to feel a sense of responsibility on a project for teamwork to jell,” said Paul McCluskey, president of Boston-based Edward G. Sawyer Co. Inc. “Project managers, mechanical and architectural trade foremen all have to work together. It’s vital. Be smart, professional and prompt, and you’ll win.” Having been in business 142 years, Edward G. Sawyer is advertised as the “oldest continuously operated electrical contracting business.”

Dan Schaeffer, president of Schaeffer Electric Co. Inc., a 70-year-old St. Louis contracting firm, added that there always is room for improvement in contractor relations. “Understand that while a GC works to be fair to all contractor parties, he has the client’s interest at heart. If you earn the GC’s confidence, your interests will not be neglected. Bend over backwards to get the project done right and on time. We keep letters that tell us we went beyond the call of duty. We may get the next job based on our performance with the last one.”

Richard “Dick” Nogleberg and Lynne Harker formed Placer Electric Inc. in 1978. The electrical contracting firm outside Sacramento serves central California. For them, it cuts both ways when cultivating a working relationship between Placer and a general contractor.

“When we bid, we prefer a prior relationship with that GC,” said Nogleberg, Placer Electric’s president. “If not, we seek references or information from subs who may have worked with the contractor. … You soon learn who you want [or don’t want] to work for.” Nogleberg and Harker look for shared values between themselves, and the GC such as honesty, teamwork, respect and integrity.

“We value the GC who expects us to make a profit and appreciates business confidentiality,” Harker said. “We do our homework, so we end up working with someone we want to work with.”

Bringing value

“A strong relationship often comes from repeat business and years of working together,” Schaeffer said. “Unfortunately, we are seeing lower dollar wins, and that’s a tough fight. So we try to bring value. Sometimes we’ll sit down with builders just to let them know what we’re up to, be it new services or a project of note that speaks well of our talent. You want to be the first person that GC thinks of when they need an electrical contractor [EC].”

In design/build situations, Placer Electric presents its clients with a matrix of costs—a pie chart illustration. “We sit down with the GC, showing how we bid out electrical components (three bids), our costs, markup and labor,” Nogleberg said. “We want to show the GC and their customer that we have everything covered down to miscellaneous materials. Our customers really appreciate this effort.”

Nogleberg added that even in the case of the low bid (private work) where the firm came in second, the company often has  gotten the work by showing how Placer Electric will look out for the client and the project’s interests. Sometimes the company avoids bidding altogether.

“Often our work is negotiated with the GCs who know us and have worked successfully with us preceding any bidding,” Nogleberg said.

“Because of the working relationships we’ve established, GCs come to us first because they know they won’t be ripped off,” Harker said. “We’ve built mutual respect.”

Lead though preplanning

For ECs, the planning phase is a key opportunity to take the lead. “Mechanical contractors are central on a job site,” Nogleberg said. “Try to identify conflicts on the drawings, things that don’t make sense during the bid phase. Identify jurisdiction issues, so one sub is not stepping on the toes of another. Clarity upfront on who is going to do what can help avoid issues brought on by union business reps.”

In a design/build situation, preplanning is a must.

“On a design/build project, we met months before with the GC, other subs and project superintendents to deal with material procurement, selection and coordination,” McCluskey said. “Another project provided only 120 man-hours to complete, so we had every detail nailed down before we started. We worked 24 hours, seven days a week. The short timeframe required ultimate coordination between all of us. A fast track can strangely foster teamwork where everyone feels a sense of responsibility.”

The growth in design/assist contract work is another leadership opportunity for electrical contractors.

“In design/assist, the owner retains an electrical engineer, but only provides an outline scope, not a full design,” Nogleberg said. “The selected electrical contractor is expected to finish the design with engineers. Everybody is depending on each others’ expertise to accomplish the job, but you can lead the effort with the expertise you provide.”  a key manager. Get the right person in there, so you don’t sour the relationship with the builder.”

Keeping up from office to job site

 “Today, things can’t sit on your desk for days at a time,” McCluskey said. “If we get a phone call, we follow up in a timely way. We keep a record of all discussions. We don’t want someone to say, ‘We never heard from you,’ or ‘you didn’t get back to us.’

“Additionally, e-mail, PDAs and other mobile devices drive instant response time,” McCluskey said. “Communication is fast. The flow of information is quicker, and hopefully, we become more productive. A consequence is less and less time to bid and build. You really have to be on the ball.”

Schaeffer added that the entire job site crew also needs to attend job site meetings to stay on top of things, and while documenting all communication, have all pertinent documents at your disposal.

All four contractors agree staffing a job site is part of it.

“It’s critical to have a good, positive attitude,” Schaeffer said. “We are picky about sending the right foreman and superintendent to the job. If we know the GC and his crew, we can avoid personality mismatches by selecting the right people from our house. Another thing we do is have a ‘riding boss’ that goes from job to job to check in and can sometimes serve as a buffer if problems arise. Try to avoid problems by establishing open communication with the site project manager.”

“You have to take ownership of your own work and mistakes, and sometimes that means removing one of your people at the site,” Nogleberg said. “Maybe it’s your foreman not getting along with

Best practices

A well-managed job site doesn’t just happen, but it can be organic. It begins with leadership from the general and subs.

“The superintendent of the site has to be well organized with a plan,” McCluskey said. “He’s the one that knows the milestones and broad strokes of the project. He also knows when each subcontractor has to be in place. If you have worked with that person in the past, you know how to work for them. Each job site is unique. An EC has to be prepared for any contingency. You need to be detailed, even if the plans you’re looking at are incomplete.”

McCluskey related that his project managers’ shared experience have resulted in an informal code of best practices. “It’s not a textbook but rather a collection of viable problem/solution guidelines we learned along the way that works for us. In addition, every one of my product managers has received training in project managing and scheduling through NECA.”

Though many firms may have similarly unwritten best practices passed down from senior contractors to newly apprenticed workers, there are best practices put to paper that serve as a guide for the construction industry.

“Folks were and are looking for guidance,” said Chris Monek, senior executive director for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) based in Arlington, Va. “That’s why over the past 25 or more years, our organization, NECA and other subcontractor organizations have been putting best practices guidelines down on paper and making them available to the industry. The guidelines are an attempt to provide project and job site guidance before, during and at the completion of a project.”

“Guidelines for a Successful Construction Project,” located at www.constructionguidelines.org, were put together by three organizations: AGC, the American Subcontractors Association, Inc. (ASA) and the Associated Specialty Contractors (ASC). This document covers best practices as they apply to bidding processes, preconstruction planning and project execution.

Achieving contractual uniformity

According to Dan Walter, vice president and chief operating officer of NECA, “Guidelines for a Successful Construction Project” sparked a progression called ConsensusDOCS set to debut in September 2007. These 100-plus contract documents will be composed of construction contracts and forms pertaining to design/bid/build, design/build, and construction management at-risk. They also will address triparty collaboration and the use of building information modeling (BIM) (see sidebar on page 64 for more information).

“The point of the ConsensusDOCS is to provide the builder and all parties with more consistency and ultimately a more cost effective entry into project work and doing business with each other,” Walter said.

A diverse sampling of other stakeholders involved in creating the documents include the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT), Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee (EJCDC), Mason Contractors Association of America, and the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), among 16 other construction organizations.

The ConsensusDOCS will go a long way in fostering and maintaining a healthy and productive relationship between two parties that need each other to succeed—the general and the sub construction contractor.             EC

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


EC’s At The Epicenter

Multiple contractors wire urban shopping center

If you are going to be in San Francisco, put Westfield San Francisco Centre on your list of things to see. Located between Market Street and Mission Street, between Fourth and Fifth streets, it’s only a few blocks from the Moscone Convention Center. Approach from Market Street to see the historic 1896 Beaux Arts facade restored to resemble The Emporium, once dubbed “The Grandest Mercantile Building in the World.”

Groundbreaking was in November 2003, and the shopping center opened in September 2006. During construction, the 102-foot-wide, 500,000-lb. steel-and-glass dome from the 1900s—which has long been the signature feature of the building—was raised nearly 60 feet and held in place for more than a year, as ironworkers built a new steel structure around and under it. It was then lowered 2 feet to its place atop the reconstructed Emporium building, which was connected on five levels to the adjacent San Francisco Centre. Natural light filters through the dome onto the 200-foot-long atrium. The effect is “Wow!”

The 1.5-million-square-foot, nine-level center is home to the 338,000-square-foot West Coast flagship of Bloomingdale’s and the second-largest Nordstrom in the United States, 170 specialty stores and boutiques, restaurants, an international gourmet marketplace, and a nine-screen state-of-the art movie theater. Tenants, including Microsoft and San Francisco State University, are in a total 245,000 square feet of office space. The $460 million project is a joint venture between The Westfield Group and Forest City Development.

Westfield managed project development during construction. As a subcontractor to Westfield, Swinerton Builders oversaw the largest tenant fit-out projects—Bloomingdale’s, the San Francisco State University downtown campus and Century Theatres. A host of other companies also served as subcontractors to Westfield, functioning as general contractors on individual projects. Some of the electrical contractors  that worked as subcontractors include Alight Electric, Barri Electric Co. Inc., Cupertino Electric Inc., Decker Electric Co. Inc., Dynalectric Co., E J Weber Electric Co., M3 Electric Inc., McClure Electric, McMillan Electric, Metropolitan Electrical Construction Inc., Morrow-Meadows Corp., Paganini Communications Inc., Sasco Electric, Sierra Electric Co. Inc. and Young Electric Co. Inc., all of the San Francisco area.

During construction, more than a hundred projects were going on simultaneously. Except for a few, all projects had to be completed by the grand opening in September 2006.

Logistics were part of the challenge. Deliveries to this center-city location went to one loading dock, and all 120 tenant contractors shared the few freight elevators to transport themselves and their materials.

“It was pretty chaotic. There was trade on top of trade on top of trade. And every store was getting everything delivered at the same time,” said Tom Carmody, project manager, Metropolitan Electrical Construction Inc., the company that worked as a subcontractor to Fisher Development Inc. on the retail build-out of two stores.

“The set of elevators was on the opposite side of the building from where we were working,” said Matt Sullivan, general manager, Sierra Electric Co. whose company worked on restaurants as a subcontractor to Josh Klein Construction and on a jewelry store as a subcontractor to Plant Construction. “When we had a delivery, one of our crew had to walk the length of a city block to the other side of the building, then wait in line to board an elevator.”

Complications

City regultations also complicated the situation.

“All the places turned out very nice,” said Ernie Ulibarri, president, Barri Electric Co. “But all of the electrical contractors had a small window to complete a massive project, especially in light of the fact that, here in San Francisco, we have seven-hour work days.” Barri worked under general contractor Terra Nova Industries to do $1 million of lighting and power distribution for six restaurants and two stores.

In spite of the conditions, electrical contractors devised ways to complete their projects on time. Sasco Electric, as a subcontractor to Westfield, did the core and shell.

“Everybody did a good job,” said Bill Wong, owner, Alight Electric, a subcontractor to Sasco that handled the $1.7 million temporary power job, did the basic electrical and worked on two stores.

“Coordination was key for us,” said Dan McAtee, project manager, McMillan Electric. His company used 10 people on projects amounting to $450,000, including a restaurant under general contractor R.N. Field Construction Inc., a retailer for Scott Thomas Construction Inc., and five restaurants for Wae Construction Inc.

“Basically, we talked with the general contractors to find out what phase was going to be on-site on a particular day, and then we’d try to get in before them to get our electrical work done. My general foreman also did a good job of getting to know the people at the loading dock, so he was able to do a lot of scheduling. That worked out pretty well for us,” McAtee said.

Trained electricians were at a premium. “We relied heavily on the local union hall for manpower and worked overtime as required when the owner-furnished fixtures arrived,” said Wayne Huie, president, Young Electric, which did the electrical on several projects totaling almost $600,000 under general contractors Oakstone Construction, Skyline Construction Inc., RMR Construction Co., and Swinerton Builders, general contractor for retail planning and construction.

E J Weber Electric Co., completed the electrical work on nine stores.

“We kept our people on the go. Coordination of manpower and even keeping the materials straight was pretty difficult, and it was very complicated in terms of getting inspections for the electrical and life safety,” said James Coffman, E J Weber president.

Morrow-Meadows worked under general contractor Taisei Corp., a Japanese firm with an office in San Jose, Calif., on a $2 million build-out of a Century Theatre nine-plex.

“We knew that the biggest challenge for us was to get the projection rooms done early since they were labor-intensive, and they needed to be turned over to the owner prior to opening so the rooms could be programmed, balanced and started up. Making the final date required two authorized weekends of overtime,” said Jim Goetz, vice president and general manager, Morrow-Meadows, Northern California Division, whose work force peaked at 20. “Of the theaters we’ve done, this job was the most challenging because of the five-month timeline and its location on the fourth level of the construction site. We were able to meet the schedule because of our preconstruction planning, but every day, there were new challenges,” said Goetz, whose project included the complete electrical system along with wiring the surround sound, projection rooms and three concession stands.

“Borders bookstore is one of the only stores in the mall that used conduit to install all lighting and power. No MC cable was allowed,”said Tom McClure Jr., president and project manager, McClure Electric Inc., whose company did all the lighting, power and fire alarm for Borders (a three-month, $450,000 project as a sub to Swinerton Builders), for a $95,000 project for general contractor Bevilacqua and Sons, and for a $70,000 project for Signature Construction.

“To make sure the project would be completed before the mall was opened, our 14-person crew worked overtime during the week and Saturdays and Sundays,” he said.

Cupertino Electric (CEI) was a subcontractor to Swinerton Builders on Bloomingdale’s, a nine-month, $8.5 million project, involving 69 separate vendors and more than 12,000 lighting fixtures. The company peaked at 80 electricians.

“Due to our innovative method of prefabbing the light fixture components,” said Tom Kirwan, project manager, Cupertino Electric, “we were able to keep up with the project schedule. Since all the vendor shops brought in their own designs the last month of the project, the construction teams worked around the clock. And it was completed on time due to the instantaneous decision-making and construction expertise of the joint efforts of Cupertino, Swinerton and Federated [Department Stores].”

CEI also worked under general contractors Lakeview Construction and Fisher Development Inc., Trainor Commercial Construction Inc., Commercial Contracting Management Inc., and International Contractors Inc., using 28 workers at peak for a different 17-week project for the electrical and life safety and security systems on several stores.

“We received our deliveries at night or had our workers receive them on Mission Street to avoid the loading dock,” said Philip Singler, project manager, Cupertino Electric.

CEI also did the electrical for San Francisco State University, on the fifth and sixth floors of the Centre, as a subcontractor to Swinerton. Paganini Communications, also a Swinerton subcontractor, installed the voice/data/video cabling for a complete cabling infrastructure. The company used nine IBEW sound and communications technicians, trained in voice/data/video and Uniprise Solutions by CommScope. From the main server room workers ran fiber, copper and coax to various other IDF closets throughout the fifth and sixth floors and then to classrooms, labs and office spaces.

“It was a high-profile project that we are happy to have worked on,” said Larry Andrini, vice president, Paganini Communications.

The owner was pleased, too. “We’re thrilled with the results. The expertise ... helped shape the Centre’s status as a world-class retail, business and entertainment destination,” said Steve Eimer, vice president for development for Westfield. “Thanks to the work of hundreds of skilled contractors, a strategic site to the city has been reinvigorated as a retail hub, drawing customers from around the world.”          EC

CASEY, author of “Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors” and “Women Invent! Two Centuries of Discoveries that have Changed Our World,” can be reached at scbooks@aol.com or www.susancaseybooks.com.


Mind Your P’s & Q’s

To keep your customers satisfied

One of the expressions I remember hearing during my childhood was “Mind your P’s and Q’s.” When I would ask where that expression came from, it usually resulted in another popular expression, such as, “Don’t talk back to your elders.” With the benefit of the Internet, the answers are there, but they are no clearer than they were back then. While most people will agree the expression has to do with paying attention or being careful to behave properly, maintaining proper etiquette and so on, no one seems to know where the expression really originated.

You might ask how this relates to an article on maintaining power quality. The most obvious answer is the letters, as power quality is often abbreviated with the two-letter acronym PQ. It could be the often-quoted expression in the industry: “No one really cares about power quality. What they care about is cold beer and warm pizza.” P’s and Q’s could have originated from “pints and quarts,” which could refer to the serving of beer to unruly patrons in English pubs (though it is served at room temperature by choice across the pond). This leads to another play on words (or letters)—PQ could also stand for process quality, which is what the aforementioned saying is really all about.

Maintaining the quality of the process at a facility is what keeps productivity high and the revenue stream flowing smoothly. It is the charter of the facility maintenance person and the electrical shop staff, and power quality is just one of the factors in this mission.

Maintenance, schmaintenance

Many aspects of maintenance have begun to change from regularly scheduled programs to condition-based (CBM) or reliability-centered maintenance (RCM). Rather than using time as the basis for carrying out a task, either the actual condition of the equipment—or the statistical data on what piece of equipment is most likely to fail and when—is used to carry out or delay maintenance activity. The NFPA 70B-2006 Recommended Practice on Electrical Equipment Maintenance added an entire new chapter on RCM and tables of extensive availability indices on many types of equipment.

In the PQ realm, all three methods of time, condition and reliability are intertwined in a well-designed PQ maintenance program.

First, monitoring to determine the present status or condition needs to be conducted periodically (if not continuously) over a business cycle, which is how long it takes for the process in the facility to repeat itself. In a 24/7 data center, one day is probably very similar to the next from the perspective of the electrical loads in the facility. However, the quality of the electrical supply will not necessarily be the same, as the other consumers in the area are likely to have a different load profile on a weekend and a weekday. Also, the regulation of the voltage levels in the summer heat will likely be different than during the winter cold.

Monitoring during these different times when the operations are running smoothly provides a baseline to compare for trends in the future or when quality of the process takes a turn for the worse. It is like going to the doctor’s office to get an electrocardiogram when you feel fine, and your heart is operating normally. Should you experience any cardiac problem in the future, it will be easier for the doctor to determine what the cause is. In your facility, having a 7.4 percent voltage total harmonic distortion might be normal and not disruptive to your process, whereas at another facility where it is usually less than 3 percent, a sudden jump to more than 7 percent would cause a drop in the quality of the product or even interrupt the process. This difference in the before and after data is a valuable clue toward resolving the situation.

Indications of a problem

High levels of voltage harmonic distortion almost always indicate high current harmonics, which can cause premature aging of electromagnetic devices such as motors and transformers. A motor operating in such an environment will most likely run hotter, and heat is not the friend of a motor. Harmonic currents flowing to the ground through the bearings can cause fluting, requiring extensive maintenance at more frequent intervals. As shown in Figure 1, the repetitive negative transients from the commutation period of the rectifiers in the power supplies of the drives can cause premature failure of the outer windings of a motor as well, which could be seen in different current waveforms per winding.

Harmonics aren’t the only misbehaviors of the process. In most facilities, voltage sags (decreases in the voltage amplitude lasting from half cycle to 30 seconds) are the most common type of power quality disturbances. The level of the remaining voltage during the sags may not cause a problem with the facility the last time it occurred. But there is no guarantee that they will not get more severe in depth and duration and more frequent to a point that it will eventually cause a decrease in productivity. The first step is again to monitor for the baseline data and compare against the susceptibility of the equipment in the facility.

Determining the source or direction of the problem is the next step. If the monitoring point is at the point of common coupling between the electric utility and the facility (often the watt-hour meter), then any phenomena with a source upstream or back toward the source will result in a phone call to the local electric utility customer service department or, in some areas, the power quality group. Being armed with the data showing the problem will help the utility resolve the problem quickly as well.

In Figures 2A and 2B, the sags are the result of tree branch contact with the distribution wires. The key to determining that it was the utility’s problem is evident when the current does not increase significantly when the randomly occurring sag begins, which would indicate a load downstream in the facility caused the sag. Additional information pointing toward the cause is seen in the voltage waveform, where the decrease in voltage occurs at the peak of the waveform. This often indicates the potential has to reach a high voltage level before the arc-over or breakdown occurs.

Some power quality problems are solved with simple tools, such as a screwdriver or a wrench. Loose connections can cause overheating conditions, so periodic tightening with the appropriate tool can prevent waveforms, as shown in Figure 3. Each time a large truck rumbled past the facility, the lights would blink, and occasionally, some equipment would trip off line. Remember to retorque to the manufacturer’s specifications, and work de-energized whenever possible with proper personal protective equipment and safety precautions.

So, the next time you are enjoying your beer cold (or warm, if you prefer) and your pizza warm (or cold, if you prefer), you can thank those fellow members of the trade who are minding the P’s and Q’s. EC

BINGHAM, a contributing editor for power quality, can be reached at 732.287.3680.


Remote Control

The convergence of Z-Wave with TCP/IP

By Jennifer Leah Stong-Michas

Automated homes have crept to the top of the list of what homeowners want. The next step beyond basic home automation is the inclusion of wireless. These systems, such as Z-Wave, allow for low-powered, low-bandwidth devices to operate in harmony with one another to create a true wireless home automation solution.

The Danish company Zensys is responsible for the Z-Wave protocol and has been pushing the residential wireless networking envelope since the company first launched its radio frequency (RF)-based technology. Z-Wave has been dubbed the low-cost control and monitoring system, ideal for the creation of intelligent homes.

With the Z-Wave Alliance boasting more than 160 members, many of whom are power players in their fields, it is no wonder that Z-Wave was destined for success.

Zensys has been adding to and improving capability. Dubbed Z/IP, there are two elements at play in terms of the new advances. The first is the move to converge Z-Wave with TCP/IP, and the second encompasses opening up licensing for Z-Wave products to additional chip manufacturers.

Convergence is key

The convergence of Z-Wave with TCP/Internet protocol effectively extends the reach of the Internet into low-cost, low-power home control networks. It allows for the home to be controlled over the Internet and is, therefore, accessible through just about any Internet device in a fully standard-compliant way. In contrast to other approaches, there is no application dependency. This means new types of home control devices with different functionality can be added at any time without upgrading or even switching the gateway device. In essence, Z-Wave closely resembles the philosophy of the Internet.

According to a Z-Wave Alliance press release issued in May 2007, “A primary benefit of TCP/IP convergence with Z-Wave will be the transparent use of home-control applications from any location using any device, gateway or network. Given the findings from the Z-Wave Alliance/Kelton Research study conducted earlier this year that 72 percent of Americans want to monitor their home while away, there is obviously a real demand for simplifying wireless home control and automation applications.”

Furthermore, low-cost devices in the home are able to directly access services anywhere in the Internet through standard TCP/IP protocols and applications. For example, a wall display in a Z-Wave network can download the latest weather forecast using HTTP/HTML.

This move piggybacks on the growing move toward residential networks that are adopting Internet protocol. Prior to the IP movement, most home-based networks were stand alone, and most were proprietary based, which meant interoperability.Therefore, convergence of multiple systems was either difficult or unachievable.

Opening up

One key development, according to Lew Brown, vice president of marketing, Zensys, is that this move allows for open standards, which broaden opportunities.

“Open standards open up the possibility to developers. This means that they will be able to develop new applications,” Brown said.

With no set standard, anyone who wants to truly use Z-Wave for things, such as remote monitoring, is tied to using only certain devices. Once new applications and devices fall in to the mix, one could use essentially any PC, cell phone, PDA or any other Web-enabled device. This takes the management and control functionality to new levels.

Brown said the development community already is in the process of creating new applications, but the standardization piece is the key. Once that is fully completed, the world of Z-Wave should really take off.

These changes, according to Brown, will make things easier for installers since they will then be required to configure only one node to deploy the system. This will be a benefit to contractors working on residential accounts in productivity, as more homeowners will start to find renewed interest in Z-Wave in light of all of these proposed advances.

Only after the developers really get moving on what they will be able to come up with will the true power and promise of this convergence be known. With these developments, Z-Wave probably will get more people interested in wireless home networking and automation. EC

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.


Would You Like Integration with That?

Selling IBS to building owners

Integrated Building Systems (IBS) interconnects multiple building systems or subsystems into a single user interface and represents a tremendous growth opportunity for electrical contractors. The trick is to demonstrate to building owners that the electrical contractor is the best source to deliver this highly sophisticated energy- and cost-saving technology.

With IBS, the electrical contractor can tie together lighting control, access control, fire and life safety, CCTV, or any of the traditional stand-alone systems and connect them to the building management system.

“In a true integrated building system, control is distributed among the already-intelligent devices on the market and requires a complete perceptual shift in how systems get designed, specified, installed and used,” said Barry Haaser, senior director of the LonWorks Infrastructure Business for Echelon Corp., San Jose, Calif.

From the electrical contractor’s perspectiveaccording to Bob Riel, vice president and division manager of service and systems for Dynalectric Co., San DiegoIBS means taking building systems that traditionally have been separated, including lighting, environmental, security, fire alarm and life safety, audiovisual, sound and telecommunications, etc., and making them work together, communicate and provide the necessary information to better manage the building.

“For example, the swipe of a security access card will activate lights and environmental controls in the user’s space,” he said.

According to an article written by Mike Taylor, vice president of marketing for Honeywell Building Solutions, St. Louis Park, Minn., IBS enables most facility management teams to experience a 20 to 30 percent improvement in operator efficiencies and to use a single platform for multiple building functions, which reduces the time needed to train employees and the chances of human error.

Contractor’s role

According to Haaser, the consulting-specifying or architectural engineer usually designs the actual IBS for the building, and the electrical contractor’s role traditionally has been only the implementation of the plans.

“Today, however, the contractor is starting to play an increased influential role in specification because the designers are focusing more on open architecture integration, which requires more collaboration from the contractor and more reliance [on] its expertise of wiring infrastructure,” he said.

Since the electrical contractor is responsible for the installation of the IBS components anyway—running the pipe, pulling the wire, etc.—having the contractor specify the IBS itself is only logical.

“Contractors have the most expertise and are already familiar with the systems. Integrating and programming the complete integration of the building only makes sense,” said Dan Smith, president of the Electric Co. of Omaha, Neb. And because most of the time, Riel said, owners, engineers and architects do not give building integration the attention it needs during the initial design process, it is beneficial for the contractor to be involved in specifying the IBS early in the process to ensure adequate allowance for hidden and floor space in the design for the necessary equipment and wiring infrastructure of a true IBS.

“Having the contractor on the initial design team enables the owner to determine how it really wants the building to operate and to have a team member that is focused on those specialty systems,” he said. The contractor’s role in IBS specification, by definition, enables the design to be more complete and better fulfill the owner’s requirements with fewer change orders when construction actually begins.

The ticket to joining the design team early in the process very well may be the contractor’s existing relationship with the customer.

“If the contractor has established trust with the customer from previously working on traditional installations, its expertise could be called upon to help the architects and engineers provide the integrated systems that will best fulfill the owner’s vision,” said Marty Riesberg, director of electrical technologies and automation for the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC), Upper Marlboro, Md.

Approaching the owner

The best way to approach building owners to sell the idea of IBS is based on relationships and being proactive in the sales process, according to Haaser.

“One of the biggest problems in the electrical contracting industry is its tendency to be reactive to market changes,” he said. Instead, he added, electrical contractors should incorporate IBS installations into their business strategies and develop the expertise and reputation as an integrator, which will, of course, require the contractor to retool its business and be willing to make the necessary investments in specific expertise, marketing and sales skills.

“This approach, however, will allow the contractor to play a role early in the specification process,” Haaser said.

And approaching the building owner during the design process is the best time for the contractor to influence how the building is designed at the lowest possible cost, Riel said.

“This is the time that the contractor can affect efficient changes to the design without increasing costs for the owner,” he said. However, for those times when the contractor cannot approach the owner during the design phase, it still can offer IBS improvements to demonstrate the technology’s value and the contractor’s expertise in delivering a cost-effective system as a true system integrator.

Smith suggests contractors focus on the advantages of an open architecture system when approaching owners about IBS installations for their buildings.

“Let the owner know about the lower initial installation costs of an open source IBS, which shares wiring and does not require as much infrastructure,” he said. Riesberg agreed that contractors should start their approach to the owner with the advantages of open communication protocols over single, proprietary solutions because the main selling point of an open IBS architecture is that the owner can make changes as to how it procures, installs or maintains the IBS for their buildings.

“Open architecture protocols provide choices for building owners and allow them to pick the best-of-breed products and the installer they want,” Riesberg said.

In actually pitching the idea of IBS to a building owner, the electrical contractor needs to first establish a reputation in system integration and demonstrate that creating an effective IBS is one of its core competencies. This would involve procuring the necessary mechanical and control expertise, either in-house or through subcontracting.

“Once the contractor’s expertise in delivering an IBS is established in the market, it can sell the idea to the building owner,” Haaser said. That sale should include demonstrating the increased control IBS offers and how the owner would not be tied to a single vendor for products and maintenance, demonstrating the reduced maintenance costs offered by an effective IBS, and demonstrating how this infrastructure increases a building’s resale value through easier and less expensive moves, adds and changes (MACs).

Other benefits of an IBS that can be used to sell the idea include a safer work environment through the integration of lighting and security systems; the reduced amount of wiring and installation costs required because a truly integrated building runs multiple systems off of the same wiring infrastructure; and the increase in energy efficiency, which, depending on the level of integration and the kinds of systems involved, can reach 30 percent per year.

Justifying IBS to the owner

Along with selling the basic idea to the owner, the electrical contractor also might have to justify certain installations.

“There may be elements of an IBS that are more expensive up-front than a traditional building management infrastructure, but the overall life-cycle costs associated with an IBS will actually be lower,” Haaser said. The contractor can research the exact cost figures of an IBS versus traditional building management system to demonstrate how the IBS actually is more effective over the life of the building.

“The 3 to 8 percent upfront add-on costs for true integration are usually paid for through increased energy efficiency and tenant comfort,” Riel said.

The contractor also can justify choosing an IBS by showing how it can offer a more cost-advantageous maintenance contract to the owner, as opposed to those offered by specialty controls contractors.

“Electricians are already trained in maintaining the various systems and controls involved in an open architecture IBS, while controls technicians are usually trained in maintaining proprietary controls,” Smith said.

In addition, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005)—which established a number of tax deductions for expenses incurred for either new or retrofit construction of commercial or residential multirise buildings that are designed to achieve 50 percent energy cost savings relative to the requirements outlined in ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2001—is the type of concrete information that can really justify an IBS. The deductions—which originally applied to improvements installed after Dec. 31, 2005, and prior to Jan. 1, 2008, but which have been extended for one year—are limited to an amount of up to $1.80 per square foot for either retrofitting an entire building to improve energy efficiency or designing a new energy-efficient building or up to $.60 per square foot for partial improvements.

“Taking advantage of the EPAct deductions will allow building owners to realize benefits beyond the increased energy efficiency inherent in a closely controlled, integrated building,” said Riesberg.

Marketing your company as an electrical contracting firm, and also as a company integrator that can provide IBS expertise, will go a long way toward positioning yourself in the marketplace.

“Demonstrating to the owner that every system being installed is equally important and critical to providing a complete, effective and truly integrated building enables the contractor to focus on the building in its entirety and become more than a provider of electrical systems,” Smith said.  EC

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


USGBC Makes $1 Million Commitment to Support Green Building

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced it would commit $1 million to green building research. These funds will be targeted at increasing research in areas such as energy and water security, global climate change prevention, indoor environmental quality, and passive survivability during natural and manmade disasters.

“The industry needs to take giant steps forward in construction, renovation and operation practices if we want to see large-scale improvements to health and environmental conditions in this generation,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, chief executive officer and founding chair of USGBC. “Our board has identified research as a key strategy to accomplish that and has set aside a pool of research dollars, so we can act now, even while encouraging others to increase their own research commitments.”

This donation comes on the heels of the USGBC’s recently published Green Building Research Funding: An Assessment of Current Activity in the United States, which found research related to high-performance green building practices and technologies is under funded by all sectors.

“Building operation consumes 40 percent of energy and 71 percent of the electricity in the United States and accounts for 39 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, which is directly influencing global climate change,” said Peter Templeton, USGBC’s vice president of research and education.

Using this work as its basis, the USGBC Research Committee plans to publish a national green building research agenda this fall that identifies key research areas for advancing building performance and market transformation in its pursuit of the green building trend.    EC


Light Brigade Announces New Fiber Course

The light brigade has announced the newest addition to its arsenal of fiber optic training titled Fiber Characterization: PMD, CD and ORL.

This three-day course not only provides the classroom instruction necessary to understand the theory and principles of fiber characterization, it also includes hands-on instruction on fiber optic splicing, connector inspection and cleaning, span testing, and documentation.

Day one includes classroom review of basic optical theory, standards, transmission basics, fiber types, connectors, test equipment, installation, systems, and the theory and principles of dispersion. Day two specifically focuses on OTDRs. During day three, attendees will build an 80-km span using G.655 fiber (at 1,550 nm), and a 50-km span using G.652 fiber (at 1,310 nm).

Since 1987, The Light Brigade has instructed 30,000 attendees in its public and custom classes. For more information about the course, see www.lightbrigade.com.          EC

By Dan Carazo


To Cable Tray Or Not To Cable Tray?

It’s not really a simple question

Some cable tray manufacturers have experienced double-digit sales increases over several years, so why does cable tray still account for only 10 percent of the cable pathway market?

According to several major manufacturers, cable tray sales have enjoyed strong growth in recent years. In 2006, Cooper B-Line experienced an increase of more than 25 percent in cable tray sales, and in 2004, Cablofil, then owned by ICM Group, reported a 14 percent annual growth rate over eight years with $47 million in North American sales. In the mean time, over the last three years, Chalfant Manufacturing has experienced 10 to 15 percent annual growth in its wire mesh cable tray line. Other companies, such as Snake Tray, also have prospered.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the cable tray business. There are great opportunities everywhere,” said Roger Jette, president of Snake Tray.

The U.S. market for cable tray is estimated to total approximately $225 million in annual sales. However, compare that to the more than $2 billion sold of all other types of pathways, including conduit, raceway and wireway.

According to a report published by The Freedonia Group, a market research company that tracks industrial sectors, “Conduit demand is expected to grow 1.6 percent per annum to 1.8 billion feet in 2009.” So, despite cable tray use growing at a much faster rate than conduit, cable tray systems continue to be chosen far less frequently by specifiers, installers and end-users.

Why is this?

Saving time and money is a win-win solution

Every contractor and builder knows that the critical key to controlling costs for most electrical projects is to reduce, where possible, the overall installed costs, beginning with containment of labor costs.

Competitive bidding makes it an economic necessity to minimize project labor requirements by adopting products that are quicker to install and methods that help the contractor’s crew complete projects faster. Since contractors, construction firms and property owners all want to see cost savings, electrical manufacturers are consumed by the need to develop and introduce new products that lower installed costs. Many of the most innovative electrical products simplify installation and reduce on-the-job labor.

The Cable Tray Institute, which represents eight cable tray manufacturers, claims on its Web site that “cable tray provides the greatest versatility among cable support systems, while offering savings of up to 84 percent in labor costs.” So, it stands to reason, if cost savings such as this claim can be substantiated, one would expect cable tray use to be absolutely sizzling.

Sean Cheatham, cable tray segment manager for Cooper B-Line, pointed to the primary appeal of cable tray: “We compared the cost of installing 200 linear feet of aluminum cable tray with the same amount of rigid steel conduit and were able to show cost savings of over 75 percent. This figure is achievable through lower materials costs as well as less required labor to install cable tray.”

Central to lowering project costs is cable tray’s faster installation and the subsequent reduction in the amount of labor required. With the growing shortage of experienced electrical professionals, there is increasing pressure to strip away excess effort and unnecessary steps in order to reduce overall man-hours. By most measures, including the National Electrical Contractors Association labor rate index, cable tray projects can be completed faster, which benefits everyone.

“The overwhelming driving factor behind the trend toward wire mesh cable tray use in commercial installations is the need to value-engineer the project,” said Tim Place, president of Cablofil/Legrand. “This is due to material cost inflation and the shrinking skilled labor pool. Time and budget pressure on projects has driven the contractors to seek more cost-effective ways of delivering the project objective at a lower cost.”

“Wire mesh cable tray permits the owner to maintain the complete project as designed yet enables the contractor to gain the competitive edge,” Place said.

Based on cable tray’s proven ability to reduce install time and project price, it is somewhat mystifying why the industry has not adopted greater cable tray usage. What keeps many professionals from using cable tray when it appears to be a faster, less costly way to construct and install a highly functional and extremely flexible cable pathway infrastructure?

Old habits die hard

Key to specifying the installation of electrical service or communications and control systems is choosing the appropriate pathway or cable conveyance—the structure type used to support, fasten, direct and protect the installed wire and cable runs.

Electrical pathways include many different modes of supporting and routing installed wires and cables for power and low-voltage. The National Electrical Code (NEC) defines a cable tray system as “a unit or assembly of units or sections and associated fittings forming a rigid structural system used to securely fasten or support cables and raceways.”

A mounting body of proof underscores numerous cost-reduction and technical advantages, such as easier cable identification, additions and removal provided by a well-designed cable tray system.

Despite these advantages, cable tray usage in the United States lags behind Europe’s reliance on cable tray. The primary reason for this appears to be specifier buying habits in the United States, which have been shaped by a strong ingrained industry partiality toward conduit. Frankly, most electricians have been exposed to a pro-conduit mindset through decades of apprenticeship training programs.

“If cable tray is not specified by the system designer and the choice of cable support is left to the discretion of the contractor, they are more likely to select and install conduit for electrical distribution cabling,” said Cooper B-Line’s Sean Cheatham. “This is not the case with datacom networking professionals.”

Now, add to this the fact that ordering conduit is simpler than ordering cable tray.

Dana Black, executive vice president for PW Industries, pointed out that despite being listed under electrical products, cable tray requires more mechanical considerations, including how much weight per linear foot is required to be supported, as well as the distance spanned between support points.

“Cable tray has not grown as quickly as we might have expected because cable tray is more complex to learn about than conduit,” Black said. “Cable tray typically delivers big cost savings and installs much faster, but it requires more planning to prepare a cable tray system. Contractors aren’t always familiar with the different types of cable tray systems, so they often need technical guidance to select the best product for their applications. However, that guidance is something we always provide at no cost.”

“The future looks encouraging for increased use of cable tray,” said Bob Slaga, national sales manager for Chalfant Manufacturing Co. “There’s been a transition from cable tray use in the heavier industrial markets, and we’re now doing more datacom. Cable tray use in telecom and datacom has easily grown 20 percent over the last five years. We’re currently seeing greater planning activity to build new facilities for petrochemical, refining, liquefied gas and biofuels production, and the future looks promising for industrial growth and power plants.”

Cable tray gets boost from the NEC

Another obstacle to broader cable tray use has been language in the NEC that previously limited its use.

Cooper B-Line’s Cheatham pointed out how the Code has frustrated cable tray manufacturers. “One of the historical concerns about cable tray use stems from the NEC. First of all, the Code focuses on the diameter of a single conductor cable by stating cable smaller than 1.0 inch is not to be used in cable tray. The original concern was ‘you’ll crush the cables’ and ‘they’ll create too much heat.’ Second, cable tray was originally limited to be used only in industrial applications,” Cheatham said. “Now, with a recent revision, the 2008 NEC states that ‘cable tray is not limited to industrial facilities.’”

Traditionalists point to cable tray’s open construction as a drawback, citing the superior cable protection provided by closed raceway structures. However, this argument has not kept cable tray from dominating the market in Europe, where more than 90 percent of all wiring and cabling—both for power distribution and communications and control—is supported by some form of cable tray.

In 1997, the IEEE published a survey of electrical industry professionals titled “Cable or Conduit—Who Uses It and Why?” that sought to illuminate “why the U.S. market has not rapidly embraced cable tray.” The survey measured preferences in four vertical industrial groups: oil refineries, chemical plants, pulp and paper mills, and industry consultants in an attempt to measure future trends and preferences in the use of cable tray systems versus conduit wiring support.

The survey found the following results:

Professionals agreed cable tray systems have a lower initial material cost and  are less expensive to install than conduit.

Professionals believed conduit offers better protection than cable tray.

Professionals did not know the NEC allows metal-clad cables in Division 1 (at the time of the report, this was a recent Code change).

The IEEE survey concluded, “one must examine the driving forces that people follow in this industry: safety, costs and simplicity. Safety is constantly built into the codes and standards as well as the equipment that is manufactured and installed. While costs are easier to measure, they are not always the main driving force that we think they are. Evidence of this is that while most agreed that cable tray offered cost advantages over conduit, many Americans still preferred using conduit. Is this because conduit offers greater protection, or because they are more comfortable using it at any cost?”

A decade after the IEEE’s survey, we still are trying to answer that question. However, it seems that with a broader effort by cable tray manufacturers to educate contractors about the huge economic benefits offered by cable tray systems, the number of cable tray users likely will grow. Just as important is the need for a concerted effort by the cable tray industry to support product training to introduce contractors, distributors and specifiers to the product selection ordering process that ensures a smooth, profitable cable tray project.        EC

CARAZO is the president of Carazo Communications, a business-to-business technical marketing firm. He has more than 20 years experience in the marketing of technical products and services in the electrical industry. He can be reached at 516.921.7199 or dcaraz@optonline.net.


How Far Apart?

Training days, part 2

By Wayne D. Moore

This month, we address smoke detector spacing, which is found in NFPA 72-2007 or the National Fire Alarm Code. It is important that your technicians know the spacing requirements for these devices, so they can discover problems on the drawings and prevent mistakes during the installation. The code provides a list of factors to be considered for smoke detector placement in section:

5.7.3.1.2 The design shall account for the contribution of the following factors in predicting detector response to the anticipated fires to which the system is intended to respond:

(1) Ceiling shape and surface

(2) Ceiling height

(3) Configuration of contents in the protected area

(4) Combustion characteristics and probable equivalence ratio of the anticipated fires involving the fuel loads within the protected area

(5) Compartment ventilation

(6) Ambient temperature, pressure, altitude, humidity, and atmosphere

The easiest configuration to address for spot type smoke detectors is the standard 10-foot smooth ceiling with normal ambient temperatures. In this example, the code requires the following rules be followed:

5.7.3.2 Spot-Type Smoke Detectors. (NFPA 72-2007)

5.7.3.2.1 Spot-type smoke detectors shall be located on the ceiling not less than 100 mm (4 in.) from a sidewall to the near edge or, if on a sidewall, between 100 mm and 300 mm (4 in. and 12 in.) down from the ceiling to the top of the detector.

5.7.3.2.2 To minimize dust contamination, smoke detectors, where installed under raised floors, shall be mounted only in an orientation for which they have been listed.

5.7.3.2.3 On smooth ceilings, spacing for spot-type smoke detectors shall be in accordance with 5.7.3.2.3.1 through 5.7.3.2.3.5.

5.7.3.2.3.1 In the absence of specific performance-based design criteria, smoke detectors shall be permitted to be located using 9.1 m (30 ft.) spacing.

5.7.3.2.3.5 For smooth ceilings, all points on the ceiling shall have a detector within a distance equal to 0.7 times the selected spacing.

When the ceiling configuration changes from smooth to joisted, beamed or sloped ceilings, the requirements change. And additional spacing changes found in sections 5.7.3.2.4.4 and 5.7.3.2.4.5 are necessary for detectors installed on sloped and beamed sloped ceilings.

5.7.3.2.4.1 Solid joists shall be considered equivalent to beams for smoke detector spacing guidelines.

5.7.3.2.4.2 For level ceilings the following shall apply:

(1) For ceilings with beam depths of less than 10 percent of the ceiling height (0.1 H), smooth ceiling spacing shall be permitted.

(2) For ceilings with beam depths equal to or greater than 10 percent of the ceiling height (0.1 H) and beam spacing equal to or greater than 40 percent of the ceiling height (0.4 H), spot-type detectors shall be located on the ceiling in each beam pocket.

Waffle and beamed ceilings have always been a difficult application for smoke detection. As a result of research that is described in Annex A of the code, these spacing requirements were changed from the 2002 edition of NFPA 72. These requirements are new to this edition of NFPA 72 and should be carefully reviewed.

(3) For waffle or pan-type ceilings with beams or solid joists no greater than 600 mm (24 in.) deep and no greater than 3.66 m (12 ft.) center-to-center spacing, the following shall be permitted:

(a) Smooth ceiling spacing including those provisions permitted for irregular areas in 5.6.5.1.2, substituting “selected spacing” for “listed spacing”

(b) Location of spot-type smoke detectors on ceilings or on the bottom of beams

(4) For corridors 4.5 m (15 ft.) in width or less having ceiling beams or solid joists perpendicular to the corridor length, the following shall be permitted:

(a) Smooth ceiling spacing including those provisions permitted for irregular areas in 5.6.5.1.2, substituting “selected spacing” for “listed spacing”

(b) Location of spot-type smoke detectors on ceilings, sidewalls, or the bottom of beams or solid joists

(5) For rooms of 84 m2 (900 ft.2) area or less, only one smoke detector shall be required.

The code reference in item (4)(a) above is the section of the code that allows for expanded spacing of smoke detectors in corridors, essentially allowing a 41-foot spacing between smoke detectors for 10-foot-wide corridors.

Use this vignette to help your technicians learn more about the technical aspect of the fire alarm systems that they install every day. Training is the key to reliability and profits.    EC

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


Efficiency from the Wall to the PC

The Climate Savers Computing Initiative is a coalition of some of the largest technology companies committed to saving energy by improving the power efficiency of the equipment they make and use. Companies committed to the program include Google, Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Sun Microsystems.

According to the IDG News Service, the group plans to improve power efficiency for computers and servers and encourage end-users to apply underused power management techniques.

Google’s Urs Hölzle said only about 50 percent of the power that leaves the outlet reaches a PC because energy leaks out of inefficient power cords. Climate Savers has established a series of standards for power efficiency in servers and PCs suggested for adoption by July 2010.

A more efficient power cord for a PC would cost about $20 more, and a power-efficient server would cost an additional $30, according to Intel’s Pat Gelsinger. Gelsinger said over time the cost premium will drop as volume production increases, and end-users will save on energy bills, also helping to offset the cost.

Climate Savers also will work to educate and encourage end-users to take advantage of power management mechanisms built into PCs.

“Ninety percent of PCs are capable but aren’t utilizing power management techniques,” Gelsinger said. Climate Savers standards for improving power supply efficiency and power use management techniques would reduce global carbon emissions by 54 million tons per year and would save a projected 62 billion kWh of energy in 2010, worth about $5.5 billion in energy costs, according to the group.          EC

        © Information Inc.


Think Risk

Preparing for financial catastrophe

By William J. Ferguson

When under optimal circumstances, it is difficult to control risk in the construction industry. Owners have certain advantages because they control the purse strings and often can obtain performance security in the form of surety bonds, letters of credit, guarantees or other protections. General contractors have fewer advantages since they must properly perform their work to get paid, yet they often rely on the performance of subcontractors to complete substantial portions of their work. Subcontractors, including electrical contractors, are in a more precarious position than owners or general contractors.

Subcontractors can do everything in their power to perform their work efficiently and per their contracts, however, one misstep by another subcontractor, the general contractor or the owner can spell disaster for a project. Being at the bottom of the payment totem pole, subcontractors usually end up waiting for an owner to pay the general contractor who, hopefully, will pay the subcontractors.

A dispute between an owner and general contractor can cause problems even if a subcontractor’s work is not an issue. Schedule delays and other kinds of project impacts can increase a subcontractor’s cost and time of contract performance, making it difficult to recoup all damages short of litigation. A bankruptcy by an owner, general contractor or another subcontractor can complicate things even further, as creditors line up and battle over assets while the debtor avails itself of the special protections afforded under the bankruptcy code.

Controlling one’s own destiny under these circumstances is almost impossible. Nevertheless, there are certain things an electrical contractor can do to reduce project risk and maximize its chances of getting paid in full. At the outset, a contractor must decide in what form to conduct its business. There are several basic choices, including a sole proprietorship, general partnership, business corporation, Subchapter S corporation and limited liability company. The greatest risk with respect to personal liability is with sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Personal liability in such cases is limited only by protections that may be negotiated in individual contracts. For this reason, most contractors form corporations or conduct their businesses as limited liability companies.

There are, of course, various tax considerations with respect to the form of business chosen. Proprietorships, general partnerships, S corporations and limited liability companies are not taxed at the entity level, whereas traditional business corporations are taxed at the entity level and then receive separate tax treatment at the personal level for related salaries and distributed gains or losses.

Take cover

Electrical contractors should have adequate insurance to manage their risks. When setting up an insurance program, make sure you have comprehensive general liability insurance, automobile insurance and, ideally, an umbrella policy to cover your potential business exposures. For your employees, you will need workers’ compensation insurance. You may also wish to have a policy to insure against loss, damage or theft to tools and equipment; an installation floater policy to cover stored equipment on or off a site; and, depending on your role on the project, a builder’s risk insurance policy. If you plan to do design/build work for which you are required to maintain a professional license, you may also need professional liability insurance.

There are many other forms of insurance available, including director and officer insurance and fidelity insurance (e.g., employee dishonesty, etc.). If you ever are required to indemnify and hold another party harmless for personal injury or property damage arising out of the work performed under your contract, you will want to obtain a contractual liability endorsement to your general liability policy. Finally, owner-controlled  and contractor-controlled insurance programs help manage project risk.

Often referred to as “wrap-up” insurance, such programs may offer insurance cost savings, broader coverage, higher limits, better claims management, and more effective safety and loss control on a project. These also generally reduce subrogation actions, including cross-claims and litigation between project participants. Be wary, however, of the deductibles under such wrap-up programs, as they can be higher than your traditional insurance, meaning the first layer of exposure will be borne by the responsible party or parties.

Another risk-management tool is the critical path method (CPM) schedule. In today’s world, CPM scheduling is an essential tool of project management. Among other things, it is a necessary tool for proving many construction claims. A resource-loaded CPM schedule shows the complicated relationship between tasks, time, manpower, equipment, material delivery, weather and other inputs. Electrical contractors should try to plan and schedule their work carefully using, where possible, CPM methodology. Try to work with the prime contractor or construction manager to develop a realistic and efficient plan for the project. It is important for general contractors and construction managers to allow subcontractors to provide input into the overall project schedule. Active subcontractor participation in CPM scheduling is almost always useful because it reduces error and surprise, obtains buy-in from the project participants, and fosters a team approach with specific accountability.

Before you sign

Perhaps the best opportunity to reduce risk, maximize reward and protect your business is at the contracting stage. Develop solid strategies for contract negotiation, drafting and administration. There are some basic rules to follow when negotiating and drafting a contract. First, know the party you are dealing with (i.e., conduct due diligence). Avoid ambiguity in the contract as ambiguities lead to misunderstandings and, all too often, disputes. Make sure your payment terms are precise. Use the contract to protect your rights and to limit your risk. Carefully scrutinize proposed language regarding the contract schedule. For example, if time is of the essence, realize that such language has special legal meaning in many jurisdictions and can increase your liability if you are responsible for project delays. Plan for changes since few construction projects are built today without changes being implemented. The method of dispute resolution also should be addressed in your contract. Decide whether you prefer to arbitrate or litigate a dispute. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Avoid waiving mechanic’s lien rights unless you are offered adequate substitute security (e.g., payment bond, letter of credit or third-party guarantee). Many state statutes render void and unenforceable contract provisions that require a contractor to waive its mechanic’s lien rights in the absence of receiving payment for the work performed. Nevertheless, the law varies considerably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and you must be cautious in this area.

Contract clauses to focus on when negotiating a construction contract include contract guarantees (performance, schedule, output, quality, etc.), warrantees, waivers of consequential damage, limits of liability, liquidated damages, suspension and termination of work, notice provisions, payment and performance security, changes, claims, choice of law, dispute resolution, indemnification, and insurance. This list is not all-encompassing, however, such provisions significantly affect a contractor’s risk profile.

In addition to negotiating the terms and conditions of your contract before undertaking a project, investigate the project’s structure, and know the participants. The location of a project can affect your economic model and, in some situations, can give rise to political risks and other factors that must be considered. For international contracts, analyze the tax consequences, including how to structure the performance of your work “on shore” and “off shore” in order to maximize your tax benefits. Know how the project is financed, including who the lenders are and whether there are mortgages and security interests that encumber the project assets, which may take priority over later filed mechanic’s liens. If so, before executing a contract, consider whether you need other forms of payment protection.

It is important to know who the legal entities are on a project. Are they subsidiaries rather than parent companies? Are they project-specific entities with limited available assets? To the extent possible, know the subcontractors and vendors that will be involved in the project, and determine their performance capabilities, since their actions can have a direct impact on your performance. Finally, know the local laws and customs, including licensing, registration and labor laws applicable to the location where the work will be performed. If you are performing work outside your traditional area, it is important to understand these laws, as they can be legal minefields for the unwary.

During contract performance, administer your contract in a proactive way to reduce risk and protect your rights. Give timely written notice of events that impact your cost and/or time of contract performance. Make sure you follow the contract procedures carefully, as a failure to follow the procedures in some cases will limit or preclude your right to obtain relief. Document changes to the work as required by the contract, and before agreeing to proceed with changed work, make sure there is a clear written understanding consistent with the contract as to how and when you will be paid for such work. As disputes arise, follow the claims provisions in your contract carefully. Address disputes promptly, as disputes do not get better with time. You should know the law applicable to your contract and exhaust the contractual administrative remedies set forth before proceeding with legal action. Many contracts require that the parties enter into good faith negotiations as a condition to undertaking legal action. Other contracts contemplate mediation (an informal process of resolving disputes using third-party neutrals as facilitators) before commencing litigation or arbitration.

An electrical contractor who follows these basic rules and remains diligent from the start of a project to its finish will be in a better position to complete its work on a timely basis and be paid in full for its services. If that happens, with any luck, the electrical contractor also will earn the respect of the other project participants and put itself in an enviable position to obtain future work.            EC

Ferguson is a partner in the Boston law office of McCarter & English, LLP. He is a former electrical contractor with a national practice in construction law. Contact him at wferguson@mccarter.com or 617.449.6561.


Fiber Optics In Security Systems

Nowhere are the advantages of fiber opticslow loss, high bandwidth and immunity to electrical interference—more important than in security systems, especially surveillance cameras. As crime and terrorism have become more worrisome around the world, a major deterrent has been continuous monitoring of public places like streets, airports or subways looking for suspicious behavior and recording actions to deter or capture perpetrators.

Utility companies use cameras to watch the perimeter of power plants and substations. Sea- and airports are fully covered with cameras. Roadways are monitored by video cameras 24/7 for traffic control, and many are accessible over the Web for drivers who want to know what to expect when they hit the freeway. You can even see what conditions are like on ski trails with Webcams in parks. Most of these applications are made possible by optical fiber cable connections.

Video monitoring and recording are not new, having been used in retail and banking for many years. But monitoring of public spaces has become widespread only in the last few years, a result of new technologies applied to video systems. Connecting a camera inside a small building is easily done with a coax cable, and recording can be done on videotape.

But coax cable has a limited distance capability, about 1,000 feet (300 meters), and storing and scanning videotape can be tedious. Surveillance camera recording has moved to PC-based systems with mass storage, allowing easy access to video footage, and image processing software allows identifying and tracking objects. The use of fiber optic cables has allowed virtually unlimited range for cameras, centralizing recording and monitoring functions for convenience.

How pervasive is video monitoring for security? The United Kingdom probably holds the record for installed video cameras with an estimated 4 million surveillance cameras. A person going to and from work and walking out to lunch in London may be recorded on as many as 4,000 cameras per day. These cameras helped identify the terrorists who attacked a London subway in 2005. Lower Manhattan already has several thousand cameras in Greenwich Village and Soho alone. Most office buildings have surveillance cameras inside and out. On a visit to Las Vegas recently, I counted 45 cameras in the ceiling of the gaming floor of one casino, not so much looking for criminals as cheaters. Wherever you are, look up. You may find you’re on a camera.

Connecting video cameras with fiber is quite easy. Many manufacturers offer cameras with direct fiber optic connections. Inexpensive adapters allow conversion of the analog or digital electrical signals from the cameras to optical signals. These signals can be transmitted over multimode fiber for several kilometers in premises applications and single-mode fiber for longer distances in municipal or transportation applications. Control of pan/zoom/tilt of the cameras can be controlled by signals sent in the opposite direction on the same fiber or a second fiber.

Where many cameras are used in an area but monitored remotely, multiple cameras can be multiplexed on a single fiber, or a multifiber cable can be used. A cable containing dozens of fibers is smaller than a single coax cable, simplifying runs in areas such as airports or subways, where cables are run in conduits. Cameras also can be digitized for transmission longer distances, multiplexing or formatted as Internet protocol (IP) for Web monitoring.

Recently, reports have appeared that encourage unshielded twisted pair (UTP) copper cabling for video and local area networks (LANs). UTP has less distance capability than coax, even when the highest bandwidth Category 6 is used. While it may be convenient in some cases to use UTP in a structured cabling system for surveillance cameras, the distance limitation can be a big problem if cameras are located in places where computers are not.

Besides connecting video cameras, fiber can be used either for connecting other security devices or as a sensor. Almost any security device, such as intrusion alarms, can be connected on fiber using adapters called media converters. Depending on the remoteness of the device, media converters using multimode or single-mode fibers can be used.

Fiber is sensitive to stress, which causes optical loss at the point of stress—a characteristic normally reduced by cable design, but it can be used as a sensor by exposing it directly to stress. For example, fiber can be woven into a fence where it will be stressed if someone tries to climb or cut the fence. It can be buried in gravel where weight on the surface will stress the fiber and create loss. More than 20 years ago, we developed perimeter alarms that could determine the location and approximate weight of the intruder, distinguishing a person from a vehicle, for example. Unlike copper-based systems, a fiber intrusion alarm is undetectable, making it difficult, if not impossible, to find and disable.

Design and installation

One of the reasons fiber has become so popular for surveillance cameras is the familiarity of contractors with fiber optics and its installation processes. Cameras use the same types of fiber, multimode (50/125 micron or 62.5/125 micron) or single-mode and the same connectors (generally ST or SC) that are used in other fiber optic systems. If spare fibers are available, video may be sent over the same cables that carry LAN, telco or CATV signals. Thus, in a corporate network or utility power generation facility, for example, currently installed cabling may be available for security system usage.

While fiber optic cable is hard to tap and impossible to jam (see sidebar), it is possible to disrupt links by simply cutting the cable. Therefore, most security systems run fiber optic cables in conduit, usually metal, for protection.

Pulling fiber in conduit is not difficult, but does require following some basic guidelines. Remember to pull fiber optic cable only by the strength members, not the jacket. Properly attached, premises fiber cable can be pulled at tensions of up to 200 pounds. Pulls should go through only two 90-degree bends at a single pull, and the bend radius should be greater than 20 times the cable diameter.

If pulling tension is high due to friction in the conduit, use a suitable lubricant, which means compatible with the jacket of the fiber cable and the conduit. Different lubricants are needed for outdoor and indoor usage, since indoor lubricants are designed not to drip out of conduit. Special dedicated lubricants for fiber cable are available, and lubricant manufacturers should be consulted for advice on choosing and using these lubricants.

Not following these installation guidelines can cause serious problems. For example, an installer on an airport project pulled a cable through a long distance and a large number of 90-degree turns without lubricant. When the fibers were tested with a LED test source and power meter, all had higher than expected loss at 850 nm, but some had an even higher loss at 1,300 nm. Remember that fiber shows higher stress losses at longer wavelengths, so the higher loss at 1,300 nm showed the cable had been overstressed during installation, probably affecting its long-term reliability. Replacement was the only reasonable fix.

You may be able to run power for the equipment in the same conduit as the fiber according to most codes. Check the local inspectors for clarification on this issue. Custom composite cables with power conductors and fibers are an option worth considering if a large number of systems is being installed.           EC

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


When You Want Something Done Right ...

What’s your punch-list responsibility?

By David Shapiro

I don’t like failing inspection. I hate failing because some- one blew off his responsibilities to our mutual customer and me. It doesn’t matter who makes the mistake, though. If my name is on the permit, the authority having jurisdiction and the customer are relying on me to get it done right.

What I came to realize very clearly on one job was that telling the highly respected builder what the National Electrical Code requires was not enough. I had to check on his workers repeatedly in order to correct the violations they were creating and get them to do what was needed.

On this job, the microwave receptacle, for example, cost me three separate visits before they got its setting right. To start, their carpenter had made a way-too-large cutout in the back of the hanging cabinet for my tail of BX cable. Maybe he thought I would be using a self-holding plastic switch box, not knowing the difference between AC and NM cables. He also cut the opening a few inches too high. I had to expand the hole lower in order to bring the BX into a gem box, and then I had to piece wood around it in order to have something to which I could screw the box. Not pretty, but it was inside the back of a wall-mounted cabinet.

At this point, it was legal, but the customer wanted it neater. Fine. I told the builder they could make it prettier, within restrictions. The hole had to close tightly around the box. While the 1/8-inch rule does not apply to wooden surfaces, I needed something to which I could screw the box ears securely. Also, the box could not be recessed the least bit behind wood.

“No problem,” said the builder’s man, “Quite clear.” He would get a carpenter to do exactly what we had asked for.

Later, I was informed everything was ready. I came back to make sure various violations I had pointed out had been corrected. Violations remained. Also, I noticed that my handiwork in the cabinet was entirely untouched. I mentioned this to the customer, who had not changed his mind about wanting something more attractive.

When the customer next called and told me he’d seen the assorted carpentry was done, I decided not to make a separate trip back to recheck. Instead, I figured that I would show up an hour early the day of the final inspection and fix any problems. If the microwave outlet’s box had been recessed slightly by the carpenter’s reinstallation, for example, I’d install an adjustable box extension.

This decision was a mistake. Fortunately, I had to return anyway before inspection to correct another violation the carpenters created, so I peeked in the cabinet. I saw a few tiny holes in the back of the cabinet, around the cover plate, where I had screwed my bits of trim. That’s all. The carpenter apparently had redone my work so tidily that the cover plate sat tight against the cabinet. Well, suspicious bugger that I am, I unscrewed the cover plate to have an admiring look at such high-class cabinetry. When I did so, the outlet box fell backward out of the cabinet into the wall. The carpenter’s finesse had been limited to removing my handiwork; the box no longer was secured to the cabinet at all. Had I waited for the day of the inspection to discover this, I might not have had the time to reinstall the box legally.

Even if I had, the customers’ requirements meant this would not have been permanent, so it would not have been appropriate to tell the inspector the installation was final. It took a third visit—which you can be sure came before the day of the inspection—before I could confirm that trim had been attached to the back of the cabinet to close the hole again and mount the box, repeating the work I had done, only more elegantly.

Dozens of additional, similar items underscored the fact that, especially when not dealing with your own sub who is hoping for your repeat business, you cannot necessarily trust a promise that required work will be done, and you cannot trust assurances that it has been done. All you can trust is getting out to the job and checking for yourself. This is not the way I like to work with people. However, any preference for trusting people is trumped by the responsibility we take on when we sign a permit application.        EC

SHAPIRO, author of “Old Electrical Wiring: Maintenance and Retrofit” (McGraw-Hill 1998), is a contractor, consultant, inspector and writer/editor based in Colmar Manor, Md. He also is affiliated with IAEI. He can be reached at writer@davidelishapiro.com.


Progress Energy Florida Signs Contract for Renewable Energy from Biomass Plant

As part of its ongoing growth in renewable energy and developing technologies, Progress Energy Florida (PEF) has signed a long-term contract to purchase electricity generated by what will be the largest waste-wood biomass plant in the nation. In the past year, PEF has signed contracts to add more than 200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to its system.

Biomass Gas & Electric (BG&E), based in Atlanta, Ga., plans to build a power plant in north Florida that will use waste wood products—such as yard trimmings, tree bark and wood knots from paper mills—to create electricity. It will generate about 75 MW. The plant is expected to avoid the need to burn nearly 5 million tons of coal over the 20-year life of the contract.

The process will use gasification to create electricity. Projected commercial operation is expected to begin in 2011. It will be BG&E’s third biomass power plant.

In addition, last year, PEF signed a contract with the Biomass Investment Group to purchase the energy output (130 MW) from the nation’s largest biomass plant to be built in central Florida. The project, which will use Environmentally friendly E-grass as its fuel source, will reduce carbon emissions by more than 20 million tons over the 25-year life of the contract when compared to coal.     EC


SCA Offers Cabling Training Curriculum for Schools

The Structured Cabling Association Inc., the professional society of structured cabling, has created a free PowerPoint presentation for schools wanting to offer training in structured cabling installation for communications and security systems. The program was created to allow schools to include cabling in their telecommunications or information technology curriculum in high school to encourage students to consider the profession.

“Teaching communications cabling needs to be included in technical programs as early as the high school level,” said Tom Collins, professor at Gateway Community & Technical College in Cincinnati, a founder of the SCA and a contributor to the curriculum. “Many schools have communications programs but lack the materials to teach a cabling course essential to the overall understanding of communications technology. Developing such a course is not easy for most instructors. The SCA, true to its nonprofit professional society outlook, created this program to distribute free to instructors to facilitate teaching cabling and particularly to encourage younger students to consider a career in cabling, where jobs currently are readily available.”

The four-part series includes some 200 PowerPoint slides keyed to the SCA textbook, “Data, Voice and Video Cabling,” published by Delmar Learning. Topics include introduction to communications cabling, introduction to structured cabling, structured wiring and wiring practices and fiber optics in structured cabling. The slides are editable, and materials can be integrated into other curriculum. With the current interest in residential cabling to support broadband connections such as fiber to the home, the material is appropriate also for many electrical training programs and apprenticeships.

The presentations may be downloaded from the SCA Web site. Access to the program is available to SCA-approved schools offering SCA certification programs and SCA-registered schools that wish to teach an introductory cabling course without the complete SCA certification curriculum.

Contact the SCA for details at 760.451.3655 or info@thesca.org.   EC


Standards Understandably

NEIS raise the bar for  electrical construction

Luckily for contractors, inspectors, specifiers and engineers alike, the National Electrical Code (NEC) is quite clear and concise when it comes to workmanship. Take, for instance, the “neat and workmanlike manner” requirement in 110.12 ... OK, that was a bad example. How about installation and maintenance of motor control centers per Article 430? Oops, another bad example. Well then, for the majority of the industry who use the NEC, a set of supplementary, industry-approved and jointly developed standards exists.

In the decade since the program’s inception, the National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS) series has grown exponentially. Several categories of standards exist, including general installation and maintenance, lighting, power distribution, utilization equipment, limited energy and wiring methods. NEIS publishes a CD “Yearbook,” which contains all of the standards published the previous year. By the end of 2007, close to 40 standards will have been published according to the strict consensus guidelines set forth by both the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), with several others in the planning and development stages.

Perhaps the most notable of the series is NECA 1, “Good Workmanship in Electrical Construction” (ANSI). The book expounds on what is meant by “neat and workmanlike manner” and describes the industry’s best practices for electrical installations. Sure, raceways may be electrically safe despite the fact that they appear to have been inspired by Picasso and set akimbo along the wall. But does this equal “...level, plumb, and true with the structure”? To be “neat and workmanlike,” NECA 1 says they shall be. Even the 2005 NEC (110.12) points to NECA 1. However, NECA 1 is only the beginning.

“NEIS are the first performance and quality standards for electrical construction,” said Brooke Stauffer, NECA’s executive director of standards and safety. “For that reason, they sometimes contain requirements that go beyond the minimum safety rules of the NEC.”

The rundown

This year alone, nine standards have been or will be published. NECA/EGSA 404-2007, “Standard for Installing Generator Sets” (ANSI), was the first of these. It describes installation procedures for generator sets used for on-site power production, including emergency applications, and was developed jointly with the Electrical Generating Systems Association.

The second edition of NECA 400, “Standard for Installing and Maintaining Switchboards” (ANSI), describes installation and maintenance practices for deadfront distribution switchboards rated 600 volts or less. It also covers periodic routine maintenance procedures for switchboards and special procedures to be used after adverse circumstances, such as a short circuit, ground fault or immersion in water.

And it seems 2007 is a powerful year for the NEIS. Yet another of the “power distribution” manuscripts is NECA 402, “Standard for Installing and Maintaining Motor Control Centers” (ANSI), which describes installation and maintenance practices for motor-control centers rated 600 volts or less. It also covers periodic routine maintenance procedures for motor-control centers and special procedures to be used after adverse circumstances, such as a short circuit, ground fault or immersion in water.

There are several jointly developed standards in the NEIS collection. Associations such as NEMA, BICSI, EGSA, FOA, AA, IESNA and others have lent their expertise and worked with NECA to produce technically specific and accurate standards. This year, one such collaboration yielded the second edition of NECA/NEMA 105, “Standard for Installing Metal Cable Tray Systems” (ANSI). The 2007 revision describes installation and maintenance procedures for metal cable tray systems used to support power and communications cabling.

While revising and reaffirming standards is how NEIS keeps current with the NEC and industry best practices, new standards serve the same vital function. Five brand-new standards are slated for publication in 2007. 

NECA 121, “Standard for Installing Nonmetallic-Sheathed Cable Type NM-B and Underground Feeder and Branch-Circuit Cable (Type UF),” will illustrate the construction of cables, offer ampacity ratings, permitted uses, securing/supporting, fittings, coloring and more.

Do you know the NEC has more than 20 entries in the index for fuses? Fortunately, the brand new NECA 420-2007, “Standard for Fuse Applications” (ANSI), describes installation and maintenance procedures for low-voltage and high-voltage fuses used for overcurrent protection of distribution, utilization and control equipment.

There are two new standards in the lighting category of NEIS. NECA 504, “Standard for Installing Light Control Devices and Systems,” describes installation procedures for control devices, systems and equipment for interior and exterior illumination systems. NECA 505, “Standard for Installing and Maintaining High Mast, Roadway and Perimeter Lighting,” covers the installation and maintenance procedures for pole-mount HID luminaires installed outdoors in high-mast, roadway and perimeter lighting applications.

After the success of NECA/BICSI 568-2006, “Standard for Installing Building Telecommunications Cabling” (ANSI), once again, NECA has teamed with BICSI to produce NECA/BICSI 607, “Telecommunications Bonding and Grounding Planning and Installation Methods for Commercial Buildings.” This standard specifies aspects of planning and installation of telecommunications bonding and grounding systems within a commercial building. Its intent is to enhance the planning, specification and layout of an effective telecommunications grounding and bonding system. Additionally, this standard specifies installation requirements for components of the telecommunications bonding and grounding system.

“The NECA/BICSI 568 standard continues to make a strong influence on the telecommunications market,” said Bob Jensen, a liaison between NECA and BICSI standards committees.

“Its strength is not only ensuring that information transport systems are installed in a workmanlike manner but also ensuring performance that delivers the highest capacity.”

Because the 2008 NEC was approved in June of this year, many NEIS standards will be updated to reflect the new edition. For example, NECA 200, “Standard for Installing and Maintaining Temporary Electric Power at Construction Sites,” will be updated to reflect changes to NEC Article 590. Several changes represented in the 2008 NEC will add to the growing list of new standards projects as well as provide the impetus for revising some on the current list.

“Most NEIS are closely tied to the NEC,” Stauffer said. “So when the Code rules change, we update our NEIS to reflect this.”

The useful tome that is the NEC saves the lives of both consumers and contractors. Its impressive representation in its front matter ensures this every Code cycle. NECA’s standards series is not meant to replace the NEC. NEIS expound, complement, meet and many times exceed the NEC requirements with 40 standards “as high as your own.”         EC

BYRNE is associate director of standards for the
National Electrical Contractors Association, based in Bethesda, Md.


What Cabling Performance Standards Can Do for You

By Marilyn Michelson

Much has been and is happening regarding telecommunications cabling performance standards in 2007. Work is ongoing, and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and even ANSI have approved some standards. What follows will give you the status of data communications or low-voltage (telecom) performance standards—some of which have been approved for publication, and others that are still in progress. Under each standard’s title, descriptions specify their use.

This list may not be all-inclusive, but it covers the most prominent performance standards in use today plus those being worked on. This compilation of standards shows much work has gone on within the TIA, IEEE and other groups. Some of these standards were developed before 2007, but they still are in use today.

For anyone involved in the cabling industry—be it contracting or manufacturing—it is important to be aware of what is being followed, what is being worked on, what it does for the user and where it stands. When following the work of these groups, you will know when a standard is completed, when it is almost done or when it is in only the beginning stages of its work. To purchase standards currently available, visit www.ihs.com, click on “Electronics for Electronics and Telecommunications” and enter your standards identifying number.  EC

Prominent cabling-related standards/guidance documents approved and in use today

TIA 942—Telecommunications Infrastructure Standards for Data Centers: This standard gives the performance specifications for the design and cabling of a data center.

TIA TSB 155—Guidance for Field Testing Installed Cabling for 10GBASE-T: This provides guidelines for field testing 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) Ethernet transmission (that installers/contractors install) over existing Category 6 cabling.

TIA 568-B.1—Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling: This standard specifies a generic telecommunications cabling system for commercial buildings that will support a multivendor environment and is for the planning and installation of a structured cabling system. It gives the performance specs for Category 5e unshielded twisted pair (UTP) copper cabling and screened twisted pair (ScTP) cabling, plus 62.5/125- and 50/125-micron fiber.

TIA 568-B.2—Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard; Part 2: Balanced Twisted Pair Cabling Components: This standard specifies cabling components, transmission performance, system models and the measurement procedures needed for verification of balanced twisted pair cabling. It also specifies field test instruments. It recognizes Category 5e and 3 cabling.

TIA 568-B.3—Optical Fiber Cabling Components: This standard refers to ANSI/ICEA S-87-640 for outside-plant fiber telecom cabling specs and to ANSI/ICEA S-83-596 for inside-plant fiber cabling specs. It gives the performance specs for 50/125 micron, 62.5/125 micron, and single mode inside- and outside-plant cable.

TIA 569-B—Commercial Building Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces: This standard specifies the pathways (such as conduits) and spaces (such as telecom rooms) that carry and/or include cabling.

TIA 570-B—Residential Telecommunications Cabling: This standard specifies cabling for Grade 1 (supports minimum requirements) and Grade 2 (cabling that supports the minimum plus basic and advanced telecom services) for the residential building.

TIA 606-A—Administration (Labeling) Standard for the Telecom Infrastructure: This standard provides guidance for how to administer (label) a generic telecommunications cabling system in a multivendor environment. It is clearer than the original 606 standard.

TIA 862—Building Automation Systems Standard: This standard describes cabling options that handle commercial building automation. It also provides information that may be used for the design of BAS products for commercial enterprises.

TIA 568-B.2, Addendum 1—Transmission Performance Specs for 4-pair 100 Ohm Category 6 Cabling: This is the standard that specifies Category 6 cabling for gigabit Ethernet over 100 meters.

TIA 568-B.2, Addendum 11—Specification for Increased Diameter of 4-pair UTP and ScTP Cables: This standard was created to support the wider diameter cable to handle 10 Gbps Ethernet.

TIA 758—Customer Owned Outside Plant Telecom Cabling: This standard specifies cabling for outside-plant cabling, not on-premise cabling.

TIA TSB 162—Telecom Cabling Guidelines for Wireless Access Points: This gives guidelines for cabling to support wireless access points (WAPs).

TIA TSB 125—Guidelines for Maintaining Optical Fiber Polarity through Reverse-Pair Positioning: This is one of the first guidance documents to help with reverse-pair positioning to achieve polarity (where positive and negative wires must be wired correctly).

TIA TSB 140—Optical Fiber Field Test Certification Guidelines: This gives guidelines for testing fiber in the field.

TIA TSB 153—Static Discharge Between LAN and Data Terminal Equipment: This gives guidance about what the static discharge is that occurs between the local area network and data-terminal equipment associated with it.

IEEE 802.3an—10 Gigabits Per Second Ethernet over Copper: This is IEEE’s standard for 10 gigabit Ethernet transmission over copper cabling.

2007 Approved cabling-related performance standards

TIA 606-B—Administration (Labeling) Standard for the Telecom Infrastructure, Reaffirmed As Is: This standard provides guidance for how to administer (label) a generic telecommunications cabling system in a multivendor environment.

TIA 568-B.2, Addendum 7—Reliability Requirements for RJ-45 Connecting Hardware: This specifies the reliability requirements for balanced twisted-pair connecting hardware used within a commercial building telecom cabling system.

CEA (Consumer’s Electronics Association) 2015—Mobile Electronics Cabling Standard: This standard defines size and performance requirements for power and speaker cabling used in mobile electronics applications.

Cabling-related performance standards in progress during 2007

TIA 568-B.2, Addendum 10, Augmented Category 6 Cabling: This standard is for cabling and component specifications and test procedures to support the operation of high-speed applications, such as IEEE 802.3an 10GBASE-T, over up to 100 meters of structured balanced twisted-pair copper cabling. It also specifies requirements and recommendations for 100Ω 4-pair Category 6A cabling, cables, cords and connecting hardware up to 500 MHz.

TIA 568-B.2, Addendum 8, (previous standard work held up until TIA 568-C series publication): Additional component requirements for DTE Power to become part of TIA 568-C.2)

TIA 568-C.0, Customer Owned Telecommunications Networks: This is a new standard out of TIA 568 that will become the umbrella document for planning and installation of a structured cabling system for all types of customer premises.

TIA 568-C.1, Commercial Building Cabling: This is the usual update to 568-B.1 for specifying cabling for the commercial building.

TIA 568-C.2, Copper Cabling Systems: This is an update to 568-B.2 for specifying copper component hardware.

TIA 568-C.3, Optical Fiber Cabling Components: This is an update to 568-B.3 for specifying fiber component hardware.

TIA 569-B, Addendum 1, Industrial Pathways and Spaces (to be under TIA 569 or TIA 1005 as Addendum 1): This will specify pathways (i.e., conduits, etc.) and spaces (rooms) in the industrial environment.

TIA 606-A, Addendum 1—Administration of Equipment Rooms and Data Center Computer Rooms: This is a method of labeling equipment in the data center.

TIA 570-B, Addendum 1—Coaxial Cabling (Broadband) Requirements: This is for the performance requirements for coaxial cabling in the residence.

TIA 862—Building Automation Systems Cabling Standard for Commercial Buildings: This is for cabling of automation systems within a building; it will be included in TIA 568-C.1.         

TIA 1005—Telecommunications Industrial Infrastructure Cabling: This will be the first performance standard to address the industrial environment, as it is very different from the commercial or residential environment.

TIA 942, Addendum 1—Administration of Equipment Rooms and Data Center Computer Rooms: This is for labeling of the data center environment.

Other standards to be aware of  that include cabling performance—in progress in 2007

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) application standards are listed here because these are the applications the physical cabling will have to carry. Often, IEEE works with TIA to develop parts of their PHY (Physical Layer—the cables and connectors only) that will be able to handle their applications at a 100-meter distance. It always is very interesting to follow the trends they set for speed.

IEEE 802.3 HSSG—Higher Speed Study Group: This is to evaluate the requirements for 100 Gbps Ethernet; some feel their goal will be set at 40 Gbps.

IEEE 802.3—Energy Efficient Ethernet Study Group: This will be used to find a way to reduce energy consumption in the Ethernet networking technology.

IEEE 802.3at—DTE (Data Terminal Equipment) Power Enhancements Task Force: This is to extend the number of applications that could benefit from Power over Ethernet—to 30 watts.

IEEE 802.3av—10GEPON PHY (Physical Layer) for EPON (Ethernet Passive Optical Network) Task Force: This is to support subscriber access networks using point to multipoint topologies on optical fiber.

IEEE 802.3ap—Backplane Ethernet Task Force: This work is on 1 and 10 Gbps Ethernet transmission over printed circuit boards—operating over the backplane in the blade environment.

IEEE 1675—Broadband over Powerline (BPL) Hardware:  This relates to safety issues when installing BPL equipment.

IEEE 1775—Draft Standard for Broadband Powerline Communication Equipment—Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Requirements—Testing and Measurement Methods: This relates to testing and measurement methods.

IEEE 1901—Broadband over Powerline Networks: Medium Access Control and Physical Layer Specifications: This relates to the communication protocol for BPL equipment at Layers 1, 2 and 3 of the OSI model, the Media Access Control and Physical Layer layers.

BICSI 001-200x—Information Transport Systems (ITS) Design Standard for K–12 Educational Institutions (new): This specifies minimum requirements and guidelines for the design of the information transport systems (ITS) infrastructure for K–12 educational institutions for use by K–12 facility owners, facility operators, architects, engineers, telecommunications and information technology (IT) consultants, project managers and telecommunications/IT technology installers.

BICSI xxx-xxxx—Data Center Design and Installation: This will address design and installation of cabling in the data center when implemented.

NECA/BICSI 607-200x—Bonding and Grounding Installation: This will address how to design and install grounding and bonding for a telecommunications system in a building when implemented.

MICHELSON, president of Jackson, Calif.-based Business Communication Services and publisher of the BCS Reports, is an expert in TIA/EIA performance standards. Contact her at www.bcsreports.com or randm@volcano.net.


No End In Sight

Tremendous opportunity is available for ECs who understand the demands Of data centers

Are you wondering how big and fast-growing the data center industry is? Ask yourself that question the next time you make a purchase with a charge or debit card. Or search the Internet. Or visit your bank (in person or online). Or see your doctor. Or the next time you do ... well ... almost anything.

Data centers have become societal repositories for one of our most valuable commodities: information. Their projected growth has no end in sight. Even in times of economic downturn, data centers have continued to grow. That means there is tremendous opportunity in this industry for electrical contractors who are willing to learn the unique demands of this specialized field.

“There’s no disputing that the data center industry is growing at record pace,” said Jill Eckhaus, former president of AFCOM, an industry association of data center managers and executives. AFCOM estimates that there are approximately 10,000 large-scale data centers in the United States.

“Data is arguably the lifeblood of today’s business world, so companies are investing heavily in the construction of new data centers or redesigning and building out existing facilities. For contractors, this growth surge represents an unparalleled opportunity to prospect for and secure business, and the keys to success will be education and networking,” Eckhaus said.

APC’s Rob Bunger, Enterprise & Systems Business Development, agreed. “The data center market is currently seeing a resurgence. Existing data centers are being upgraded, and new ones are being built. After the dotcom bubble [burst], there was data center overcapacity. That is mostly used up. [In addition,] many companies are consolidating IT equipment from multiple locations into a single data center in order to make operations more efficient, which in turn, is causing data centers to grow. For electrical contractors, this means that they should see a nice opportunity.”

Data centers make routine tasks faster, easier and more accurate. They house tens to hundreds of active devices that all are interconnected by copper and fiber optic cable: servers, mainframe and midrange computers, storage disks, tape backup, firewalls, network monitors, KVM switches, load balancers, network switches, routers and transport equipment.

High stakes

In order to understand the need for quality and insightful workmanship in data centers, consider an extreme example. VisaNet Systems, the world’s largest and most sophisticated consumer financial transaction processing system, reported in May 2007 that its average peak authorization message rate is more than 6,800 transactions per second. If its average transaction is $100, then VisaNet processes $680,000 per second (or $40.8 million per minute) through its data centers. Those stakes, as well as the corresponding need for competent, experienced tradesmen, are very high.

Another example is the surgeon who depends on an uninterrupted flow of high-quality data information during an operation, where life hangs in the balance. Multiply the disaster potential of a failed medical records data center by the number of operations going on at any one moment, and you have real life for Tom Roberts, director, data center services for Trinity Information Services, a $6.1 billion Catholic health system.

“We have 6 million patients in our database,” Roberts said, who also is an electrician and former electrical contractor. “It is hard to get ECs to understand the criticality of data centers. We often face the attitude of, ‘What is all that stuff that goes in data centers?’ without contractors understanding that lives are at stake.”

Here is a short list of electrical issues that are priorities in data centers:

Redundancy, redundancy, redundancy: Everything must be redundant—sometimes with redundant redundancies—at every conceivable failure point in order to stave off disaster in the wake of a worst-case scenario. ECs—from their project managers all the way down to their frontline staff—need to make planning and field decisions in light of that overriding requirement.

Cooling and humidity systems: Since the power transmitted by IT equipment through data lines is negligible, the power consumed by IT equipment from AC service mains is essentially all converted to heat. To make matters worse, a high or low ambient temperature or humidity, or rapid swings of either, can corrupt data processing and shut down an entire system. Therefore, technology rooms require precise, stable environments with tightly controlled temperature and humidity, and ECs decisions can negatively—or even critically—impact a data center. For example, merely pulling too many floor tiles for too long off of an under-floor cabling system will starve other parts of a data center of life-protecting cool air. Or improperly sealing (or not sealing) an outside penetration can leak humidity into or out of the data center environment.

Density issues: Floor space is costly, so data centers often use high-density servers that perform more work on a smaller footprint. But those servers demand even more power, generate more heat and create more cable management challenges. This can exacerbate the environmental control challenges, in which dense or poorly managed cable bundles can block vital air flow. Furthermore, some data centers are power constrained, so energy efficiency and conservation is vital.

Grounding: Data centers depend on quality grounding infrastructures for safety and signal quality, and ECs must understand the importance of quality grounding and bonding systems that are properly designed, installed and maintained. They should be viewed as active functioning systems that provide low resistance, visually verifiable grounding paths to maximize uptime, maintain system performance and protect network equipment and personnel.

Still need good work

Despite the potential pitfalls, there remains a huge need and opportunity for electrical service in the data center industry by ECs who can provide insightful and quality workmanship.

“Our data centers need a local face from our electrical providers,” said Trinity Information Services’ Roberts.

So what’s an EC to do who wants to get into the data center industry? One way or another, he or she must learn the industry demands and acquire the necessary knowledge and experience before going on-site.

First, the data center neophyte could study the available documentation and standards from sources such as IEEE, TIA, EIA, ANSI and the like. And in addition to the official standards, there is a plethora of Internet-based White Papers and Installation Guides from reputable industry manufacturers and leaders such as Panduit, APC, Siemon, Cisco and others.

An electrical contractor also can hire the expertise that it needs to work in data centers, such as a project manager with data center experience who can lead the company into the field. Or it could hire an applicable consulting firm to partner with it on its early data center jobs. In either case, the EC likely should start in relatively small data center projects and grow in its expertise and ability to perform larger projects.

That is the course C.H. Reynolds Electric Inc. of San Jose, Calif., followed when it hired Richard Yeadon as the vice president of data divisions to lead the company in its desired expansion into telecommunications cabling. Yeadon is now the vice president of operations. The company’s specialties include data centers, with an impressive list of completed projects for Silicon Valley clients such as Cisco Systems, Oracle and Network Appliance.

“We started small, learned as we went and were able to take on bigger and bigger projects as we went along,” Yeadon said. “In data centers, it all comes down to planning. Before a contractor goes into a data center to do any work, he must preplan everything. Order materials well in advance of when they are needed. Anticipate long lead times. There are places where a ‘just-in-time’ strategy will work, but not in data center work. And use prefabricated materials whenever possible, like preterminated cables; the extra cost of pretermination is worth the reduced time on-site and reduced potential for error at the time of installation.”

“My data center clients stand to lose huge amounts of money every day that they are down and a project runs behind schedule. I have got to turn on their systems on time—or ahead of time—every time,” he said. That strategy has worked; C.H. Reynolds has grown 600 percent in the last five years, and today it is a $50 million company.

Trinity Information Services’ Roberts, who also is a board member of AFCOM’s Data Center Institute, recommended that local construction industry organizations facilitate the data center learning process for its members by partnering with local AFCOM chapters to present seminars and on-site training sessions for electrical contractors. Both organizations’ members would benefit.

 “Contractors interested in mining the data center industry should consider joining a professional organization, such as AFCOM, to build relationships with data center managers and decision-makers and stay abreast of industry trends, best practices, new facility designs, power issues, etc.,” Eckhaus said.

Invisibility

Data centers already play a huge role in most of our lives—almost always without our knowledge, for a good data center is invisible to the end-user. The end-user sees only the services or transactions that take place: The debit card purchase is approved, the bill is paid on schedule, the records are available when needed, or the Web page appears online. As most of us use those truly amazing electronic services, we seldom consider the massive infrastructure behind them that brings those conveniences to life for us.

Data center managers need electrical contractors who will enable them to remain invisible. The stakes are high, but the demand is not going away. This will continue to be an area of opportunity for those companies that are able to deliver functionality as intended and needed.     EC

MUNYAN is a freelance writer in the Kansas City, Kan. area, specializing in business writing and telecommunications. He can be reached at www.russwrites.com.


Caught on Camera

Safety muscles out privacy

From NATIONAL TO LOCAL NEWS, the country has turned on and tuned into the benefits of closed-circuit television surveillance (CCTV). The advantages are plain to see—the good, the bad and sometimes ugly, caught on camera.

You may have seen it on television or the World Wide Web or at least glimpsed at the images before looking away. In a Chicago bar recently, a video recording captured a beating by an off-duty policeman who was pummeling a diminutive female bartender who was curled up on the floor. The result: an arrest and an investigation.

CCTV is one of the most important products in the current arsenal to protect people and property. It’s being used in both practical applications, such as in the bar noted above, which had deployed it for security reasons, and in stealth applications. For example, a swimming pool cover protected by an electronic sensor can be used to trigger CCTV in the home and set off an audible alert if the cover is tampered with or disturbed. In high-security applications, it’s coupled with infrared or other specialized imaging to capture even a minute detail in a license plate of a car in a dark garage.

Gone are many of the privacy concerns of the past, as incident after incident shows the power of capturing video in real time. With the advent of Internet protocol video surveillance (IPVS), CCTV is being smartly deployed, and cameras become network-ready minicomputers. Pan-tilt-zoom may be in use, but arbitrary peering or leering at sensitive people, places and things is avoided with intelligent software. Cameras can switch on with intrusion-detection alarms or other sensors to record only when there is an indication to do so, saving valuable network space and freeing up operator’s time for real emergencies. Everyone is getting in on the action, from the county sheriff in the squad car to the circuit court judge.

Video analytics is the latest trend; this software-based solution allows users to target cameras by triggering recording only after a preset series of events, which is often called an “exception.” Analytics can discern between what is normal behavior and what is not, or track individuals because something out of the ordinary has been detected, according to Gadi Piran, president and chief technology officer, On-Net Surveillance Systems Inc. (OnSSI), Suffern, N.Y. IPVS adds more value beyond surveillance and safety to the facility, Piran said.

“The popularity of IPVS CCTV is tied to lower costs and the fact that it provides a significant operating value for the facility and the ability to view a large area,” Piran said. “The other advantage of intelligence is that one person can ultimately monitor more cameras. Business costs come down because the user can secure multiple facilities. Intelligent video and video analytics means seeing what’s important versus just seeing everything all the time.”

Analytics—the software—determines what video comes up automatically on the screen or monitor. “With video analytics, we apply certain rules, and only when conditions are met do we see the video on screen or record it,” Piran said.

New markets

Lower-cost hardware and improved detection capabilities from video analytics software have lead to the growth of surveillance, particularly in the area of IP-based systems, said George C. Paul, Frost & Sullivan senior research analyst. Terrorism and school violence in North America have called attention to the need for new video surveillance applications in transit, educational institutions, city centers and border crossings, according to the Palo Alto, Calif.-based research firm.

Alexander Fernandes, president and chief executive officer of Avigilon Inc., Vancouver, B.C., said convergence is having a major impact on surveillance.

“This is driving adoption of CCTV as organizations move from analog surveillance technologies to digital. When surveillance systems go digital, there are four primary benefits that will drive user adoption: improved geographic reach, image quality, intelligence and, finally, cost reductions,” he said.

“We are currently experiencing increased adoption driven by the improved geographic reach that is now possible with networked surveillance systems. This improved geographic reach allows facilities to be monitored and managed centrally from a remote location,” Fernandes said.

According to him, the recent arrival of multimegapixel, high-dynamic range surveillance systems, which deliver dramatically improved image quality, is just now starting to drive user adoption, since these new systems allow much larger fields of view to be monitored in extreme detail with fewer cameras.

“It is now possible to effectively monitor the critical infrastructure as well as parking lots and entrances and exits of retail stores and other locations more effectively,” Fernandes said.

As it turns out, Big Brother is watching you, and it’s a good thing. It could save your life.     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.


The Greening Of The NECA Show


The new green building market, hardly a blip on the economics radar just a couple of years ago, is worth an estimated $12+ billion today and is taking root all across the land, according to a recent McGraw-Hill construction forecast. With the demand for energy-efficient and sustainable buildings on such a steep rise, NECA 2007 San Francisco is offering special programs to help electrical contractors grow along with the market.

For the first time ever at our Convention and the NECA Show, an entire day of learning opportunities will focus on providing up-to-the-minute information on the wind, solar and renewable energy industries and how new cutting-edge green technologies are providing new opportunities for ECs. In addition, an entire section of the show floor — what we’re calling “Green Alley” — will provide attendees a hands-on connection with the latest in green innovations throughout the entire exposition.

On “Think Green Day,” Sunday, October 7, there will be some programs targeted exclusively to NECA-member contractors, but there will also be relevant Technical Workshops that are open to everyone attending The NECA Show, regardless of affiliation with our association. Topics to be discussed in these sessions include the following:

•  Opportunities in the Solar Market Today & Tomorrow

•  Energy Efficiency/Green Products and Fire Stops

•  Residential Green Products and Energy Efficiency

•  Bright Future in Solar Electricity

•  Energy Cide Compliance

Additional green topics will be addressed in Technical Workshops on Saturday and Monday, October 6 and 8. For more information on NECA 2007 San Francisco or to register in advance, please visit www.necashow.org.

All articles reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – 2007 www.ecmag.com


TED Magazine

Still Standing

For residents and business owners in the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast, the journey back to normalcy is proving to be a long, hard haul. Here, New Orleans-based distributors offer advice on disaster preparation and survival to companies that may one day face Katrinas of their own.

News ages fast, but the wounds inflicted by the destructive events of which news is too often made can remain fresh for years. Hurricane Katrina is a case in point. The storm cut a murderous path across the Gulf Coast, specifically the city of New Or­leans, where it racked up some $80 billion in damages. Largely unacknowledged, however, were Katrina’s aftereffects, which have injured the city’s collective mind and soul as pro­foundly as the storm’s initial impact. For New Orleans-based Armstrong Supply Company, and other wholesalers in the area, operations are still being rebuilt two years later. It’s more than a reality—it’s be­come a way of life.

“Katrina eats at you subtly,” said Rich­ard Cahn, president of Dixie Mill Supply, a New Orleans-based distributor of machine and cutting tools. “The tragedy and its horrific aftermath are always in the back of your mind.”

The day after

Getting back to business has been New Orleans’s priority one since the day after Katrina came calling, but it’s been an up­hill climb. Much of the city and its environs are still in the grip of a chronic housing shortage. Basic services are more or less nonexistent in many areas, nearly all public schools in Orleans parish are closed, and unemployment is staggering.

New Orleans-based businesses that survived have done so by toughing it out. One example is Oliver H. Van Horn Company, an industrial distributor with seven branches throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. In 2003 Van Horn celebrated its centennial anniversary; two years later the company’s New Orleans headquarters was all but washed away.

“On August 29, 2005, the building that housed the New Orleans location and the corporate headquarters of Oliver H. Van Horn was dealt a fatal blow,” CEO Lee Eagan told members of the International Supply Association at its annual conference in May 2006. “Hurricane Katrina, with her category three winds, ripped the roof from its support, crushing a 25´ cinderblock support wall. Later that day, the most devastating flood in the history of this country consumed what was left of the building. The 5´ to 6´ of water re­mained in the building for two weeks. Nothing survived the storm: no inventory, no records, no photographs, nothing—103 years, gone.”

Rapid rebound

Van Horn was seriously—but not mortally—wounded, thanks in part to comprehensive disaster planning and close collaboration with its business allies. As storm clouds gathered in the Gulf, backup tapes were sent to branch locations on a daily basis so that information vital to the survival of the distributor would be preserved in the event of a worst-case scenario. The routine gained greater momentum as the situation deteriorated. When Katrina hit category five, management decided to forward the distributor’s database via file transfer protocol (FTP) to a solutions provider with which it had close ties. This turned out to be a very good move as it helped bring the downed company to its feet much faster than would have other­wise been possible.  

“To say Oliver H. Van Horn rebounded fast would be to woefully understate the truth,” said Frank Heenan, director of mar­keting and product management, Activant Solutions. “Hurricane Katrina hit New Or­leans at 6:30 a.m., yet the distributor’s branches were up and running by noon the same day.”

Macro and micro

While the storm wreaked havoc on Van Horn’s main location in New Orleans—destroying computers, equipment, and inventory—the company as a whole was offline for only about four hours. That is not to say the company has been spared its share of post-Katrina challenges. According to Eagan, disaster planning should focus on the micro as well as the macro, as failure to sweat the small stuff will very likely have a damming effect on cash flow. Paperwork losses are an example, especially contracts and proof of deliveries, which once lost may encourage some customers to decline payment.

“A major paperwork loss can really mess up your operation,” said Scott Armstrong, president and CEO of Armstrong’s Supply, which was hard hit by Katrina. “The hurricane stole every insurance document we had, an oversight that cost us scores of reconstruction hours,” said Armstrong. “We could’ve avoided the problem had we digitally copied the documents and up­loaded them to a re­mote server. There’s no such thing as absolutely full-proof data protection. We didn’t have a fully functional manual business system in place, so we had to reconstruct price lists, customer balance sheets, and just about everything else. We weren’t as prepared for Katrina as we thought we were.”

While the micros of an effective disaster plan are far too numerous to list here, the macros should take into account the following categories:

• Personnel. Make a list of people with whom it will be necessary to link to post-disaster, both within and outside of the organization. This detailed list should include, but not be limited to, employees, customers, suppliers, insurance agents, lawyers, and telephone and Internet providers. Be sure to document all current contact data, and decide how each party can be reached should phone service be out or e-mail offline.

• Communications. Create a phone, server, and database redundancy, back­up, and restoration plan.

• Paperwork. Duplicate and separate (preferably by miles) important papers, such as titles and insurance policies.

• Banking and insurance. Have the company’s banker reproduce data that may be needed in the event of a disaster. Ask the insurance agent to review every major category of coverage. Find out how the business interruption coverage is calculated, and make sure flood, wind­storm, hail, and tornado limits are understood. Take absolutely nothing for granted. Coverage issues have proved a very sticky wicket post-Katrina.

“Disaster planning is a streamlining process,” Cahn added. “As a company streamlines, it may discover that it’s the little things that it really can’t do without. It may be discovered that the entire operation depends on the information contained in a single card file that can’t be replaced offsite. Disaster planning is an educational process, and the findings will be very useful to business, even if a crisis never comes.”

—Graham is a Manchester, Missouri-based freelance writer. Reach him at 314-821-7932.


All Together Now

New technologies and project models mean increased teamwork between distributors and contractors.

With the increase of design/build projects, combined with the emphasis on interconnectivity, both distributors and the contractors they serve are treading on new ground. While many contractors continue to base their purchasing decisions on price, there is a growing number that are seeking support as part of the package.

“There is a very significant increase in the design and build method of project delivery,” noted Rob Colgan, executive director of marketing at NECA. “More and more projects are being done where the contractor is involved at an earlier stage.” Due to this, he added, the electrical distributor is involved earlier as well. “There is a lot more opportunity to specify and make the determination of what brands and prod­ucts should go into a building,” he noted.

The nature of specification is also changing: In the past, specifications were driven by product alone; today, there is an emphasis on performance and how specified items work together to provide a final solution. “Today, specifications tend to be much more performance driven,” Colgan said. “What does the product do and why is it the right product for the application? Both manufacturer representatives and electrical distributors can offer these answers. They can help with the functional product selection in terms of finding the best product for the job and what features that product should have.”

Another issue that electrical contractors regularly face, according to Colgan, is associated with project documentation, or the lack thereof. “Even with the jobs that are done based on the design-bid-build model, there is a serious de­cline in the quality of construction drawings and specifications,” he said. “We have to build more with less information. Distributors are handing over drawings that are 50% complete and expecting the contractor to fill in the hole. After the job is bid on and won, the contractor is forced to solve these problems.”

A need for consultation

All of these factors underline the need for more consultation during the sales process. “Distributors need to be supportive and have something to bring to the conversation, rather than just trying to write an order,” Colgan said. “They need to develop some expertise so that they can help in the specification process.”

Salespeople are helpful to contractors not only for consultation, but also when things go wrong, noted Paul Rosenberg, a Chicago-based forensic consultant, editor, and author of more than 50 books for the electrical industry. “Salespeople deal with contractors on a daily basis. They are aware of their customers’ problems, and can do favors here and there that can solve problems and possibly even prevent disasters,” he said. “These contractors will keep coming back—because they know that the salespeople can be counted on.”

Pricing volatility is posing a number of challenges for both parties, said Bill Kinnard, founder of the Green Bay, Wisconsin-based consulting firm Integrity Options, and vice president of the northern region for Grandy & Associates. Contractors want updated price sheets on an almost continual basis, and distributors are struggling to get the information out as quickly as possible.

“Years ago, we would publish a new catalog once a year and do monthly updates,” Kinnard recalled. “Today that wouldn’t be sufficient; contractors need to have the pricing much quicker. They almost need it in real time because the prices change so quickly and this is impacting their business and their bottom line profitability in a huge way.”

The same time constraints apply to the procurement of product: Fewer and fewer contractors continue to stock a lot of inventory. Just-in-time delivery of orders is becoming increasingly important. “It’s more of an on-demand environment,” Colgan said.

The shortage of skilled la­bor is forcing electrical contractors to cultivate their own talent, resulting in a thirst for training resources. “Because these contractors have to grow their own technicians, they are begging and pleading for training, and they’re asking for it from their suppliers,” Kinnard said. “I’m surprised at how many are saying that they’re not getting it.”

Kinnard stressed that training services may not provide a separate revenue stream, but they do promote customer loyalty. “At the electrical distributorship where I worked, I ran the training department,” he explained. “I didn’t look at the training as a revenue source; I was just interested in breaking even. But providing that information and taking care of the contractors in that fashion brought our company significantly more revenue in terms of sales and loyalty—much more than we would have gotten otherwise.”

Training goes both ways, and for electrical distributors to offer it, they too must ensure that their own personnel have the expertise to be able to offer an enhanced level of support. “Contractors want people at the counter who know what they’re talking about,” Kinnard said. “They don’t want to deal with order takers; contractors want to deal with people who can help and educate them when they come up to the counter. We need to spend more energy getting them up to speed.”

—Heinze, a freelance writer and editor, can be reached online at carolyn@carolynheinze.com.


Bringing It All Together

Because of its broad scope and the growing imperative to reduce energy consumption, the IBS is projected to have a significant growing impact on the electrical industry.

The most obvious thing about building automation is just the sheer breadth of the subject. Whether the topic is smart homes or intelligent buildings, the move to automate and integrate building systems controls now incorporates myriad technologies, includ­ing many involving electrical power, lighting, and low-voltage systems.

Recently, the integrated building sys­tem (IBS) has become the industry’s specialty, dealing directly with communication pro­tocols that connect integrated systems and centralize their control. In fact, NECA offers a course for IBS supervision through its Management Education Institute. 

The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) is a not-for-profit industry association that promotes advanced technologies for the automation of homes and buildings in North America.

As a key proponent of the construction and retrofitting of automated or intelligent homes and buildings, CABA claims that building intelligence results in higher building values and improved comfort, security, flexibility, and reliability, while at the same time reducing costs and increasing productivity. CABA advocates that lower costs and higher property and lease values can result in aggressive return on investments and clear justifications for making buildings more intelligent.

According to Ron Zimmer, CABA presi­dent and CEO, the critical trends shaping the construction of intelligent buildings are lowering operating costs and creating long-term value for the property developer, owner, or operator.

According to Zimmer, wireless, XML/

Web services, smart telephony, green building technology, submetering, and power quality monitoring, along with RFID and telepresence, are product categories projected to grow quickly.

“Property owners and managers are increasingly looking for products with the capacity to interoperate with multiple building systems,” said Zimmer. “Electrical products will need to fit this characteristic. Electrical systems will need to be able to communicate with other critical building systems including HVAC, fire alarm, security, video monitoring, and digital signage.”

“All of these systems will be integrated on the building network and will share this infrastructure with other applications including data, voice, and video,” said Zimmer. “All products, including electronic, will need to be open standard and network addressable.”

At 26%, commercial office buildings account for the highest percentage of building automated systems sales.

Hubbell Building Automation, which is primarily involved with commercial new construction, frequently works in conjunction with major building automation integrators including Siemens, Honeywell, and Johnson Controls.

“These integrators are growing in importance,” said Terry Arbouw, director of marketing for Hubbell. “They have continued to expand their roles and their reach in the commercial/institutional building market. An owner, such as a university, may rely on one of these major players in order to manage a major project.

“We see a lot of drive toward integrating the entire building envelope, including vertical transportation, security, communication, HVAC, and lighting,” added Arbouw. “Fifty-three percent of the conservable energy in a commercial building is on the lighting side. We make money by selling our product mix, but this is driven by consulting on such projects.”

For many, the IBS market presents great opportunities for growth.

“Security is the current big push,” noted John Seger, applications engineer for Leviton Voice & Data. “From the perspective of the low-voltage manufacturer, the [IBS] market is about reaching new customers. Security contractors are not typically knowledgeable about high-speed networking systems, and automated systems call for many more drops for security cameras and access doors.

“This is an opportunity for distributors,” added Seger. “We’re seeing electrical contracting firms buy or merge with security contracting companies, and these nontraditional customers need training on telecom techniques so they can better handle new products.”

Seger noted that the bigger distributors are bringing in products and staff to provide cross-functional expertise on both sides of the market. “For instance, PoE ports and specialized PoE midspans are being used more widely to inject power into existing cabling networks,” he said.

Michael Jouaneh, marketing manager for Lutron Electronics, foresees long-term implications for electrical manufacturers, contractors, and distributors alike.

“Our customers who are specifiers, contractors, and commercial building owners increasingly want their buildings to be green and more energy efficient while at the same time making the space more comfortable for occupants,” said Jouaneh. “We’re seeing an increase in daylight harvesting, a process that uses daylight sensors to automatically reduce electric light levels in response to available daylight in a space. Daylight sensors are being integrated into an overall networked lighting control system where every light fixture, daylight and occupancy sensor, wall control, window shade, and time clock work together to achieve optimum energy efficiency and occupant comfort.

“The trend for these systems is definitely increasing,” continued Jouaneh. “Future versions of building energy standards, such as California’s Title 24 and ASHRAE 90.1, will include a greater use of these energy-saving lighting devices. We absolutely see steady growth in greener solutions for commercial lighting and energy control.”

“Intelligent buildings can also incorporate real-time utility rate information,” added Zimmer. “By managing energy with the utility, there is the ability to reduce energy usage and to dramatically decrease energy expenditure.”

—Carazo, a marketing consultant specializing in brand development and integrated marketing, can be reached at dcaraz@optonline.net.

CommScope gets a lot bigger

Thanks to its recent acquisition of Andrew Corporation—at a cost of $2.6 billion—CommScope will soon be a much, much bigger operation: The company’s pro forma sales after integrating Andrew are said to have grown to $3.8 billion.

With everything included, the new CommScope sales breakdown will be as follows: 35% wireless antenna and cable, 29% carrier and network solutions, 21% enterprise, and 15% broadband and cable television.

Included in a late June conference call on the deal were comments from Frank Drendel, chairman and CEO, on just how the company was able to get to this point. According to Drendel, the company’s success is due to its leveraged buyout of Forstmann Little; its acquisition of Alcatel’s European coaxial cable business; the fact that it bought 19% of OFS and also purchased Avaya’s Connectivity Solutions business (in January 2004); and, finally, the acquisition of  Andrew Corporation.

According to a statement made by Drendel, “The founding team of CommScope and all of its major executives have more than 160 years of telecommunications experience combined. It is evident that this com­pany has historically worked more on an operating income growth than on a sales growth [basis].

“As one looks to consolidate these industries, the margin will be the key,” he continued. “A company could have modest sales growth with substantial earnings growth by combining the technologies and the channels and putting more products through those selected channels.

“Andrew [Corporation] has an incredible worldwide channel; CommScope has an incredible worldwide channel. Both of those channels should be able to take products collectively from each other,” Drendel concluded.

Manufacturers

• Communications Systems has gotten a lot done as of late, including clearing up its problems with financial statements, hiring a new CEO, and selling off parts of its JDL Technologies subsidiary. The com­pany filed its delayed 2006 SEC re­ports on May 16.

• Eaton Corporation. While overall sales for this company grew by 4% in the second quarter, electrical segment sales increased by 11% over the same quarter in 2006. In the second quarter, the company completed or announced four acquisitions: Aphel Technologies, Pulizzi Engineering, SMC Electrical, and the small-systems business of MGE UPS Systems, acquired from Schneider.

Furthermore, Eaton Electrical’s op­erating margins, at 12.2%, were up by 100 basis points. “We expect end-market growth in the second half [in electrical] to be modestly stronger than in the second quarter, led by strength in the nonresidential and power quality markets,” said Alexander Cutler, chairman and CEO.

• Echelon’s revenues from its Lon-

Works product line grew from $12.2 mil­lion in last year’s second quarter to $13.5 million this year. The company’s big gain came in its networked energy services unit—$323,000 in the second quarter of 2006, $9.4 million this year.

“Decisions to adopt our products and technology are being driven not only by the ability of our products to lower integration costs and improve operational efficiency, but also by their ability to provide better information and facilitate control over energy usage to our customers,” said Ken Oshman, chairman and CEO.

• Emerson. In addition to buying a company (Stratos International), Emerson boosted its expectations recently. The company—now that it’s without Dodge and Reliance—expects to total $21.94 billion to $22.34 billion in sales in the current fiscal year.

• Honeywell raised its guidance for 2007 sales, earnings per share, and free cash flow when it released its second-quarter sales results. The company’s sales, at $8.5 billion, rose 8%.

Sales in the automation and control solutions unit rose 10%, however, while margins rose from 10.4% one year earlier to 11%.

• Lamson & Sessions (the parent company of Carlon) had a great 2006, and it’s having trouble keeping up with that performance in 2007. For the year’s first half, the company’s sales were down 14.6%. Second-quarter sales were down in the Carlon unit (by $12.3 million, to $65 mil­lion) and in the PVC pipe segment (by $21.4 million, to $36.7 million).

The Lam­son Home Products segment saw sales rise by 35%, thanks in part to increased remodeling—but even that increase wasn’t enough to make up for the declines elsewhere.

Lamson executives offered guidance for the full year: Net sales were expected to decline by 6% to 11% from 2006.

• Textron. According to Lewis Campbell, chairman, president, and CEO, “Demand for our products and further improvements from our enterprise management initiatives continue to drive enhanced results.” This statement came after Textron announced a 15% revenue increase (to $3.2 billion)—which generated a 26% gain for the conglomerate’s earnings per share.

Contractors

• Dycom Industries’ contract revenues at its fiscal nine-month mark were just short of $821 million, up 10.6%. At the high end of the company’s expectations for its fourth quarter ($315 million in revenue), Dycom will finish the year out with more than $1.1 billion in telecommunications construction and related services. (Note that the company’s third-quarter revenues were up by more than 16%.)

• Goldfield’s first quarter ended March 31. Overall, the company’s third quarter saw a slowdown in demand for the company’s electrical construction services. Unfortunately, Goldfield’s revenues also fell into the real estate development busi­ness, which resulted in the company post­ing a loss for the period.

With Goldfield’s stock price at $.55 (at the time that its annual meeting was held), the company said it had bought back 2.35 million shares, and that it could even well buy back 1.15 million more. There are currently 25.5 million Goldfield shares outstanding.

—Salimando is a contributing editor to TED. His weekly industry column appears at www.tedmag.com. He can be reached online at wordsmith@verizon.net.

Contractor self-defense

There are many pitfalls for the contractor, as costs can sneak up and wipe out the profit from a project. And while some of the surprises cannot be prevented, most can. The communications cabling industry, for example, has so many new products coming on the scene that almost no one can keep up.

Fortunately, there are powerful self-defense resources available that provide real help to contractors:

1. A strong relationship with a distributor. The distributor is where products converge and network systems are created. People don’t buy parts anymore—they buy systems, and those systems must be integrated and maximized.

“The process of developing a design and evaluating alternatives for the cabling network infrastructure is more challenging than ever before,” said Arthur Padgett, an independent communications consultant and 30-year veteran of the industry. “Functionality, performance, lifecycle, and budget are thrown into the mix, along with the entire technical specification. In the world of communications infrastructure, using a self-defense mindset and a distributor is a priority for a contractor.”

2. Utilizing a distributor to control inventory for customers. Everybody knows that contractors will often wait until tomorrow to order the network that they wanted yesterday. Timetables and availability on the labor side are somewhat controllable by the contractor—but cables, connectors, and other required materials are a challenge of inventory and usually outside of their control.

Maintaining large inventories to service their customers is not a good business practice for cabling contractors—inventory that builds up in a contractor’s warehouse can add up to a small fortune, and much of the inventory that is not installed immediately ends up as junk. Out-of-date, obsolete, or incomplete materials mean wasted dollars.

Having all of the materials for the communications network is only part of the solution. Contractors also need the peripherals: labeling and record systems, testers, and analyzers. They need to stay abreast of technology, codes, and standards—and need to be able to predict the future. Building barriers to obsolescence requires a vision for the future. Planning for future challenges while delivering today’s solutions is imperative. Anything less is usually unacceptable—and contractors don’t want to go it alone.

—By Frank Bisbee, editor of “Heard On The Street.” He can be reached at frank@wireville.com.


Datacomm Software Rundown

Help customers with a working knowledge of available voice and data communications software.

There are a number of software programs on the market that can keep track of a company’s cabling system and networks, manage a network, or help prepare bids and estimate jobs. Commonly recognized types of software currently available include:

• Bidding software includes a data­base of electrical, low-voltage, and structured cabling materials from which a bill of material can be created that includes material and labor costs. Look for software programs that include regular updates of catalog products.

• Estimating software can help with bidding electrical construction and/or data cabling work. It can aid in online material pricing or custom pricing, estimation, product searches, labor factoring, project takeoffs, job cost codes, and quotation analysis. Other features can include cutting and pasting between estimates, alarms for missing prices, and onscreen calculators.

• General cabling labeling software identifies a generic telecom structured cabling system based on ANSI/TIA-606-A. Included are identifiers for each of the elements of the infrastructure (different buildings, different floors, telecom spaces/

rooms, horizontal and backbone cables, firestops, and pathways).

• Labeling software from specific manufacturers helps in the creation of labels for wire/cable, network components, and safety identification. This soft­ware can generate labels that follow OSHA-, TIA-, and ANSI-compliant legends, generate bar codes, and import data previously created in Excel files or comma-separated value files onto the labels. They can also include standards symbols for electrical and data communications applications.

• Labeling tools. A basic handheld labeling tool consists of a tape, pen, writing surface, and cutter—all in one—while a more advanced model may use thermal-transfer printing so the labeling won’t be compromised by moisture, heat, smearing, solvents, or chemicals. Some also have hot keys for common applications.

Features of a top-of-the-line label maker can include portability, hot keys that automatically format labels for wires and cables, terminal blocks, and patch panels; large backlit displays; and the ability to print labels in flexible nylon, permanent polyester, and heat-shrink tube form. The labels made on these label makers can also be used for asset tagging and other general identification applications.

• Network address management software assigns, catalogs, and maintains IP addresses and host data for both registered and private TCP/IP-addressed networks. This open-database software provides an interface to enable the establishment of IP addressing schemes and standards, and then applies those schemes to check out new IP addresses in a logical and controlled way. It can support a stand-alone or networked installation and multiple users.

Features to look for include the export and import of CSV format files, the export of HTML-formatted listings, printed listing reports, network diagram attachments, and host configuration.

• Network inventory software allows the creation of a network inventory without installing the software on the user’s PCs. This program provides information about operational systems, service packs, hot­fixes, hardware, installed soft­ware, and running processes on remote PCs. It can also create reports about the hardware, installed software, and running processes on the computers in a local network.

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


SIDEBAR - All about ANSI/TIA-606-A

ANSI/TIA-606-A Administration Standard for Telecommunications Infrastructure of Commercial Buildings provides a standard scheme for administration (labeling) developed by industry experts.

Some notable points about the standard include:

• It covers the Open Systems Inter­con­nection (OSI) layer 1 (the physical layer) records only. (The OSI is a set of seven layers that define the different stages that data must go through to travel from one device to another over a network.)

• It can be understood rather quickly by those who are already familiar with the TIA standard.

• A labeling standard that conforms to it can be automated using a commercial off-the-shelf cable management system.

• It speeds move/add/change work regarding cables, and improves mean time to repair.

• It reduces time and errors by simplifying label creation for network components, panel building, construction, and maintenance by selecting and formatting the label for the application.

• Software is designed for taking care of the regular telecom documentation and labeling requirements of most companies. In addition, its basic premise of drilling down from broad to specific can be an excellent method of documenting assets.

• Addendum 1, which is currently in development, will handle administration of computer and equipment rooms.

• The 606-A concept could be ex­tended to administer some other company assets.

• Software programs can be extremely helpful for the physical layer, as well as higher levels of the OSI reference model.


Eyes In The Sky

Remote tracking can cut operating costs, build revenue, and enhance distribution functions.

GPS-based tracking systems keep tabs on mobile and immobile as­sets from afar. Used mainly in vehicle location monitoring and to find stolen property and equipment, the systems communicate data long distance via a cellular network or satellite transmitter. GPS tracking modules were pio­neered by shipping com­panies with fleets of trucks on the road laden with costly cargo. These days, this technology is widely used by a broad range of industries, including wholesale distribution.

“We got into vehicle tracking for lia­bility reasons and to make certain our drivers were where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there,” said Bill Phillips, director of sales, North American operations at Curtis Dyna-Fog, a Westfield, Indiana-based distributor/provider of equipment for mosquito control to city governments and municipalities. “But today’s sophisticated systems allow for a lot more. For example, we collect historical data, which can be used to gauge the effectiveness of certain procedures. In our case, we used it to measure the impact of control methods on mosquito populations.”

Tracking tools are used for cost control and income building, added Daniel Lee, vice president of Fleet Boss Ops, an Orlando, Florida-based provider of GPS vehicle- and asset-tracking management solutions. The easiest way to make more money is to keep as much of it as possible, he explained, and a tracking solution can save a company a lot in fuel costs alone.

“Remote asset tracking adds money-making efficiency by indicating more mileage-friendly delivery routes,” Lee said. “The unnecessary expenditure of just a couple of gallons per day translates to thousands of dollars wasted every year. By using vehicle tracking as a weapon, a company can go to war with gas usage inefficiency, saving money it might otherwise surrender to the enemy.”

The money-saving opportunities presented by remote tracking tools are numerous, and the high cost of fuel is only one.

Many distributors have speeding/idling policies that are intended to keep a lid not only on fuel usage costs, but also on the amount of money that must be surrendered to traffic fines, lawsuits re­sult­ing from accidents, and insurance com­panies. A tracking solution liberates a distributor from the limits imposed by the honor system, whereby a driver might claim to stick to the rules governing speeding and idling but does no such thing once on the road. The system will provide proof one way or the other.

“For example, a distributor can track miles per gallon of gas by hooking its tracking solution up with a fuel diagnostic system,” said Lee. “Say that you have contracted the services of a delivery driver for hire who claims that he or she used 100 gallons of gas. The system will  be able to confirm or deny that claim just like a lie detector.”

A vehicle-tracking system can also be used to automate a driver’s log, Lee added, and provide an accurate account of daily activities. Say, for ex­ample, a delivery person clocks in at 7 o’clock but doesn’t leave the parking lot until 7:30. That’s half an hour of overtime a company should not be required to pay. A tracking system will overcome this cost liability by revealing precisely when the driver’s engine turned over that morning—sparing the distributor 30 minutes of payment for services not rendered.

Best practices

September Moore is president of Wire­less Style, a wholesale distributor of cell phone accessories in Jackson, Miss. Moore’s client base consists solely of Southeastern convenience stores. The facilities are serviced by a team of mobile salespeople, each one assigned a route within the company’s territorial radius.

As independent contractors, salespeople keep track of the expenses, and charge them back to the company.

“My salespeople all work away from the office,” Moore said. “Unregulated idling time and after-hours vehicle use can turn into huge cost factors, and without vehicle tracking I would have no way of knowing whether the high fuel bill I have to pay out for a given driver is attributable to legitimate costs associated with doing business.”

Maps and reports that are generated by tracking solutions are accessible via password on the Web site of the technology provider, Moore explained. Most providers are also equipped to alert subscribers to mechanical issues that are in the making via Blackberry, cell phone, or other hand­held device. “The price of such a service package is often surprisingly reasonable,” said Moore, “and well worth the money.”

—Graham is a Manchester, Missouri-based freelance writer.


Help For Home Automation

Is there hope for a truly marketable integrated system?

Almost a decade ago, the media lab at MIT showed a washing machine and refrigerator connected to the Internet. The washing ma­chine could read the bar code labels on an item of clothing and washing detergent and contact the respective manufacturers for washing directions. The refrigerator could keep an inventory using bar code scanning, warn of a power out­age, and search for recipes and display them on a screen on the door.

Home automation applications like these are little more than lab curiosities and are probably not likely to become widely used—but there are other likely applications. Consider a heater or air conditioning system that monitors its performance and alerts its owner when it needs service, or contacts a designated service company if it fails when the house is vacant. Or think about an energy-saving device that turns the lights off when no one is in a room or automatically adjust the temperature when a house is empty. These devices exist now and are used in commercial properties—but not so much in the residential sector.

Sure, security systems are installed in many homes, but for the most part, they remain cumbersome to use; and home theater has yet to become main­stream.

A sampling of online articles detailing why home automation has been a disappointing market immediately move to discussions of numerous interconnection protocols, software vs. hardware orientations of various manufacturers, and generally failed promises of integration. The conclusion: There is no home automation market, just a bunch of companies hyping proprietary solutions that would cover less than 10% of the solution that would be needed to capture the interest of homeowners—and homebuilders.

Ever wonder why it’s possible to pur­chase a remote control that locks or unlocks a door, turns on lights, opens windows, even remotely starts a $25,000 car—but no similar device is available for a half-million-dollar home? Certainly, the market for such electronic integration would be enormous.

Of course, part of the problem lies in the fact that cars are mass produced, with the final design controlled by one company. Still, the same idea could apply to houses if a standard design were agreed upon by the industries involved.

But standardizing on anything requires more cooperation than one often sees from any industry. So while it’s unlikely that a number of manufacturers will get together and create an integrated system, two possible solutions remain: One, a large company does the whole job right and creates a de facto standard; or two, a large homebuilder decides such a system would give it a competitive advantage and creates the standard.

The latter is the more likely to be successful, but it would require a tech-savvy, market-savvy homebuilder who had a willingness to take a number of risks. Perhaps homebuilders should be challenged to do just that.

—Hayes, of VDV Works, has been active in the VDV cabling business for more than 25 years. Find him at www.JimHayes.com.

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

Communications News

COVER STORY 

            No More Worries

            Gil Betz chose a managed services approach to upgrade the Louisville Metro United Way voice network.

Special Focus:  MANAGED SERVICES

            Managed service answers the call

Program provides customized communication system for fixed monthly fee.

            SSL VPN ‘insures’ productivity

Insurance firm securely connects data centers and offsite employees.

            Managed Services Buyers’ Guide

            Our annual guide to companies providing managed services.

VIRTUALIZATION 

            Back up the virtual machine

Software as a service is one option for providing data recovery.

            Automate monitoring

The right tools are needed to manage a virtualized environment.

CABLING INFRASTRUCTURE

            Company optimizes with 10-GigE

New data center accommodates need for high-performance connectivity.

NETWORK MONITORING 

            Performance analysis ‘tapped’ in

Aggregating taps offer a viable option for monitoring network performance and security.

REMOTE MONITORING/KVM 

            KVM switches combat e-crime

Dual-video monitors present a unique challenge to Canadian detectives’ work.

            Put service processors to work

Capabilities provided can lead to significant savings in operational costs.

CONVERGENCE 

            Hosted VoIP connects small business

Firm avoids up-front equipment costs and long waits for customer service.

            Soft clients vs. IP phones

Independent testing gives soft clients the edge in terms of voice quality.

www.comnew.com

Cabling Installation & Maintenance

Blown Fiber Systems; See Growth And Acceptance

First installed in the mid-1980s by British Telecom for use in outside-plant (OSP) applications, blown optical fiber is a system in which fiber is blown into a network of microduct tubes via an air-delivery system of compressed air or nitrogen. While blown fiber still represents a very small percentage of the premises marketplace, and critics continue to question the system's fiber protection and cost savings, acceptance is being fueled by new standards and the buy-in of some key customers. Hence vendors continue to enhance their systems with new products and features, and many claim growth in specific market segments.

Gaining some ground

“We’re now seeing real live applications that require a lot more bandwidth and create an increased demand for fiber,” says Kurt Templeman, product manager for Sumitomo Electric Lightwave, which manufactures the FutureFLEX air-blown optical fiber system (www.futureflex.com). “That, combined with fiber-rich customers, is certainly helping the blown fiber market.”

According to Sumitomo, acceptance of blown fiber has improved, and the company has experienced significant growth in the commercial premises marketplace where they focus their efforts. “The technology is not so far out in left field anymore, and there are many ‘who’s who’ that are installing it, which is giving much more credibility to the technology,” says Templeman. As an example, the company says that blown fiber at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas led to similar airport projects including Dallas/Forth Worth, Miami International, and Boston’s Logan.

Avoiding disruption during network expansions and reconfigurations continues to be a huge factor in determining which market segments experience the most growth. As a result, most blown fiber vendors are experiencing success in areas like convention centers, stadiums, airports, hospitals, and military applications. “Blown fiber eliminates disruption of day-to-day business operations when changes are required,” says Tibor van Melsem Kocsis, commercial director for Emtelle (www.emtelle.com), manufacturer of the Fiberflow blown fiber system. “There is no opening of the ceilings, and these customers can literally ask one person to go to the central office and blow in new fiber.”

According to van Melsem, lack of disruption is also significant in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) applications where Emtelle is gaining traction throughout Europe. “When you look at FTTH in urban areas, disruption is even more of an issue. In Germany, there are several cities where nobody gets a permit to dig up a street,” he explains. “In some of those areas, we have installed microducts throughout sewer systems that allow communities to blow in fiber to specific locations.”

General Cable (www.generalcable.com), which offers the Blolite blown fiber system, has not seen as much growth in the commercial arena, but has experienced success in the military and non-military specialty markets. “We are gaining traction in specialty markets because these customers can really see the value of replacing the fiber, and many of the applications require infrastructures to be spec’d in for 50 or 60 years,” says Greg Carnes, fiber product manager for General Cable.

Acceptance is also being fueled by an increase in the number of companies focusing on the technology, such as Prysmian (formerly Pirelli Cables and Systems), Ericsson of Sweden, and Dura-Line. “We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of companies that have moved into blown fiber. It’s good to have competition because that means people see that there is a market for this technology,” says van Melsem.

Standards to boot

For years, critics of blown fiber have pointed out the lack of standards as one of the foremost issues for not supporting the technology. However, The International Elecrotechnical Commission (IEC; www.iec.ch) recently published the first global blown fiber standard (IEC 60794-5), which included definitions of blown fiber products and a test menu for customers.

“While the IEC standard won’t be the driving factor for market growth in Europe, it will definitely help; when technology is written down in standards, it always has more credibility,” says van Melsem. According to Emtelle, the standard will enable those who manufacture, install, and operate blown fiber technology to communicate with greater clarity, cooperate more efficiently, and design and install increasingly effective blown fiber systems.

IEC 60794-6 Microduct Cabling for Installation by Blowing covers OSP products and addresses issues like optical fiber, microducts, installation and operating conditions, and testing and quality assurance. The test methods called out in the standard are based on the already widely accepted IEC 60794-12 standard. Currently in draft form, two other standards (IEC 60794-5-10 and 60794-5-20) will further detail the acceptance criteria for the testing of mini-cables and fiber unit systems. It is expected that these standards will be finalized sometime in late 2007 or early 2008.

Although the new IEC standard will have more influence in Europe than in the United States, domestic manufacturers believe it can only help the acceptance of blown fiber technology here. “It certainly can’t hurt us to have a standard, but only time will tell what its influence will be here in the U.S.,” says Carnes of General Cable.

Continued enhancements

Some vendors focus more on blown fiber technology than others, but all continue to promote their products with new features and technologies. Sumitomo Electric Lightwave recently expanded its FutureFLEX product line with new hybrid fiber bundles that the company says can yield a three-fold increase in efficiency for each individual tube.

“We’re now seeing a wide array in the types of fiber coming into network operation centers because customers are laying multiple topologies over the same backbone infrastructure,” says Templeman. “These customers require different types for various applications like voice, data, security, and building automation, which is why we decided to offer the hybrid bundle.”  The new hybrid bundles allows traditional 50- and 62.5-micron multimode, singlemode, and laser-optimized 50-micron fiber to share one of FutureFLEX’s 19 tubes, whereas previously they were blown into one or more of the inner tube cells, requiring a two-step fiber insertion.

Emtelle has focused most of its recent efforts on products that contribute economically to the acceptance of blown fiber to the home by driving down the cost of labor, which can account for nearly 70% of the total cost for a FTTH investment. “As soon as we can drive down that cost of labor, by either reducing the amount of labor required or simplifying the process, that has a huge impact on the total cost,” says van Melsem. “We believe that training is one of the key differentiators that make a blown fiber installation successful. By offering focused, simple training, consultants, engineers, and installers can understand the various dynamics involved and provide better, faster installations.”

Emtelle has also introduced a full line of enclosures that are geared toward blown fiber systems, and also recently launched blowing equipment that allows installers to blow in fiber with counts of 1 to 96 on the same machine. “The new blowing equipment allows installers to reduce setup time and become very familiar with one machine,” says van Melsem. “When it comes to labor costs, we see reducing setup time as a real benefit.”

While blown fiber is not a huge focus for General Cable, the company says it is a good product line that it will continue to promote. General Cable’s Blolite blown fiber is available in all fiber types, and the company recently introduced a larger 19-tube cable.  “Because we’ve been so successful in specialty markets, we can continue to make product enhancements and offer our products in the commercial space as well,” says Carnes.

Worldwide potential

Throughout the world, blown fiber has growth potential in several specific markets and regions. In Europe, the most significant area for growth is in the FTTH market, where labor rates are high, operating expenses are of constant concern, and the business models are an advantage.

“There are quite a few business models in Europe that are driving FTTH. We’re seeing things like local authorities investing with commercial companies to improve the infrastructure. Denmark alone, which is a relatively small country, has 1.3 billion Euros reserved to build out FTTH,” says van Melsem. “When it comes to FTTH, investments can be easily upgraded when takeup rate goes up. Maintenance is cheaper, and the use of preterminated blown fiber reduces the amount of labor and specialized skills required.”

Unfortunately, the FTTH market in the U.S. does not offer quite as much growth potential. “Incumbent service providers like Verizon are not bending over backwards to put in blown fiber,” says Templeman. “The cost models in Europe don’t necessarily work here in the U.S. They have a lot more multiple-dwelling units and historical concerns than we do.”

In the U.S., the most potential for growth continues to be the healthcare, educational, and entertainment industries, as well as military and specialty applications. “When it comes to hospitals, blown fiber offers a very clean installation that saves IT departments so much hassle with infections disease control agencies and officers,” says Alexandra Manning, marketing communications manager with Sumitomo. “Once the tubes are installed, they can blow fiber anywhere without disturbing the airflow or having to move patients to accommodate installation.”

Global reach

The Middle East is another region showing recent interest in blown fiber technology with daily requests coming out of countries like Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and United Arab Emirates (UAE), where a lot of money is being targeted to build, or rebuild and revitalize, the region. Installers and designers in that region are considering which technology they should invest in, and certain regulations are pushing some installers to consider blown fiber.

“Here in Iran, we have a producer of traditional fiber that our government urges all the installers to buy from,” explains Naser Vahidi, an installer based in Iran. “If we want to work independently, we have to approach our projects with another type of solution like blown fiber. “

A good deal of blown fiber is being installed in Dubai, UAE, which has recently attracted worldwide attention through innovative real estate projects and is increasingly developing as a hub for IT and finance. “Dubai has unbelievable structures, and they want everything to be the most advanced,” says Manning. “Money is not an issue, and they understand that they have many resources to protect, they’re going to have a lot of changes, and the blown fiber system makes the most sense.”

Despite better acceptance and growth, product enhancements, and worldwide potential, blown fiber technology still has its detractors. “Acceptance has a lot to do with the period of time that a market or region has been familiar with the technology, “ says van Melsem. “When we deal with customers that have been deploying traditional technology for a long period of time, it makes it more complicated to convince them otherwise. That’s human nature.”

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


Don’t Accept Short Shrift

OK, this month I won’t be as wordy as I normally am. That’s mostly because I’m not allowed to be anymore. As you may have noticed, the space in which I write my monthly diatribe is no longer a full page; it’s now accompanied by our editorial masthead, which sits to the right of this writing in the section of the page we affectionately refer to as the “gutter.” Rumor has it the reason I now have 2/3 of a page rather than a full page for this column is that with less space, I’m less likely to make superfluous references to movies, my children, and the Boston Red Sox.

Once you’re finished reading this page (maybe you were done a couple sentences ago), the next article you turn to will be an opinion piece written by Doug Coleman of Corning Cable Systems. And you won’t have to get too far into it—simply reading the headline might suffice—before it becomes clear he is a man of strong opinions, and has the ability to articulate them pretty clearly.

In his opinion piece, Doug (as in Doug Mientkiewicz, the first baseman who recorded the final putout of the 2004 World Series – hah!) Coleman makes the case the fiber-optic cabling systems are clearly superior to copper-based systems and are the wise choice, if not the only real choice, for high-speed communications.

Once we received the article here in our editorial department, it was the topic of several conversations, most of which debated whether or not it was anything more than a gratuitous thrashing of all type and manner of copper-based cabling. Ultimately the decision was mine, and that decision was to run the article with Doug’s commentary pretty much undiluted.

That doesn’t mean I personally endorse the viewpoint. No more than I endorse the opinion that shielded cabling is the clear choice for high-speed systems, which you’ve also seen on the pages of this publication in months past. Or that unshielded twisted-pair copper cabling can be engineered to continue to meet the electrical performance necessary to support the next generation of high-speed signal transmission. It might. It might not.

Doug Coleman’s highly opinionated article appears in this issue for a couple basic reasons. First, he makes solid arguments based on sound technical information. And second, I like to think this magazine is an unbiased forum in which ideas can be exchanged. I learned a long time ago not to tell you, our audience, what to think. You can and do think for yourselves. If we as a publican can give you more to think about, we’re doing our jobs.

If you disagree with anything you see in this or any other issue of the magazine, you are not only welcome but also encouraged to let me know. As Doug Coleman’s article indicates, I’d like all opinions to be heard.

Patrick McLaughlin

Chief Editor


Optical Connectivity A Good Choice In The Data Center

Let us count the ways in which the use of optics benefits data center managers.

Optical connectivity maximizes the overall operations efficiency of the data center. Optical cable with laser-optimized 50-µm OM3 fiber provides bandwidth capabilities that support up to 10-Gbit/sec transmission for existing applications as well as future-data-rate applications of 16 Gbits/sec to 100 Gbits/sec and beyond. The transmission performance, data-rate scalability, pathway-and-space utilization, electronics port density, power and cooling efficiencies, and ease of installation and testing make optical connectivity the choice solution when compared to 10GBase-T and copper connectivity.

IEEE 802.3ae released the optical 10-Gbit Ethernet standard in 2002, with the 10GBase-SR physical media dependent (PMD) for short-range links up to 300 meters emerging as the dominant and best-suited 10-Gbit connectivity solution in the data center using OM3 fiber. The 10GBase-T standard was approved in 2006. The standard provides guidance for 10-Gbit transmission on four-pair twisted-pair copper cable within a 500-MHz bandwidth. The outlook for transmission faster than 10 Gbits/sec on twisted-pair copper links is doubtful due to the required distances in the data center as well as the local area network (LAN).

10-Gig on twisted pair

Category 6 unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) copper cable has been widely deployed in data centers, but it has critical limitations associated with supporting 10-Gbit/sec transmission. The cable reach is rated in the range of 37 to 55 meters, but many industry experts believe that anything longer than 37 meters may be subject to alien crosstalk because of the extended operating frequency. Performance issues of Category 6 UTP cable resulted in the development of yet another UTP copper cable design called Category 6A (Augmented Category 6) that is intended to support 10-Gbit/sec operation up to 100 meters. Category 6A cable typically increases the already-bulky outside diameter of previous-generation Category 6 copper cable by about 40% in an attempt to mitigate internal and external noise impairments. This unwieldy cable design is more challenging to route through network pathways and requires far more complex testing and field-termination methods than a single, slender fiber-optic cable. Expectations are that most 10-Gig copper systems will require removal of legacy Category 6 UTP cable and installation of Category 6A UTP cable if copper connectivity is used.

To date, the Category 6A detailed cable standards from the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA; www.tiaonline.org) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC; www.iec.ch) have not yet been completed. All Category 6A networks installed before the standards are completed are effectively proprietary solutions with potential interoperability issues. Minimal 10-Gig interoperability has been demonstrated among different Category 6A and hardware manufacturers.

Shielded Category 6 and Category 7 copper cables are also being considered in place of UTP copper cables for 10-Gig operation. UTP cables have been the de facto copper cables used in North America. In comparison, shielded copper cables have rarely been deployed due to special installation and termination practices. The cable’s stiffness, weight, and large bend radii, as well as grounding and bonding issues, make it complex to install. In addition, some in the industry believe they present Power over Ethernet (PoE) concerns related to heat dissipation.

The extended operating frequency range of 10-Gbit copper cable requires higher power consumption (10 to 15 watts) of the 10-Gbit interfaces due to increased insertion loss and the need to overcome internal and external crosstalk issues. Electronic digital signal processing (DSP) techniques are required to correct internal noise impairments, which contribute significantly to the inherent time delay while recovering the transmitted data packets—otherwise known as latency. Extensive data encoding and signal processing is required to achieve an acceptable bit error rate. Data centers demand low-latency physical (PHY) performance. One industry expert estimated that a one-millisecond advantage in trading applications can be worth $100 million a year to a major brokerage firm. 10-Gig optical PHY has 1,000 times better latency performance than 10-Gig copper. 10-Gig optical has typical PHY latency in the nanosecond range, whereas 10-Gig copper has PHY latency measurable in microseconds. DSP algorithms cannot be used to mitigate alien crosstalk or other external sources of electromagnetic interference due to their random statistical nature. The UTP cable relies entirely on the (larger) cable design and physical configuration of the cable in pathways and spaces to address the external alien crosstalk noise ingress.

Pathway and space use

The larger diameter of Category 6A cable significantly compromises efficient use of pathways and spaces such as wire baskets, trays, conduits, and racks. Two Category 6A UTP cables consume the same area equivalent of a single 216-fiber ribbon cable. The high fiber density, combined with the small diameter of optical cable, maximizes the raised-floor pathway and space efficiencies for routing and cooling, and offers superior pathway use when routed in aerial cable trays. Because of the larger diameter and abundance of copper cable, there is a substantially greater amount of jacketing and insulating materials that cause additional fuel load in the pathways and increase the volume of hazardous waste going into landfills from construction debris. Copper cables’ congestion in pathways increases the potential for damage to electronics through overheating by restricting the much-needed airflow to regulate temperature. In addition, air-cooling-damming effects can interfere with ventilation systems’ ability to remove dust and dirty.

A typical plenum Category 6A cable weighs 46 pounds per 1,000 feet. The accumulated weight of Category 6A cabling alone to serve a 108-circuit, 200-foot length 10Gbit/sec installation will be approximately 1,000 pounds—compared with 40 pounds for the same length of a 216-fiber optical cable. The 5x greater weight of Category 6A cables will require additional hardware costs to support the load, and may contribute to cable strain-relief issues in hardware, as well as compression issues in trays and conduits.

And in the ultimate of ironies, that heavy Category 6A cable is a real lightweight when it comes to stress. Installers must ensure they do not exceed the 25-pound tensile rating and avoid untwisting of wires, while a single-fiber 2.0-mm jumper boasts a 50-pound tensile rating and a multi-fiber cable can have a tensile strength of 600 pounds. In addition, care must be taken not to violate the copper cable’s 4x outside-diameter bend radius. Violating the bend radius distorts the cable’s physical geometric properties, which degrades transmission performance. Optical cables have an equivalent or better bend performance because of their small diameter, which easily facilitates installation without compromising transmission performance.

Installation and field testing

A labor premium over traditional 1000Base-T systems is anticipated for the installation and testing of 10GBase-T systems. 10-Gig copper is much more complex to field test than previous-generation copper systems, and requires sophisticated test equipment. Testing is performed on each cable across the 1- to 500-MHz frequency spectrum to determine conformance for insertion loss, return loss, pair-to-pair near-end crosstalk (NEXT), power-sum NEXT, pair-to-pair equal-level far-end crosstalk (ELFEXT), power-sum ELFEXT, propagation delay, length, delay skew, and wire map. In addition, complex and time-consuming alien crosstalk measurements must be made.

Some Category 6A UTP cable manufacturers, and others, are suggesting random alien crosstalk field testing to demonstrate total cable conformance. Considering the negative financial impact of data center downtime, contractors, network designers, and end users are not expected to accept random testing. Industry experts have stated as much as 3.75 hours are required to perform 100% total testing on a bundle of 24 copper cables. Conversely, 10-Gbit/sec field testing for optical cables simply requires the standard end-to-end link-loss measurement.

10-Gig electronics

10-Gbit/sec copper port density is expected to be four to eight ports per card due to power requirements of 10 to 15 watts per port, as well as being limited by heat dissipation and crosstalk issues. In high-density applications, this power usage is significant, not only in consumption, but also in the generation of heat, which requires cooling to protect transmission equipment from rising temperatures. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE; www.ashrae.org) guidelines state that for every kilowatt of power, an equal thermal unit of cooling is required. More power consumption requires greater cooling and humidity control, which increases operational costs of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems and backup power supplies. Industry experts have stated that every one-cent increase in energy cost per kilowatt-hour can amount to $3 million per year in energy and cooling costs in a large data center. Also, for every dollar spent on powering servers and equipment in a data center, firms should expect to spend another dollar to as much as $2 to $3 to cool the hardware. Major Tier 1 switch manufacturers are not expected to offer 10GBase-T commercial products until mid-2008, as silicon-chip manufacturers continue to address issues with power consumption.

Considering The Fiber Advantages

·         10-Gbit/sec optical components provide clear advantages over copper twisted pair.

·         10-Gbit X2 transceivers support up to 16 ports per line card. Maximum power dissipation is 4 watts per port.

·         10-Gbit XFP optical transceivers support up to 24 to 36 ports per line card. Maximum power dissipation is 2.5 watts per port.

·         Emerging 10-Gbit SFP+ optical transceivers will support up to 48 ports per line card. Maximum power dissipation will be 1 watt per port. The SFP+ transceiver will offer significantly lower cost compared to the X2 and XFP transceivers.

·         A 10-Gbit copper system will require more switches and line cards to match the bandwidth capability of 10-Gbit optical. For example, one optical 48-port line card equals six 8-port copper line cards.

10GBase-SR server adapter cards typically use less than 9 watts of power to transmit up to 300 meters, while recently announced 10GBase-T cards use 25 watts to reach up to 30 meters. The optical adapter is easily powered from the server PCI-Express slot without an external power feed. Ethernet adapters were announced in late January 2007 to support 10GBase-T. The adapter cards consume just less than 25 watts to support a maximum transmission distance of 30 meters. Greater service distances would require an additional electrical feed to power the copper adapter card, since the PCI-Express slot can only provide up to 25 watts. As with the 10-Gbit copper switches, the 10-Gbit copper server adapter card’s high power-consumption and cooling needs result in higher operational costs. To date, copper server and card adapter server manufacturers have demonstrated minimal interoperability with 10GBase-T switch vendors. Switch-vendor support is at least a year away due to power challenges.

Extended distance capability. Laser-optimized 50-µm multimode OM3 fiber provides 10-Gbit serial transmission to a maximum distance of 300 to 550 meters. Fiber offers network designers more flexibility in their planning, and the advantage of being able to use new and reconfigurable architectures in the data center. OM3 50-µm fiber supports data rates beyond 10-Gbit and is to be included in the IEEE 100-Gbit/sec Project Authorization Request (PAR) to operate at a minimum 100-meter distance. In the best-case scenario, Category 6A, Category 6F/UTP, and Category 7 copper are limited to 100 meters and are restricted to four connections in the 10GBase-T channel.

Power and cooling. 10-Gig optical switch electronics and server adapter cards require les power to operate compared to 10-Gig copper. 10-Gbit SFP+ optical transceivers will consume a maximum of 1.0 watt per port, compared to 10 to 15 watts per port for a 10GBase-T copper switch. 10GBase-SR server adapter cards typically use less than 9 watts to transmit up to 300 meters, while recently announced 10GBase-T cards use 25 watts to transmit up to 30 meters. Significant silicon-chip development will be required to reduce the power consumption of 10-Gbit copper interfaces. Although industry expectation is that silicon-chip power consumption may be reduced, the high insertion loss of copper cables at the extended frequency range needed to support 10-Gbit Ethernet and electronic DSP noise-reduction circuitry means that energy consumption will inevitably be higher than that of low-loss fiber interconnects. The silicon-chip size-reduction work is not expected to be completed in the near future as major performance issues such as electrostatic discharge, which impacts reliability, must be resolved. The extreme power consumption of 10-Gbit copper electronics and adapter cards will drive the need for excessive cooling, meaning greater energy use and running costs for data centers and possibly larger uninterruptible power supplies. Industry experts have stated that 10GBase-T over Category 6 or 7 twisted-pair cables can extend up to 100 meters, but power requirements hinder its cost-effectiveness.

Port density. Fiber provides a higher 10-Gbit port density per electronic line card and patch panel when compared to copper. Many manufacturers’ 10-Gbit UTP copper patch-panel densities are reduced by up to 50% to mitigate crosstalk impairments by increased spacing between connector ports. Fiber can accommodate higher port densities, up to 1,728 fibers, in a 4U housing.

Pathway and space congestion. The high fiber density, combined with the smaller diameter of optical cable, maximizes the raised-floor pathway and space use for routing and cooling. Optical cables also offer superior pathway usage when routed in aerial cable trays. The larger Category 6A outer diameter impacts conduit size and fill rate, as well as cable management due to the increased bend radius. Common commercial cable-pulling lubricants have been shown to affect copper-cable attenuation at the high operating frequencies of 10-Gbit Ethernet. Bundled copper cable also inhibits removal of abandoned cable and presents serious alien crosstalk issues in raised-floor and aerial pathways. In summary, optical cable offers better system density and cable management, and minimizes airflow obstructions.

Migration to higher speeds. Laser-optimized 50-µm multimode OM3 fiber provides a migration path for supporting higher data rates such as 16-Gbit and 32-Gbit Fibre Channel, and 100-Gbit Ethernet. Copper twisted-pair cable cannot support these speeds at market-required distances. Industry experts have stated that instead of a wholesale transition to 10-Gbit Ethernet over copper, the networking industry may well segue into optical fiber, as the next speed is 100-Gbit Ethernet and copper will not work over required distances at that data rate.

Planning Ahead

Should you ever require cabling infrastructure to support 10-Gbit speeds in the future, then now is the time for optical connectivity in the data center. Optical cable with laser-optimized 50-µm OM3 fiber provides bandwidth capabilities that support legacy and future-data-rate applications without the costs and downtime of retiring yet another copper cable plant and recabling. Optical-fiber connectivity provides optimized transmission performance, extended distance capability, best utilization of pathways and spaces, ease of installation and testing, reduction in power consumption, cooling costs and electronic costs, and the highest 10-Gbit electronic and patch-panel densities. 10GBase-T with copper connectivity falls short when compared to optical-fiber connectivity performance and value propositions.

Twisted-pair copper cabling has been struggling to keep up with bandwidth demands virtually since it entered the data center market. There have been six generations of copper cable in just the past 20 years, each one designed to address the next wave of bandwidth demand and each one becoming more complex to design around and install.

A single generation of multimode optical fiber has outlived, and continues to surpass, the bandwidth capability of every one of those copper designs; and fiber has gotten easier and cheaper to design with and to install.

Doug Coleman is manager of technology and standards with Corning Cable Systems (www.corning.com/cablesystems).


IPLM: Why It Achieves Value Beyond Port Count

IPLM systems can bring to the physical layer the management capabilities possible at higher layers of the network.

Achieving maximum network uptime to run mission-critical applications requires attention to all aspects of good network housekeeping. With links in the data center numbering in the thousands, and with the density of connected devices becoming more difficult to physically trace, this good-housekeeping effort includes a view into physical layer connectivity. However, of all network layers, the physical layer typically offers the least amount of visibility.

Intelligent physical layer management (IPLM) systems provide this visibility. These systems map, monitor, and manage real-time patch-field connectivity, and continuously record networked asset movements and configuration changes occurring throughout the enterprise and data center.

The core value these systems bring to an organization is automating the process of gathering and recording accurate, real-time information on the status of connections across the network, thus minimizing downtime and improving operational efficiencies. This article explains how IPLM systems are being used for more than just monitoring of ports and cords, and are adding additional value by helping network managers optimize network capacity, improve asset tracking, and enhance network security.

Patch-field housekeeping

Traditional network management systems, covering OSI Layer 3 and higher, monitor multiple network and data traffic parameters. These solutions typically identify that a broken or interrupted link has occurred, but do not report on the precise physical-layer connections where many problems are known to originate. The process of physically locating or tracing the links may take an hour or more to accomplish.

In contrast, the focus of an IPLM tool is to guide network administrators in planning and implementing cabling changes, and to provide real-time monitoring of patch-field connectivity events. An “event” with the physical layer is defined as a change in state of the patch field or monitored links (i.e. a connection or disconnection of any link or network asset).

To accomplish these tasks, IPLM systems rely on three specific functions. First, intelligent patch fields and/or cords provide real-time connectivity information, which is read by the active hardware. Second, active hardware scans or monitors the patch field and reports changes in state. Third, a software application compiles the information, stores it in a database, and may formulate a recommendation or response based upon system conditions such as pending work orders.

These functions work together to track and record all network events in real time, ensuring that the network database is current and accurate. As activities are recorded to the database, the system analyzes this information and takes appropriate pre-programmed actions. For instance, in a data center, an unscheduled disruption or alteration to a server connection might trigger an alarm to a network administrator. Because the location and port number of the event are readily available, IT or security staff can quickly locate and efficiently react to this and other unauthorized network changes.

Many IPLM systems integrate with other managed network systems to enable greater control of the entire network. By extending traditional network management of OSI Layers 3 and above into the physical layer (Layer 1), organizations can monitor all devices in the network with greater visibility.

IPLM systems also improve the efficiency and accuracy of moves, adds, and changes (MACs) through a work-order process that helps network managers plan, prioritize, and assign all changes in the system. As the MACs are being completed, the system records the time and date of the actions, and automatically updates the database to reflect the new patch configuration, ensuring that patch-field information is 100% accurate at all times.

These automated processes reduce mean-time-to-repair (MTTR) by helping prevent human error and unauthorized patch-field changes, whether deliberate or accidental. In this way, network managers can leverage the IPLM tools to streamline operations and maintenance processes, resulting in lower technical-service costs and increased network uptime and reliability. Furthermore, network maintenance can be directed remotely from a network-management station and assigned to specific individuals.

Asset tracking and capacity optimization

Asset management is a largely overlooked aspect of organizational networks. In fact, Gartner Research (www.gartner.com) found that even with network-management tools in place, organizations fail to track 40% of their distributed-computing hardware assets. Failing to account for all networked assets can negatively affect manageability of the network, cause delays in MAC processes, and even impact the reliability of service levels. This can introduce a multitude of business risks—operational, financial, legal, and regulatory.

To mitigate these risks, IPLM technologies have the ability to identify and track the movements of all assets connected to the network, giving administrators the ability to see what is connected and where. These systems identify new assets connected to the network as well as existing assets that have not been used for a prescribed period of time. Also, if the database is unable to locate a given asset at its expected location, the network manager can be alerted in order to determine whether the asset is missing or is actually present but disconnected/powered off. This feature of IPLM systems helps to prevent potential device theft or unauthorized device relocation.

Using Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) on connected devices—which may include wireless access points, Internet Protocol surveillance cameras, or even a laptop connected to the network—the IPLM system can query the network infrastructure for specific information on these devices such as type, and IP and MAC (media access control—not to be confused with moves/adds/changes MACs) addresses. Furthermore, an IPLM system can document and record any movements to a centralized database providing real-time updates of changes, ensuring that information is accurate at all times.

For example, before an individual logs onto, or attempts to log onto, the network with a laptop, the system can identify both the laptop itself via its MAC address and the location of the laptop within the network. By monitoring the laptop’s physical connectivity, the organization continually verifies that the laptop is on-site and is active, aiding in hardware asset management. This visibility can be extended to any endpoint device that is connected to the network, including Voice over IP phones and IP security cameras as well as hardware such as servers.

The ability of IPLM solutions to map all physical connections also enables network administrators to optimize data center capacity by tracking switch-port availability in the database. IPLM systems may feature management software that can graphically display tracked assets within the network, providing a virtual map of servers and other active data center equipment as well as the connectivity between the equipment. IPLM tools also can be used to monitor port consumption and notify network managers as the network approaches capacity limitations, as well as identify where available network ports and assets are located in order to quickly reclaim network capacity. (See sidebar.)

Security at and beyond physical layer

Intrusion detection is “top of mind” for many IT managers and corporate security personnel. Security in the data center has traditionally centered on preventative measures such as restricting unauthorized access to the network via login/password, domain, subnet, virtual private network, or other similar restrictions to protect the network from data corruption, viruses, or actual physical damage. Also, the security of telecommunications rooms can be enhanced through use of electronic locks, badge readers, and other lockout technologies, but these measures cannot prevent employees or visitors within the building from gaining network access.

With an IPLM system, unauthorized network access can be identified in real time by comparing the MAC and IP addresses of devices requesting access to those authorized within the network database. Upon connection, any unidentified MAC or IP addresses would trigger an alert to IT or security personnel so that immediate action can be taken, helping to prevent potential security breaches and minimize costly network downtime.

Detecting an intrusion and triggering an alert is only the beginning. Integrating and IPLM system into a comprehensive managed network system can allow preprogrammed security actions to be automatically triggered within the network. For instance, upon detection of an unauthorized network access attempt, the IPLM system can trigger the managed network system to immediately close down the port or site of the attempted access. Additionally, this event could initiate another function, such as the dispatch of security personnel to the location of the attempted breach.

Security has also expanded beyond these critical issues to include such concepts as regulatory compliance and reporting requirements. Through a combination of static inventoried demarcation points and active monitoring of asset movement through the network, IPLM systems automate the documentation of the physical layer to ensure that sensitive information is recorded accurately and securely. These systems help organizations comply with industry regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB) with comprehensive reporting that reduces the costs associated with preparation for regulatory audits.

In situations in which data warehousing protects critical information, the ability to restore the physical-infrastructure links that access data is just as important as the ability to restore the content itself. IPLM systems can assist in the process of recovering data center and local area network configuration information; as the system monitors the physical layer, its database continuously records asset movements and configuration changes occurring throughout the system, eliminating the need for manual record-keeping. The database information may also be used to provide a “snapshot” of the enterprise network, guiding the re-creation and restoration of all connectivity points throughout the network, including the data center and all data rooms, as part of an emergency or disaster-recovery measure.

Beyond ports and cords

The security and availability of network-based processes are critical t the business health of most enterprises. IPLM solutions address these concerns by providing additional physical-layer visibility via continuous monitoring of the patch-field connectivity, as well as documenting and reporting all physical-layer events.

This visibility enables network managers to quickly respond to disturbances in the network, minimizing downtime and improving security. IPLM systems also enable network managers to conduct maintenance from remote locations, for more-efficient management of network resources and substantially reduced operational costs.

IPLM tools provide additional value by enabling asset tracking and resource optimization across increasingly complex network architectures. The ability of IPLM tools to track asset movements enhances security by helping network administrators quickly identify unauthorized devices and facilitate the access of authorized users. These tools also help IT staff optimize network capacity by mapping all available physical connections and monitoring port consumption.

For organizations searching for optimum availability, security, and manageability of their physical infrastructure, an IPLM system is a critical solution that enables both operational efficiencies and cost savings.

IPLM in action

Defiance Electrical and Crossover Inc. has provided design/build services to commercial, industrial, and institutional customers since 1978. Pete Hadlock, vice president, says, “Panduit has worked with Defiance Electrical and Crossover Inc. to establish the kind of cooperative partnership that we can deliver to our own clients.”

Recently Defiance specified Panduit’s PanView System, an intelligent physical layer management system, to a client seeking efficient remote network-monitoring capabilities to reduce operating expenses and optimize overall network reliability. Even though the client understood the benefits that the PanView System offered to remotely manage patch fields, the client was surprised how quickly the system helped optimize its network investment.

In one telling example, the client needed additional port space and inquired about purchasing new switching equipment. As an alternative, Defiance Electric and Crossover Inc. recommended using the PanView System to run a report of assets in order to quickly locate any “forgotten” network ports. Sure enough, the report revealed a port that had not been used for more than 90 days. The client simply reallocated this port, leveraging assets it already owned and avoiding the cost of new network equipment and cable drops.

The entire process, from the initial phone call to the identification of the port, took less than 10 minutes.

-MP

Michael Pula is product line manager with Panduit Corp. (www.panduit.com).


Cable Assembly In NECA Spotlight

From show-stopper to featured product, Quik-Pull custom cable assemblies, developed by Clifford of Vermont (www.cliffordvt.com), will be among the headliners in the new product room at this year’s NECA Show, Oct. 4-6, in San Francisco. A year ago, Quik-Pull was one of only 25 exhibitors to be honored with a NECA Show Stopper Award.

With the Quik-Pull design, rather than pulling single wires from multiple runs, one assembly is pulled at once. Spiral assemblies are designed for simplified, smooth pulling through conduit, while straight assemblies consist of individual conductors that can be broken out at intermediate points along the run.

All assemblies are pre-labeled and color-coded per customer specification, with any wiring and cable combination available. Tray-rated jackets, in sunlight-resistant PE or water-, gas- and oil-resistant PVC, are available in numerous colors and can be printed with any alphanumeric information.

Custom armoring is available in either interlocked galvanized steel or aluminum. Core material can range from .32 to 2.5 inches, with the length of run limited only by the capacity of a 66-inch flange diameter reel.

Compiled by Steve Smith


Ring Around The Campus

More than $217,000 in fiber-optic cabled donated by OFS (www.ofsoptics.com) will help the University of West Georgia complete a fiber-optic ring around the campus, a project considered vital for continued network reliability.

OFS’ Optical Cable and Connectivity Products division is located in Carrollton, GA, home of the university.

“UWG has projected that its need for network capacity will grow exponentially in the coming years,” says Vedat Gunay, information technology services associate director at the University of West Georgia. “The new cable from OFS will enable the connection of new building projects, such as the health and wellness building, and an expansion of the north campus, providing high-speed data networking for voice, data and video.”

Jacques Fiorella, division general manager, says OFS’ donation “will enable the University of West Georgia to educate their students using one the state’s most advanced metropolitan fiber-optic networks.”

All article Reprinted with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance

2007 www.cable-install.com


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