of Communications and Cabling is fast paced and stressful.
things get a little crazy. Maybe you should follow these helpful hints to cope
with the pressure.
20 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity
1. At Lunch Time, Sit In Your Parked
Car With Sunglasses on and point a Hair Dryer At Passing Cars. See If They Slow
2. Page Yourself Over The Intercom. Don 't
Disguise Your Voice.
3. Every Time Someone Asks You To Do Something,
Ask If They Want Fries with that.
4. Put Your Garbage Can On Your Desk And Label It
5. Put Decaf In The Coffee Maker For 3 Weeks. Once
Everyone has Gotten Over Their Caffeine Addictions, Switch to Espresso.
6. In The Memo Field Of All Your Checks, Write
"For Smuggling Diamonds"
7. Finish All Your sentences with "In
Accordance With The Prophecy," "By your command," or "Live
Long and Prosper!"
8 Dont use any punctuation
9. As Often As Possible, Skip Rather Than Walk.
10. Order a Diet Water whenever you go out to eat with a
11. Specify That Your Drive-through Order Is "To Go."
12. Sing Along At The Opera
13. Go To A Poetry Recital And Ask Why The Poems Don 't Rhyme
14. Put Mosquito Netting Around Your Work Area And Play tropical
Sounds All Day.
15. Five Days In Advance , Tell Your Friends You Can't Attend Their
Party Because You're Not In The Mood.
Your Coworkers Address You By Your Wrestling Name, Rock Bottom.
17. When The Money Comes Out The ATM, Scream "I Won!, I
18. When Leaving The Zoo, Start Running Towards The Parking lot,
Yelling "Run For Your Lives, They're Loose!!"
19. Tell Your Children Over Dinner. "Due To The Economy, We
Are Going To Have To Let One Of You Go."
20. Put Labels On All The Food In the Pantry. No Fat, Low Fat,
Reduced Fat, or Fat (but with Great Personality).
We hope to
visit with many of our industry professionals at the BICSI 2007 Fall Conference
in Las Vegas
(Sept. 10-13) at the MGM Grand. We are always hunting “for all the news that
you can use”.
just my opinion,
"Heard On The Street" Monthly Column
4949 Sunbeam Rd, Suite 16
Jacksonville, FL 32257
(904) 645-9077 office
(904) 645-9058 fax
BICSI 2007 Fall Conference Is Just Around The Corner!
Conference takes place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada,
on September 10-13, 2007. BICSI invites you to take part in this phenomenal
Conference, with exciting presentations, keynotes, pre-conference seminars and
Hall is almost sold out, so be prepared to see some of the industry's best
solutions and products. Get exclusive access to the information transport
systems industry through this conference, and learn all about the newest hot
There are a
number of new things debuting at this conference also, such as the new BICSI
merchandise line--BICSI Gear. Now with better customer service and better
products, we are looking to have you walk away from the conference with some
brand new BICSI gear! BICSI is also releasing its new interactive learning
network at this conference. BICSI CONNECT representatives are looking to meet
you down at the Exhibit Hall at the BICSI Booth, where you will be able to
see the demos.
Credential Holders Lounge is holding a door prize drawing for a flat-screen TV,
so make sure you stop by to fill out your drawing ticket. The Lounge is located
on the second level of the MGM
Center, in Vista Ballroom 206-211. In addition to
all these brand new opportunities, don't forget about the first-class sessions,
brought to you by the leaders of our industry. Subjects discussed are relevant
to everyone, from first-timers to experienced professionals. The topics include
protecting your networks against hackers, AV systems, data centers, LEED, fiber
optics, horizontal cabling, stadium design, installation, and more. There's no
better time than now to sign up! Go to www.bicsi.org and click on the Fall Conference link.
Conference is too good to miss. The biggest value is the educational aspect.
bring parties together in a “WIN – WIN” scenario.
Lunch At BICSI With Netversity, Eaton Power Quality Company & Server Technology September 11 At 12:00
Solutions, Eaton Power Quality Company and Server Technology invite you to
lunch on Tuesday September 11th from 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM in the
Premier Room (Room 318) at the MGM Grand Hotel, at the BICSI Las Vegas
equipment cabinets and data centers (Small, Medium or Large) needs to be
efficient, abundant and under control!
Netversity Solutions can work with you in developing solutions for power
distribution and remote power control from Eaton Power Quality Company and
be two presentations (one from Eaton Power Quality Company and one from Server
Technology) to get you the information you need to be up to date on power
limited so get there early!!
September 11th from 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM in the Premier Room (Room
318) at the MGM Grand Hotel.
Dabrowski, RCDD, Netversity Solutions, Rdabrowski@netversity.ca,
NetClear 10G Channels Co-exist With Lower Category Cabling And Meet 10G Channel Specifications
Ortronics/Legrand and Berk-Tek, a
Nexans Company, announced that their warranted NetClear GTX 10G UTP cabling
system can be installed alongside existing NetClear structured cabling systems
within the same pathway without degradation of the performance of either
system. Tests were performed at the Nexans Data
Center, which placed
Berk-Tek's LANmark-10G Augmented Category 6 in the same raceway as LANmark-1000
and LANmark-2000 Category 6 cables. Both were unaffected with the LANmark-10G
cable continuing to meet all the requirements of the draft TIA 568B.2-10
Augmented Category 6 specifications.
Tests at the Nexans DCCC included
the worst case 6-around-1 configuration where a NetClear GTX channel, comprised
of LANmark-10G and Ortronics Clarity 10G connectors, was inserted into the
center of a bundle that included 7 NetClear GT2 channels around the
outside. NetClear GT2 channels consist
of Berk-Tek's LANmark-1000 Category 6 cable and Ortronics Clarity 6
connectivity. The NetClear GTX
4-connector channels passed the Augmented Category 6 channel specifications for
both internal parameters, as well as all alien crosstalk parameters.
"The industry leading
performance of the LANmark-10G cable combined with the co-engineered Clarity
10G termination products from Ortronics, allows the NetClear GTX channels to be
intermixed with channels of lower category performance, without interference
" states Jim Frey, Copper Products Manager for Berk-Tek. "No other 10G UTP cabling system
available today can offer this kind of flexibility and performance," he
"Another unique feature of the
NetClear GTX 10 Gb/s system is that the Clarity patch cords are stranded and
available in lengths down to 3 feet, which is less than the minimum 7 foot
lengths offered by other cabling manufacturers. The design of these patch cords
also allows these cords to be adjacent to other category patch cords at the
workstation without impacting their 10G performance. This reduces cost and eliminates the need to
manage excessive lengths of cordage in the TR or data center, while providing
better 10 Gb/s system performance" states Gregg LaFontaine, Senior Copper
Products Manager for Ortronics/Legrand.
Ortronics/Legrand and Berk-Tek were
instrumental in providing their combined engineering expertise to the IEEE
P802.3an to define the cabling system requirements for 10 Gigabit Ethernet over
twisted pair cable media.
As a result, both the NetClear GTS
(FTP), introduced in January 2005, and NetClear GTX (UTP), introduced in May
2005, became the first to offer two complete channel solutions with guaranteed
compliance to all current and future 10G channel specifications identified by
the IEEE and TIA committees.
About the NetClear Alliance
NetClear is a Technology Alliance
between Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, and Ortronics/Legrand to provide advanced,
end-to-end co-engineered solutions for enhanced Category 5e, Category 6,
Augmented Category 6 - 10 Gigabit and optical fiber channels - all backed by a
25-year warranty. www.berktek.com. www.ortronics.com.
RHINO Professional Labeling Tools Hires Taz Cantrell As Regional Sales Manager
Taz Cantrell to Manage Sales for North Central U.S. Region
RHINO Professional Labeling Tools is proud to announce the hiring of Thomas
(Taz) Cantrell for the position of Central Regional Sales Manager. Mr. Cantrell
brings to the position over 16 years of telecommunications experience, nine
directly in sales and sales management.
“We are very excited to have Taz on our RHINO team,” stated Ernie Racenet,
Global Business Unit Director of RHINO. “Taz brings an excellent depth of
experience in regional sales management, distribution and end user education in
similar technology categories. This experience will allow him to have an
immediate and substantial positive impact on our business.”
“Taz has many years experience not only growing key business accounts and
sales, but also training and educating his sales teams, distributors, end users
and even industry professionals,” continued Keith Smith, RCDD and Strategic
Account Manager with RHINO. “RHINO prides itself in the close relationships it
has built with its customers, and education is a key component in those
relationships. Taz’s knowledge of the industry and personable demeanor will be essential
in growing awareness of the RHINO brand while building and maintaining close
Prior to joining RHINO, Mr. Cantrell held sales management positions with IDEAL
Industries and Wavetek, and other sales positions with Data Voice Supplies and
Services and Nbase Communications. He was also a proud member of the U.S. Navy.
The hiring of Taz Cantrell is in line with the recent sales expansion effort of
KITCO Fiber Optics Announces Evening Courses
KITCO Fiber Optics is pleased to
announce that the Certified Technician and Certified Military (Shipboard)
courses are now available in evening courses.
These courses are designed to allow busy technicians the opportunity to
train with the same 40-hour courses that KITCO teaches in a one-week format
from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM. The Evening
Courses are offered at KITCO’s Virginia Beach Training Facility from 6:00 PM –
10:00 PM Monday – Friday and will prepare students for the Electronics
Technicians Association (ETA) Certified Fiber Optic Installer (CFOI) and
Certified Fiber Optic Technician (CFOT) certifications. The cost for the Shipboard Course is
$2,355.00 and $1,955.00 for the Certified Technician Course (including ETA
certification). All materials and
toolkits are included in the price.
These courses also qualify attendees for BICSI CEC’s (Continuing
Certified Fiber Optic Installer,
Technician and Shipboard courses are still offered during the day as usual, as
well as Aviation Fiber Optic Courses, Hermaphroditic Courses and TFOCA
classes. The evening classes were added
due to increased demand from technicians currently performing copper
installations who need to learn how to install, terminate and test fiber optic
cables in order to remain competitive in an industry that is rapidly changing
from copper to fiber topologies.
Certified Technician course is designed to provide students with the hands-on
knowledge and ability to successfully terminate a variety of ST, SC, FC and
Small Form Factor (SFF) connectors; perform fusion splicing, mechanical
splicing, and assemble a splice enclosure. Additionally, students will be
trained to fully test and troubleshoot fiber optic cables and fiber optic
systems using an Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR).
The 2 Week
Shipboard Fiber Optics Course has been approved by the Chief of Naval Education
and Training (CNET) as an equivalent to their Fiber Optic Maintenance
Technician Course (A-670-0063) and KITCO is the Navy’s exclusive provider of
this course. Taught for the Navy at various Naval Bases, this course is
in strict adherence to MIL-STD-2042B(SH) and NTSM-408. All KITCO
instructors have real world experience having spent literally thousands of
hours terminating, splicing and testing fiber optic cable systems on over 200
U.S. Navy ships and submarines. This course is the most comprehensive,
hands-on shipboard fiber optic training available anywhere.
Certified Military Courses (Shipboard) are scheduled for September 17 – 28 and
November 5 – 16, and the Certified Technician Courses are scheduled for October
15 – 26 and December 3 – 14. www.kitcofo.com
KITCO is an ISO -9000-2001 Certified Company
BOMA International Webinars; BOMA Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP)
by the BOMA Foundation and EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Program
Energy Enhancement Projects & Financial Returns
August 16, 2007
4:00 p.m., ET
teaches the use of financial metrics and tools to calculate and sell
enhancement projects to owners, asset managers and tenants by highlighting the
positive financial and environmental impacts of improved energy performance.
Energy Awareness Program
October 18, 2007
4:00 p.m., ET
rounds out the series by focusing on how to create an effective awareness
program, communicate accomplishments and benefits to key stakeholders, as well
as provide samples and templates for attendees to easily customize.
for Course 5 or 6 Today
receive instructions for accessing the Webinar approximately 48 hours prior to
each offering. Web access is required to participate in these Webinars.
members: $99 for each Webinar in the series.
members: $124 for each Webinar in the series.
Foundation’s BOMA Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP) is an innovative program
teaching property owners, managers, and operators important no- and low-cost
strategies for optimizing equipment, people, and practices to reduce energy use
and cost. For more information about
BEEP, visit www.boma.org/beep.
Top Stories At Environmental Building News
Chemicals in Building Materials: Hygiene or Harm?
infection is hardly a new phenomenon, but it seems to have risen to a fever
pitch in recent years. Modern medicine appeared to have all but conquered
infectious disease decades ago-but in the last three decades our society's
confidence in that victory has unraveled. Diseases like AIDS, anthrax,
"mad cow disease," severe acute respiratory syndrome,
antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis, and bird flu have perplexed and challenged
the medical establishment, and popular culture and the press have seized on
reawakened fears of uncontrollable diseases, reporting on health emergencies
around the globe with ever greater fervency.
for antibacterial lotions, soaps, and wipes has exploded, and antimicrobial
compounds are now common in other consumer items like shampoos, deodorants,
shoes and apparel, and food-preparation and storage items, despite widespread
evidence that these compounds often don't work as advertised. But now even our
buildings are getting in on the trend. The use of chemicals in building
products, especially to kill mold, is centuries-old, but antimicrobial
chemicals are proliferating in heretofore rarely seen places: furniture,
flooring, wallcoverings, textiles, countertops, sunshades, doorknobs and
push-plates, ductwork, and caulking.
article examines applications of antimicrobials in buildings, asking whether
they are warranted, and looking at how antimicrobials work. It also explores
health and safety concerns and suggests ways to make buildings more hygienic,
with or without antimicrobials.
To see the
full feature article:
welcome to post the summaries and links from this email on your website(s),
provided that you make it clear that the stories are coming from Environmental
Building News and that the full article is available at www.BuildingGreen.com.
Please include this byline: From Environmental Building News,
Inc. owns the copyrights to all material contained in this email and to the
full written articles. All rights are reserved except those explicitly granted
herein. Contact Jim Newman at BuildingGreen, Inc., Jim@BuildingGreen.com with
questions or for additional information.
Current Stories from Environmental Building News:
Green Still Doesn't Drive Building Costs
updated their influential 2004 study of the cost of green building with new
data, Lisa Fay Matthiessen and Peter Morris of Davis Langdon still come to the
same conclusion. There are so many huge cost factors in construction that it is
not possible to detect any statistically significant difference between the
cost of green and non-green buildings, they report in "Cost of Green
Revisited," released in July 2007. Based on an analysis of the budgets for
221 projects, of which 86 were pursuing some level of LEED certification, the
report concludes that "buildings cannot be budgeted based on
averages," leaving open the question of whether, for any given building, a
green agenda affects its cost.
To read the
Introduces SurfaceIQ Wall coverings
covering company Carnegie, maker of Xorel and other non-PVC wall coverings, has
introduced a line of polyethylene wallcoverings with an affordable price of
$22.50 per yard ($24.20/m; net wholesale rate). The Surface iQ line,
manufactured by Len-Tex Corporation, has been available directly from the
manufacturer since 2005. Carnegie's offerings include seven new patterns in a
range of colors.
To read the
Diodes: Chasing White Light
diodes (LEDs) use semi-conducting materials to turn electricity into light;
electrons jump from one material to another, emitting photons as they travel.
While LEDs use very little electricity, they also produce relatively small
amounts of light.
To read the
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
email@example.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. www.buildinggreen.com
TIA Welcomes New Staff to Leadership Team
New VPs, Directors bring years of industry experience to help guide TIA’s rapid growth.
The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is pleased to announce the
addition of four new members of its leadership team as part of its efforts to
augment its member companies’ strategies during this period of market growth in
the communications industry. TIA’s newest staff include: Ed Mikoski, VP-Standards
and Business Development; Suzanne Ugast, VP-Marketing and Business
Development; Carolyn Holmes Lee, Director, Legislative and Government
Affairs; and Lora Ann Magruder, Director, Member Relations.
Mikoski will be responsible for coordination of TIA’s influential work in the
standards development arena. He joins TIA after holding similar positions at
the Electronic Components, Assemblies and Materials Association and with the
Electronic Industries Alliance. Mikoski possesses 30 years of experience in the
technology sector shepherding the development of numerous standards that have
benefited the communications sector of the high-tech industry.
Ugast will steer TIA’s future growth as the leading advocate for the
information, communications and entertainment technology industry. Ugast brings
20 years of experience in the marketing profession, exclusively in
telecommunications and technology and will be responsible for managing the
association’s Marketing and Communications, Membership, and Web Development
departments. Ugast will also lead the effort to create and implement a
marketing and branding campaign to grow TIA’s membership while promoting the
work in the association’s policy, standards, business and networking events and
market intelligence reports.
Holmes Lee comes to TIA this month after managing federal and state government
affairs for 3M, where she showed effectiveness and a grasp of tech-related
issues like telecom, energy and the environment, and tax policy. Prior to 3M,
Holmes Lee was Legislative Director in the office of Senator Olympia Snowe of
Maine, a prominent member of the Commerce Committee that oversees many issues
important to TIA members. Before serving with Snowe, Holmes Lee was a
legislative assistant handling national issues for Congresswoman Sue Kelly from
Magruder comes to TIA after 7 years as Director of Membership for the
Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications
Companies (OPASTCO), where she developed the group’s campaigns for recruiting
and retaining members. She has an illustrious career in the communications
industry: prior to OPASTCO, Magruder was Government Relations Manager for the
National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA), and she began her career with the
U.S. Telephone Association. http://www.tiaonline.org.
Release Regarding OFS Patent Litigation
Draka Comteq Americas, Inc, a joint venture of Alcatel-Lucent and Draka
Holding NV and a leading manufacturer of optical fiber, fiber optic cables, and
copper communications cables, has formally responded to a lawsuit for alleged
patent infringement filed against it in North Carolina Federal Court by
Furukawa Electric North America ("FENA"), owner of OFS Fitel.
In its response, Draka Comteq Americas completely and categorically denied all
allegations that it has infringed any patents allegedly owned by FENA.
Draka Comteq Americas also asserted counterclaims based on the unenforceability
of the patents that FENA has asserted.
In addition, Draka Comteq Americas has filed a patent infringement case
against FENA and its subsidiary, OFS Fitel, in the U.S District Court in
Marshall , Texas . In that case, Draka Comteq Americas identifies at
least eight valid and enforceable U.S. patents that FENA and OFS Fitel
infringe, and requests as a remedy both monetary damages and injunctive
"Draka Comteq Americas is an industry leader in developing relevant
intellectual property. As such, we take our position surrounding
intellectual property, as well as our obligations as a good corporate citizen,
very seriously," stated Jacques Blanc, Chief Operating Officer for Draka
Comteq. "Our response in the North Carolina lawsuit demonstrates our
strong belief that Draka Comteq Americas has not infringed anyone's patent
rights and that we will be totally vindicated in this proceeding."
Mr. Blanc further stated “Indeed, our review of this matter demonstrated that
it was actually FENA and OFS Fitel -- and not us -- that were engaging in
patent infringement, and that they were doing so by violating numerous Draka
Comteq Americas patents. These improper acts of infringement necessitated
our commencement of the lawsuit in Texas , where we are confident we will
is a 97 year old wire and cable company engaged worldwide in providing
innovative cabling solutions for a wide range of applications. A top five
cabler worldwide, Draka focuses its solutions through:
Draka Comteq, providing communications cabling solutions and Draka Cableteq,
providing low-voltage and specialty cabling solutions. www.drakacomteq.us
Light Brigade Announces Three-day Fiber Characterization Course
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
Over the past
twenty years, fiber optic cables have come to handle exponentially increasing
bandwidth demands. As network speeds increase, optical dispersion compensation
becomes more critical for maintaining high signal quality and low bit error
rates. Transmission equipment manufacturers often will not guarantee the
performance of their systems unless polarization mode dispersion (PMD),
chromatic dispersion (CD), and optical return loss (ORL) tests have been
documented. These vital tests require an understanding of the importance of
optical cleanliness of the optical connections as well as how to properly
perform reflection measurements using an optical time-domain reflectometer
Day one of the
course includes classroom review of basic optical theory, standards,
transmission basics, fiber types, connectors, test equipment, installation,
systems, and the theory and principles of dispersion.
specifically focuses on OTDRs, detailing the types available and how they
function, as well as give practical experience with OTDR calibration and setup,
loss measurement, and the proper use of deadzone boxes and terminators for
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). After testing and documenting
these spans for PMD and CD, the attendees will insert dispersion-compensating
modules into each span and then re-test for the new dispersion values.
1987 The Light Brigade has instructed
30,000 attendees in its public and custom classes. The company offers courses
nationwide covering basic fiber optic design, maintenance and testing plus
advanced courses such as FTTx, DWDM, SONET, PMD/CD, and video for traffic or
surveillance. The Light Brigade has produced professional-quality educational
DVDs, videos and CDs, and a self-paced FTTx/PON computerized training module.
All of The Light Brigade's training materials are non-vendor specific and
demonstrate theory and techniques applicable to any manufacturer's product.
Coleman Cable’s 3-Outlet Extension Cord Delivers ‘Power Where You Need It’
Cable Inc. (CCI) introduces the Cord Runner™ extension cord featuring three
evenly spaced outlets, instead of just one outlet at the end. The new product
is ideal for landscaping, workshops, holiday lighting or any job-site requiring
multiple tasks in different areas.
Runner has a heavy-duty 14-gauge STW outdoor rated cord that is durable,
reliable and flexible even in the coldest weather. Each evenly spaced outlet
has a power indicator light to let you know when the power is on. The extension
cord is available in 6 ft. and 25ft. lengths and green or yellow jacket.
Runner makes it easier and safer to power multiple tasks using just one
extension cord,” said Blaine Ballard, CCI product manager. “And because the
Cord Runner’s three outlets are conveniently spaced, it provides much more
flexibility in running tasks in different areas. The new Cord Runner is yet
another solution from Coleman Cable delivering power where you need it.” www.colemancable.com
Copper Trunk Cable Assemblies
Leviton is pleased to introduce pre-terminated, factory-tested
Copper Trunk cable assemblies; the ideal solution for fast, simplified Data
Leviton Copper Trunks are custom-configured in pre-engineered
lengths using connectors to meet the specific needs of each application. By shifting much of the assembly work to the
factory, pre-terminated copper trunks offer significantly reduced installation
Copper Trunks utilize standard QuickPort® jacks which are compatible
with Leviton's full line of QuickPort panels. Use of standardized panels allows
trunks to be installed alongside individual cable runs or other media types.
Copper Trunks are offered in both UTP and Shielded versions of CAT 6A, CAT 6,
and CAT 5e performance. All UTP jacks utilize Leviton's patented Retention
Force Technology™ (RFT) for consistent long-term connections. Plug terminations
feature Leviton's SlimLine plug with "snagless" strain relief boot.
trunk assembly receives a unique serial number, and individual cables are
numbered relative to that serial number. A braided
sleeve bundles individual cables into an aesthetic and cohesive trunk assembly
while the included pulling eye protects terminations during shipment and
Pre-terminated cable assemblies are 100%
factory tested, and are eligible for the Leviton Lifetime Product and System
Performance Warranty without any additional on-site field-testing.
For more information on this or other
Leviton products, log onto www.leviton.com
Corning Cable Systems Grants License to Preformed Line Products
PLP to use Corning’s
OptiTap™ Connector technology in optical terminal designs
Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE: GLW) Telecommunications
segment, and Preformed Line Products Company (NASDAQ:PLPC) announce the signing
of a license agreement, the terms of which provide PLP with a non-exclusive
license to certain optical fiber terminal patents.
industry leader in preconnectorized FTTx solutions, Corning Cable Systems is
licensing the optical terminal patents to Preformed Line Products (PLP).
Corning will also be supplying PLP with its OptiTap™ Connectors, the
ideal solution for factory-terminated, environmentally sealed and hardened
connectors for use in drop cable deployments in optical access networks. The
hardened connector significantly reduces the terminal and drop cable
installation time for subscriber connection, thereby reducing the total
installed cost of deployment.
pleased to be able to address the growing market demand for preconnectorized
optical terminals,” said John Hofstetter, director of marketing and sales for
PLP. “PLP’s innovative COYOTE® Closure designs, coupled with
Corning’s OptiTap Connector technology, can advance the use of cost-effective
preconnectorized products in FTTx deployments.”
agreement will enable Corning and PLP to further promote and participate in
global FTTx applications,” said Dr. Bernhard Deutsch, director of marketing and
market development for Corning Cable Systems public networks. “Customers will
benefit from having an additional source for preconnectorized terminals to make
deployments faster, easier, more reliable and less costly.”
Evolant® Solutions for Access Networks, Corning Cable Systems offers
specialized portfolios of innovative products and services that enable
customers to cost-effectively deploy fiber in the last mile. For additional
information on Corning Cable Systems, contact a customer service representative
at 1-800-743-2675, toll free in the United States, or (+1) 828-901-5000,
international, or visit www.corning.com/cablesystems.
SCA Offers Free Cabling Training Curriculum For Schools
Includes 200+ PowerPoint Slides And Instructor Guide
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 free SCA program was created to allow schools to include
cabling in their telecommunications or information technology curriculum as
early as high school to encourage students to consider this lucrative
communications cabling needs to be included in technical programs as early as
the high school level.” says 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 non-profit 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 over 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 PowerPoint slides are editable to allow
instructors to adapt the presentations to their classes and add other relevant
materials to the slides. The materials are easily integrated into in a telecommunications or information
technology curriculum. With the current interest in residential cabling to
support broadband connections like fiber to the home, the material is also
appropriate for many electrical training programs and apprenticeships.
may download the presentations from the SCA website. Access to the program is
available to SCA-approved schools offering SCA certification programs and
SCA-registered schools who wish to teach an introductory cabling course without
the complete SCA certification curriculum.
The Structured Cabling
Association, Inc. is a non-profit professional society founded in 2006 to
promote education and certification of those working with structured cabling.
SCA offers online tutorials on “What Is Cabling” and "The Tech Home"
HELLERMANNTYTON Launches New Corporate Website
HellermannTyton North America
launches a new corporate website featuring greatly enhanced product information
and advanced search capabilities. The new website, found at www.hellermann.tyton.com,
makes it easy for users to locate the precise product they need - by using the
search function or by browsing the product selection to find the required
solution. The product directory,
featuring the company's cable management, identification, and network
connectivity products, can be drilled down so that representative photos,
drawings, and product specification information of each part number can be
quickly viewed online. The website also
highlights the company's key markets and product sets associated with
each. Samples and literature can be
ordered online as well as guidance on where to buy HellermannTyton
products. Links to HellermannTyton
companies around the globe are also provided.
Highlighted on the home page of the
website are the company's latest press releases and a "what's new"
section for featured products and announcements.
The company's new SwiftMark
automatic label printer and applicator, RapidNet pre-terminated network cabling
system, and the latest Engineered Fastening Solutions catalog are just some of
the featured items on the site - demonstrating the company's activity in the
wire harnessing, voice and data, and automotive markets.
Follow this link to download a
high-resolution, printable screen shot of the HellermannTyton Corporate Home
FOA Creates Web Site To Assist Users In Planning & Installing Fiber Optic Communications Systems
The FOA has
filled a void in the information available about fiber optics, creating a web
site devoted to information useful to the end user who is considering using
fiber optics in their communications systems or planning and installing a
network. The end user, who owns and uses communications systems, often finds it
hard to get information about fiber optics aimed specifically at them. Industry
standards are written by and for manufacturers. Most training material is
written to train installation techs, the group the FOA focuses on with its
The FOA has
created a special section of its website where end users can find answers to
their questions on fiber optics or even find out what questions to ask. In
addition, it includes step-by-step recommendations for making a decision
whether fiber is the best choice for them, planning the system, choosing
components, communications system equipment and even a contractor to install
non-profit professional society chartered to promote fiber optics, the FOA
offers an unique, unbiased perspective on this process that can assist users in
making the best choices for their needs.
Besides basic information needed by users, the web site has links to
many technical references and standards they will find helpful. The web site is
Green Technology World Conference
Green Technology World Conference
is the premier event focused on educating you about technologies, essential
issues, and trends that enable companies to operate more efficiently, thereby
creating a positive impact
on both your businesses and the environment. The event will be held September
11th-12th at the Los Angeles
now you can register to attend this groundbreaking event for FREE. You
get to attend the breakout sessions, keynote presentations, roundtable
discussions, networking receptions, and the exhibit hall filled with companies
demonstrating the latest “clean and environmentally friendly” technologies for
no cost when you register in advance.
can register for your free pass here
CUTTING EDGE CONFERENCE PROGRAM:
recently released the complete conference program for the
Green Technology World Conference. These sessions were carefully created to
offer the most useful, relevant information possible, focusing on providing
real-world examples from leading companies using green technologies. And each
of the sessions and roundtable discussions will be led by speakers selected
from hundreds of applicants, representing some of most innovative companies
utilizing clean and green technologies, including Cisco, Toyota, AMD, Ericsson,
and many more.
is a list of the sessions being offered over
the two-day Green Technology World Conference:
- Top Ten Ways to be
GREEN through Better Networking
- Maximizing Benefits
of a Virtual Workforce
Teleworking with IP Telephony and Web Services
- Virtual Meetings: A
Faster Path to Lowered Emissions
- Alleviating the
Carbon Footprint of Corporate Travel though Conferencing, Collaboration
and Video Conferencing
- Green Case Study:
Pat Lobb Toyota
- The Greening of the
Data Center – A Roundtable Discussion
- Paving the Way for
a Greener Approach to Deploying Telecom Networks
- Advanced TCA —
Green Conferencing in Data Centers
- Truly Green
Application Specific Computer Design
- The Future of Green
Technology – A Roundtable Discussion
can read full descriptions of these sessions, along with learn more about the
speakers presenting at the event here.
UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY OFFERS REAL SOLUTIONS:
you can attend this unique, groundbreaking event for FREE if you register in advance. This
is an outstanding opportunity for you to not only benefit your company but also
have a positive impact on the environment and the world
a whole. Come and learn more about these new green technologies, network with
others in a similar position to learn of their successes or failures in
previous efforts, and perhaps most importantly meet with leading vendors of
ready to offer you real solutions for your company to implement your own green
hope you will participate in the Green Technology World Conference,
and I look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles.
Green Technology World Conference Team
CommScope and Axis Communications Form Alliance
CommScope, Inc. (NYSE: CTV), a
global leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks, in
support of the delivery of intelligent building solutions to its customers, has
announced an alliance with Axis Communications, the global leader in the
network video market.
Today, one of the more pervasive
trends in the security industry is convergence, according to Mark Peterson,
senior vice president, Global Marketing, Enterprise, CommScope. "In order
to be more diligent and efficient with security programs, many companies are
merging physical security departments with IT departments," he said.
"In addition, many organizations are planning to add more intelligence to
buildings, where data, building automation and safety and surveillance systems
all converge on a single infrastructure platform. With this alliance, CommScope
and Axis help bring the intelligent building to their customers.
"In order to allow our
customers to deploy a high quality, top performing, and seamless network for
all IP devices, CommScope is combining our strengths in the physical
infrastructure space with the strength of companies that have their own unique
expertise," said Peterson. "In the security space, Axis has the clear
leadership and expertise in IP-based video surveillance. We believe that the
alliance represents a great way to help our customers receive exceptional
intelligent building solutions."
As part of CommScope's Alliance
program, the relationship with Axis Communications should open opportunities
for CommScope to promote the idea of an intelligent building infrastructure to
customers around the world by linking them to an expert in converged
Both CommScope and Alliance plan to
engage in cross-training programs with their sales force. "We believe the
training will assist with the delivery of prompt responses to customers'
needs," said Peterson. "In addition, this alliance may cultivate the
need for more education within the consulting community about convergence -
recognizing the potential benefits from the collaborative designs of
surveillance systems and IT network infrastructures."
"CommScope is helping us
communicate more effectively to our customers the importance and benefits of an
intelligent building network system where all applications, from servers to
video surveillance system, are converged onto one infrastructure
platform," said Fredrik Nilsson, general manager of Axis Communications.
"We are thrilled to have an opportunity to build upon CommScope's
expertise while delivering the latest converged video security solutions to our
customers." http://www.axis.com. http://www.commscope.com
Colleges, Universities Are Improving Emergency Communications Systems
concern over recent high-profile crimes and natural disasters on campus,
colleges and universities are aggressively upgrading their emergency
communications systems, according to the latest survey of members by ACUTA, the
Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education.
In a survey
done at the recent ACUTA annual conference, attended by more than 400 ACUTA
members from institutions all over the U.S. and Canada, 81 percent of those
surveyed either have upgrades in progress or will begin them within the next 12
months. Asked if these upgrades are in response to high-profile events – such
as the shootings at Virginia Tech University earlier this year – 89 percent
said there was a connection.
percent of respondents at the schools planning or implementing upgrades said
their upgrades are in progress, while 20 percent expect the upgrades within a
year, and the remainder are still in the discussion stage.
where most colleges and universities are focusing their attention are in e-mail
and text alerts, voice alerts, alarms and sirens, and emergency annunciator
systems. Other frequently cited areas are video surveillance, 911 and E911
systems, call boxes, electronic signage, and safety personnel.
percent of survey respondents said their school is well prepared or adequately
prepared for a natural disaster – with 29 percent judging themselves poorly
prepared – when it comes to a major crime on campus, that percentage dropped to
57 percent judging themselves well or adequately prepared, with 43 percent
considering themselves poorly prepared.
ACUTA member colleges and universities are responding to the concerns of
students, faculty, staff, and the public by working to improve their emergency
notification and response,” said Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. “As
another school year begins, we all hope that these improvements will help keep
important the various elements of campus emergency notifications are to them,
the ACUTA survey respondents emphasized 911 and E911 systems as most important,
followed by e-mail and text alerts, safety personnel, voice alerts, call boxes,
alarms and sirens, and video surveillance.
asked who has been the primary driver for upgraded emergency notification
systems, 55 percent said their school’s senior administration, while 23 percent
said it was the telecommunications and IT departments driving the changes.
the only national association dedicated to serving the needs of higher
education communications technology professionals, representing some 2,000
individuals at 770 institutions. www.acuta.org
SMP Data Communications Connects with Dubai Palm Project
Communications, a leading developer and manufacturer of high-speed
cross-connect products for communication networks, is pleased to announce the
completion of The Palm Jumeriah’s Shoreline Apartment project in Dubai, UAE in
conjunction with Superior Technologies, SMP’s Dubai representation. The Dubai Palm Project has become famous as
one of the world’s largest land reclamation projects and is fast becoming known
as a celebrated landmark and international attraction for the Middle East.
Jumeriah, known as the eighth wonder of the modern world, is the first phase in
the Palm Trilogy, a solution to Dubai’s shrinking Gulf front real estate. Designed, created and engineered by Nakheel,
Dubai’s premier developer, The Shoreline Apartments is the first multi-dwelling
project on the manufactured island. Nearly
25,000 SMP Category 6 outlet solutions were deployed in the Shoreline project
of 1,242 luxury apartments and 5 clubhouses.
First residents have already moved in and additional phases are
currently being planned.
Superior Technologies supplies SMP connectivity
products to some of the most prestigious developers in Dubai, including Nakheel
and EMAAR properties, and has accomplished completion of more than 350 medium
to large project in and around the Middle East.
“SMP is pleased to be a part of such a prominent international project
and we are proud to be the connectivity choice of Nakheel for this phase. We
look forward to working with Superior Technologies and Nakheel on future
endeavors for The Palm Jumeriah.” Stated Bill Reynolds, V.P and General Manager
of SMP Data Communications
Communications, headquartered in Swannanoa, North Carolina, is internationally
recognized for its role in establishing the world’s data/communications
standards, through its innovative-patented technologies. SMP, founded in 1990,
manufactures and develops copper and fiber passive connectivity hardware
components for use in commercial and residential applications. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of
Preformed Line Products (PLPC) of Cleveland, Ohio. For more information about SMP’s complete
product line visit our website at www.smpdata.com
Componexx Takes Its Cables Very Seriously
cables are custom made by the order. The Componexx factory operates a
state-of-the-art ZUMBACH Extrusion System. This machine is fully computer
controlled and is truly what is needed in today’s High Definition world to
ensure consistency at all points of the extrusion process.
With its Multi-Sensor
Data Acquisition, Control and Display System all the manufacturing phases
are monitored closely. From critically important shielding to protect against
EMI and RFI and Nitrogen Injected dielectrics, jacket extrusion, CV-lines, in
jacketing and coating processes, etc. - ZUMBACH systems result in a
considerable higher quality product overall.
Touch a Componexx cable and feel the consistency and
smoothness of the outer jackets. This helps during installations causing less
snags of the cable. The universal multi-tasking systems (USYS) from ZUMBACH
allow the connection of many in- line sensors for diameter, wall thickness,
eccentricity, capacitance, and spark testing. Nothing is worse than a cable
that doesn’t perform well.
Componexx inspects and test each and every cable to ensure
consistent performance and also the look and feel. Componexx uses high purity
Oxygen Free Copper in each of the three new cable lines and ensures all of its
cables are ROHS (Restriction of certain Hazardous Substances) compliant. All
are environmentally friendly and offers a life-time guarantee on every cable.
Composite, Component, S-Video, Subwoofer, Digital Audio, Toslink Optical, HMDI™,
DVI, MP3/4 Player and adaptors.
Componexx offers a solution to every professional home
theater installers needs. Visit us at Booth 3802, Ballroom Level. www.componexx.com
Robert Kenny Joins General Cable As Vice President And General Manager, Datacom Cables
General Cable announced today that Robert D.
Kenny will join General Cable as Vice President and General Manager, Datacom
Cables. He will have responsibility for
the Company’s premise, fiber optic and central office cable businesses. Kenny will report to Gregory Lampert, Senior,
Vice President and General Manager of Cable and Datacom Products.
is a well recognized technology and commercial leader in the communications
industry, and we look forward to having him accelerate the outstanding progress
we have made in the Datacom business over the past few years,” said Lampert. “He has
driven profitable growth through technology in each of his senior level general
management positions. Bob was also
instrumental in creating several key premise cabling patents.”
Kenny holds a Bachelor of
Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Ohio Northern University.
Over the past 20 years, he has held senior
level management positions in technology, marketing and general management with
Belden and ADC/Krone. Most recently, Bob was
Global Business and Technology Manager for DuPont's Cabling Solutions
CABA’s Intelligent Buildings Roadmap I Now Available To The Public
can purchase this report by entering the CABA
eStore, selecting Purchase
CABA Products and then selecting Reports. The item is listed as CABA
Intelligent Buildings Roadmap.
The CABA Intelligent Buildings Roadmap is a
collaborative industry-funded research project that explores the opportunities
offered by emerging intelligent building technologies.
Roadmap’s primary objective is to identify strategies for developing
intelligent buildings that have the greatest potential to drive broad
acceptance. The report examines the challenges facing intelligent building
implementation within North America and identifies the market developments and
industry initiatives needed to support the wider adoption of these
For more information about the report, please read the Executive Summary,
available at: http://www.caba.org/ibrm/CABA_IB_ExecutiveSummary_web.pdf
and contact Fred Bryson, CABA’s Business Development Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone: 888.798.2222;
Berk-Tek Launches New Line of Micro Data Center Plenum (MDP) Fiber Optic Cables
Designed specifically for data
centers and storage area networks, Berk-Tek delivers best-in-class
micro-cabling technology with new and innovative MDP (patent pending) cable
design, the perfect balance of performance and cable size.
Nexans Company, a leading copper and fiber optic cabling manufacturer,
announces a new fiber optic cable design, Micro Data Center Plenum (MDP),
specifically targeting the data center/storage area network (DC/SAN) market.
The new MDP
cable design incorporates Berk-Tek’s patented dry loose-tube technology in a
smaller O.D. and adapted specifically for the indoor-only DC/SAN and building
backbone environment. The new patent-pending construction provides a 50%
smaller cross sectional area than equivalent fiber count indoor cables. In
DC/SAN applications, the new MDP cables can help prevent cabinet and pathway
congestion, considerably enhancing airflow, and facilitating more efficient
cooling. When compared to traditional
ribbon interconnect, premises distribution, and indoor/outdoor loose tube
cables, this new breed of cables offers improved density, ease of installation,
termination, and sub-unit handling, presenting exceptional value in the DC/SAN
space as well as intra-building backbone infrastructure.
line of MDP cables is available with plenum ratings up to 72 fibers, and allows
for significant cost reduction over traditional indoor cable design options.
These cables are also offered with aluminum or steel interlocking armor, as
well as pre-terminated cable assemblies with multi-fiber MTP/MPO connectors or
single-fiber type connectors such as SC, ST, or LC.
combined with the Ortonics 12 or 24-fiber MPO low-loss cassettes and cable
management systems, a far superior offering to the DC/SAN system designer has
now been made available” states Beni Blell, RCDD, Fiber Optic Product Business
manager at Berk-Tek. “The MDP product
boasts a size and weight that is half that of competing cable designs, and has
made possible specific enhancements to system performance, reliability,
modularity, and flexibility in the NetClear solutions for high-density data
centers and storage area networks.” Blell added.
cables will be available starting in August and are offered in multimode and
single-mode fiber constructions including GIGALiteÔ,
GIGALiteÔ-10, and GIGALiteÔ-10XB, the industry’s highest
performing laser-optimized 50 micron fiber.
First NAED HR & Training Conference Offers Innovative,
Electrical Industry-Specific Talent Solutions, Oct. 8-10
New Conference Offers
Key Recruitment, Professional Development and Management Methods
The National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) announces its first Human
Resources & Training Conference, featuring "Talent Solutions
for Your Company," at the Sheraton Westport Chalet in St. Louis, Oct.
8-10. The new event, established by the NAED Education & Research
Foundation, will help human resources and training professionals throughout the
industry to enhance their existing staff recruitment, development and retention
NAED has invited three nationally renowned experts to keynote the conference's
daily general sessions:
- Clint Swindall, president/CEO of Verbalocity,
Inc., will open with "Generation X in a Baby Boomer World &
Employee Disengagement," on Mon., Oct. 8. The session will
explore the realities and rewards of the multi-generational workforce in
today's business world.
- Richard Hadden, leading management consultant
and syndicated columnist, will follow on Tues., Oct. 9. His presentation, "Contented
Cows Give Better Milk – Your People...Your Profits,", will
examine how employee relations affect a company's bottom line, as outlined
in his popular book, "Contented Cows Give Better Milk."
- Dr. Barbara Carnes, business trainer, speaker and
writer, will conclude on Oct. 10 with "Making Training
Stick," based on her book by the same title. Carnes is also
facilitating two educational workshops at the conference: "How's it
Working for You: Evaluating Your Training Success" and
"Calculating Your Training ROI."
In addition, participants will have the
opportunity to collaborate on topics specific to human resources and training
in the distribution channel through a series of roundtables. These sessions
will highlight current best practices in recruitment, retention, motivation,
training diverse groups, and other areas.
Conference attendees will also benefit from the inside industry knowledge of Dr.
Susan Levering, who has served the channel as a HR specialist for 18 years.
Levering is leading two sessions: "Strategic Partnering: the Role of the
Electrical Distribution Professional" and "Training: What's in it for
Preformed Line Products Announces Financial Results For The Second Quarter & First Six Months Of 2007
Line Products Company (Nasdaq: PLPC - News)
today reported financial results for the second quarter and the first six
months of 2007.
Net income for the
quarter ended June 30, 2007 increased 7% to $3,816,000, or $.70 per diluted
share, compared to $3,551,000, or $.62 per diluted share, for the comparable
period in 2006. Net sales in the second quarter 2007 were $63,753,000, an
increase of 14% from last year's $56,098,000.
Net income for the six
months ended June 30, 2007 increased 25% to $7,534,000, or $1.39 per diluted
share, compared to the prior year's $6,050,000, or $1.05 per diluted share. Net
sales increased 11% to $120,284,000 for the first six months of 2007 compared
to $108,733,000 in 2006.
Rob Ruhlman, Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer, said, "Currency favorably impacted sales by
$3.2 million for the year and $2.2 million for the quarter, but had little
impact on net income. The improvement in sales was driven by a strong domestic
energy market. The increased volume enabled us to leverage our manufacturing
expenses and improve profitability despite continued rising material
The Company is delaying
the filing of its Form 10-Q with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the
second quarter of 2007 until it completes a new assessment of its reportable
segments. It's possible that the number of the Company's reportable segments
may increase. This increase would be shown in the Company's second quarter Form
10-Q. If the number of segments increases, the Company will file an amendment
to the Company's first quarter Form 10-Q to include the additional reportable
segments. Any conclusion regarding the Company's reportable segments and
related disclosure will have no impact on the consolidated balance sheets or on
the statements of consolidated income and cash flow.
Founded in 1947,
Preformed Line Products is an international designer and manufacturer of
products and systems employed in the construction and maintenance of overhead
and underground networks for energy, communications and broadband network
headquarters are in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Company operates four domestic
manufacturing centers located in Rogers, Arkansas, Albuquerque, New Mexico,
Albemarle, North Carolina, and Asheville, North Carolina. The Company serves
its worldwide market through international operations in Australia, Brazil,
Canada, China, England, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and Thailand.
This news release
contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section
27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange
Act of 1934 regarding the Company, including those statements regarding the
Company's and management's beliefs and expectations concerning the Company's
future performance or anticipated financial results, among others. Except for
historical information, the matters discussed in this release are
forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties which may cause
results to differ materially from those set forth in those statements. Among
other things, factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from
those expressed in such forward-looking statements include the strength of the
economy and demand for the Company's products, increases in raw material
prices, the Company's ability to identify, complete and integrate acquisitions
for profitable growth, and other factors described under the heading
"Forward-Looking Statements" in the Company's Form 10-K filed with
the SEC on March 15, 2007. The Form 10-K and the Company's other filings with
the SEC can be found on the SEC's website at http://www.sec.gov.
The Company assumes no obligation to update or supplement forward-looking
statements that become untrue because of subsequent events.
Lonmark International Supports CABA's Building Intelligence Quotient
Continental Automated Buildings Association is pleased to announce that LonMark
International has become the first supporting organization for CABA's online
Building Intelligence Quotient (BiQ) tool.
BiQ is a ranking tool, available at www.caba.org/biq, which addresses the
technology and automation components of a building. It is accessible to
building owners, operators, managers and designers. The tool and its enhanced
verification, training and award programs are designed to increase the market
penetrability of intelligent building technologies and provide guidance to
an official supporter, LonMark International will actively promote and
encourage the use of the BiQ tool amongst the industry in general and its
membership in particular. LonMark International is a non-profit trade
association that advances the business of efficient and effective
integration of open, multi-vendor control systems, including those focused on
building automation, utilizing ANSI/CEA 709.1 and related standards.
"Interest has been expressed in the concept of a building
ranking system that evaluates and measures the intrinsic value of intelligent
building performance," states Ron Bernstein, Executive Director of LonMark
International. "We are proponents of this concept since we see it as
broadening the range of specialized services and advice, specifically tailored
to those interested in offering seamlessly connected building infrastructure."
International expects the ranking system to provide its membership with an
objective means to evaluate and measure building performance and provide a
design guide for the integration of building intelligence in new building
projects and retrofits. LonMark International members will also benefit from an
is proud that LonMark International is supporting the BiQ tool," states
Ronald J. Zimmer, CABA President & CEO. "We feel that the advanced
methodology we employ to rank building intelligence will result in higher
building value, improved comfort, security, flexibility and reliability while
reducing costs and increasing productivity. This can only benefit LonMark
International members by expanding the market for their products and services."
LonMark International members include manufacturers, integrators
and users of control systems in a variety of industries, including building
automation, security, lighting, home/white goods, elevators, mass transit,
semiconductor manufacturing equipment, consumer appliances, sun blinds, energy
metering, construction, commercial real estate, and industrial automation.
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
Since its inception in 1994, LonMark International has
become a driving force in the establishment of interoperable guidelines for
building, industrial, transportation and residential/utility automation.
LonMark International is committed to educating the market on the value of
open, interoperable systems and providing tools, resources, and support for its
members. With over 500 members, LonMark affiliates span the globe with local
presence in the Americas, Asia, and Europe. LonMark membership is open to any
manufacturer, distributor, engineer, system integrator, or end-user interested
in the development, specification, and use of open, interoperable products
utilizing ANSI/CEA 709.1 and related standards.
Products that have been verified to conform to the
LonMark interoperability guidelines are eligible to carry the LonMark logo.
More information can be found at www.lonmark.org.
SMP Custom Design Group Has New Web Page
Custom Design Group (CDG) is pleased to announce the completion of its new
webpage located at www.smpdata.com/smp/CDG . This
new location details the capabilities of the CDG by specific areas of
expertise. Within these pages, you will find design and manufacturing
capabilities for Copper Connectivity, Sheet Metal, Plastics, PCBs, Cable
Assemblies and Fiber Optics.
new Custom Design Group will be a highlight for SMP at BICSI in Las Vegas this
month. "This new initiative has already become the default resource
for manufacturers needing to get products to market faster and more
efficiently. Known as the industry gathering place, BICSI provides the
perfect forum for identifying the product and partnership opportunities that
are the centerpiece for CDG." - Bill Reynolds, V.P. and General
Manager of SMP Data Communications
schedule a meeting with a Custom Design Group Representative, please contact
Brad Everette at 800-880-7674 x123 or e-mail your request to email@example.com.
look forward to seeing you in Vegas! Booth # 406
Para Systems Expands its Product Line
Unique Demonstration Rack with “Busy Box”
shown at BICSI
Systems, Inc., a leader in power technology with its line of Minuteman®
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems, will exhibit several new lines of
products at BICSI in Las Vegas, September 10-13 at the MGM Grand Hotel. Para
Systems/Minuteman UPS will be in Booth 504, near the main entry to the BICSI
Visitors to Para Systems’ Minuteman
booth will be able to see an active demonstration of a number of Minuteman UPS,
power distribution, KVM , power management and software products under a
variety of power conditions all installed in a rack.
The product introductions include:
A line of 10 Minuteman Surge Suppressors
The Minuteman surge suppressors can
be categorized into four classifications. Below is a breakdown by
Rotating receptacles - To alleviate the issue of plugging a number of multiple transformers
“blocks” into a power strip without covering other outlets, four of the new
Minuteman surge suppressors have rotating outlets which allow a user to rotate
the outlet 90 degrees to the left or right to accommodate additional
12-Outlet/8-rotating outlet surge suppressor with coax and
phone line protection [MMS7120RCT]
safety” surge suppressors -
avoid shock from accidental contact with electrical power. Two of the new products feature outlets that
require the sliding of a safety cover before a plug can be inserted into the surge
suppressor. This reduces the possibility
of a child inserting an object into an outlet, resulting in harm to the
individual. These surge suppressors are ideal for schools, child care
facilities and homes with small children.
One of the units (model MMS370T) also has a connection to provide
protection to a telephone line. The units are:
7-Outlet surge suppressor with “child safety” covers
7-Outlet surge suppressor with “child safety” covers and
phone line protection [MMS370T]
Ruggedized surge suppressors - ideal for harsh
Ruggedized 7-outlet surge suppressor [MMS570]
Single outlet wall tap surge suppressor [MMS110]
3-Outlet wall tap surge suppressor with coax protection
6-Outlet surge suppressor “twin pack”[MMS362P]
Entrust™ Line Interactive UPS Systems are designed to
support desktop/laptop workstations, small business phone systems, VoIP
handsets, DVRs, cameras and network devices.
Cost-conscious users can now get the full
features of larger, more expensive uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) with
the compact, feature rich, Minuteman Entrust™ 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:
UPS rated at 500 VA/300Watts – 8 Amps
UPS rated at 700 VA/420Watts – 10 Amps
UPS rated at 1000 VA/600Watts – 12 Amps
UPS rated at 1500 VA/900Watts – 12 Amps
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.
EnterprisePlus™ Line Interactive UPS Systems – a rackmount line of interactive
UPS available in 750VA – to 3000VA (Both 120V and 208V models available)
The Minuteman EnterprisePlus™ Series UPS
is an exciting new UPS line that provides users all the features, usually
available in higher-priced UPS products, to protect valuable equipment,
offering voltage regulation, spike and surge protection and battery backup.
Ideal for small and medium sized
business, voice over the Internet (VoIP), telephone switches as well as
enterprise networks and servers, the EnterprisePlus™ Line Interactive UPS
systems expands and improves on the foundation of the earlier Enterprise UPS
The EnterprisePlus Line Interactive
UPS series has five 120VAC models and two 208VAC models:
UPS rated at 750 VA/600Watts – 120VAC – 6 UPS outlets
UPS rated at 1000 VA/800Watts - 120VAC– 6 UPS outlets
UPS rated at 1500 VA/1200Watts – both 120VAC and 208VAC– 6 UPS outlets
UPS rated at 2000 VA/1760Watts - 120VAC– 7 UPS outlets
UPS rated at 3000 VA/2560Watts - both 120VAC and 208VAC– 7 UPS outlets
The Minuteman® EnterprisePlus™ line
interactive uninterruptible power supply (UPS) combines line interactive
technology with industry-leading features in a versatile case design that
allows the units to be installed in many different formats and environments. It
occupies on 2U in a traditional 17-inch rack.
For over 25 years,
Para Systems, Inc. has provided quality power products with 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.
Major Features of
the new surge suppressors include:
1449 certified -
mountable – all of the new surge suppressors are wall mountable, thus
Line Protection – Several of the new surge suppressors provide protection for
coax, phone lines, fax lines and modem lines.
RoHS Compliant – Recognizing the need to promote
environmental responsibility, Minuteman surge suppression products are
manufactured in accordance with RoHS guidelines.
Support - Para Systems includes full end-user support that includes toll-free
technical service from our headquarters in Carrollton, Texas.
The UPS is covered by three-year parts and labor warranty and a $50,000
Minuteman Platinum Protection Plan® for connected equipment (U.S.A.
and Canada only). The battery is covered by a two-year warranty.
Low costs and unique
features makes the Minuteman® surge suppressors a value leader in
the UPS industry, with end-user pricing between $7.00 and $60.00. The Minuteman®
surge suppressors are in stock and ready for immediate delivery.
[Photos of the new
surge suppressors are available at our website: www.minutemanups.com/media
or contact Bob Martin at 972.446.7363 ext. 240 or firstname.lastname@example.org]
Para Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of power technologies including
the Minuteman® Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) for
mission-critical equipment protection such as computers, telecommunications
systems, security systems and internet devices.
Minuteman® UPS products range from 325VA standby units to
true sine wave, line interactive, and on-line models rated up to 10kVA.
Para Systems provides SentryPlus™ remote power and network management
controller software for all popular operating systems including Microsoft®
Windows®, Novell, Unix, and Linux. Para Systems also sells power
distribution units (PDU), power management software, keyboard-video-mouse (KVM)
systems and surge suppressors.
Additional corporate and product information is available at the
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UPS and Minuteman Platinum Protection Plan are registered trademarks and
EnSpire and SentryPlus are trademarks of Para Systems, Inc. Other trademarks
are registered by their respective companies.
NJATC 18th Annual National Training Institute Focuses On Future Of Electrical Industry
National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) for the Electrical
Industry opened its annual National Training Institute (NTI) on August 2, 2007,
in Knoxville TN. A joint partnership
between the NJATC, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW),
the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the University of
Tennessee, the NTI provides instructor training for the more than 4,000 men and
women teaching in 285 training centers throughout North America.
during the week-long NTI focus on advancing the knowledge of the instructional
staff that trains both apprentice and journey-level electrical workers at the
various NJATC centers. Currently, the
NJATC has more than 41,000 apprentices in the United States and Canada who are
preparing to become journey-level workers.
Gerald Cheek, Director of Professional Education for the NTI, “The Institute provides instructors not only
with theoretical training on how adults learn but the practical classroom
skills they need to plan, develop, present and evaluate training
effectiveness.” Faculty from more than
45 universities across the United States conduct NTI professional education
courses that cover a broad range of topics, from lesson plan development to the
use of multimedia tools in classroom presentations.
addition, the NTI provides instructors with up-to-the-minute technical training
on a variety of subjects critical to the electrical industry. This year’s NTI encompassed more than 30
courses covering such topics as Fiber Optic Cable Installation, AutoCad, Fire
Alarm Systems, Installing Grid-Connected Photovoltaic Systems
addition, the NTI features a Trade Show with more than 100 NJATC training
partners showcasing the latest products and services for the electrical
industry. Among the leading companies
participating in this year’s show were Klein Tools, Cooper Bussmann,
Underwriters Laboratories, Salisbury, Ideal Industries, Fluke and Westex.
ABOUT IBEW, NECA and NJATC
Through their joint marketing organization – the
National Labor-Management Cooperation Committee (NLMCC) of the organized
electrical construction industry – NECA and IBEW together work to:
- Reach customers with accurate information about the industry; and
- Achieve better internal communication between labor and management
With 725,000 members who work in a wide variety of
fields – including construction, utilities, telecommunications and
manufacturing – the International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is among the largest member unions in the
AFL-CIO. The IBEW was founded in 1891. For more information, visit
Voice of the $100 billion industry responsible for
bringing lighting, power and communications to buildings and communities across
the United States, the National Electrical Contractors Association was founded
in 1901. NECA’s national office and 119
local chapters advance the industry through advocacy, education, research and
standards development. For more information, visit www.necanet.org.
The mission of the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee
(NJATC) is to develop and standardize training to educate the members of the
IBEW and NECA, ensuring and providing the electrical construction industry with
the most highly trained and highly skilled workforce possible. For more information, visit www.njatc.org.
Graybar Continues To Improve Profitability In First Half of 2007 With Increased Supply Chain & Enterprise Efficiencies
Graybar, one of the nation’s
leading distributors of electrical and communications products and related
supply chain management and logistics services, reported $2.56 billion net
sales in the first six months of 2007, an increase of 5.1 percent over the same
period in 2006.
Net sales improved along with
moderate growth in the electrical and communications/data markets. In
comparison to the first half of 2006, income from operations grew 25.5 percent
and net income rose 37.4 percent during the first six months of 2007 to $76.4
million and $39.7 million, respectively.
“Our efforts to work more
efficiently are producing positive results, and we continue to leverage our
investment in technology,” said Robert A. Reynolds Jr., chairman, president and
chief executive officer of Graybar. “Our employee-owners continue to find more
ways to use our Enterprise Resource Planning system to deliver more advantages
to our customers.”
Reynolds said Graybar’s
commitment to organic growth, continuous improvement and the advanced use of
technology will help the company build on its success through the rest of 2007.
Wind Power Sailing Toward Another Record Year
help from the federal
renewable energy tax credit, as well as state regulations favoring the
industry, wind power continues to set new records for installed capacity.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), 2007 could be the
industry’s biggest year so far in terms of new installations. Last year, new
wind farms accounted for nearly 2,500 megawatts (MW) of new generating
capacity, bringing the nation’s installed capacity to more than 11,603 MW and
making the industry the second largest source of new power generation in the
country behind only natural gas.
124 MW of new wind power was commissioned in the first quarter of this year,
the AWEA reports more than 4,500 MW of wind power projects are in the process
of being built for completion this year and early next year.
group attributes much of the steady growth to the extension of the federal
renewable energy production tax credit, which has provided the financial
incentive for new development on a consistent basis for several years.
Renewable portfolio standards and other state regulations also have contributed
to the favorable climate for wind power.
the AWEA, a number of states have major projects in the works. Texas, the
nation’s wind power leader, currently has 4,000 MW of capacity under
construction. Nearby, Colorado and Oklahoma are projected to add as much as
1,000 MW and 215 MW of capacity, respectively, by the end of the year.
In the Midwest,
Minnesota is adding 400 MW of capacity, and more than 300 MW is being built in
nearby Iowa. Illinois currently has several projects under construction
totaling more than 400 MW of capacity.
Northwest, Oregon, Washington and Montana all have projects being developed.
Oregon and Washington each could have more than 300 MW of new capacity online
when their projects are completed.
Another 300 MW
of new wind power capacity could come online at the end of the year on the East
Coast. New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each have projects underway
ranging in size from 20 MW to 164 MW of capacity. EC
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
Care And Feeding Of Fiber Optics
Here is one word of advice I offer
to anyone asking about maintenance of fiber optic networks: DON’T! Some people have suggested fiber optic
networks need periodic inspection of connectors, mating adapters and even
testing or taking optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) traces. That advice
is misguided. It could hurt the network or cause you to be sued by an irate
owner whose network you bring down or cable plant you damage.
Do you think the telcos
have crews out checking fiber networks to see if the connectors and splices are
OK? How about the military on tactical systems in Iraq? Is there a Captain Nemo
aboard the Nautilus checking submarine cables? Of course not.
systems are designed to be installed and never touched unless something damages
them—e.g., the infamous “backhoe fade” of buried outside plant cables.
the early days of fiber optics, some network owners tried building automatic
monitoring systems to keep tabs on the loss of the cable plant. That idea faded
when fiber proved to be more reliable than copper cabling and the network
communications manufacturers built into their equipment monitors for data
transmission, a better indicator of problems.
Let me give you some
reasons why you do not want to try to perform maintenance on any fiber optic
Most inspection procedures require bringing the
network down, unacceptable in almost every instance. Telcos have backup links
running alongside operational links, and the equipment will switch over to the
backup if it senses high errors on the main link. Do you know any premises
networks set up like that? Want to bring down a gigabit LAN backbone fast?
Unplug a fiber optic connector to inspect it with a microscope. See how long
it takes the network manager to find you.
Most harm to installed
fiber optic systems (and copper also) is done by unskilled or clumsy personnel
during handling. I heard of one network that crashed when a company executive
disconnected a fiber connector to show it to a visitor being escorted around
the facility. I know of workers accidentally backing into patch panels and
breaking cables at the junction to the connector. I have seen connectors
dropped on the floor, breaking the ceramic ferrule. I have helped troubleshoot
broken fibers in splice closures caused during repairs of other fibers.
is easy to get dirt into mating adapters or on connectors whenever they are
exposed to the air. Fiber technicians are taught to keep connections clean
after termination, cover connector ferrules and mating adapters with dust caps
and clean the ferrule end whenever it is opened to the air. If dirt is such a
big problem (and airborne dirt is the size of the core of single-mode fiber),
why risk contaminating operating connectors by exposing them to the air to see
if they are dirty?
and unmating may wear the connector interfaces, affecting optical performance.
Ferrule end faces rubbing against the mating connector and the outside of the
ferrule scraping materials off the alignment sleeve in the mating
adapter—especially with adapters using cheap plastic alignment bushings, which
are good for only a few mating cycles—can cause higher loss.
operating at gigabit and higher speeds generally use 850 nm VCSELs, which are
relatively high-power lasers at a wavelength near the high end of human eye
sensitivity, still visible to some people. Using a high-power microscope, such
as a 400×, concentrates the light into the eye, increasing the risk of eye
damage, especially if you are not able to see this wavelength. If a link being
inspected is “hot,” the consequences could be bad. Anyway, a 400× microscope is
overkill—it’s the maximum magnification you would use to inspect single-mode
connectors during termination; 100–200× generally is considered the maximum for
fiber link loss may be different when a link is reassembled after inspection,
especially with connectors that have spring-loaded ferrules like STs.
Inspecting a connection could lead to higher loss than initially measured and
potentially affect data transfer on systems such as gigabit Ethernet and 10G
Ethernet where loss margins are very low.
for testing with an OTDR for maintenance inspection, well, some telcos do that
automatically on spare fibers in outside plant cables that run tens or hundreds
of kilometers through desolate regions. An OTDR is inappropriate for most
premises systems under any circumstances (as I have discussed in several
columns this year) and often causes more problems than it solves.
if you have a problem with dust in a telecom closet, room or data center, you
have a poorly designed facility that should be fixed with proper sealing,
filtration and air conditioning. You should not try to fix it with a feather
more time: What periodic maintenance should be done on fiber optic networks?
All together now: NONE! EC
HAYES is a VDV writer and trainer and the
president of The Fiber Optic Association. Find him at www.jimhayes.com.
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
Design/Build Teamwork Sharpens Winning Edge
As Today’s growing project-delivery method,
much is said about design/build’s inherent advantages. However, its success
rests on the shoulders of a winning team. While it is the coach’s
responsibility to recruit and manage the team, members have to roll up their
sleeves, play their position and perform to a certain set of expectations.
Nobody builds a bridge alone.
“If teamwork is so important on Sunday afternoon, why isn’t it important
on Monday morning? It’s every bit as important on the job site as it is on the
football field,” said Lee Evey, president of the Design-Build Institute of
America and self-professed football fan.
contractors are suiting up to join design/build teams in large numbers.
According 2006 Electrical Contractor
Design/Build Survey, about eight in 10 electrical contracting firms worked on a
design/build or design/assist basis. On average, design/build work accounts for
82 percent of revenue for electrical contractors who work primarily on a
design/build basis, and it comprises 43 percent of an electrical contractor’s
becoming a very important aspect of design/build work, and the list of benefits
of developing a focused team approach is long and growing:
■ Improved quality
■ Upfront design input
■ Cost and time savings
■ Better risk management
■ Pooling of resources and
■ Larger projects and expanded
■ Opportunities for better
coordination and communication
■ Potential for reduced administrative
burden during construction and claims reduction
While there are a variety of ways electrical
contractors become involved with a design/build project, the most likely
scenario is contracting power, communications or control services with a
general contractor who acts as the design/builder or “coach” of the project.
According to Jim Whitaker, vice president and
architect at New Jersey-based Skanska USA Building Inc., general contractors
are increasingly interested in teamed arrangements for a number of reasons,
especially with design/build projects.
“First, the parties absolutely must have a mutual
understanding of business philosophies and practices, which on some level,
could be considered more important to a successful relationship than the project-specific
performance requirements. Two, a collaborative relationship helps the parties
reasonably attribute risk to the party best apt to properly manage it, such as
scope of work, insurance, bonding and design requirements,” Whitaker said. Third, teams
have a commonality and combined strength of purpose when they all focus on the
“The team and project function better. Also,
individuals and firms who have teamed before are immediately more effective
than those that are new to one another,” he said.
In most cases, the desire to participate in a team goes both ways, said
Dr. Thomas E. Glavinich, Electrical Contractor contributing
editor and electrical engineer who teaches power engineering and construction
management at the University of Kansas.
“Contractors are becoming more aware of the need for a team on a
design/build project, and the team and how it is structured is becoming an
increasingly important consideration for specialty contractors,” Glavinich
Compared to the traditional design/bid/build
processes, there are a few more people involved. Generally, the players taking
a seat at the table include architects, consultants, engineers, information
technology representatives, electrical contractors and mechanical contractors.
Even if the roster doesn’t seem much different from other methods, what has
changed are the expectations.
Like other design/build or design/assist subcontractors, electrical
contractors are not only expected to add value to the overall project and
contribute any expertise that will make the team structure flatter and faster,
but there is more focus on delivering greater impact much earlier in the
“The electrical contractor should be engaged and consulting with the
design/build team and design engineer-of-record, in particular, for every
decision, starting with the primary service and connection to the public
utility through what devices to use as switches and outlets,” Whitaker said.
“The electrical contractor must provide constructability commentary in concert
with other trades, design recommendations based upon experience, product
availability, engineer’s criteria and immediate marketplace pricing for
materials and labor.”
According to Dave Hearn, president of Baker Electric, Des Moines, Iowa,
the convergence of a design/build culture with the advent of design software
has expanded the opportunity for design input from electrical contractors.
Typically, Hearn’s internal team interfaces most closely with architects and
mechanical contractors, but he has identified a collaborative design trend that
is gaining popularity and is having a dynamic impact on electrical contractors.
The collaborative design process begins with the
owner, architect, consultant and engineering firm, creating a concept with a
general narrative. The concept is then provided to the general contractor to
finish the design and complete construction. Unlike earlier design/build
processes, a collaborative design allows consultants and engineering firms to step
back into the equation.
“The difference is you have both entities involved because of their
ability to do a conceptual engineering thought. This gives the owner a greater
comfort level on the front end to at least get the roots and trunk under their
auspices before turning it over to contractors to facilitate the remaining
designs and construction. It allows the job to progress faster as well,” Hearn
Although electrical contractors play a much more
integral role in the design process, some experts point out the need for
cautious participation with agreements depending upon capabilities.
William Ferguson Jr., a partner in the law firm of McCarter &
English LLP and instructor of the “Design Build: Strategies, Risks, and
Rewards” course for the NECA Management Education Institute, noted that under
the traditional design/bid/build approach, there is an increasing trend of
owners and design professionals to attempt to shift design responsibility to
the electrical contractor.
Ferguson said risk-shifting provisions found
in various contracts have resulted in an effort to transfer design
responsibility to the general contractor or subcontractor.
Teaming makes a measurable difference in a project’s level of success;
however, it is important to remember a team is only as strong as its members.
Understanding relationships, specifically how personality types differ between
architects and contractors over the years, gives insight into the teaming now
required on projects, said Benjamin Wilking, AIA, vice president and director
of design/build for Lantz-Boggio Architects Corporate Services, Englewood,
Those relationships have not always been the best, said Wilking, but
understanding personalities and processes involved can make a difference.
Building a relationship takes time, but once established, a level of trust
evolves that can create confidence.
“Teaming and subsequent interdependency is the one feature of
design/build that sets it apart from any other delivery method. For example, teaming
means the architect understands the contractor’s desire to be profitable, and
the contractor understands the architect’s desire to maintain the highest level
of design on each project,” Wilking said.
Team communication is further enhanced in the design/build process
through e-mail, electronic design sharing and regular meetings that bring
everyone, including key field personnel, together in one room to discuss design
“Once the design is off and running, the project manager takes over. In
a lot of cases, that’s the same person for us, so there’s a certain continuity
on the team from beginning to the end,” Hearn said.
Teaming, however, is like any relationship. There always is a chance
that personalities could conflict or something else could go wrong.
“When you’re selected to perform this service, it’s an honor, so
everybody comes into the team with their shiniest shoes and their best
personality. Everybody tries to get along and impress the customer, because we
all want future work. In the end, if you burn too many bridges, you run out of
ways to get across the river,” Hearn said. EC
McClung, owner of Woodland Communications, is a
construction writer from Iowa. She can be reached at email@example.com.
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
Gaining Respect with Specs: Specifying gives ECs both responsibility and risk
No one understands products, brands and manufacturers better Than the professionals responsible for
installing products on the job site. As electrical contractors, your
experience—and the experience of your trusted electricians and cable
technicians—tells you which products, brands and manufacturers deliver and
which ones fall short.
In years past, you had to deal with whatever was specified by someone up
the food chain, even if you knew the product was junk. Today, your opinion
about products, once an afterthought when something went wrong, is valued like
As an electrical contractor, when you work in a design/build or
design/assist capacity, the general contractors (GCs), owners, engineers and
architects who hire you increasingly trust you to specify the products and
brands you will ultimately install. The notion of the electrical contractor
being nothing more than an “installer” is antiquated and quickly fading from
the construction psyche with each successful project.
A nationwide trend reinforces that change in mindset. Increasingly,
electrical contractors carry more weight when it comes to deciding brands and
manufacturers. Perhaps that is because GCs and owners have been burdened with
callbacks and change orders in the past. Perhaps it is a way to shift
responsibility to the people closest to the installation.
Owners and GCs are handing off specs in design/build partnerships with
electrical contractors, in part, because the liability lies with you. In a
design/build contract, the electrical contractor takes on more liability if something
goes wrong. Therefore, you should not be asked to install inferior products and
still shoulder that burden. Increasingly, you might have more responsibility
when it comes to specifying products, but that responsibility comes with a
risk. You must specify products from brands and manufacturers on which you can
stake your reputation.
Recent design/build and design/assist research points
to an increased role of electrical contractors in the specification of products
and brands. According to a 2005 survey conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based
Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA), design/build work in nonresidential
design and construction in the United States is racing toward a monumental
collision in 2010. The institute’s research indicates traditional
design/bid/build work will account for 45 percent of projects while
design/build will account for an equal percentage, marking the first time the
two construction methods will be on equal footing. The remaining 10 percent
will be done in a construction management method.
When you look at historical data beginning in 1985,
it is easy to see the significance of 2010. In 1985, about 80 percent of all
construction was conducted on a design/bid/build basis. The budding
design/build contract method accounted for a mere 5 percent at the time. Ten
years later, the gap had closed, with 65 percent of the work done the
traditional way and design/build work accounting for 25 percent.
The DBIA’s projections indicate that 50 percent of
nonresidential design and construction in the United States will be done on a
design/build basis by 2015. Juxtaposed with that trend, design/bid/build work,
which stood at 50 percent of the market in 2005, will shrink to 40 percent in
market share. In other words, the two types of construction methods will have
effectively switched places—with design/build taking over the majority of jobs.
If this trend continues—and there is no indication
that it will not—by 2020, it will be a 60-30 split with design/build dominating
market share. This is the direct opposite of the market-share breakdown circa
1997. Crystal balls aside, we clearly can follow the trend and see more
design/build work for electrical contractors moving forward. One of the leading
fuels for this design/build trend is profitability.
According to ZweigWhite’s 2004 Design/Build Survey of
Design & Construction Firms, 70 percent of firms surveyed believe
design/build projects are more profitable than traditional projects. That
profitability factored into 80 percent of the respondents predicting an
increase in design/build construction over the next five years. Simply put,
higher margins through design/build feed the bottom line better than
traditional design/bid/build work.
According to recent original research conducted by
Renaissance Research & Consulting for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine, 43
percent of electrical contractors’ revenue came under either a design/build or
design/assist banner. The vast majority came from design/build work rather than
The overall trend that shows an upturn in
design/build activity also lends credence to electrical contractors’ expanding
their role as specifier. Your reputation and qualifications to work in a
design/build capacity are critical in an owner’s selection process. Your
design/build success, therefore, will land you more design/build jobs. Your
ability to specify the right products that deliver the desired result can make
the difference between success and litigation. Through ELECTRICAL
CONTRACTOR surveys, we are able to drill down into this trend to
determine how much influence ECs have on specifications.
Completeness of plans and specs
In 2006, this magazine commissioned research to explore the evolving role
in design/build and design/assist projects among electrical contractors. The
results speak volumes. For each of the building types—single family,
multifamily and commercial/industrial and institutional (CII)—ECs who work on a
design/build or design/assist basis are significantly more likely to say the
plans and specs they now receive are less complete compared with what they
received five years ago. This information confirms the integral role ECs who
provide design services play in today’s construction projects.
In comparison, electrical contractors who do not
provide design services are more likely to say plans and specs for
single-family and for CII projects have not changed in the past five years.
Note that neither group is significantly different from the other on plans and
specs that are more complete.
More than 20 percent of electrical contractors who
work on residential projects say the plans and specs they receive are less
complete than what they received five years ago. More than half say there is no
difference, and 20 percent say the plans and specs are more complete. Among
those who work in this area, 30 percent say CII plans and specs are less
complete than they were five years ago, while 40 percent say they are no
different. Less than 20 percent say those CII plans are more complete.
On average, a single brand is specified only 20
percent of the time. In all other cases, other factors come into play. It is
also worth noting that a single brand specification is far more common among
firms with fewer than 10 employees than among larger firms.
Electrical contractors increasingly have discretion
when it comes to specifying brands. Survey respondents said they are able to
make brand substitutions about 70 percent of the time, which translates into
GCs and owners trusting their electrical contractor partners to make the right
decision on substitutions. Seventy percent is a very substantial number when
you look back in time to when design/build was such a small part of the overall
manufacturer when configuring
on or designing systems where a multiple, equal to, or performance
specification is indicated, how often do electrical contractors try to stay
within a single brand or single manufacturer? The 2006 Profile of the
Electrical Contractor survey asked that question. Regardless of company size,
45 percent of the respondents said it depends on the situation.
The remaining 55 percent differs by company size;
smaller firms are significantly more likely than their larger counterparts to
try to stay within a single brand. Companies with 10 or more employees are more
likely to say they try to stay within a single manufacturer.
Original selection and substitution
Availability and price are the top reasons for “original” brand selection,
according to the research. Seventy percent of electrical contractors selected
each of those two categories as either their first, second or third reason for
initially selecting a brand. Ease of installation, prior experience, durability
and manufacturer reputation form a second tier of reasoning (each was chosen by
40 percent or more as a top reason for initial brand selection).
Availability and price also are the top reasons for
brand substitution. However, in this case, availability eclipses price.
Availability and price are more important as reasons for substituting a brand
than for its initial specification. Conversely, ease of installation, prior
experience, and durability and manufacturer reputation assume higher
importance. Time considerations play less of a role in the original brand
selection than they do in substitution, for obvious reasons. Specific features
assume more importance when making a substitution than in the original
These findings underscore the significance that
product, brand and manufacturer play among electrical contractors in the
design/build arena. ECs are very loyal to the products, brands and
manufacturers that have served them over the years in their businesses. If a
manufacturer delivers a product that contractors have grown to use and trust,
that brand and manufacturer likely will get the nod the next time the
contractor has to make a decision.
What also is clear in all this data is that
electrical contractors are more critical to overall design/build success than
ever before. With design/build work becoming a majority of the overall market
in the foreseeable future, electrical contractors will be counted on to specify
the right products and, therefore, make design/build projects move more
smoothly to completion. It is both a challenge and an opportunity. Are you
ready to capitalize on it? EC
KELLY, former editor of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, is a
Baltimore-based freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
Growing Green By Giant Leaps
In an attempt to make
amends with the environment, the U.S. government may be attempting too much of
before the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s legislative houses would mandate a
1,250 percent increase over the next 15 years in the solar requirements to be
provided by electric utilities. The price tag for this additional requirement
for power distribution companies could conservatively increase generation costs
by $172 million and as much as $426 million.
A study by the Energy Association of
Pennsylvania found using the current price for solar in New Jersey, which is 22
cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), would increase generation rates by an additional
$172 million. And, using the figure often used by solar advocates of 50 cents
per kWh, the solar generation legislative mandate could yield increased
electric consumer rates of up to $426 million over the next 15 years.
“While we laud
the legislature and governor for looking at greener energy solutions,
unfortunately, right now, their efforts are very costly to today’s rate
payers,” said Michael Love, president of the Energy Association of
Pennsylvania, a trade group representing the Commonwealth’s PUC-regulated
The cost of solar energy and other
renewable energies is known to be high. While the benefits are long term, the
concern is this may be too dramatic of an upfront cost. According to Love, Senate
Bill 715 and House Bill 1203 would increase electric rates without helping
create a market for solar power to thrive. In
addition, a Carnegie Mellon study released in the spring of 2007 concluded that
solar energy has costs five to 10 times higher than costs of other low-carbon
technologies, such as wind.
Love proposed a
solution: “If our government wishes to increase the solar energy generation
resources, then the government must commit to greater utilization of solar in
its own facilities to help grow this emerging technology.”
So far, we have seen some of that solution, such as the Senate’s
intended greening of the Capitol building. EC
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
In The Drivers Seat; Residential Automation Is profitable For Electrical Contractors
By Russ Munyan
Electrical contractors at
the forefront of their industry understand the need to keep abreast of new trends
and technologies. Research demonstrates there are profitable opportunities for
contractors who offer electrical services that builders and project owners
need, but that are outside the realm of traditional work.
residential automation. The 2006 Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) State
of the Builder Technology Market Survey reports that, in 2006, homebuilders
significantly increased their offerings in the areas of home automation,
automated lighting controls and energy management, all of which can be provided
by either electrical contractors or specialty contractors. Despite a sharp
reduction in new housing starts in 2006 (down 14 percent from 2005), overall
adoption of installed home technology continued to increase, with more builders
offering more home technologies (such as residential automation) than ever
the National Association of Home Builders projects the new housing market to
decrease another 11 percent in 2007, growth is predicted to continue in the
consumer electronics industry in 2007 by 6.5 percent. Discerning electrical
contractors may determine this is a place to reclaim revenue lost in the soft
building market. Builders may be building fewer houses, but technologies like
residential automation can allow ECs on the cutting edge to make more money on
each project, especially as homeowners turn to remodels and retrofits to make
their current homes more up to date.
technologies and devices fit under the umbrella title of “residential automation.”
Perhaps the oldest and most established of these integrated technologies is
whole-house lighting systems, which dim and/or turn lights on or off or control
lights in groups; both ambiance and energy savings are the attractive elements
of this feature. Residential automation also includes video and audio
distribution systems, with which homeowners may select incoming or stored
videos or music for distribution at varying locations and volumes.
the purely functional side, residential automation also can include security
and surveillance systems, through which homeowners can check security zones
from anywhere at any time, arm and disarm the system, bypass zones, and send
panic messages in an emergency. Similarly, an interfaced camera system can supply
views of a person at the front door or pool area as well as monitor a nursery
or an elderly parent’s sitting room from anywhere in (or away from) the house.
modern energy economy and the desire to be more green make the climate control
option of residential automation attractive. It allows a user to check the
weather forecast and current temperature (indoor and out), then manage
thermostat settings and schedule temperature adjustments accordingly. It can
manage daylighting and shading devices, as well, such as automatically closing
blinds to block direct afternoon sunlight in the summer, and then reopen them
to maximize lighting in the morning.
the best analogy for the potential of home automation is to compare it to the
automation that we all expect in a quality automobile. From the driver’s seat,
a user is within an arm’s reach of seamless integrated access to individualized
climate zones, a complete distributed and customizable audio system, headlights
that come on and off automatically in response to the environment, GPS systems,
and remotely controlled locks and windows. In fact, these conveniences no
longer impress us; it is only their absence that draws our attention—and
irritation. Residential automation firms boast that they can provide
that level of convenience, control and security to homeowners.
are three types of delivery systems for residential automation: powerline
carrier systems, wireless and those hardwired with communications cable.
are multiple powerline carrier systems, including established technologies such
as X10 and Universal Powerline Bus (UPB). X10 signals involve short radio
frequency (RF) bursts over power lines, which represent digital information.
The UPB method transmits digitally encoded information as a series of
electrical pulses (called UPB pulses) that are superimposed on top of the
normal AC power waveform (sine wave). Both of these
systems—but not all powerline carrier systems—are nonproprietary,
each with hundreds of compatible devices on the market from multiple
systems include Z-Wave, an interoperable wireless communication protocol that
uses RF wireless transmissions and was developed by the Danish company Zensys.
The Z-Wave Alliance is a consortium of more than 125 independent manufacturers
who have agreed to build wireless home control products based on the Z-Wave
open standard for all types of devices.
systems (with structured communications cables) that do not use wireless
technology certainly can exist in theory, but in reality, it is hardwired/IP
wireless hybrid systems that will dominate in our increasingly Wi-Fi/cell
phone/ZigBee-driven world. IP-based systems currently are playing catchup to
other pre-existing systems (X10 was developed in 1975), but who doubts that
IP/wireless technology is the wave of the future in many areas of life, despite
its comparatively recent arrival? IP-based systems include manufacturers and
products such as Lifeware, Control4 and Crestron.
it all together
automation (such as devices that require individual dedicated remotes and/or
keypads) and automation systems of years past tend to lack sophistication due
to insufficient integration. PC-based platforms with graphic interfaces have
changed that, making modern automation systems highly integrated, visual and
easy to use.
example, some IP-based systems use Windows Media Center Edition (MCE), which
comes preinstalled on a Microsoft Windows Media Center personal computer. It
functions out of the box as an all-in-one PC and entertainment center for an
entire home. The Windows Media Center offers all of the computing power of
Windows (including Windows-based programs, Internet browsing, e-mail access,
etc.), while also enabling home digital entertainment on a PC (such as watching
DVDs, recording TV, listening to music, sharing digital photos and the like).
Using the Media Center Edition, systems such as Lifeware interconnect
electronic devices throughout a home to a single brain that users can control
from devices, such as a TV screen, an office PC or laptop, PDA, touchpanel or
an Xbox 360.
platform an automation system uses, the quality of its graphics makes all the
difference in its appeal and acceptance by users/homeowners.
graphic user interface is critical,” said Kerry Moyer, senior director of
strategic relationships with the Consumer Electronics Association.
on the table
continuing computer revolution, the Internet boom and the wireless boom have
changed the entire landscape for residential automation in recent years. What
used to be an exclusive creature comfort for the affluent now is affordable for
much of the middle class.
few electrical contractors have demonstrated much interest in residential automation
systems. That leaves Ralph Peragine, director of technical service with the
Long Island-based Smart Home Systems, shaking his head: “[Electrical
contractors] need to realize that it is all just low-voltage electrical work.”
is an open-ended market,” he said. “Standard installations of our systems
easily range from $5,000–$30,000 for materials alone, with many installs
costing more than that. Why would an EC want to do all the work of putting in
the electrical and low-voltage cable that will service an automation system and
then leave the profits of providing the actual system to another contractor?”
The 2006 CEA State of the Builder Technology Market Survey reports that the
average home automation installation costs more than $7,000.
documentation from Lifeware reads, “Other than the building contractor, the
electrician is one of the first contractors consulted during the planning of a
new home or remodel of an existing one. For this reason, the ability [of the
electrical contractor] to upsell its role in the building process to include
installation of lighting, distributed audio or even an entire connected home
network makes each project more profitable and provides a valuable stream of
revenue ... . It’s simply a matter of asking homeowners
if they are interested in upgrading [to a home automation system].”
would love to work with more electrical contractors,” Peragine said.
the systems that we sell are designed to be understandable by entry-level
installers. They are accessible, understandable and profitable. And they are
not going away, so someone is going to make money off of them,” he said.
is not alone in his passion. Most residential automation manufacturers and
distributors are eager to add additional certified installers. They recognize
electrical contractors are an untapped resource, and they believe their
industry offers mutually beneficial opportunities to ECs. Training
times for certification vary, depending on the manufacturer.
supports them in that position. Referring again to the 2006 CEA State of the
Builder Technology Market Survey, it is contractors—not builders—who are
marketing home technologies to new homebuyers. Statistically speaking, there
are simply no builders (0 percent) who proactively market new home
technologies, and very few (6 percent) even provide information on home
automation to homebuyers upon request. Instead, they rely exclusively on the
installation contractors to market and sell home technologies to new homebuyers.
the overwhelming majority of those same builders (84 percent) say home
technologies are important in marketing new homes and that they are having a
positive impact on builders’ revenues. More than 40 percent believe home
technology offerings increased their revenues, and most agree home technologies
have become an indispensable tool for marketing new homes and a necessity for
competing in the marketplace.
electrical contractors will need to decide for themselves if residential
automation is an industry they should pursue, there is profit-making
opportunity there. Contractors that need or are seeking additional revenue
sources may do well to consider this growing field. EC
is a freelance writer in the Kansas City, Kan. area, specializing in business
writing and telecommunications. He can be reached at www.russwrites.com.
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
NECA Convention To Light Up San Francisco
Oct. 5 to 8, 2007, if there is an electrical problem in San Francisco, there will be
plenty of electricians on hand to help. Those are the dates of this year’s
National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) convention and trade show,
and if you have not registered already, there still is time to be a part of
what may be one of the biggest shows of the year. NECA has planned some
exciting events, many taking place for the first time ever in direct response
to attendee demand.
NECA is devoting a full day to the
alternative energy and sustainable building trend. “Think Green” day on Sunday,
Oct 7 will offer technical workshops on alternative energy topics. Also, the
“Green Alley” section of the show floor will showcase the latest innovations
and products. And, it is appropriate that California is playing host for this
“Think Green” day, as it has been the United States’ biggest proponent of green
building and alternative energy thus far.
For the first time, NECA will host a
Labor Relations Town Hall meeting, where attendees will have an opportunity to
hear directly from NECA and IBEW leaders on current and critical issues. The
hosts also will invite those in the audience to share concerns and opinions.
The NECA show also will feature some
big names. NASCAR driver Alli Owens will step on the brakes long enough to
visit the NECA trade show floor, sign autographs and meet with the leaders of
the industry she is helping to promote. As a spokesperson for ElectrifyingCareers.com,
a Web site devoted to getting young people interested in electrical careers,
she is helping to keep the electrical work force up in numbers. Her No. 22 race
car will be parked on the show floor at booth No. 939.
National Football League
Hall-of-Famer Steve Young will kick off the opening general session of the NECA
convention and trade show on Sat., Oct. 6. Young will speak on how to create a
championship team. With three Super Bowl rings, Young knows the keys to winning
in a very competitive environment. Whether you are a 49ers fan or not,
attendees will benefit from what Young has to say.
On the final day, Nando Parrado will
speak about teamwork, determination and leadership. You may not recognize the
name, but you know the story. Thirty years ago, a plane transporting the
Uruguayan rugby team crashed in the Andes Mountains. More than two months
passed until their rescue. This story became a best-selling book and motion
picture titled “Alive.” Parrado, who published his own memoir last year, will
speak on doing what it takes, even the previously unthinkable, to defeat even
the most competitive opponents—death. In your case—financial failure.
When all of the business of learning
and networking is over, the many personalities of popular comedian Dana Carvey
will take the stage in the Masonic Auditorium at the closing celebration on
Oct. 8. Carvey is best known for the six years he worked on “Saturday Night
Live,” playing such notable characters as the Church Lady; Hans, the Austrian
body builder; Garth Algar of Wayne’s World; and even the 41st president of the
United States, George H. W. Bush. His appearance is sure to be something
special that will certainly “pump you up.” No way, you say? Way.
This year’s NECA convention and trade show certainly is not to be
missed. To register or get more information, visit www.necaconvention.org. EC
Reprinted with full permission of Electrical Contractor
Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
On The Edge Of Greatness: Technology Fuels Home & Office Integration
The hottest thing out there this summer is not the
weather but the highly
anticipated iPhone from Apple Inc. At a starting cost of $500 and another $60
to $100 per month in service from AT&T (the iPhone’s exclusive provider),
it’s not cheap. It has a built-in audience: those who know and love Apple-brand
products. But how is the iPhone different from a typical mobile communicator?
It’s a device that combines the iPod and the mobile phone and integrates
Internet access and other connectivity in one of the largest portable- screen
formats ever released.
analysts’ decree, the device may change the landscape of mobility and
convenience. The access to e-mail and the Internet are where most users see the
greatest benefit of the iPhone. The device, though one of a kind, is among many
other technologies that have emerged this year designed to add mobility and
remote control to how we work and live. There also is Microsoft’s Surface and a
host of accessories and wireless, hardwired and other systems that provide more
remote capabilities and functions that continue to erode the technological
divide between home and office (see “Explosion of Integrated Products” on page
With the iPhone, we are moving into an era of convenience in which the
boundaries between home and office are barely visible, and telecommuters and
extended office hours at the place of residence or on the road are the norm.
Home offices are used for telecommuting, for working from home at night and on
weekends or, by some, as their primary business space. Often, home offices must
accommodate the varying needs of dual-income couples, which increases even
further the demand for phone lines, shared Internet access, laser printers and
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 21.5 million
people are working from their homes. The Consumer Electronics Association
projects this number will continue to increase over the next several years.
The connection to work will be virtual as more people telecommute and do
not depend on transportation. And today, according to Marian Salzman, co-author
of “Next Now: Trends for the Future,” the home is not just a home, but instead,
it’s the “kids’ school, your office, the incubator for your entrepreneurial
ideas, the psychic origin of so many other things other than family and
personal life.” Homes are moving, she added, to fully equipped compounds that
offer both comfort and entertainment.
definitely integrates and is part of the home,” said Bill Schoonover, manager
of Application Engineering, Technical Support and Warranty Service, Leviton
Manufacturing Co. Inc., Little Neck, N.Y. “But it’s not just that people have
home offices and are telecommuting. They are working longer hours and at home,
so technology and mobility helps them better integrate family and business.”
There are other factors in the
continued move to a technology-driven society. A large, increasing percentage
of the U.S. population now has been exposed to computers all their lives. The
Internet, the home office, playing games and other computer-based activities
are woven into everyday lives, and entertainment systems now often reach each
room in the home. By far, the technology that has the greatest impact on home
offices is high-speed Internet access, with more than 40 million connections
for DSL, cable modems, satellites and fiber to the home. The top features
supported are high-speed Internet access, e-mail, file downloads, home
networking, video teleconferencing, accessing corporate networks and
sophisticated telephone systems.
Schoonover said there is no such thing as an overwired home. He advised
deploying a minimum of the following at the home for current and future
each location desired for connectivity, two Category 5e terminations and two
RG6 quad coaxial with four connections—two for voice and two for video (coaxial
an office, one such above configuration on each wall (follow Telecommunications
Industry Association/Electronic Industries Alliance 570-B Residential
Telecommunications Cabling Standard or the latest current structured wiring
enough structured media centers, boxes and enclosures to handle capacity
required for connections and power (especially as fiber comes to the home and
as media converters are necessary for their deployment)
For what Schoonover referred to as “super users,” the customers may run
fiber to each wall plate and “leave it in the dark” until the telephone service
provider brings fiber to the area. Video also will drive the use of fiber in
the home, especially for users who want Internet protocol (IP) television, he
Do not underestimate what is going to be available in technology in the
future, Schoonover said.
“For those contractors who prewire, it represents an opportunity for
them to come back and perhaps upsell in the future. If they’ve put in the
backbone, the customer already knows of their company, and they can approach
them at a later date.”
There are many drivers of integration, and people who work part or full
time from home expect the same or similar levels of connectivity that they have
at the office as well as an environment that is pleasing, said Phil Scheetz,
home systems marketing manager, Lutron Electronics Co. Inc., Coopersburg, Pa.
That means security, home controls, lighting and many other applications in one
Make it work
office is different, Scheetz said, so the space has to function for the way the
family lives. “Wireless technologies have really opened up the ability to
retrofit the home with lighting controls,” he said. “There’s a convenience
aspect there, too, and the ability to introduce a more conducive work
environment with lighting controls and automation. You can automate a portion
of the lighting at a specific part of the home as well to illuminate signage or
a pathway for visiting customers like a commercial setting.”
Home and office integration is probably one of the fastest growing
trends we will witness, and at the base of it is connectivity, especially
selecting the right cabling and other hardwired and wireless solutions to make
the two work transparently and effectively. 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 email@example.com.
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
President’s Desk: NECA Show Progressively Better Every Year
News about the events and learning opportunities planned for NECA 2007 San Francisco are
featured in both the Industry Watch and NECA Notes sections of the magazine
this month. This double exposure indicates that excitement is heating up. Now
is the time for all industry participants who are interested in becoming more
productive, competitive and profitable to register.
have attended quite a few NECA conventions and trade shows and have invariably
learned something at each of them that could be applied to improving my
business. I can assure you that they get better every year.
me explain with a few words about the NECA Show. If I discussed all the
innovations on tap for NECA’s convention, it would require several pages in
addition to the one reserved for this column. It also would not be as relevant
to readers who are not NECA-member contractors, however, our show is open to
everyone involved with electrical contracting—company owners, managers,
journeyman and apprentice electrical workers—all those, in fact, who support
our industry in any way.
about 280 of the leading manufacturers, suppliers and industry
service-providers already signed on as exhibitors, NECA 2007 San Francisco will
undoubtedly be the greatest electrical industry showcase of the year. But, is
it progressive? You bet!
you will see there will be each exhibitor’s best and most recent product and
service offerings. These products range from the 2007–2008 versions of
equipment for installation and staple items that electrical contractors use on
the job—from alarm systems, backup generators and ballasts all the way down the
alphabet to wiring devices and z-axis drivers. You’ll also see merchandise that
contractors will use increasingly as they break into new technology-driven
markets, including state-of-the-art solar cells, telecommunication devices, and
voice-data systems. Obviously, the emphasis on the “latest and greatest” is
even more intense in the New and Featured Products Room.
why smart showgoers spend time talking with exhibitors to learn all they can
about their products and services. An overwhelming majority of past attendees
(76 percent) rate face-to-face interaction with potential vendors or suppliers
as very or extremely important. In fact, the average length of time spent
exploring the show floor is seven hours, and more than 50 percent of attendees
visit the NECA Show during all three days.
course, taking full advantage of the NECA Show also means attending your choice
of the technical workshops that are included in the price of admission (a mere
$75). As explained in last month’s issue, these are 50-minute interactive
sessions presented by exhibitors to give attendees the opportunity to learn
more about installation techniques and the capabilities of electrical products,
software and business services.
certainly applies to the workshops offered in San Francisco. In addition to
sessions on lighting and power technologies, there will be a whole track
devoted to integrated building systems and programs providing solar technical
education. And, on “Think Green” day (Sunday, Oct. 7), there will be a number
of programs addressing renewable energy solutions, so you will be able to see
the latest solar, wind and other energy-efficient technologies in the “Green
Alley” at the NECA Show. You will also be able to attend workshops to learn about
how green building pertains to new design and installation opportunities.
I advise you to get over to www.necashow.org as
soon as possible to register. Our trade show in San Francisco this fall will be
the best electrical industry exposition you’ve ever experienced—at least until
NECA 2008 Chicago!
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
Solar Power Surge
A limited supply of silicon
used to make solar panels and a deluge of homeowners rushing to install solar
power before state rebates are reduced have made it difficult for installation
companies to meet demand.
These factors have helped boost the cost of solar panels
in recent years, but some of the price increase may be tied to consumers
offering to pay more to position themselves at the head of the line. Bargaining
to move to the front of the pack is not illegal, but experts say it might not
be wise to pay more if the homeowners’ states do not yet offer rebates on solar
Richard King of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar
Energy Technology Program anticipates substantial price declines soon. However,
it will be a few years before new silicon plants are up and running.
In California—where 33 percent of installation costs are rebated—the
average price of solar panels surged 14 percent to $37,752 during the
year-over-year period ending in April, reports the state Energy Commission. EC
By Jim Hayes
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
Step Right Up
By Joe O’Connor
Ladders are both essential and potentially dangerous
Ladders, like wire cutters and
electrical tape,are important to the electrical contractor. However, their use
tends to carry with it many hazards. When used properly, the hazards can be controlled. The
safety rules that apply to ladders are a combination of OSHA regulations and
proven common-sense practices.
first step is to choose the right ladder for the job. It is important to be
sure the ladder has the proper duty rating to carry the combined weight of the
user and any material being installed. The duty rating gives you the ladder’s
maximum weight capacity.
are four categories of duty ratings established by the American National
Standards Institute (ANSI):
Type IA: These ladders have a duty
rating of 300 pounds. Type IA ladders are recommended for extra-heavy-duty
2. Type I: These ladders have a duty
rating of 250 pounds. Type I ladders are manufactured for heavy-duty use.
3. Type II: These ladders have a duty
rating of 225 pounds. Type II ladders are approved for medium-duty use.
4. Type III: These ladders have a duty
rating of 200 pounds. Type III ladders are rated for light-duty use.
regulations refer to ANSI and state that Type IA and Type I are the only
ladders permitted on a construction job site. Because it is impossible to
determine which of the four types a ladder is just by looking, ANSI requires a
permanent duty-rating sticker be placed on the side rail.
factors in selecting the appropriate ladder are style and material from which
the ladder is constructed. For example, an extension ladder is placed against a
surface to access a higher level. A stepladder should not be used for this
purpose. Ladders constructed of metal (e.g., aluminum) must not be used when
performing electrical work.
the ladder is chosen, the work can begin. Like all other equipment, ladders
should be inspected before use. Wooden ladders need to be checked for cracks or
splits in the wood. A ladder made of fiberglass or steel should be checked for
bends or cracks. If a ladder is found to be damaged in any way it must be
tagged “defective” and removed from service.
placing a ladder for use, be sure the feet are on a firm, level, dry setting.
If it is necessary to use a ladder on uneven footing, the surface should be
built up with firm material until the ladder is level. Ladders not on a stable
or level surface must be secured to prevent accidental displacement. If it is
necessary to put a ladder in a doorway, the door should be locked or at least
blocked to prevent entry. During the daily inspection, the steps should be
cleaned of any grease, oil, mud, snow or any other slippery material that could
interfere with your footing.
climbing a ladder, the worker should face it using both hands to hold on to the
side rails. Feet should be placed at the middle of the steps to keep the
worker’s weight balanced. When you find it necessary to get tools or materials
up a ladder, never carry them by hand. This shifts the body weight and doesn’t
allow for the use of both hands while climbing. The safe way to get equipment
up to the work site is to either hoist them into position or use a tool
Never overreach from a ladder or lean too far
to the side. Overreaching is one of the most common causes of falls from ladders.
A good basic rule is to always keep your belt buckle inside the rails of the
ladder. Work as far as you can reach comfortably, then move the ladder to a new
position. When moving a ladder, always get down. Never try to move it by
rocking, jogging or pushing it away from a supporting wall.
other sensible points are to never use a ladder under the influence of alcohol,
drugs or when feeling sick or dizzy, and when using tools, never leave them on
top of a ladder. If the tools fall, they can hit you or a co-worker. Also, a
ladder should be used by only one person at a time, unless it is specifically
designed for use by two people.
are both essential and potentially dangerous pieces of equipment. However, the
dangers can be minimized easily by using these simple, common-sense practices.
The work of an electrician could not be accomplished without ladders. We just
need to be very careful to use them correctly. EC
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
The Secret Source Of The Contractor Of Choice
Like most every
new contractor sets out to become
the best in town. Few achieve that distinction. Often it is due to
well-intentioned but misguided efforts. Slashing prices to perform the same
work as everyone else does not cut it. Saying your firm offers fast, friendly,
fair service is not impressive when every business owner makes the same
promise. Customers do not listen to what you say. They watch what you do. To
become the contractor
of choice, it takes more than a low price and a clichéd promise. It requires a
customized business model, one that offers individual solutions to individual
The growth of the
design/build market would seem to lend itself to separating an electrical
contracting firm from the rest of the fray. Some contractors see design/build
as an opportunity to enter a market in which they have more control over
profits and projects. That may not always be the case.
electrical contracting firm as having design/build capabilities without the
professional expertise to back it up can lead to irrecoverable loss of money
and reputation. With customers able to communicate to thousands of other
potential customers through the Internet, it is crucial to have a reputation of
As one industry expert
advised, “A firm needs to ascertain if it has the technical chops to deliver a
design/build project. You can’t afford to oversimplify it. Where’s the engineer
fit in? Unless someone on staff is a PE, it is going to be necessary to hire an
engineering consultant. Then, if you really want to grow into this business,
it’s going to require an investment in a CAD workstation as well as
no one walks alone
abound to the team concept involved in the design/build project delivery. In
her article, “Teaching Teamwork Skills,” (Electrical
Contractor, February 2007), Jennifer Leah Stong-Michas wrote,
“Electrical contractors are critical team members and need to be cognizant of
the specialized role they can play in the successful pursuit of work by the
team.” This team typically includes the general contractor, the subcontractors,
project manager and architect/engineer.
contractors have access to another player who is a well-kept secret. Unusual,
considering the contributions this potential player can bring to the
design/build table. Impatiently waiting in the background, hand outstretched and
waving like a 6-year-old trying to get the teacher’s attention, this
prospective team member shouts out, “Pick me, pick me!” The contractor passes
by daily and does not notice the abundance available from this valuable
resource—the electrical distributor.
contracting firms don’t always realize how much value electrical distributors
can provide,” wrote Dr. Thomas E. Glavinich in his article, “Understanding
Distributors’ Value” (Electrical Contractor,
March 2002). “Electrical distributors provide the firm with access to products,
inventory management, logistical support, short-term financing through trade
credit, technical expertise and information, training and much more.”
you are, Dr. Glavinich. And here is an overview of some of the services
distributors offer. Most of these services would cost thousands of dollars if
outsourced, but most distributors offer them for free, simply for an
opportunity to be part of the design/build project delivery team. Visit www.ecmag.com for the full text of Glavinich’s
article. Simply type the headline into the search box.
is an overview of a few of the services available from most electrical
■ Thinking outside the branch or vendor-managed inventory: Most distributors expand their reach
by finding ways to take inventory outside the warehouse. An on-site job trailer
with consigned material is not exactly a new idea, but this form of inventory
management is ideally suited for the design/build project. Materials sell at
predetermined prices only when the contractor uses them. The distributor
maintains the inventory on the premises, saving the contractor time and money
by keeping workers on the job site. When the project ends, the contractor does
not have to worry about leftover materials or restocking charges. In a
design/build project, most of the time, the contractor knows early on what
material the job requires. This enables the distributor to preorder items with
long lead times so they will be available when the job is underway.
■ Have parts, will travel: Another means of getting
material to a job site so the contractor can keep workers on task is the
“Mobile Branch.” For example, Rexel Inc. converted a 30-foot-long truck into a
mini supply house on wheels. According to Mike Williams, area manager for Rexel
Inc., Miami, the goal of the Rexel Mobile Branch (RMB) is to “get the right
material in the right place at the right time. If we can eliminate the delay
and expense it costs one of our customers to get a product to a job, then we’ve
taken a step closer to that goal.” The flexibility of the RMB makes it the
perfect solution for design/build projects that require inventory specific to
■ Back to school: Contracting firms that want to secure
their future in design/build know the importance of training. According to a
survey prepared by Renaissance Research & Consulting Inc. for Electrical Contractor, the most requested
types of training relate to National
Electrical Code (NEC) changes, sustainable or green technology, and LEED certification.
Again, drawing from their powerful network of resources, distributors can
arrange training for electricians and, in some cases, bring it straight to the
job. According to Tim Gleeson, Southeast Division marketing manager for Rexel,
future plans for the RMB include possibly using it as a classroom on wheels,
providing on-site education for in-field electrical professionals and keeping
workers on the premises. The goal would be to collaborate with manufacturers,
bring in new and improved products and show customers how to profit from them.
■ Connect to the network: “Can you imagine undertaking a
project where your firm has to deal with the hundreds of manufacturers that
supply everything from simple everyday materials like raceway and wire to
sophisticated equipment like a UPS? It would be impossible unless your firm
actually developed all of the contacts and capabilities that a typical
electrical distributor has,” Glavinich said. Distributors have a collective of
professionals eager to make available their expertise and services to electrical
contractors. Most of these services are free of charge. Drawings and spec
sheets are readily available to the project engineer to use in the design phase
of the design/build project. Makers of distribution and control, lighting and
communications products are just a few of the manufacturers who have
professional engineers on staff that can provide design assistance to
■ A few dollars more: Some distributors
are making longer-term financial arrangements beyond the traditional 30-day
■ A lease is a terrible thing to waste: There
are plenty of high-tech tools available that make a contractor’s job easier and
more productive. However, for a small- to medium-size contractor, some of the
products can be expensive (sort of like copper wire). That is when an
electrical distributor can step in with an affordable leasing program. Leasing
or leasing to buy equipment for a design/build project allows contractors to
reduce costs and improve cash flow, and it enables them to use the latest technology
without a large investment. (Now, if someone would come up with lease-to-buy
program for copper wire … .)
■ It’s who you know: Positive word-of-mouth is vital in
this market. One professional engineer who owns his own electrical contracting
firm tells of a time when he received a referral from the local supply houses.
The owners of a new manufacturing plant were moving to town and went to the
electrical wholesalers to ask about electrical contracting firms with
design/build capabilities. Two of the suppliers gave them the name of the
engineer’s company. The new owners contacted him and decided his firm was the right
one for the job. That is another reason it pays to stay on good terms with your
local supply houses. It is not uncommon for new businesses to turn to the
distributors for referrals when seeking an electrical contractor.
■ Manage this: Some distributors have the systems in place
to keep track of design/build projects. For example, Graybar’s Project Manager
provides the contractor with order acknowledgement, product lead times, order
release dates and project drawing status from first submittal to final
approval. The program can customize data in the appropriate format for project
your local supply house
one of the above services would be an expense to the electrical contractor if
not for the distributor willing to provide most of them for free. The
technical, financial and marketing resources available through most
distributors clearly place them as a “value-add” in the design/build project
contractor said his design/build projects came as the result of long-term
relationships with owners of supply houses.
have a history of work inside their buildings. We know the plant, the people,
the processes. We know what the owner expects.” He said he understands the
value of the “no-fee” services offered by electrical distributors. Like most
design/build contractors, he does not charge a professional fee for his
services in the design phase of the project.
increased pace of commerce is at least partially responsible for the accelerated
growth of the design/build project delivery method. For instance, in the case
of a manufacturer constructing a new plant or adding a process to an existing
factory, the sooner the project is operational, the sooner the company is
making money. The fast-track, overlapping design/construction phases of the
design/build project delivery ensure optimum profitability. It is not that the
physical construction takes place any faster on a design/build. It’s that,
instead of the linear approach of design/bid/build, some of the phases of the
design/build project delivery overlap or occur simultaneously.
of this is not to say that design/build is better than the traditional
design/bid/build method,” the contractor said. “Some industries have special
criteria that must be met in addition to and outside of the Code. Healthcare,
for instance, has its own set of specs and regulations. In those instances,
certified professional engineers specialize in the design and construction of
particular institutions. So, design/build isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Each
situation is unique.”
it is not for everyone, but a survey sponsored by Electri International—the
Foundation for Electrical Construction—revealed eight out of 10 contracting
firms stated that they would “develop the full capabilities necessary to
provide [design/build] services” within the next year. The fact that
contractors are “chosen” to be part of a team in the design/build project
delivery method gives a completely new meaning to the phrase “contractor of
choice.” To win, you’ll need an edge, an ally, a secret weapon. That is where
the electrical wholesalers come in. They are in business to serve you. Look for
the one that has the services compatible with the demands of the design/build project
the temperament compatible with your team. Look for the one with the enthusiasm
of a 6-year-old, hand waving, shouting, “Pick me! Pick me!” EC
Dandridge is a professional speaker
and writer with more than 20 years of experience in the electrical industry. He
can be reached at email@example.com or www.highvoltageservice.com.
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
There’s No ‘Me’ in a Design/Build Project
Finding design/build work depends on
good news is there is more help for contractors entering this teamwork project
delivery area than ever before, more design/build projects and, of course, more
competition. Design/build is a different approach, and just being awarded a
project does not guarantee success, which Walker “Lee” Evey, president of the
Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) pointed out. “It’s a process, not a
panacea,” he said. “You need to be familiar with design/build.”
now, the more progressive electrical contractors have gone to the design/build
process, which is in fact an older building practice, used in ancient Greece as
well as modern construction and throughout much of human history.
those still coming into it, the advantages are more resources and more
acceptance by architects, developers, general contractors and engineers. The
DBIA for example, now has local chapters in most large cities that
offer numerous training opportunities.
with general contractors who specialize in design/build projects may be the
best way to have a permanent foothold in this part of the industry. There are
more general contractors now than even several years ago, and they not only
undertake design/build projects, they specialize in them. Forrester
Construction Co., Rockville, Md., is one example. Forrester has been providing
design/build services for 18 years and in the past eight years has made it a
focus of its diversified construction practice.
seeks opportunities to be a proactive participant in the entire process of
designing and constructing better buildings,” said Victor J. Bonardi,
Forrester’s DBIA design/build director. This concept includes early involvement
of the construction team, he said, for a more comprehensive, fully integrated
larger government and institutional organizations have long recognized the
distinct disadvantages associated with awarding multimillion dollar constructs
on the basis of low bid,” Bonardi said. The answer has been the ever-increasing
use of design/build contracts and selection of teams based on the best value.
This allows the contract award to be based on past performance, relevant
experience and proven record of accomplishment for quality projects, rather
than a low bid. Price is no longer the only condition for award.
most qualified teams may be selected with the realization that their
qualifications make the added cost a better value to the client. This approach
helps to ensure better facilities,” Bonardi said.
the design/build trend gained momentum in the mid-1990s, Forrester began a more
proactive participation in this project delivery system, and it has become part
of the company’s growth with projects for federal government agencies, state
agencies, colleges, universities and private schools.
believe that design/build produces better buildings, at lower overall costs and
within shorter schedules than any other project delivery system. It allows us
as a company to form trusting, long-term relationships with key clients, which
generates repeat work,” Bonardi said.
good relationship with subcontractors is in fact as important to the general
contractor as it is to the electrical contractor. For the design/build delivery
system to work, there needs to be true teaming, Bonardi said, and for good
subcontractors, like electrical contractors, are almost always a part of
project success,” he said.
always seeks subcontractors who can embrace this new concept for conducting
business and can participate in an integrated project team. The challenge is
overcoming decades of suspicion and misinformation that generally exists within
the construction industry. All parties engaged in a design/build project must
be able to think as part of a complete team with support and cooperation for
all other parties, through all phases of work.
work is clearly one of the critical elements to a successful project,” Bonardi
said, pointing to the increase in power demands, telecommunications and data
transmission criteria, fire alarm and emergency notification systems,
energy-efficient lighting, and the essential need for reliability in all these
systems. “[It] makes the electrical contractor an important part of every
successful project,” he said. “The challenge for all contractors, especially
electrical contractors, is to understand the nature of pursuing design/build
work and how it differs from design/bid/build.”
most design/build contracts require a price prior to completing design
documents, contractors need to read between the lines to develop a complete,
accurate and competitive price package. They must price what they know to be
required and not necessarily what is shown on early pricing documents, Bonardi
only with design/builders that have a proven track record of success. Not all
general contractors are qualified design/builders,” Bonardi said. Look for
recently completed relevant projects, he said, as well as the GC’s capacity to
bond design/build contracts and its certification by the DBIA.
contractor Rosendin Electric, Mesa, Ariz., has been involved in design/build
projects for about 25 years, said Tom K. Sorley, Rosendin president and CEO.
made a strategic objective to pursue more design/build work, and as a result,
design/build has grown to represent about 35 percent of our business,” he said.
Rosendin has been part of design/build’s adoption.
it to say that design/build has grown very quickly and now commands over 40
percent of the market,” Sorley said.
business development of design/build work in many ways is no different than
finding other work.
your reputation for performance and collaboration may play a more significant
role in being chosen to join a design/build team,” Sorley said. He added that
whether public or private work, the design/build team wants contractors that
look for solutions, not problems, and have a reputation for performance.
has had several decades to build strong relationships with contractors,
architects and clients, but it’s not always enough.
a past relationship is not paramount to being involved in design/build,” Sorley
said. “To gain access to a design/build team, the specialty contractor must
demonstrate a competency in the type of project being built.” This competency
must span design and constructability. “In the relationship that follows, trust
is built based on the degree in which the contractor works in partnership with
other members of the design/build team finding solutions that help exceed the
expectations of the owner.”
Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), now is making design/build their strategy for
the majority of their military projects and seeks contractors that are
competent in the strategy. In some cases, there are mandates that a majority
percentage of USACE projects be design/build, said Paul Parsoneault, acting
team leader for construction management section of the USACE Military Programs
Branch. For the Army, for example, if a facility plans to have a private-sector
equivalent, it needs to be design/build. That includes Army barracks, which can
be likened to hotels.
idea is to go more for design/build to specify requirements in performance
terms, not prescriptive terms,” Parsoneault said. “We want the creativity of
the marketplace with a team that can come up with cost-effective and creative
solutions,” he said.
The military is in fact
ahead of many civilian markets in design/build implementation. However, even
markets that at one time rejected the design/build format, such as New Orleans
in the previously design/build-free state of Louisiana, now are undergoing a
transformation with large design/build construction projects.
the industry have the interest and capability to make this transition?”
Parsoneault asked. “That’s the question. So far, we are finding they can.” Even
as the military’s interest in design/build grows, the construction industry is
meeting their needs. Contractors seeking design/build projects need to prepare
by teaming with general contractors.
times, the general contractor will sub the electrical design responsibilities
to the trade subs,” Parsoneault said. “It’s a culture change, and it’s been
successful. Some states are proponents of design/build, and some are not. But
we haven’t found that to be a problem at all.” Thus far, they have found the
qualified contractors they needed throughout the country.
years back, it was difficult to become a design/build contractor. Today, the
process is simpler, as it is far easier to gain the knowledge needed for
moved into design/build as an owner,” said the DBIA’s Evey. In 1997, he said,
“we stepped off the cliff and learned to fly on the way down. There wasn’t
nearly the information available that there is today.”
then, the DBIA has offered training educational opportunities.
some people fail to understand is they think they’ll step into design/build and
something magical will happen,” Evey said.With an annual membership,
contractors can keep themselves from making the mistakes that inexperience can
addition, the USACE offers classes to help those within its ranks to learn more
about the process, how to make the right procurement decisions and what other
unique features and roles they must learn.
you have the knowledge, you need to find jobs to apply it. The process for
finding opportunities in design/build projects is similar to any other
project—the listings are available through advertising, state agencies and www.fedbizopps.com.
those new to design/build, often the smaller projects are a great learning
not scary; I would like to believe it’s the opposite of scary,” Evey said,
adding that design/build is based on people, teamwork and cooperation that has
been done for ages.
are a throwback to an earlier age, not exactly the new kids of the block,” he
said, citing ancient projects such as the Great Wall of China.
join the team?
a contractor begins design/build projects, it will find quickly how many are
out there. Evey likened it to buying a Volkswagen Beetle in 1969, which he
believed at the time to be unique.
thought I was the only driving one, and then I noticed everyone had one,” he
said. Design/build is the same, though it holds a bigger business consequence.
use of design/build increases,” Evey said, “those contractors who don’t do it
will begin seeing their opportunities diminishing.”
contrast, those in design/build find increased opportunity to contribute to the
job planning, compared with the EC’s traditional building role. With
design/build, electrical contractors benefit from an enhanced position—one in
which the EC can weigh in on the project’s development early on. In fact,
design/build electrical contractors need to communicate their goals, challenges,
problems, constraints and budget with the other team members, Evey said.
do that, the construction team must be brought together much earlier in the
say, if you want to do it right, you have to form the team very early. You’ll have
a fundamentally different relationship with the prime contractor,” Evey said.
steps must be taken before launching into a design/build project. “Assess your
personnel to ensure that they have the competency and the characteristics to
pursue an integrated delivery model,” Rosendin’s Sorley said. “For some, this
may mean forming an alliance with an engineering firm your team can work with.”
give and take between trades on a design/build job is meant to enhance the
quality and performance of the team and the project that is collectively
delivered to the owner. “Once you are confident, starting small might be in
order,” he said.
Evey said, “It’s tough. It’s hard work, no question. But of all the ways to do
construction out there, this is the best way.” EC
SWEDBERG is a freelance writer based in western Washington. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
USGBC Adds Requirements To LEED
U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC)
membership has passed a vote for all Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design (LEED)-certified projects to achieve at least two “Optimize Energy
Performance” points within LEED, which will improve the energy performance of
all LEED-certified green buildings by 14 percent for new construction and 7
percent for existing buildings.
an important and often overlooked solution to climate change: They are
responsible for nearly 40 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the
United States due to energy use, water consumption and other operational
issues. And, CO2 has increased 18 percent since 1990 due to the rise in energy
energy performance will immediately increase the LEED Green Building Rating
System’s impact in reducing building energy-related greenhouse gas emissions,”
said Tom Hicks, vice president, LEED, U.S. Green Building Council.
registered commercial LEED projects will be required to achieve the two
“Optimize Energy Performance” points within LEED. To help projects achieve the
new energy-reduction requirements, a prescriptive compliance path currently is under development as an alternative to
energy modeling. The two mandatory points will count toward a project’s LEED
USGBC’s Board of Directors passed an eight-point agenda to address climate
change and buildings.
“Each of the
eight specific actions will have an immediate and measurable impact on C02
reduction,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair. “When
implemented in concert, they comprise a powerful leadership initiative that
sets a high bar for the building industry.”
The points are
1. The 50 percent
CO2 reduction goal—All new commercial LEED projects are required to reduce CO2
emissions by 50 percent when compared to current emission levels.
energy reduction prerequisites in LEED—All LEED projects must achieve at least
two energy and optimization credits.
3. A carbon
dioxide offset program must be implemented.
process improvement incentives—All LEED for new construction and core and shell
buildings that reach certification will automatically (at no cost) be
registered for LEED for Existing Buildings.
5. Pushing the
envelope on performance—Certification
fees rebates exist for platinum-rated buildings.
Carbon-neutral USGBC—By the end of 2007, USGBC, as an organization, will be 100
percent carbon neutral.
Performance Program—The long-term goal of this program is to recognize
companies for high environmental performance across their portfolios.
Reduction Education and a Challenge to the Industry—USGBC will be launching an
important new educational program designed specifically to help industry
professionals gain the knowledge they need to apply design and construction
practices that are energy efficient and have immediate and measurable impact on
CO2 emissions. In addition, by 2010, there will be 100,000 LEED-certified
commercial buildings and one million certified homes.
By 2020, there will be 1 million LEED-certified commercial buildings and
10 million certified homes. EC
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
Using Unauthorized Products Could Create Liabilities
To succeed in a
competitive marketplace, electrical contractors must build lasting partnerships
with their customers by supplying quality, dependable electrical products that
they can stand behind. Using “gray-market” products places contractors in a
risky legal position that could leave them solely responsible for any defects
or problems with those products.
gray market is defined as the unauthorized sale of new, branded products that
have been diverted from authorized distribution channels or imported into a
country for sale without the consent or knowledge of the original
the gray market refers to products manufactured by the trademark owner [or
authorized to be manufactured by the trademark owner], but that have been
diverted from intended and authorized channels of distribution to another …
unauthorized and frequently undesired channel of distribution,” said Curtis
Krechevsky, partner and chair of the trademark and copyright department of
Cantor Colburn, LLP, Bloomfield, Conn.
diversions can be referred to as leaks out of the authorized chain and can
occur at any point from the authorized manufacturer to the freight forwarder,
exporter, shipping company, importer, wholesaler or, ultimately, the retailer.
However, according to Krechevsky, if the authorized manufacturer that has
purchase orders from the trademark owner runs a number of units over the stated
quantities and sells them, those products technically are considered
counterfeit because they are not authorized.
products are commonly known as overrun products and are treated differently by
the law, as they were never authorized to be placed into commerce by the
trademark owner,” Krechevsky said.
inventory or dated goods can be another source of gray-market products,
according to Clark Silcox, counsel for the National Electrical Manufacturers
Association (NEMA), Rosslyn,
is also useful to understand that gray-market products can move through
multiple tiers of distribution before it reaches the contractor. Products that
move through authorized channels, however, offer less of an opportunity for
damage to the product, product tampering, or repackaging or relabeling of the
product,” he said.
reasons the gray market exists in the first place, according to Krechevsky, are
pricing advantages, currency fluctuations, supply and demand fluctuations,
market gluts, and careless control of manufacturing and distribution processes.
The gray market also is facilitated by the reduction of trade barriers, free
trade agreements, and the ease and relative cheapness of shipping goods.
just a fact that gray-market prices can be significantly lower than the prices
charged by authorized distributors or retailers,” Krechevsky said.
from the use of gray-market products can arise when something goes wrong that
leads to a claim for personal injury, property damage or breach of warranty,”
some manufacturers, unauthorized distribution voids the manufacturer’s warranty
and leaves the consumer disappointed and the reputation of the supply channel,
including the electrical contractor, damaged.
a gray-market product has been tampered with or relabeled along the way, the
manufacturer may avoid liability completely, leaving the contractor, and
perhaps others in the distribution channel, answering for the product liability
claim,” he said.
addition to not being able to make a claim under a manufacturer’s warranty for
a defective gray-market product, the contractor might not be able to get
products serviced, maintained or repaired.
the warranty is not honored by the manufacturer because the product came from
the gray market, the customer will still demand that the electrical contractor
fix the problem and won’t care how they have to do it,” Krechevsky said. And,
if the contractor does not or cannot honor that request for redress, it
certainly will lose future business from that customer and very possibly damage
A real concern for electrical contractors
using gray-market products is that they may not be purchasing what they think
they are. Gray-market products may be promoted as excess inventory that needs
to be liquidated at extraordinarily low prices but are, in fact, counterfeit.
is documented,” Silcox said, “that the gray-market channel opens the doors for
the infiltration of counterfeit and substandard products.” Since the
trademark-owning manufacturer is not liable for the defective or substandard
counterfeit product that causes harm or fails, the contractor and others in the
distribution channel will have to answer for any product liability claim.
the failure of defective product produces property damage or personal injury,
the contractor may not only be faced with a huge potential financial liability,
but with fines or penalties imposed by governmental regulatory agencies for
using products from unreliable sources,” Krechevsky said.
fact, the entire supply chain can face product liability claims for negligence
in supporting gray-market diversions involving counterfeit products.
argument here is that the supply channel fails to exercise reasonable care when
it knows that defective counterfeit goods are entering the supply channel and
purchasers mistakenly buy the counterfeit product in the belief that it is
genuine,” Silcox said.
and avoiding gray-market products
are a number of ways a contractor can recognize gray-market products, including
physical signs of mistreatment, mishandling or repackaging; previous use;
recycling or refurbishment; and wear and tear.
products can also be avoided if the contractor ensures that the product
complies with standard marking and labeling requirements,” Krechevsky said.
“Performing due diligence
is required to avoid gray-market products and the liabilities that arise when
someone not previously known to be an authorized distributor claims they have
access to genuine product from an authorized source. This ruse has been used to
sell counterfeit products as well,” Silcox said.
always is the possibility, regardless of how careful the contractor might be,
that a gray-market, or even counterfeit, product is purchased and used in a
project and for which the contractor would be liable if it was defective or
failed. In that case, the contractor could possibly mitigate its legal exposure
in several ways.
a product is identified as having come from the gray market, the contractor can
return to the supplier to seek replacement with a clearly authorized product,”
Krechevsky said. Or, if the contractor has the capability, it can test another
component from the same lot and satisfy itself that the product will perform as
specified. “If it turns out that there is a quality issue, the contractor is
better off voluntarily replacing the product with a legitimate, authorized
product and then attempt to seek redress from the supplier,” he said.
important to note that counterfeiters often will pass off products as
gray-market goods, and the penalties for possessing and dealing with
counterfeit products are more severe, including criminal charges.
avoid issues with gray-market products, it is recommended to communicate with
the owner of the brand when any suspicious products appear from the
contractor’s supply chain.
is advised that the contractor get written confirmation from its immediate
supplier that the product did originate with the brand owner and that it comes
with the full warranty and service commitment,” Krechevsky said. And, according
to Silcox, a key problem for electrical contractors with gray-market products
is that they do not know the distribution history of the product, nor can they
verify the answers they receive if they ask.
one does not really know the distribution history of a gray-market product, one
cannot confirm that it is genuine, that it has not been tampered with,
repackaged or relabeled, or whether it has been stored and handled in a manner
consistent with the original manufacturer’s quality control processes. But when
dealing only with the authorized distribution channel, those problems no longer
exist,” Krechevsky said.
confronting this issue, each individual manufacturer has to address how it
deals with the unauthorized distribution of its product. This may involve
enforcing its contract rights or even re-evaluating its contract terms or
channel partners. For the contractor, the resolution is simply to buy genuine
goods from known, authorized sources.
become involved in addressing these issues, contractors can take advantage of
the educational opportunities offered by industry associations concerning
gray-market and counterfeit products, and join trade association programs that
monitor government regulations and that lobby for laws against gray-market
distribution,” Krechevsky said. EC
freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at
410.394.6966 or email@example.com.
with full permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine – August issue 2007 www.ecmag.com
Electrical Contractor Upcoming Issue
2007: Training and Education
The October issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR will include the following:
Training - What’s old is new, What’s new is old!
By Joe O’Connor
Changes to NFPA 70E
By Claire Swedberg
Electrical Contractors Taking the LEED
By Chuck Ross
Online Training Opportunities
By Darlene Bremer
Government Gives Green Light to Traffic Signal Conversions
By Debbie McClung
Significant Changes for the 2008 NEC-Part II
By Mark C. Ode, James G. Stallcup and James W. Stallcup
Whole Building Automation—Opportunity or Nightmare?
By Wayne D. Moore
Where Industrial Automation Is Today
By Marilyn Michelson
Training: A “Give And Take” Proposition
By Jim Hayes
Using Copper For More Than Signals
By Jim Hayes
with full permission of Electrical Contractor
Analytics Add Intelligence To IP Surveillance Systems
The relatively new technology is one
of several factors users must consider when choosing a system.
McLaughlin is chief editor of Cabling
Installation & Maintenance.
organizations that are planning to include video surveillance among the
operations that function over their information technology (IT) networks face a
myriad of questions and possibilities before they can begin deployment.
Surveillance systems running over Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks have
been around for more than a decade, but their takeup has increased dramatically
of late. That takeup rate and the promise of a booming network-surveillance
market has flooded the market with brands, and a network manager entering the
market today faces a tall task weeding through many of them.
than 200 different brands of network cameras are available,” notes Fredrik
Nilsson, general manager of Axis Communications (www.axis.com). “As an end user,
that makes it difficult to choose.” Nilsson also points out that unlike analog
cameras, network cameras can vary greatly from one to the next because a
significant amount of functionality typically is built into the device.
common mistake is simply to look at price,” he continues. “In the analog-camera
space, that may work, but it will not with network cameras. Additionally, don’t
evaluate a camera on its own, but rather look at the whole system.” A
significant consideration there, he says, is whether to adopt an open system
with products from multiple vendors, or a closed/proprietary system. Nilsson
promotes open systems. “They usually yield the best results, while closed
systems will be slower to adapt to newer needs.”
evaluating the actual camera, exclusive of the system, Nilsson advises to focus
on functionality. “For an IT manager, network function is at least as important
as camera function,” he says. “There is a lot more to network devices than
having an IP address.” In other words, avoid cameras than can have deleterious
effects on the network’s performance.
One of the
latest technological developments among network cameras is the incorporation of
“intelligence,” or analytics, into surveillance systems. The inclusion of
analytics software into an IP surveillance system gives that system the
intelligence to analyze its data (images). Proponents say the benefits of
analytics are enormous.
terrific modularity and is becoming ubiquitous and inexpensive,” says Alan
Lipton, chief technology officer at ObjectVideo (www.objectvideo), a maker of
analytics software programs. “Video gives you all these eyeballs, but with no
brains behind them. At best, video cameras are being used as forensic tools
after the fact. At worst, they are strictly a deterrent.” Video with analytics,
he points out, comes in two varieties. “First is security focused, with
alerting capabilities. And second is data gathering, storage, and mining.
Retailers, for example, use analytics to detect patterns of movement and
shopper behavior. What they both have in common is that they are turning data
analytics manifest as a visual alert to camera observers that an unexpected
event is taking place. Often it takes the form of a graphic that highlights or
follows a moving object in the video image.
Many of the
200-plus network camera manufacturers, including Axis, are incorporating
analytics into some of their product lines. Earlier this year, ioimage
(www.ioimage.com) released the ioicam mmp100dn, a 3-mexapixel intelligent video
camera that also has picture-in-picture capabilities, which the company says
allows synchronized analytics visualization. The camera has pan/tilt/zoom
functionality, day/night capabilities, and can operate under harsh conditions.
It is like many of today’s intelligent cameras in that it provides the most
important functionality of IP cameras, and adds analytics to the mix.
mmp100dn represents ioimage’s approach to intelligent video in bringing the
high-resolution imaging trend to practical applications,” said Roni Kass,
ioimage’s chief executive officer. “By synthesizing video analytics with
multi-mexapixel imaging in a self-enclosed unit designed and packaged for
simplicity, ioimage has successfully introduced a host of innovative
intelligent video uses to a wider market.”
also recently introduced the xptz100dn, an intelligent video camera with
built-in analytics that also has the ability to automatically detect and track
intruders, vehicles, and other threats. “The xptz100dn eliminates the
traditionally high expenses of security automation and tracking,” commented
Bosch Security Systems (www.boschsecurity.us)
incorporates its Intelligent Video Motion Detection (IVMD) technology into the
VIP X series of cameras, including VIP X1, VIP X2, VIP 1600, and Dinion IP
cameras. As Bosch points out, the falling cost of IP cameras has resulted in a
proliferation of cameras for many users. “This growth in cameras has …
increased the amount of visual data that must be monitored by security
professionals, expanded bandwidth and storage requirements, and accelerated
operator fatigure,” Bosch states. “This challenge demands a real-time,
automated video solution for intelligent surveillance.” The IVDM system acts as
a virtual operator, Bosch says, analyzing incoming video and automatically
detecting and notifying appropriate personnel of abnormal events or potentially
analytics software should be considered an “emerging” technology or an already
“emerged” technology remains open for debate. “We have been doing this
commercially for five to six years,” says ObjectVideo’s Lipton, adding that the
technology has seen mass adoption. “Some say it is not ready, but in our
experience, the challenges have had everything to do with how people work it.
analytics can only see what the camera sees,” he states. “Analytics does not
sleep; it looks for events in all weather. The mainstream market is picking it
up. Within three to four years, you won’t be able to buy a piece of video
equipment without some type of analytics.”
Nilsson offers more tempered thoughts. “Because of the built-in processes,
analytics will become important in the overall selection of a camera and
system,” he explains. Among the important criteria to consider, he says, is
image quality, stating that the data being analyzed is actually an image;
therefore, the quality of that image is paramount.
he says the algorithms used in analytics software are still under development.
“The algorithms do many good things well enough—say with 90 to 95% accuracy,”
he says. “They will provide tremendous value.
remember facial recognition? That is still a promise of the future, because it
requires 99.5% accuracy rather than 90 to 95%. It takes about a tenfold effort
to bring accuracy from 90 to 95%, and another tenfold effort to get from 95 to
99.5%. Today, basic analytics are here and are useful.”
with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance – August issue
Impending Fibre Channel Standard Puts More Copper In The SAN
The INCITS is on the verge of
approving a standard for transmission over twisted-pair cabling systems.
McLaughlin is chief editor of Cabling
Installation & Maintenance.
Category 6 has been criticized as the cabling system without a protocol. In the
early stages of the Telecommunications Industry Association’s (TIA;
www.tiaonline.org) development of Category 6, a group within the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE; www.ieee.org)—the organization that
produces Ethernet standards among many others—entertained the idea of creating
a protocol that would send Gigabit Ethernet traffic over two pairs of Category
6. That idea was short-lived, as the IEEE abandoned the proposal. Despite that
setback, the TIA continued its path to standardization, Category 6 became a
bona fide cabling system, and by all accounts it has achieved a healthy level
of market acceptance.
of Category 6 cabling systems have cited its increased bandwidth capability (it
is tested to 200 MHz as opposed to Category 5e’s 100 MHz) as well as its
performance headroom over Category 5e (greater performance characteristics than
5e across the board at 100 MHz) as logical reasons for choosing the performance
level. Yet it has continued to carry the stigma of being a twisted-pair cabling
category without a designated protocol to run over it.
A new standard
might soon be shed, as part of a standards initiative from the world of data
centers. The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards
(INCITS) has for the past two years been working on specifications for
transmitting one of its protocols—Fibre Channel—over twisted-pair copper
cabling. Today the standard is in the approval process, and publication is not
To a great
extend, Fibre Channel is to the storage area network (SAN) what Ethernet is to
the local area network (LAN). That is to say, it is the protocol of choice.
Originally published in 1988 and approved by the American National Standards
Institute (ANSI; www.ansi.org) several years later, Fibre Channel dominates the
SAN marketplace. Data centers typically contain a LAN and a SAN, and in most
cases the different networks employ different protocols.
networks types have functional differences, points out John Schmidt, senior
product manager, business development with ADC. The SAN contains primarily
stored data, and huge amounts of it. Multi-terabyte storage capability is quite
normal for even medium-sized companies today, and larger organizations can have
significantly more storage capacity in their SANs. By comparison, the LAN tends
to deal with more dynamic data, which is accessed frequently as in the case of
a server hosting a Web site.
LANs and SANs, Schmidt points out, “The protocols, those protocols’ speeds, and
the media used also differ.” While the LAN’s Ethernet protocol has increased
tenfold in transmission speed, from 10 to 100 Mbits, then to 1 and 10 Gbits,
the SAN’s Fibre Channel protocol has followed a different upgrade path that has
included 1, 2, and 4 Gbits/sec. Currently an 8-Gbit/sec protocol exists for
infrastructure such as storage disk-to-disk connection. That 8-Gbit standard is
part of the FCBase2 set of specifications, a set whose speeds have doubled from
1 to 2 to 4 to 8 Gbits/sec, with a roadmap calling for continued twofold
increases to 16, 32, 64, and 128 Gbits/sec.
The set of
specifications that will call for Fibre Channel to run on twisted-pair category
copper cable, referred to as the BaseT set, is being developed by the INCITS’s
Technical Committee T11, which produces all the standards body’s Fibre Channel
specifications. That group’s roadmap calls for 1-, 2-, 4-, 8- and 10-Gbit/sec
versions of Fibre Channel to run over twisted-pair cabling, which does
represent a departure from the norm for the protocol. “The SAN model typically
looks at fiber-intensive installations,” commented Gregg LaFontaine, senior
product manager with Ortronics/Legrand (www.ortronics.com) during a recent
Web-based seminar on the topic of data-center cabling media. “Seventy to eighty
percent of SAN cabling is fiber media. Much of the SAN has been built around
the Fibre Channel model.” And although Fibre Channel has supported copper-based
transmission for quite some time, fiber has remained the overwhelming medium of
choice—and still may even with the soon-to-be-published standard.
The call for copper
2005, when the FC-BaseT set of specifications was proposed within T11, the
proposal included a section called “Existing practice and the need for a
standard.” That section read: “Today deployments of Fibre Channel Fabrics are
usually based on optical cabling for external connectivity (i.e. for
connectivity outside a storage enclosure.) However optical components are
perceived expensive by several customers. To improve the Fibre Channel
competitiveness in low cost environments a new physical level that enables
Fibre Channel to leverage and use the existing Category 5e and 6 copper cabling
technology is required. A standard is needed to define this new physical
proposal also called for 1- and 2-Gbit/sec Fibre Channel (1GFC-BaseT and
2GFC-Base-T) to run over Category 5e or better cabling, 4GFC-BaseT to run over
Category 6 or better cabling, and as deemed necessary, additional speeds over
Category 6A or better cabling. The most recent draft of the standard calls for
1GFC-BaseT to transmit up to 100 meters on Category 5e, 6, or 6A cabling;
2GFC-BaseT to transmit up to 60 meters on Category 5e, 70 meters on Category 6;
and 100 meters on Category 6A; and 4GFC-BaseT to run on 40 meters of Category 6
and 100 meters of Category 6A. The draft standard calls for 4GFC-BaseT
transmission over 30 meters of Category 5e, but that is only an “expected
performance,” because the protocol transmits at a higher frequency than that
for which Category 5e cabling is rated (100 MHz).
just switch protocols altogether and run Ethernet in the SAN? ADC’s Schmidt
states, “Ultimately the decision comes down to the network engineer, and which
application is best suited for what they are running. The primary reason that
SANs have not gone to Ethernet is because of latency. Ethernet inherently has a
lot of overhead and latency. Fibre Channel networks are very efficient at
There is no
shortage of forecasts calling for storage requirements to continue growing at a
rapid pace. Accordingly, SANs will continue to flourish in the years ahead. If
Fibre Channel remains the dominant protocol in the SAN, it will be interesting
to see the extent to which the INCITS’s BaseT set of Fibre Channel-over-copper
specifications shifts the media choices from optical to copper.
with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance – August issue
On The Road To 100-Gbit/sec Transmission
Development of the next generation
of Ethernet is well underway.
Oliviero is senior product manager with OFS (www.ofsoptics.com).
who is carefully watching can tell, the data communications industry is moving
to 100-Gbit/sec transmission speeds. What are the applications and key network
points driving the need for 100-Gbits/sec in public networks and private
enterprises? Who are the most likely early adopters of this next-generation
technology? This article presents answers to these questions, and explains why
temporary solutions such as link aggregation are not ideal to fully address
these overloaded networks.
discuss the current status of the standards process, and what still needs to
happen before a standard is written. The final section addresses the
transceiver technologies and options being considered to meet 100-Gbit/sec
speeds for OM3 multimode and singlemode fiber, and provides some assumptions on
likely cost differences between the two.
Drivers for 100-Gbit transmission
high-speed broadband services offered by fiber-to-the-x (FTTx)-focused
telecommunications carriers and cable television companies are becoming more
available; consumers are taking advantage of the many novel applications
offered to them. Content providers are pushing the bandwidth requirements by
developing more new applications and services, so that video-on-demand, HDTV,
IPTV, Internet gaming, MySpace, YouTube, and digital-photo transfers, which
could only be envisioned in the past, are now a reality.
we are seeing a push by content/service providers and a pull by the consumer.
The lesson: Increase the size of the access pipelines and demand will come.
events have led to continuous and rapid growth of the network and Internet
traffic, and this has placed an incredibly high demand on the existing
infrastructure. Network carriers, service providers, and Internet exchanges are
feeling this load on their networks and are seeking higher-speed solutions in a
In the private
sector, there is also a driver to higher network speeds for local are networks
(LANs) and storage area networks (SANs). This demand comes from high-bandwidth
applications such as video-based streaming and downloading, videoconferencing,
and Voice over IP. Data-center servers will continue to experience a rise in
traffic and bandwidth demand, as more information is being generated and stored
today than ever before. With recent government data warehousing legislation and
recommendations for the medical and financial industries, along with redundancy
to protect against catastrophic loss, data centers and SANs are expected to see
further upgrading to higher networking speeds. In fact, storage standards such
as Fibre Channel and Infiniband have already developed roadmaps for speeds up
to 100 Gbits/sec and beyond.
driver for higher networking speeds is the high-performance computing (HPC)
market. Supercomputers and HPC networks now under development will require a
minimum of 100-Gbit/sec transmission speeds for short links ranging from only a
few inches to hundreds of meters. In some cases, these will be used to link
major supercomputer clusters between research-and-development departments of
universities and medical facilities.
aggregation (LAG), an IEEE 802.3ad standard, is being deployed today to address
this increased demand with current 10-Gbit/sec server and networking equipment.
However, many believe that LAG is just a temporary fix, for several reasons. It
can be complex to use, making traffic engineering and management much more
challenging. What’s more, capacity expansions and troubleshooting of multiple
physical links become much more difficult. This standard’s limitations create
inefficient distribution of large flows and ultimately, uneven distribution of
traffic. All in all, many within IEEE feel that better solutions are required
to address this demand directly.
Where will we see 100-Gig?
discussing the standards under development with an eye toward 100 Gbits/sec,
let’s review more closely the early adopters and key network points that will
use these next-generation speeds.
surprisingly, the early adopters will be carrier networks (e.g. Verizon,
AT&T), triple-play service providers (e.g. network carriers and cable TV
companies), Internet exchange carriers (e.g. Yahoo!) and specific enterprise
users with extremely high throughput speeds.
deployment of next-generation high speeds will occur in key high-bandwidth
switching, routing, and aggregation interconnect points for 1) service-provider
backbones supporting the metro, core, and access parts of their networks, 2)
Internet exchanges, 3) interconnection links in data center and storage servers
of corporate enterprise networks, and 4) interconnects for high-performance
supercomputing networks in medical and R&D enterprises.
within LAN riser backbones (interconnecting LAN workgroup switches to core
switches or campus LAN backbones) is not expected for quite some time. Most
importantly, these next-generation speeds are not intended for interconnecting
desktop computers to LAN workgroup switches, which have historically been the
main driver for network equipment and switch port demand.
unlike the high volumes of 10/100/1000-Mbit/sec Ethernet port sales over the
years, initial volumes for 100-Gbit/sec Ethernet ports are anticipated to be
more modest. This does not imply a reduction in the need or value of 100-Gbit
Ethernet to address the applications discussed above. 100-Gbit/sec transmission
provides a solution for applications that have been demonstrated to need
bandwidth beyond existing capabilities.
High Speed Study Group takes action
formed the High Speed Study Group (HSSG) in late 2006 to investigate the need
for a next Ethernet speed, and to offer objectives as part of a project
authorization request (PAR) should it decide to recommend the creation of a
task force to write a standard. The HSSG is an internationally represented
group of component, switch, and cabling manufacturers, as well as end users
representing private and public networks. Two ad-hoc committees, the Fiber
Optic Ad Hoc and Reach Ad Hoc, support the group’s efforts.
evaluation of next Ethernet speed proposals, the HSSG followed the
five-criteria validation process established by the IEEE.
- Broad market potential
- Distinct identity
- Technical feasibility
- Economic feasibility
considerable number of presentations have been made within the HSSG and the
ad-hoc committees to validate the five criteria. During the November 2006 IEEE
802.3 plenary, the HSSG voted to support 100 Gbits/sec as the next Ethernet
speed. The following specific objectives have been accepted since that meeting.
- Support full-duplex operation
- Preserve the 802.3/Ethernet
frame format at the MAC client service interface
- Preserve minimum and maximum
frame size of current 802.3 standard
- Support a speed of 100
Gbits/sec at the MAC/PLS service interface
- Support at least 10 kilometers
on singlemode fiber
- Support at least 40 kilometers
on singlemode fiber
- Support at least 100 meters on
OM3 multimode fiber
- Support at least 10 meters on
- Support a bit error rate
better than or equal to 10-12 at the MAC/PLS service interface
next step is to finalize support, document, and submit the PAR to IEEE in order
to initiate writing the standard. When accepted by the IEEE 802.3 committee,
the HSSG will be concluded and all efforts will move to specifying the
technical details of exactly how to meet the objectives.
has not yet occurred. During this process, there have been many proponents of
including in the PAR a 40-Gbit/sec speed requirement, in addition to the
100-Gbit/sec objective, in order to support the server and data center/SAN
markets. There have been many debates over the last year as to the economic
feasibility and broad market potential for this intermediate speed, and whether
or not this would slow down the development of the much-needed 100-Gbit/sec
standard. However, strong cases have been made in support of 40-Gbit/sec and
the HSSG is now working on a method of satisfying both the 40- and 100-Gbit/sec
advocates in a way that does not hinder progress toward a final PAR.
the group’s next step is to submit the PAR and obtain approval. After the PAR
is accepted, the IEEE will begin writing the next-generation Ethernet standard.
The current target is to initiate this work in 2007 and publish it in 2010.
Transceiver and optical-fiber
the fiber-cabling objectives agreed upon in the HSSG, transceivers will be
developed to support singlemode fiber and OM3 multimode fiber (also known as
850-nm laser-optimized 50-µm multimode fiber). Standard 62.5-µm (OM1) and 50-µm
fiber (OM2) will not be supported at 100-Gbits/sec. Therefore, OM1 and OM2 are
no longer recommended for new data center and storage area installations, or
HPC environments, where futureproofing to higher speeds is important.
Optic Ad Hoc committee is also evaluating the transceiver options. It is
proposing the use of existing transceiver technologies such as parallel optical
interfaces (sometimes referred to as space-division multiplexing) and coarse
wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM) using transceivers with speeds of 10 to
50 Gbits/sec. The soon-to-be-published TIA TSB-172 is highly recommended for a
tutorial on the details of these transmission technologies.
multimode fiber, the HSSG and Fiber Ad Hoc are evaluating the use of low-cost
850-nm parallel optics transceiver arrays or a combination of parallel optic
arrays and CWDM. The former option is the leading candidate. With this
approach, twelve 10-Gbit/sec 850-nm optical transmitters and receivers are
packaged in an array and attached to OM3 fibers using 12-fiber MPO array
connectors. The data is divided equally among the available channels.
example, twelve OM3 fibers each operating at 10 Gbits/sec at 850 nm can be
aggregated into a 100-Gbit/sec system (12 fiber x 10 Gbits/sec parallel array).
The type of encoding that is being proposed would limit the channel to 100
Gbits/sec instead of 120 Gbits/sec. Because this is a full-duplex link with 12
fibers running in each direction, a total of 24 fibers would be used for a
complete link. This strategy can also be used to support 40-Gbit/sec speeds
over OM3 fiber. In this case, 4 or 6 OM3 fibers, each operating at 10 Gbits/sec
at 850 nm, can be aggregated to 40 Gbits/sec. A total of 12 fibers would be
used in this link, as opposed to 24 fibers in a 100-Gbit/sec link. In general,
the parallel solution is relatively simple and low-cost, as it uses the same
circuits multiple times.
In order to
reduce the cost of the electronics and for the OM3 option, transceiver
manufacturers are proposing to loosen the encircled flux and/or spectral width
specifications of existing 10GBase-SR transceivers. As a result, the
transmittable distance over OM3 fiber would be reduced from 300 meters to as
low as 100 meters, depending on the degree of change, despite OM3 fiber’s very
high bandwidth. In this case, OM3 fiber’s bandwidth is not the limitation;
instead, the desire to reduce the cost of these 12 transceiver arrays is
becoming the driver.
because these future speeds are intended for data-center environments, 100 to
150 meters should be sufficient. During the standards-development efforts,
transceiver and fiber manufacturers will establish the proper balance of
specifications to minimize cost and maximize transmittable distance.
and Fiber Ad Hoc are evaluating the support of singlemode fiber using CWDM
optics in a two-fiber duplex link. In this case, multiple wavelengths would be
operating over a single fiber in each direction. An example of this technique
is the 10GBase-LX4 transceiver. For 100-Gbit/sec systems, the following are
being considered in a 20-nm spacing range around 1310 nm:
- 10 wavelengths x 10 Gbits/sec;
- 5 wavelengths x 20 Gbits/sec;
- 4 wavelengths x 25 Gbitsec; and
- 2 wavelengths x 50 Gbits/sec.
point, the 4 x 25-Gbit/sec transceiver is a leading candidate. Installing low-
or zero-water-peak singlemode fiber (ITU G.652D-compliant) provides the most
flexibility to deploy any of the proposed singlemode fiber solutions.
Why not use
singlemode fiber with a single laser (serial transmission) operating at
100-Gbits/sec? Such a laser simply is not commercially available today, and
probably will not be for a long time. It will be quite challenging to develop
and produce such a laser cost-effectively. Therefore, despite singlemode
fiber’s exceptionally high bandwidth, achieving higher speeds on singlemode
fiber will require optics using multiple lasers to drive multiple wavelengths.
Cost factors considered
presentations have been made in the HSSG estimating the cost differences
between future multimode and singlemode 100-Gbit/sec systems. The advantage for
OM3 mutimode fiber systems involves the readily available, even lower-cost
850-nm vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) transceiver. 850-nm
transceivers have continued to favor multimode systems for 1- and 10-Gbit/sec
systems. The existing manufacturing platform and market volumes for 10GBase-SR
ports provides economically favorable conditions for the development of
because multiple OM3 fibers must be used in the parallel technique, these systems
will be more sensitive to the length of the cabling in the channel than CWDM
transmission over singlemode. Therefore, the relative cost benefit of parallel
systems has diminishing benefits as the channel length increases.
singlemode CWDM systems take advantage of low-cost singlemode cable, but at the
expense of higher complexity in the transmitter and receiver than with the
parallel optical technique. In other words, the same transceiver- and
connector-alignment challenges that can drive up the cost of 1310-nm components
when used with singlemode fiber are magnified even further as the number of
wavelengths is increased. Plus, these transceivers are not presently available
and extra R&D will be required to bring these to market.
optical port costs typically make up the largest percentage of total system
cost, the cost advantages held by 850-nm-based systems are projected to hold
true at these higher speeds. In general, OM3 multimode fiber will continue to
be the most cost-effective choice for short-reach applications at higher
speeds. Zero-water-peak singlemode fiber is best used for long distances.
very strong industry support for 100-Gbit/sec and possibly 40-Gbit/sec
transmission speeds in public and private networks to support triple-play
services, significant amounts of video-based applications, data-center storage
increases, and high-performance computing. The IEEE group is addressing these
needs and will soon commence writing the next-generation Ethernet standard. OM3
multimode fiber is poised to support short-reach solutions cost-effectively,
whereas singlemode fibers will continue their place in outside-plant,
with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance – August issue
40-Gig Is A Go, And Other Late-Breaking Standards Activities
Two of the
articles in this month’s issue, beginning on pages 9 and 17, discuss the
progress on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE;
www.ieee.org) 802.3 group’s efforts to specify a 100-Gbit/sec Ethernet
protocol. Both articles also discuss (and Ed Cady’s article goes into
particular detail about) the possibility of a 40-Gbit/sec standard being
produced alongside the 100-Gig spec. As this issue of the magazine was going to
press, word came from the IEEE’s late-July meeting that in fact, the 40-Gig
standard got the go ahead and will follow the same path to standardization as
the 100-Gig standard.
As you read
the articles that address 100 and 40 Gig, please remember they were written—and
in fact were produced and headed off to print—well before the IEEE’s late July
meeting. They were done and gone when we at Cabling
Installation & Maintenance got word about the thumbs-up vote for 40
Gig. So they “potential” 40 Gig specifications you’ll read about in those
articles will come to fruition. My thanks go to the two authors, Andrew
Oliviero of OFS and Ed Cady of Meritec, for their thorough reporting on the
matter. And in particular, I express my gratitude to Mr. Oliviero for giving me
the late word about the 40-Gig standard, so that I could at the very least get
the news to you on this page.
over the past month I have become aware of activities in two other
standards-making bodies that I think merit some discussion. You can read more
about one of them beginning on page 31 of this issue, so here I’ll just briefly
tell you that the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards
(INCITS; www.incits.org) is about to release a set of specifications for the
transmission of Fibre Channel signals over Category 5e, 6, and 6A twisted-pair
copper cabling in a project called FC-BaseT. Claudio DeSanti, who chairs the
INCITS T11 Technical Committee, explained to me, “Most Fibre Channel physical
layer modules are packed in the SFP form factor. The FC-BaseT project started
with an investigation aimed at verifying if a 1000Base-T PHY could be used to
carry Fibre Channel at 1-Gbit/sec speed, and was triggered by the appearance of
1000Base-T SFP modules.”
discovering some network-level limitations that prohibit a 1000Base-T PHY from
carrying Fibre Channel, “A new protocol definition was needed,” DeSanti
continued. “The guiding principle of the standard development was to re-use as
much as possible the 1000Base-T designs, extending them to run up to the
4-Gbit/sec speed, in order to make possible new implementations to be based on
existing designs. Therefore, there has been a strong collaboration with IEEE
802.3, and some liaison also with TR-42.” That commentary from DeSanti, like
word of the go-ahead for 40 Gig, arrived here as this issue was going to print.
realize these words happen to be on page 6 of this month’s issue, but I don’t
want this column to become gossip central. Nonetheless, I heard recently about
another bit of standards activity that will require further follow-up.
Evidently, there will be a new version of the TIA-606 standard for the
administration of telecommunications infrastructures. Currently in its first
revision, 606-A, the administration is commonly referred to as the “labeling
standard.” It’s the one that tells us the manner in which to document our
end-to-end cabling systems for efficient administration. Earlier this year, I
believed the TIA TR-42.6 group simply would affirm the 606-A standard, which is
one of three options (revising and rescinding being the others) available to
them once a standard is five years old. Now, however, it looks like the group
will revise the standard in a process that ultimately will produce TIA-606-B.
From what I
can tell, at least part of the impetus for the decision to revise was a current
project by the group to produce an addendum to 606-A dealing with computer
rooms and equipment rooms—i.e. data centers. Here’s my amateur layman’s
take on it. The addendum is meant to reconcile 606-A with the TIA’s 942 data
center standard. In short, 606-A did not consider data centers and 942 did not
consider administration. The two concepts will get together in Addendum 1 to
606-A. Furthermore, the TR-42.6 group will move ahead with work on 606-B. As
the group’s meeting minutes from June of this year state, “The changes will
include, but will not be limited to extending the concepts provided in
TIA-606-A Addendum 1 into spaces other than computer rooms and equipment
your standards update for now. Please know that we’ll continue to track the
goings-on with each of these standards and keep you informed of their progress.
with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance – August issue
IEEE’s Ethernet Higher Speed Study Group Heading Toward Initial Approval
A big question remaining is whether
or not 40-Gig will accompany 100-Gig down the path to standardization.
Ed Cady is
market development director with Meritec (www.meritec.com).
in Ottawa Canada, an IEEE 802.3 interim meeting was held in a hotel two blocks
away from the Canadian Parliament building. The Ethernet Alliance- and IEEE
802.3 committee-sponsored Higher Speed Study Group (HSSG) met to discuss
proposals and vote on optical and copper link objectives. These objectives,
with supporting multi-criteria data, were within the Project Authorization
Request (PAR) put forth at the July plenary meeting held in San Francisco.
(That meeting was held after deadline for this issue.) The IEEE 802.3 plenary
body likely will vote and authorize a task group to develop specifications for
100-Gbit/sec Ethernet links.
multi-criteria include economic, technical, and market feasibility studies as
well as backward compatibility. The April meeting included several
presentations, which proved that all criteria requirements had been satisfied.
After each presentation, attendees took the floor to verbally debate, support,
or critique the data shown.
organizations including Google, Yahoo, and Verizon provided plenty of evidence
of their need for 100-Gbit/sec links. Some original equipment manufacturer
(OEM) members, still hurting or having painful memories of the
telecommunications crash earlier this decade, drilled the network companies on
how solid their forecasting really is. However, the many mega-data-center
giants received much less grilling due to the booming Internet market reality.
Google representatives actually said they could use 100-Gbit/sec links
immediately and implored the start of a terabit-speed standard and
specification that they would need completed within two years.
manufacturers, including Alcatel/Lucent, Cisco, and Sun, revealed enough
information about their technology and product roadmaps to demonstrate their
ability to match most end users’ needs for 100-Gbit/sec links. Their products
will support not only traditional local area network (LAN), but also newer
clustered data centers, metro Ethernet and carrier Ethernet applications.
server-centric OEMs, like Sun, were passionate about having a native
40-Gbit/sec Ethernet specification developed by the same task force and in the
same project as 100-Gbits/sec. These evangelists want to take advantage of the
serendipity of interconnecting with the 4x10=40 Gbit/sec InfiniBand, Fibre
Channel, PCI Express, Synchronous Optical Network (SONET), and other protocols,
in a heterogeneous environment. The most network-centric OEMs and end users
were passionate about not having the two tied together in any way. These
traditionalists expressed concern about spending extra capital for developing
both 40-Gbit/sec and 100-Gbit/sec products at the same time and making them
work together. They also pointed out that the IEEE 802.3ad Link Aggregation
Standard (LAG) is being used for current 40-Gbit implementation and is fine
enough. The native 40-Gbit/sec evangelists retorted that LAG is not very
efficient or friendly with the other 40-Gbit/sec interfaces.
manufacturers like Broadcom and Intel made presentations supporting
100-Gbit/sec and really pushed native 40-Gbit/sec very strongly. LSI’s
presentation showed that their serializer/deserializer (serdes) chip technology
and developing product will perform at 4x25=100 Gbits/sec. Sarance
Technologies’ presentation promoted a much higher lane-count approach based on
the InterLaken interface approach used by Cisco and Cortina. Their data showed
achievable 24x5=120-Gbit/sec and 20x6.5=125-Gbit/sec implementations, but this
approach was not taken seriously by the greater majority of the Ethernet
community because it uses an unconventional coding scheme. Other component
vendors moderately pushed 10x10=100-Gbit/sec technologies and existing
products, but again the reaction was that too many lanes equals more cost and
space. Promotions of 5x20=100 Gbits/sec were seen as bowing to InfiniBand and
out of sync with the current four-lane Ethernet standards such as CX-4, which is
booming in the current market.
copper subcommittee presented simulation data proving that data-center
short-reach CX-4 style, twinaxial cable assemblies will work for at least 10
meters at 25 Gbits per lane. This data was based on transfer functions used in
the recently approved IEEE 802.3ap Ethernet backplane standard and
specification, which is for single-lane 10 Gbits/sec. Real measurement data
proved that raw cables and CX-4 test boards are currently available for
25-Gbit/sec-per-lane applications. There was a lot of talk about having a new
copper backplane standard for 4x25=100-Gbit/sec Ethernet connections.
optical subcommittee’s presentation showed that optical transceivers will work
at 25-Gbits/sec per lane and at key distances like 2, 10, and 40 kilometers for
metro and carrier applications.
presentations ended, straw polls were taken to judge how well real motions and
voting would go the following day. For 100-Gbit/sec copper and optical, the
polling revealed consensus had been reached. For native 40-Gbits/sec, the
polling showed a nearly 50/50 split, which was hardly any improvement from the
previous several meetings’ straw polling.
day, formal voting for 100-Gbit/sec copper and optical yielded unanimous
approval. The 40-Gbit/sec team held back a formal vote, hoping to gather more
potential “yes” votes before the July plenary meeting. A 75% yes vote will be
needed, but it appears the 40-Gbit/sec evangelists will need to restart their
efforts with a new HSSG authorization and effort—which would put them out
further in time with a successful conclusion.
tumultuous voting, I took a break and walked over to the Canadian Parliament
building, and sat in the legislative hall and witnessed another frantic voting
effort, this one concerning the country’s railroad network. It ended with some
very happy and some very angry members shouting loudly and carrying on in front
of several live television cameras. Will future Ethernet voting be broadcast
live over the Internet? The answer is yes, when 100-Gbit/sec and 1-Tbit/sec
Ethernet networking is in place.
Mega Data Center Consortium appeared intent on starting to drive a Terabit
standard, with or without the Ethernet committee’s help. The Optical Internet
Forum (OIF) 25-Gbit/sec/lane common electrical interface specification is in
development phase, and the group’s efforts seem likely to mesh and liaise with
the Ethernet specification development work. The Ethernet Alliance, a business
and marketing consortium, will continue to help drive the 100-Gbit/sec standard
work and interoperability plugfests.
Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) Consortium is promoting the merging if
InfiniBand, Fibre Channel, and Ethernet into one new standard interface. Some
CEE promoters are planning single chips with three cores for each interface as
a first implementation. Some Ethernet backplane evangelists are seeking to
replace InfiniBand, PCI Express, and SerialRapidIO in the backplane arena.
Another group is starting a Fibre Channel over Ethernet standard effort, which
is intended to dominate and replace the current iSCSI market and products.
2x50=100-Gbit/sec copper transceiver chips are working in labs, but are
currently too expensive for volume production. Evangelists of twisted-pair
Ethernet are scratching their heads on how to accomplish 25-Gbit/sec/pair for
up to 100-meter links, as they have endured a long journey in recently
achieving 2.5-Gbits/sec/pair for the new IEEE 802.3an 10-Gbit standard. They
have hope for carving out business in the short data-center link market, but
their chips are still more costly and hotter than CX-4 components. This has
resulted in them also having to offer CX-4 products. New shielded Category 6A
and Category 7 cabling costs have risen close to the cost of CX-4 cabling.
work on the 4x25-Gbit/sec Ethernet copper standard likely will accelerate the
development of a next-generation 20-Gbit/sec/lane InfiniBand specification and
related products. A “birds of a feather” group appears to be positioning for a
new 100-Gbit/sec Ethernet backplane specification and standard. Most of the
Ethernet community wants to use the same copper and optical connectors that are
on existing Ethernet standards if possible, such as SFF-8470, LC, and MPO.
twinaxial copper cables may be used to achieve longer-length assemblies—40
meters or longer—or the smallest possible wire gauge and outer cable diameter,
because of the current high-performance computing and mega-data-center usage.
But they likely will not be specified in the new 100-Gbit/sec Ethernet
standard. Accumulative cable weight, diameters, and bend radius are significant
issues with end users.
There is a
huge scramble to partner, acquire, and merge with different companies up and
down the food chain, as no one company can do it all developing and producing
100-Gbit/sec-capable products. Highest-end simulation software and measurement
equipment is expensive. New testing methodologies need to be defined and
standardized. New wire termination, as well as printed circuit board connector
termination and transition routing methods, are necessary to make signaling
individuals truly understand and can develop solutions that will function
correctly through the entire interconnect system. But I, for one, have faith
that this fifth major generation of Ethernet development will happen and will
end well, as did the previous versions.
with full permission of Cabling Installation & Maintenance – August issue 2007 www.cable-install.com
Nelson, vice president of marketing for Border States Electric, Fargo, N.D.,
spoke recently to the NEMA board of governors. His remarks, aimed at convincing
electrical manufacturers to jump on the Industry Data Warehouse (IDW2)
bandwagon, made headlines. The speech is the subject of a PDF on the Idea Web
site (find it at http://tinyurl.com/2559uv).
accurate, and fully certified data will lower total cost, provide more
differentiated value, and increase exposure for a manufacturer’s entire catalog
of items,” said Nelson. “Manufacturers will also experience fewer errors in
product selections and fewer returns, reshipments, credits, and debits.”
aren’t altruistically asking for this data. “We need it to drive a brand and to
better market a line,” Nelson said. “And we need it to better collaborate with
customers who are using electronic ordering tools. This is becoming a
differentiator between manufacturers for distributors in regards to sourcing
doesn’t use ERP
Doesn’t Use ERP” was the headline on a May feature appearing on the site of
Baseline magazine (find it at http://tinyurl.com/3dsmpn).
chose to take a radically different approach. It has created a de facto ERP
system by building applications that tap into a Teradata data warehouse, which
has become the centralized repository for most of the company’s business
information,” the article reported.
Wesco go its own way? The article noted that the company has 370 branches,
eight distribution centers, and distribution center managers with a high degree
of autonomy—including the ability to determine inventory, set prices, and
The key is
that Wesco did not want to mess with what was in place (the WesNet system).
“Companies have invested a lot of money in developing applications that run
their businesses really well,” John Conte, Wesco’s CIO, said in the article.
“Why give that up for the cookie-cutter approach of an ERP system?”
corporate management in Pittsburgh was, according to the Baseline feature,
virtually blind. “It couldn’t quickly get to important customer-level
information, such as which customers had recorded a dramatic drop in purchases
and were perhaps getting their supplies from a competitor,” the article noted.
needs analysis, Wesco executives found that the company didn’t need a new ERP
system. “What Wesco really needed,” the article claimed, “was a faster way to
get at the data that was already being sent in to headquarters.”
twist: The company had picked an Oracle data warehouse as the solution, but had
a 20-year relationship with NCR—and the NCR rep to Wesco asked to present
information on the company’s Teradata system.
courtesy,” the article continued, “Wesco listened—but the executives felt they
were humoring the NCR people. However, their minds were changed after the
Teradata system was able to produce a key report in four hours or less—a report
that included information Wesco’s headquarters’ employees previously could not see,
and one that the Oracle system reportedly took 28 hours to produce.”
system cost Wesco $10 million, instead of the estimated $110 million cost of a
transition to an ERP system. In addition to the $100 million savings, the
company reports that it gained:
one-time margin improvement of $10 million from using the system
• A $4
million savings in the first two years via better management of its discount
annual savings of $1 million in discounts
• An $8
million one-time gain through inventory reduction and better distribution of
inventory among branches
distributors don’t match Wesco’s size (the company could top $6 billion in 2007
sales), but the fact that the company listened to a vendor’s alternative
solution to a problem and, thanks to that, found a way to cut the estimated
investment by a reported 90% is encouraging.
brick in the building information modeling (BIM) foundation has been put in
place: Use of BIM by everyone in construction can help buildings be greener.
The technology is different from previous 3-D design offerings, in that there
is intelligence embedded in the model.
on BuildingGreen.com (find it at http://tinyurl.com/2r96w6) addresses “How BIM
Can Aid Green Design”; the benefits cited include:
detailed energy analysis than traditional construction documents have
in the time needed to set up energy models
ability to pass data back and forth from BIM models to standard software now in
In terms of
use on hundreds of larger construction projects, BIM isn’t there quite yet, but
its arrival threatens to upset industries involved in construction—including
electrical distribution. A detailed, accurate model of a building allows
automated take-offs, material estimates and more direct ordering of materials
by someone other than an electrical contractor, and the potential for more jobs
in which an electrical contractor can become a labor-only contractor.
— Salimando can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
with full permission of Ted Magazine – August
issue 2007 www.tedmag.com
The Last Word On Cabling Standards
A follow-up to the January “Cable”
column, which lamented the high cost of obtaining copies of cabling standards
that cover the components for voice, data, and video installations.
January, I have attended two TIA meetings and have questioned the people
running several standards committees. I made proposals to them based on my
ideas for making the standards more understandable to a larger audience, and
have come to a variety of conclusions about these standards.
foremost, I advise distributors and installers to forget about obtaining and
using the standards themselves. I have been told by a number of
people—including committee chairs—that they are not writing standards for
installers or users; they are writing them for the manufacturers of cabling
components that participate in the committees. This coincides with the
definition of these standards provided by an ex-chairman of the IEEE committee
that develops Ethernet standards—he described them as “mutually agreed-upon
specifications for product development.”
examine this for a moment. A standards committee is a group of technical and
marketing people, virtually all from manufacturers of relevant products, who
cooperate under the auspices of an industry trade association and negotiate
product specifications to ensure interoperability. Since the potential for
restraint of trade exists, they operate on some tight rules that prevent legal
problems. To deal with the advancement of technology, they often create working
groups that engage in research into relevant technical issues that affect the
products. What results is a definition for products that will guarantee certain
levels of performance and interoperability.
standardized structured cabling, the goal is to produce a predictable minimum
performance level for cabling that manufacturers can use for developing
communications products. Those products have traditionally been communications
products like Ethernet LANs, but also include security systems—both CCTV and
alarms—building control systems, audio, and anything that can work over the
standardized cabling system. The cabling standards are minimums, so many
companies can offer enhanced products that exceed the standards and offer
benefits to certain users, as well as provide a competitive advantage.
manufacturers of network electronics have their own standards meetings where
they do similar work—for example, Ethernet in the IEEE 802.3 committees.
Liaison between the network and cabling committees ensures that their standards
will work together. In fact, the committees often use input from each other to
set their agendas and technical targets. Other applications that use structured
cabling—such as video over UTP cabling—must rely on these cabling standards
during their product development, as they are basically proprietary
applications, not covered by industry standards. However, should manufacturers
of video products want such a standard, they could initiate a similar process
in order to create one.
these processes can help me when I get a call from someone wanting to know what
the standard says about a specific issue. For example, in January I spent more
than a dozen hours on the phone helping a contact understand testing issues for
structured cabling. My investigations at the standards meetings provided
insight into how to answer the question. Since the manufacturers develop the
standards for their own use, they assume the responsibility for educating
their personnel and customers, distributors, or end-users. Every company
involved in structured cabling seems to have a section in the back of its
catalog and a Web site devoted to explaining the standards. It is here, not in
the standards themselves, where the relevant information is to be found.
author of several textbooks and training programs that cover cabling and
standards, I have struggled with how to cover standards. They change
continuously, with the written and approved versions often lagging current
product technology. I’m beginning to hedge as to how I refer to standards,
covering the scope of the current and expected future versions, but not trying
to offer definitive information on them, which would be hopelessly out of
putting the responsibility on manufacturers’ backs, and advise distributors to
do the same. I give the background and overview, but leave it to the
manufacturer to provide up-to-date, simple explanations. After all, that’s what
they expect—and want—us to do.
VDV Works, has been active in the VDV cabling business for more than 25 years.
Find him at www.JimHayes.com.
with full permission of Ted Magazine – August issue 2007 www.tedmag.com
Private Label Publicity
The private label trend is proving
disruptive and controversial to electrical distribution—but it’s naive to
believe it’ll go away, and simplistic to assume that no good can come of it.
labels are less common in electrical distribution than in other wholesale
distribution industries. According to the new report Facing the Forces of
Change: Lead the Way in the Supply Chain, 43% of distributors today sell their
own private label products, but only 14% of electrical distributors offer a
private label. (It is estimated that about one-third of electrical distributors
will offer private label products by 2012.)
not all electrical distributors support private labels. Last month, Bob
Reynolds, chairman, president, and CEO of Graybar Electric, announced that
Graybar would not offer private labels.
preferences are another barrier to the sale of private label products by
electrical distributors. Some contractors use premium brands to communicate the
quality and reliability of their services to their customers, thereby
increasing the importance of carrying high-quality national brands. Product
liability issues also limit the willingness of distributors to enter certain
found that while contractors will accept any manufacturer’s brand or a
distributor’s own brand in product categories such as cable ties, fasteners,
chemicals, lubricants, and metal fittings, brand preference is alive and well
for mission-critical electrified products such as breakers, switchgear, and
in many related industries have recognized the opportunity to provide private
label products and help customers with sourcing, rather than simply acting as a
sales channel for branded manufacturers.
example, earlier in the year Stanley Works made the announcement that Home
Depot would be replacing its branded padlocks and latches with products from
Crown Bolt. (Crown Bolt is a manufacturer that Home Depot acquired last year
and is now part of HD Supply.)
Grainger is moving aggressively into global sourcing of private label products
from China and Taiwan. The products obtained through the global sourcing
operation include Westward tools, Lumapro lighting products, and Condor safety
labels can also strengthen channel relationships with suppliers that need
assistance in going global. Consider Berlin Packaging, a distributor of
containers and closures that set up operations in China five years ago as a way
to source low-cost global products for its domestic manufacturing customers in
the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and personal care industries. The
company quickly learned that domestic suppliers were asking for help managing
overseas relationships or even finding reliable factories, so it now provides
its expertise as a fee-based service for suppliers, too.
mistake—suppliers and their distributors will be battling over private labels.
But, for the most part, the trend will continue to grow in categories where the
manufacturer’s brand does not add enough value.
founder and president of Pembroke Consulting. He can be reached at
215-523-5700 or online at www.pembrokeconsulting.com.
with full permission of Ted Magazine – August issue 2007 www.tedmag.com
Recruit And Retain
to Cassie Petty, vice president of human resources and quality assurance at
Standard Electric Supply in Milwaukee, “Hiring the best people and ensuring
the highest quality of service delivery for our customers are tied pretty
Stern, president and owner of Standard Electric Supply, agrees, noting that the
secret to the company’s success is to start with good people. “Then we give
them the resources to perform well and get out of their way,” he said.
it isn’t unusual for the company to adopt 70 or 80 new ideas in any given year.
“And these aren’t minor suggestions that we are considering: These are the
great ideas that will improve our business in some way—either directly
affecting customer service, improving our internal efficiencies, or helping us
achieve the company’s long-term strategic goals.”
It is fitting
that Standard Electric Supply be the company profiled in this issue. TED takes
a special look at workforce trends and how to get maximum performance out of
the people in our industry; learn more about the company and its incentive
programs on page 32.
that, Michael Martin, TED’s associate publisher and editor, examines Gen Y, the
next generation of employees, and what the industry needs to do to get them
more involved. As Martin points out, understanding this next generation is
important. Sixty-two percent of respondents to a TED reader survey were over 45
years old—and more than half of that group was over 55 years old. A company
that hopes to make a smooth transition into the next decades had better start
looking for the next generation of leaders. Martin’s article should provide a
few ideas to help in the search.
NAED will be doing its part to help attract new people to the industry as well.
Under the guidance of NAED’s Western Regional Council, the association is in
the process of building an electrical industry recruitment Web site designed to
introduce 17- to 30-year-olds to the electrical distribution channel and direct
interested people to participating NAED member companies to learn about job
opportunities. The council, along with NAED staff, has worked with outside
recruitment specialists to help us understand the hot buttons for the next
generation and how to better communicate with them.
just building a Web site won’t accomplish what needs to be done. Therefore, at
the request of the council, NAED’s Board of Directors has committed the
resources to market the site to the right audience. Our goal is to get
potential employees to understand the opportunities that this industry offers
and get them to make inquiries to your company—after that, it’s up to you to
sell them on the benefits of working for you.
More on the
Web site will be coming out in the next few months. Until then, take a look at
this issue of TED and start thinking about how you can get maximum performance
out of the industry’s next generation of employees and leaders.
with full permission of Ted Magazine – August issue 2007 www.tedmag.com
Tackling The Talent Crunch
States, we have implemented aggressive growth plans. Our vision to be a $1
billion company is supported by four strategic goals, one of which is to
enhance employee-owner development. In order to achieve this, we have
identified numerous action items ranging from recruiting to training and
development to succession planning. Attracting qualified talent to build teams
to support our growth and replace the retiring Baby Boomers is one of our
greatest challenges. Currently at Border States, 17% of our workforce is 55
years old or older.
of U.S. workers over the age of 40 has increased significantly since 1980,
according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2010, more than 51% of the
workforce is expected to be 40 or older—a 33% increase since 1980—while the
portion of the workforce aged 25 to 39 will decline 5.7%. At the same time, the
median age of U.S. workers has continued to rise and is expected to increase
by six years, from 34.6 to 40.6, by 2010. The number of workers aged 55 and older
will grow from 13% of the labor force in 2000 to 20% in 2020.
aging workforce creates a challenge for us to hire and retain the best and the
brightest in our industry. As recruiting top talent becomes increasingly
difficult, it is more important than ever to build interest in careers in the
channel. To compete for new talent, we must ensure that top candidates entering
the workforce find this industry attractive with well-defined career paths.
this talent crunch, NAED is working on several initiatives to help with
recruitment, training, and development. To attract men and women ages 17 to 34
to the industry, the Western Region Council is developing a recruitment
marketing campaign for the electrical distribution industry. This is a very
exciting project geared to acquaint new workers with the electrical
distribution industry and educate them on available career opportunities. The
council, with the aid of consultants, researched the lifestyles and
expectations of the younger generations within the workplace. Using the results
of their research, NAED is developing a Web site and marketing tools to assist
members in attracting new talent to the industry and filling positions within
site will illustrate the options and benefits of a career working in electrical
distribution. It will also provide NAED member distributors the opportunity to
link visitors to their individual company Web sites. The Web site will include
job descriptions and testimonials from industry employees within the target age
group, interactive games to encourage visitors to share the Web site with
friends, and industry information for parents and school counselors. It will
also feature brochures for school counselors and students that can be
downloaded, customized, and distributed by electrical distributors to their
local high schools, trade schools, and universities.
to the Web site and marketing campaign, NAED is in the very beginning stages of
investigating a certification program. The proposed process would require
successful completion of a comprehensive examination and a number of years of
service in that position. The exam will include sections on electrical
distribution knowledge, product application knowledge, communication and other
soft skills abilities, and sales skills. It will be based upon competencies
developed for each position by industry leaders and those who are currently in
specifics are still in design, but the following positions have been
established and will be certified:
• Will call
the certification program, the NAED Learning Center, an Internet-based learning
management system, continues to grow in scope and usage by distributors for
training and educating their employees. Currently, more than 300 courses are
As we know
from research, younger employees want a challenging career with clearly defined
career paths, training, and the ability to experience cutting-edge technology.
NAED is responding to these needs.
recruitment Web site, certification program, and online learning center are
designed to meet the needs of younger employees and drive new talent into the
electrical distribution industry. There’s never been a time when it has been
with full permission of Ted Magazine – August issue 2007 www.tedmag.com
The Tide Is High
Does a rising tide actually lift all
boats? According to this month’s stock market assessment of the 10
electrical/datacomm industry companies covered, the answer is a resounding yes.
(EME) issued a mid-second-quarter release to note that it was ratcheting up its
guidance for 2007 sales and earnings-per-share, citing a more favorable
competitive dynamic surrounding time-sensitive, highly complex projects. The
company also set a two-for-one stock split for early July. Surely, its $72.07
price on June 20 was, at least in part, due to those announcements.
had closed the year’s first week of trading at $55—a 31% gain. Earlier, it
posted a 14.5% revenue gain in the first quarter, to $1.32 billion; and its
contract backlog rose 36.5% vs. one year earlier (and 19% vs. three months
MacInnis, chairman and CEO: “We believe these favorable conditions will
continue, based on the encouraging market indicators we are seeing and our
contractor on this month’s chart, Integrated Electrical Services (IESC), still
suffering from its bankruptcy filing last year, was trading for $32.43 when
June 20 came to a close. As December ended, the stock was under $20.
June 20 close was $74.54. The company made a low of $49.28 in the year’s first
week—a 51% gain in five-plus months.
good,” said Robert Grubbs, president and CEO, and all indications are that
these trends will continue for the next few quarters.
fronts, Anixter ranked No. 454 on the Fortune 500 (last year it was No. 509),
purchased Eurofast SAS of France, an aerospace fastener distributor, held an
open house to introduce its 4,000-square-foot Infrastructure Solutions Lab, and
agreed to participate in IBM’s data center Energy Efficiency Initiative.
Brands (AYI) closed trading on June 20 at $61.09. As recently as the week of
March 12, it hit a low of $51.64. That’s nearly a 20% gain in roughly one
Telecommunications (ADCT) finished June 20 at $18.76. At the close of this
year’s first day of trading the stock was at $14.78. That’s a 27% gain in less
than six months.
had stronger than expected sales and earnings for the second quarter (ended
May 4), which were accompanied by a dramatic increase in its gross margins—from
32% reported in the first quarter to 34.5%. First-half sales that totaled than
$646 million were up just 2.5%. Robert Switz, president and CEO, said he
believes that there are significant long-term growth opportunities ahead for
• At Encore Wire, the $30.62 close of June 20
was a giant leap (actually, 45%) from the first-week 2007 low of $21.10.
to Daniel Jones, president and CEO: “We are pleased to announce a profitable
quarter in the midst of the tough competitive environment that we are
currently facing in our industry. The margin compression we experienced in the
fourth quarter of 2006 continued into the first quarter of 2007.”
Cable (BGC) made a headline in recent weeks as the leading gainer of the day.
At a June 20 close of $75.18, the company’s stock was up 76% from its closing
price in January’s first week.
company’s revenues in the first quarter hit more than $1 billion—up 25% from
year-earlier results. Highlights included a 420-basis-point increase in
operating margins (on a metal-adjusted basis). The company sold some debt and
bought in high-priced fixed-rate notes (which carried a 9.5% interest rate).
note, North American transmission cable volumes, as measured by metal pounds
sold, were up 25% (comparing quarter one 2007 to quarter one 2006).
Class A stock (HUB.a) sat at $54.70 on June 20 when trading ended. It hit a low
in January trading of $43.50—giving it a gain of better than 25%.
news, Hubbell began its effort to wipe out memories of shortfalls in last
year’s fourth quarter—what Timothy Powers, chairman, president, and CEO, called
the company’s campaign to return Hubbell to its historic levels of
market-leading profitability and performance. Sales in the first quarter were
up 9%, to nearly $626 million.
focused on three areas,” Powers said, “price realization, productivity, and
cost containment. Implementation of selling price increases to counter
materials and cost inflation are improving profitability, which resulted in
incremental sales of approximately 4% to 5% compared to the first quarter of
Automation (ROK) closed at $68.48 on June 20. In early April the stock traded
in the $57 range (closing at $57.69 in Easter week); the gain in less than 10
weeks was 18.7%.
revenue rose 8% in the second quarter, as the company hit $1.2 billion in
sales. For the first half, sales were $2.35 billion—up 7.4%. U.S. sales were
said to be flat compared to the second quarter of 2006. Results were mixed,
said Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO. “Operating margins were mildly
disappointing, primarily due to a very difficult revenue mix and the lagged
execution of our productivity plans.”
International (TYC) is about to split itself into three, which, in part, led to
a June 20 close of $32.62. One year earlier, TYC was at $26.78. While the time
span is longer than the others quoted here, it’s still a near 22% gain in one
year (not including dividends).
company’s first-half revenue (second quarter ended March 30) was $21.17
billion—so maybe a split-up is a good idea. Tyco itself will keep the fire and
security business and the engineered products piece; the electronics operation,
Tyco Electronics, will become a separate company, as will the healthcare
happen after the spin-off? CEO Edward Breen said the company will continue to
make tuck-in acquisitions of related business, according to a Reuters account.
The company will sell off operations that do not fit—including Earth Tech,
which is in the water infrastructure business. Tyco International’s retained
businesses reported $18.6 billion in 2006 revenue.
is a contributing editor to TED. Reach him at email@example.com.
with full permission of Ted Magazine – August issue 2007 www.tedmag.com
Tools For Growth
Faster network speeds, increased
residential networking, and expanded network service
offerings are spurring the need for
new—not more—VDV tools and testing equipment.
to Jim Carefoot, VDV product manager for Greenlee, a Textron Company, the sales
of low-voltage and VDV test equipment, including tools, have grown at rates
that are above facility construction levels for a number of years—and this
trend is forecasted to continue.
But when asked
if the bullish growth seen in the broad data center and commercial VDV market
caused an increase in the numbers and/or types of tools and measurement
equipment needed, Carefoot’s response was a solid “no.”
of tools that are required to handle commercial growth is actually lower,” he
said. “Copper media—such as high-performance twisted-pair and coaxial
cable—endure as winners in most horizontal applications, and most testers
target both. However, various improvements have been made in the value of the
to Dan Wright, public relations manager for Fluke Networks, the company expects
to see solid growth in all of its segments—including enterprise network testing
(which includes cable installation and certification and portable network
troubleshooting), enterprise performance management (the monitoring and
analysis of the active network), and communication service providers (which
helps telecom carriers migrate to next-generation services).
three market forces that are driving change in the networking world, and this,
in turn, is causing changes to network testing and measurement products,” said
Wright. “The main drivers are higher network speeds, more networking services
built into residences, and communications carriers offering more and different
network services to their business customers.
considerable interest in 10Gb networks, particularly 10GBASE-T,” he added.
“This creates a need for field-usable test and certification tools that can
deal with the high-bandwidth demands of 10Gb traffic.”
ratification of IEEE 802.3an, the application standard for 10GBASE-T, silicon
vendors now ship 10GBASE-T chipsets, and we will soon see 10GbE switches
available in the marketplace,” said Mike O’Connor, director of technical
marketing and services for Hubbell Premise Wiring. “The final standard awaiting
approval is TIA’s cabling infrastructure standard, ANSI/TIA/EIA-568B.2-10.
biggest challenge with 10GbE transmission over new 6a UTP cabling is ANEXT, or
alien near end crosstalk, and testing it,” he added. “End-users who are
installing 6a cabling will want to test it, so handheld testers are needed to
complete these tests in the shortest possible time.”
to Wright, residential installers need tools to help them test and document a
wider range of cabling types used for more services than ever before, and he
noted that the question that most affects tester buying decisions is, Does it
installers look at testing as an expense and would prefer to skip this step
altogether,” he said. “But the smart installers recognize that testing and
documentation improve the quality of the installation, as well as greatly
reduce the chance that costly, unpaid callbacks could occur.”
decision is made to buy a tester, the next issue is selecting one that provides
the right features and functionality. Does the design help eliminate
user-induced errors? Is the learning curve as short as possible? Does it address
prominent trend in testers is improvement in the user interface, where test
selection and results must be easy to reach,” said Carefoot. “This means better
displays and user-friendly controls. High-bandwidth media has become so common
that it has to be dealt with by many more technicians with lower levels of
experience and training.”
there’s more to the VDV tool market than cable testers.
security, and commercial VDV are seeing growth,” said Bruce Hartranft, business
unit manager for Ideal. “Electricians are entering high-growth areas including
security, home theater, and other VDV installations—thus, they need specialized
to Hartranft, research has shown that 30% or more of electrical contractors are
handling access control, CCTV, and motion detection, and more are running data
cable for Internet, whole-house audio, and home theater systems. “These areas
show excellent business potential for electricians—and their distributors,” he
a marketing consultant specializing in brand development and integrated
marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
with full permission of Ted Magazine – August issue 2007 www.tedmag.com
There’s a new generation entering
the workforce—do you speak their language?
typical electrical distribution employee is older than Microsoft, the Internet,
and the fax machine. Most know what Al Gore did before he became a filmmaker
and enlightened the world on the ill effects of global warming. It’s likely
that they reminisce about the first time a fax came through, and most remember
receiving an e-mail for the first time.
all about to change. In fact, it already has—ask Baby Boomers where they were
when Kennedy died, and they’ll reflect on a November day in 1963 when a
presidential motorcade made its way through Dallas. Ask a Gen Y worker (that
is, a person born after 1978) and the answer will likely be about a July day in
1999, when a small plane crashed off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
without saying that there will be many such disconnects between generations,
and it’s not a matter of who is right and who is wrong. The matter at hand is
how those in this youngest generation can be integrated into the workforce
before their booming parents retire—64 million of them by the end of this
decade, according to the Conference Board.
estimated that in the United States alone, 8,000 to 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 60
every day. In addition, for every two experienced workers who leave the
workforce, only one inexperienced worker replaces them.
TED’s National Subscriber Profile Survey, conducted in January, reflect that
electrical distribution is no different when it comes to the aging population.
Sixty-two percent of reader respondents were over 45 years old, and more than
half of that group topped age 55. These numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise;
it’s no secret that a great number of people are going to retire in the next
decade. What is unknown, however, is how companies in the electrical industry
are going to secure younger people to fill the shoes of the retiring Baby
generation currently entering the workforce—Gen Y (also known as the Millennial
Generation)—is different from any before it. And while “different” is a word
that has been used to describe each generation as it came to the workforce,
it’s especially descriptive of Gen Y.
in which Gen Yers have matured and the technologies with which they have grown
up have created a generation that is more savvy, worldly, and technologically
proficient than any other before it. Gen Yers have access to many more
communication tools than any previous generation, and companies that hope to
recruit the best of them will have to get through to them in their language.
different about Y?
offspring of the peace, love, and understanding generation, Gen Y workers
typically grew up with both parents working. Both parents likely had a coaching
role in their upbringing, as opposed to the dictatorial style of parenting
prevalent during Baby Boomers’ childhoods. Also, unlike prior generations, the
Y children were likely involved in making collaborative decisions in their own
lives from an early age. From what sports to play to what areas of studies they
pursued, Gen Yers’ input was sought after, valued, and coached.
why, upon entering the workforce, Gen Y workers expect to be involved in
decision making and tend not to be shy about sharing their opinions. This
parental relationship has also created the not uncommon situation where a
parent accompanies a Gen Y prospect to an interview and, reportedly, even to
an occasional performance review.
to Bruce Tulgan, founder of RainmakerThinking, a research firm that studies the
working lives of young people, “Parenting, teaching, and counseling became so
focused on self-esteem during the mid-1980s that in most cases Gen Y workers
feel great about themselves.”
stated that Gen Y workers are the most high-maintenance workforce in the
history of the world. “The good news is that they are also going to be the most
high performing,” he said. “They have more information in their heads and at
their fingertips than anyone else has had on day one of a new job. They have
been to an employer’s Web site, they have done research, they have ideas, and
they want to make changes immediately. They have high expectations, but they
have the highest expectations first and foremost for themselves.”
technology standpoint, Gen Y workers were born with a joystick in their hand.
Because they’ve been raised with Nintendo, virtual reality, and online
interactive games, they come to the workplace equipped with the ability to
make decisions quickly, and are highly focused on outcomes.
have an amazing ability to multitask—although they’re not always necessarily
successful at it. According to a study from Nationwide Mutual Insurance, 35% of
Gen Yers reported multitasking while driving—37% send text or instant messages
and 73% eat. These figures are much higher than those in older generations, and
the practice has significantly increased the number of highway accidents,
causing some companies to implement cell phone policies—from requiring
employees to pull over when using company phones to completely banning the use
of company wireless devices while driving.
information is a similar story. According to research from The Centre for
Organization Effectiveness, Gen Y workers process information selectively. Due
to the abundance of resources at their fingertips, they can’t take it all in,
so they don’t—and they bring these behaviors to work. This is especially true
when they act like they “get it” but actually don’t, which sometimes leads to
Y tick at work
workplace for the Generation Y workforce has to be flexible and must fit into
their lifestyles,” said Eric Chester, president of Generation Why and author of
Employing Generation Why. “Instead of just saying ‘9-to-5 is what we have,’
flexibility alone won’t attract and retain this group. They also seek an
environment that provides autonomy, the opportunity to make decisions,
mentoring, and face time.
between Gen Y workers and others is common because older workers may see Gen Y
workers as young upstarts,” said Chester. Conversely, “Gen Y workers won’t
automatically respect older workers or those with seniority. But the they are
much more accepting of people who are different from them.”
workers are much like their predecessors, Gen Xers, in that both tend to look
for jobs that fit within their own personal career aspirations. According to
Chester, “Gen Y workers want to work for companies doing good things—they are
good corporate citizens and want to do something bigger than themselves.”
the Baby Boomers, who looked to James Dean and Rebel Without a Cause for tips
on how to defy unhip elders; or the antiwar generation of the 1970s, which
burned flags and bras in an effort to fight the establishment; or the Gen Xers,
who watched parents get laid off during the 1980s and learned to be scrappy
survivors, Gen Y comes into the workplace with little desire to rebel.
to Nancy Alrichs’s book, Manager of Choice: 5 Competencies for Cultivating Top
Talent, Gen Y workers put personal and family needs ahead of work demands. And
rather then rebelling, for Gen Y the effects of 9/11 included a need to be
close to family, and a need to volunteer and contribute to the world at large.
looking to rebel, Gen Yers do come with a sense of entitlement. “Gen Y workers
are independent, entrepreneurial thinkers who relish responsibility, demand
immediate feedback, and expect a sense of accomplishment on an hourly basis,”
said Tulgan. “They will tell you how to fix your team, department, and organization
before they’ve completed the orientation program.”
comes to mentoring, formal methods don’t appear to work as well as informal
conversations for Gen Y. Sources indicate that formal one-on-one sessions are
less productive than informal opportunities to share moments of learning,
wisdom, and praise.
managers should also be cautioned not to be defensive of the question, “Why?”
In many instances, youthful curiosity is the root cause that brings up the
“Why?” question; asking “Why?” may not be an attempt to defy authority. In
fact, this generation is one of the least rebellious to come along in ages.
Born with a
cell phone in one hand and a laptop in the other, turning the head of a Gen Y
prospect makes having top-of-the-line technologies a necessity. While
presenting defined company goals, providing a sense of corporate community,
and offering international work opportunities are hooks that can help capture
new talent, the crux of recruitment efforts relies on communication via the
In the good
old days, job candidates worked hard to impress potential employers. Today,
there’s a fundamental shift afoot: Demand for talent is set to outweigh supply
for the foreseeable future, and employers are finding it necessary to do
everything possible to be attractive in the marketplace. Old recruitment
efforts simply won’t attract the best talent.
Rothberg, president and founder of CollegeRecruiter.com, said even the use of
Web sites and e-mail recruitment are becoming passé with Gen Y. “It’s virtually
impossible to walk around a college campus these days without seeing students
sending or receiving text messages,” said Rothberg. “While e-mail is often
regarded by Baby Boomers and Gen Xers as being too fast, Gen Y regards e-mail
as too slow and formal.”
“Many Gen Y
members believe that if messaging isn’t instant, it isn’t relevant,” he
continued. “Recruiters who still rely on newspaper ads are irrelevant to this
audience. Only moderately more relevant are recruiters who use the Internet
just to post jobs to the big three [Monster, CareerBuilder, and HotJobs] or to
search their resume banks,” he continued.
messaging to recruit is difficult, though, because the number of characters
that can be used is very limited (145 for most cell phone carriers). If this
trend becomes more common, a new recruitment language will come into being,
with a focus on short, exact messages, and a call to action for more
information will be necessary.
applicants cannot respond to text messaging with a resume attachment, so an
e-mail or link to a Web site to upload a resume will be needed.
should become familiar with social Web sites like Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn,
and Yahoo! 360. According to a survey from the Institute for Corporate
Productivity in conjunction with HR.com, 65% of business professionals are
logging on to these social networking sites not only to connect with peers, but
also to network with colleagues and customers, as well as look for jobs.
to the survey, which analyzed data from 323 organizations, the most popular
site was LinkedIn, which targets business professionals. The survey also
revealed that about half of the organizations use social networking sites to
connect both internal and remote staff. Just less than half use the networks to
connect with potential clients and to showcase their skills, and 35% are
currently using the sites as a tool to find jobs.
technology trend is for organizations to create and maintain sophisticated Web
sites in order to educate, target, and communicate with particular groups that
may be more attractive as prospective employees.
there is both good and bad news here. When it comes to finding talent,
distributors who are equipped with the right tools and offer the most
profitable opportunities will be most likely to find success. The good news is
that there are more ways than ever to search for and attract new talent. The
bad news is that electrical distributors must be as good at selling the
benefits of working for their company to prospective employees as they are in
selling products and services to their customers.
the associate publisher/editor of TED magazine. Reach him at 314-812-5311 or
via e-mail at email@example.com.
with full permission of Ted Magazine – June issue 2007 www.tedmag.com
Cabling Brings Building Up To Speed
Category 6 network provides performance improvements for corporate headquarters
the Fort Worth, Texas, skyline changed with the construction of the first of
the Tandy Center’s twin 20-story towers. Two years later, the second tower was
erected. The buildings were constructed to serve as the headquarters of
RadioShack (formerly the Tandy Corp.), but also housed a mall and an indoor
ice-skating rink. Over time, the mall began to fall into decline, and
RadioShack sold the buildings to move into a new corporate headquarters, leaving
the twin towers virtually empty. Today, the towers are being renovated and
re-developed as City Place–and Range Resources is the first tenant to move in.
Resources is an independent oil and gas company that operates in the
Appalachian, Southwestern and Gulf Coast regions of the United States. The
company had outgrown its offices at another building in downtown Fort Worth and
decided to move its offices to the new City Place office tower, where it now
occupies five floors. As with any building project, Range Resources met with a
few obstacles, including challenges associated with the design and age of the
building had to be completely renovated, Range Resources’ new offices
essentially had to be built from scratch. That meant the company would have the
opportunity to build its communications infrastructure from the ground up with
a new cabling system. Though the new communications infrastructure represented
a significant upgrade over what Range Resources had been using in its previous
location, installing cabling in the limited space provided by the 30-year-old
tower proved to have its challenges. The company looked to KRK Technologies to
design and implement a system that would overcome these obstacles.
room, closet and ceiling space, coupled with building code restrictions,
required KRK to find alternative pathways for the cabling. Only about two feet
of space existed in the ceilings for the wiring associated with a building
(e.g., electricity, security, cabling) and the county’s building code specified
that cables had to be at least three feet away from the air units–so
traditional pathways were limited.
to this challenge, KRK created pathways in the actual offices as opposed to
creating them in the hallways. Not an easy task, since the longer lengths of
cabling had to be pulled through every office.
Tight cabling spaces
Place is such an historic building, its construction is rather different from a
new build that you’d see today,” says Bob Koethe, vice president for KRK. “The
ceiling space between the drop ceiling and the actual top deck is very limited.
Typically, you work with about four to five feet of space, but in this building
we were working with only two to three feet of space. We had to get very
creative with our pathways to get the cable from the closets to the actual
in Cedar Hill, Texas, provides cabling design and infrastructure installation
for voice and data communications. Its services range from design to project
management, and moves, adds and changes services. KRK designed and implemented
the solution while the building was still under construction, creating some
timing challenges for the installation.
working in that building while they were still downstairs with bulldozers and
cutting everything out of the building,” Koethe offers.
installation comprised 120,000 feet of SYSTIMAX GigaSPEED XL 2071 plenum copper
cabling in the horizontal and 5,000 feet of GigaSPEED XL 2081 plenum cabling in
the backbone. Both types meet the TIA/EIA 568-b2-1 Category 6 and ISO/IEC
Category 6 specifications and provide the added performance margin required to
support high-bandwidth applications–like Range Resources’ reservoir and 3-D
seismic simulations, which can often be 20-30 gigabits.
and gas companies need sophisticated cabling infrastructure to support their
applications, but Range Resources also wanted to implement voice over IP,” says
Mark Guajardo, operations manager for KRK.
voice, data AND video transported
SYSTIMAX GigaSPEED XL solution is a fully integrated structured cabling
solution, including a range of cables, cords, outlets and patching hardware. It
exceeds Category 6/Class E standards in any channel up to 100 meters with six
or fewer connectors.
GigaSPEED XL 2071 cabling transmits voice, data and video, with quality of
service (QoS). The cables feature a patent-pending, bi-sector tape that
delivers the performance benefits of more traditional cabling without the
stiffness and size associated with fluted center members. The GigaSPEED XL 2081
cabling also transmits voice, data and video with a guaranteed margin of 10 db
near-end crosstalk (NEXT) and power sum
is an unshielded twisted pair that complements the GigaSPEED XL apparatus.
GigaSPEED XL supports Range Resources’ 250 Fort Worth employees with network
line speeds in excess of 1 Gbps–meaning a 300-gigabit production data project
that used to take a week can now be finished typically in just one day.
Resources also invested in the PATCHMAX solution, which provides preterminated
wire management that its IT personnel can manage directly. This not only saves
room in the racks for other systems, but also allows the oil and gas company to
add additional equipment as needed.
Resources completed its move in early May of 2007, and though the system is
still new, the company has not experienced any problems. In fact, many
employees have already noted how much faster the new network runs.
existing solution was just pieced together, and I knew it wouldn’t support the
applications we were looking to run, specifically VoIP,” explains Joe Hale, IT
director for Range Resources. “We knew coming in that Category 6 made the most
sense. After KRK took us on the tour of CommScope’s research and development
labs and we got to see the technology in action, we knew we’d found the right
with full permission of Communications News – August issue 2007
Redefining The Data Center Lifecycle
servers offer the flexibility to upgrade the network without using a forklift
servers have been gaining significant ground in the data center since their
introduction about six years ago. As a result, data center managers are
benefiting from the improved power, cooling efficiency and serviceability of
the blade form factor. They are able to upgrade and repair their data centers
by simply exchanging old or defective blades and other components.
with the improvements that the blade form factor offers, these systems are
built into processes, procedures and lifecycles of the existing
rackmount-centric data centers. The full modular potential of blades has yet to
centers and computer resources are typically upgraded in incremental cycles of
three to five years or more. This approach causes disruptions in service, but
budget constraints, depreciation and data center facility lifecycles make
breaking the three-to-five-year rule difficult. All of these limitations are
independent and conflict with the simplified upgrade capabilities of a blade
alternative to this forklift approach is to develop a methodical way to
continually upgrade through constant monitoring and replacement of the minor
components of the data center. By creating an ecosystem of constant renewal, IT
can successfully develop such an “evergreen” data center.
of an evergreen data center is higher computing performance. Recent Standard
Performance Evaluation Corp. (SPEC) CPU benchmark results show system
performance improving with such a data center by roughly 20 to 40 percent
annually. If this trend continues over a five-year lifespan, available hardware
shows a 150 to 400 percent performance improvement. Companies are thus paying a
performance penalty for old gear they have not had the time or budget to
customers using IT as a competitive weapon, performance is a key
differentiator. Better performance means customers can execute the trade,
discover the drug or design the product faster. Being the fastest is quickly
becoming a requirement, not just an option.
benefits, however, go beyond the traditional speed geeks. For example,
customers in automotive design–who buy software licenses for design automation
software–can maintain their data center and upgrade to the latest computer
technology, while achieving the same or better results with less hardware and
software. One such company projected a $12 million savings in software systems
alone, because the improved performance of the latest systems allowed it to buy
only 30 licenses instead of 50.
Ride the performance curve
building 20 to 30 percent more data centers every year, the growing enterprise
can ride the performance curve of newer systems. By leveraging the advantages
of blades and managing the refresh process, companies can prevent costly data
managers today are experiencing pressure to cut energy costs. With one utility
estimating that data centers use 50 times the energy per square foot as an
office, organizations are looking at computer facilities as a place to trim
energy costs. Since computer power consumption is doubling about every five
years, according to industry experts, this challenge is not going to be easy.
Fortunately, performance per watt and per square foot of new blades improves
over time. For example, today’s dual-core chips require the same power as their
single-core predecessors, so users get more computing in the same power and
improvements ripple through the data center, providing savings in
infrastructure costs, such as power and cooling, real estate, additional
capacity and software licensing. In order to be ready for these demands, here
are some areas to take into consideration in the quest for an evergreen data
and blades. A
chassis that can handle the next generation of devices is necessary. Nothing
will restrict upgrade plans more than a chassis that cannot grow with the
demands. Developments in quad-core and octo-core processors are progressing,
while the demand for more memory and the real estate to accommodate it
increases. Ultimately, advanced blades save energy because they do more in the
same amount of space; however, the power and cooling requirements per chassis
can still rise.
should be modular in order to make them incrementally upgradable. Some
questions to ask about blades systems: Are all active components, such as I/O,
hot pluggable and easily replaceable? Are the modules independent? Can the
compute module be upgraded without touching the I/O, or is the I/O landed on
the blade, requiring custom management when the blade is changed?
Software infrastructure concerns
important consideration for the evergreen data center is the dynamic nature of
the software infrastructure. In most advanced grid environments today, adding,
removing or replacing nodes is simple. The operating system and application
software can be dynamically provisioned to the new structure.
capability is critical for the evergreen data center. With an adequate blades
configuration, energy and hardware cost savings can be substantial, totaling
almost half the cost of traditional procurement and up to 250 percent more in
nothing is more important than the astute management of the replacement process
on an ongoing basis. A clear plan needs to be in place identifying which blades
need to be changed out and when, along with a strict adherence to scheduling.
This task requires constant vigilance, as new components are created and the
software is constantly updated.
cases, IT departments may not have the human resources to adequately enact and
execute the refresh process. In these situations, IT departments would be
better off outsourcing these tasks. The refresh contractors should provide an
integrated package of hardware, software and services that starts with a loaded
chassis and upgrades the compute modules as improved CPUs and other components
talking to IT and data center managers about the evergreen concept, there is
usually some initial resistance around upgrade complexities, and budget and
depreciation changes. The benefits of an evergreen data center often take time
to be realized. Once IT staff realizes they can get 40 percent more work done
per year in the same data center, IT and data center managers are more likely
to decide to implement the evergreen data center concept.
McNerney is director, blade server
product line, at Sun Microsystems, Santa Clara, Calif.
with full permission of Communications News – August issue 2007
Why VoIP Security Matters
to privacy concerns with VoIP is TLS and SRTP (sorry about those acronyms).
by Christian Stredicke
IT infrastructure is one of the main reasons companies decide to deploy voice
over IP (VoIP). VoIP enables unified messaging by incorporating phone traffic,
e-mail and file servers on the LAN. While this can increase employee
productivity and provide cost savings, it also means that the already existing
security threats to the IT infrastructure become threats to the VoIP telephony
infrastructure. Moreover, the telephone system can be attacked from
workstations within the enterprise on the shared LAN.
two major problems with security in the new converged and shared data and voice
IT infrastructure. The first is privacy. In the past, in order to listen in or
record information about someone else’s phone calls, a person would need
personal physical access to the traditional time-division multiplexing
circuit-based PBX equipment, the telephone wiring or PBX trunks to the
telephone company’s central office.
coming of Internet telephony and VoIP protocols, however, a whole new world of
hacker capabilities became available. Today, hackers using the latest gear, in
combination with their PCs in the LAN, now have the ability to record phone
calls and convert them into WAV files for easy retrieval and review. Access to
the voice data packets is all today’s hackers need in order to perform such
activities. In fact, in many cases, this can be programmed directly from a
desktop PC on the company’s site.
security issue is denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. A lot of unstable VoIP
equipment is in the marketplace, still in early stages of development and
deployment. As a result, network manipulation becomes easy for knowledgeable
hackers to disable or disrupt the IP PBX.
cause activities such as letting the phones in the office ring all the time,
rebooting phones or causing other disruptive actions. Writing a shell script
that performs these types of tasks takes just a few lines of programming for an
IT novice. Hackers that spend a little bit more time learning the technology
only need to read about the latest bugs found in an IP PBX, and program it to
crash by sending an “invite of death” packet–similar to the “ping of death”
created a few years ago.
attacks do not come from employees who are willing to risk their jobs to listen
to phone calls. The reality is that a modern virus may be released containing
code that allows users to listen to enterprise phone calls or completely shuts
the PBX server down.
numerous vendors entering the market that sell VoIP alarm systems to address
security issues. Just like the alarm system for protecting physical access to
office premises, these systems watch the network and send an alarm when someone
is trying to break in. Instead of calling the police, they call the IT system
DoS is the result of a bad network setup. For example, if the network is not
prioritizing voice-over-data packets, as it should, a simple e-mail download
could become an “accidental” DoS attack for ongoing phone calls. This occurs as
the burst of packets in the downloading e-mail uses all of the available
bandwidth, dropping the audio packets in order to download the e-mail.
LAN (VLAN) is the answer for ensuring that the LAN gives voice traffic higher
priority. Almost all modern switches support VLAN with priority tagging, which
solves most of the problem. If the Ethernet switch also supports bandwidth
limitation on a trunk basis, flooding attacks can be prevented before they get
to a device.
firewalls were essentially a pain in the neck when it came to session
initiation protocol (SIP) and VoIP, modern firewalls can now detect SIP
packets, guaranteeing that the voice traffic flows properly through the
firewall. Additionally, some firewalls are able to transcode unencrypted SIP
and real-time transport protocol (RTP) packets, translating them into
transparent LAN service (TLS) and station RTP (SRTP) packets. Double checking
the existing firewall capabilities is important, as is upgrading the firewall,
if necessary, as some firewalls still may not be able to fully support SIP.
security precaution to keep in mind: Installing that “free” soft phone on a PC
is a leap of faith. If an application uses a proprietary, encrypted protocol to
talk to the outside world, do not be surprised if the firewall blocks it. It
might not be a phone call–it might be a competitor uploading confidential
memos, or, if network file systems are mounted, the file server with login
session border controllers are becoming a must-have for Internet service
providers, companies are also realizing how useful they are on office premises.
The “mini-session border controller” manages the voice flow into and out of the
office and ensures that the tagging of packets maximizes the voice quality.
private network (VPN) is one way of solving a lot of the privacy problems.
Because many of the popular IP PBXs do not support TLS and SRTP yet, the
packets can be tunneled through VPN to the IP PBX. Most businesses today use
VPN for remote users, so the equipment and know-how for VPN are already
available. A side effect is that remote office users can easily be integrated
into the office PBX without those network address translation problems often
encountered through home-based routers.
to privacy concerns with VoIP is TLS and SRTP. TLS, known from the Web https
scheme, makes sure that the signaling traffic stays private and that there is
nobody pretending to be the server (man-in-the-middle attack). SRTP encrypts
the voice packets, without having too much overhead that would eat the
Stredicke is the CEO of snom, North Andover, Mass.
with full permission of Communications News – August issue 2007
Communication News’ New Site Is Live!
Communications News' (www.comnews.com)
redesigned and repurposed Web site is now live. Among the new features are
Featured White Papers, Featured Products, a white paper library, a blog by
editor Ken Anderberg, and another blog featuring updates and insight on
upcoming trade shows and conferences.
The new site also has video,
initially featuring editor Ken Anderberg, but eventually offering insight on
enterprise networking technologies from leading vendors in the market. Future
plans call for blogs on various topics important to enterprise end-user IT
management and staff, such as network security, wireless and convergence.
Please check out the new site
and let us know what you think-and tell us what you would improve or add. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To create a presence on the new
Communications News Web site for your company or a client company, please contact:
For the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic, Tom Gullette (email@example.com),
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Best Practices For VoIP Security
technique for a converged network is to virtually separate voice and data
by Scott VanWart
ability to converge the view of network and security information is no longer
just “nice to have” in the fight against application-layer attacks, worms,
hacking, spyware and data theft. These days, situational awareness of internal
and external threats is needed to protect an organization’s network completely
and continuously. A network and security monitoring strategy that combines
flow-based network behavioral analysis and security event correlation to solve
security and monitoring issues provides a unique window into monitoring an
organization’s voice-over-IP (VoIP) network against threats. VoIP networks
illustrate the need for visibility across multiple service layers: the network,
the application and the security layers.
One of the
most effective and important techniques in engineering a converged network is
to structure it to virtually separate VoIP traffic from normal data traffic.
This design choice has two key advantages for a VoIP deployment:
additional security provided by ensuring that VoIP
traffic flows through the proper security devices and network paths; and
using dedicated virtual interfaces and subnets for
VoIP traffic ensures that VoIP will get the dedicated bandwidth it needs to
deliver high-quality voice.
critical is ensuring that data-intensive applications such as peer-to-peer and
gaming traffic do not infringe on VoIP bandwidth and affect voice quality.
monitoring perspective, administrators should define VoIP infrastructure as a
unique network object so that:
network administrators have one clear view of VoIP
network traffic flows, which helps to detect the origin of the VoIP traffic;
VoIP policy or security incidents can be prioritized
by giving high-value weightings to VoIP-related assets (e.g., IP PBX) and VoIP
filtering or searching on VoIP traffic flows or
associated security logs aids in troubleshooting VoIP technical or security
the behavior of VoIP networks can be learned to
allow administrators to establish appropriate policies quickly; and
executive- and operations-level reports can be
produced for VoIP security and network usage.
can monitor and neutralize the two most prevalent VoIP threats by monitoring
network traffic. Along with toll fraud, denial-of-service (DoS) attacks can be
detected via intelligent monitoring of network traffic behavior. DoS attacks
are generally the simplest to perpetrate and thus tend to be the most common
attacks faced by data networks. Now, DoS attacks are becoming more common on
attacks on a VoIP network involve bombarding the IP PBX with an extreme volume
of simultaneous voice-signaling requests (i.e., session initial protocol, or
SIP). When the IP PBX cannot keep up with the request rate, it eventually shuts
down access altogether, denying valid users (in this case IP phones) access to
traffic-analysis logic is needed to identify an abnormal increase in both the
number of sessions and hosts attempting to communicate with the IP PBX, and
combines them with a sudden increase in events from external firewalls to
detect a potential DoS attack. An appropriate solution should be able to
respond by either automatically blocking the attacker or by notifying the
network and security teams of the threat and the assets involved, so that they
can manually respond before significant damage is done.
custom detection rules based on live network events arms the network team to
defend the VoIP deployment from toll fraud. These events and alarms come from
the security devices that protect the network, as well as the OS and
application alerts from the PBX and control server devices themselves.
the geographic destination of VoIP traffic is another solution to toll fraud.
Sudden changes in the overall geographic distribution of network traffic
originating from inside the VoIP network could indicate that unauthorized users
are abusing the system to commit toll fraud. They may even be reselling these
stolen long-distance services.
part of implementing a VoIP deployment is creating corporate polices that
govern how the technology will be used. By creating a VoIP-specific
business-service object to represent the VoIP network, administrators are able
to detect traffic abnormalities such as applications like peer-to-peer that
should not be running on a VoIP network.
maintain high availability and voice quality of across the VoIP network,
keeping data applications off the VoIP-designated network architecture is
critical. To do this, an application view that provides Layer 7 analysis is
needed. This displays what applications are traversing all network
segments–including VoIP segments–and how much bandwidth is being consumed.
important capability for maintaining the high availability and voice quality is
monitoring the number of unique IP phones operating on the VoIP network. When
the network is over-subscribed with too many IP phones, voicen quality can
suffer from jitter, packet loss delay or dropped calls.
technologies continue to develop, one protocol will likely become the
recognized standard as the most secure method of transporting VoIP
traffic across the network. SIP is quickly becoming dominant due to its IP
a network security management platform, administrators can quickly identify
abnormal protocol usage, such as malformed SIP packets, and investigate policy
violations. This ensures that the network is employing the latest in security
employee PCs are connected to the data network, which means the use of soft
phones (such as Skype) conflicts with the need to separate voice and data
traffic. This conflict, along with the potential for malicious software
infecting desktops, results in the average PC being too high a risk for using
soft phones on a corporate network.
though using software such as Skype typically violates company policies because
of the potential vulnerabilities it creates on corporate networks,
commercialized soft phones from large VoIP vendors may become approved
components of the company’s overall VoIP solution.
compliance issues often focus on monitoring authentication data from health and
finance information systems. With the convergence of voice into the data
network, VoIP IP PBXs and other equipment, such as voice gateways, become
subject to information theft. Analyzing and storing these logs is important
from a security and troubleshooting perspective, as is ensuring that all log
data from VoIP devices is being managed to ensure full compliance.
Scott VanWart is technical product manager for Q1 Labs, Waltham, Mass.
with full permission of Communications News – August issue 2007
Communications News Upcoming Issue
Company optimizes it’s future with 10 Gig Deployment
A global provider of earth-moving, forestry and
material-handling equipment that needed to accommodate its rapidly growing
business, as well as its new headquarters facility, decided to install a modern
communication and data center. Since this was a new construction, the firm was
concerned with future bandwidth growth. The solution came with a
high-speed cabling infrastructure.
Access for Security and Performance Analysis Solutions
This article will describe: How the latest
generation of network access products can save IT departments money for
security, test and measurement budgets; what network architects need to
consider for their IT engineering and security counterparts when designing new
networks and datacenters; how network access and connectivity with security,
test and monitoring solutions can impact visibility and analysis; how network
architectures impact network visibility and analysis effectiveness; how
regeneration, aggregation and filtering technologies built into the latest
generation of tap and access devices can improve the effectiveness of different
engineering groups in enterprise IT departments; and what options are available
for security, test and measurement connectivity and access.
Standard techniques for securing power cables to
their receptacles often suffer retention problems under conditions of
vibration. Also, normal maintenance operations can compromise cable retention
when using either Twistlock or wire bail-clip methods. Twistlock connectors require
a physical activity (rotation) to lock, or unlock, the connector and there is
no positive securing mechanism. A solution to this problem exists and will be
detail in this article, which will also outline some of the other difficulties
that can exist with the more familiar plug and wire bail-clip devices.
VoIP - A Vital
Component for Small Business Growth
An Internet marketing firm with sales people
located nationwide relies heavily on voice communications as a vital component
of day-to-day business. The management team knew the company needed a full-featured, scalable
phone system at an affordable price, finally selecting a solution that gives it
the power of a full-featured traditional PBX with the cost-effectiveness and
scalability of a hosted VoIP solution. The service forwards all calls directly
to sales personnel no matter where they are, allowing the firm to operate with
a virtual staff, dispersed nationwide.
switches assist e-crime battle
A police electronic crime section set out to
source four new dual video servers for each member of the staff. These servers
would be used in conjunction with two desktop PCs and two notebook computers.
The new requirements called for an 8-port KVM switch solution that was capable
of handling dual video and could be mounted in a standard 19-inch rack. An
added challenge was the desire to have the racks of equipment in a centralized
server room with control at each investigator’s desk. Neither the original
project integration team nor the existing KVM switch vendor had a solution that
would meet the new requirements.
Distributed KVM for Server Management
A primary administrative challenge continues to
be how to cost-effectively deploy, manage, maintain and troubleshoot
geographically distributed servers and their applications with limited and
centralized IT personnel. This has been addressed in part by the introduction
of KVM-over-IP solutions that allow for secure remote control of servers over
an IP network. This article will provide readers the considerations to keep in
mind when shopping for a KVM solution.
News – October issue 2007 www.comnews.com
ABANDONED CABLE REVISTED WITH SOLUTIONS – Stop The Insanity
Cabling contractors, service
providers, managers, tenants and building owners need to work cooperatively to
ensure that all parties understand their responsibilities to comply with the
National Electrical Code (NEC) provisions on removing or tagging abandoned or
unused communications cabling in buildings.
Stop the Insanity!
Cabling without labeling is
not just stupid. It is insane. Consumers
spend billions of dollars building their communications infrastructure
highways. These financial commitments
are often not treated as an investment in an asset. Cabling networks are not an expense. Certain basic practices and policies will
prevent this cabling facility asset from becoming a liability. On the front end of an installation project the
contract for materials and service should be retained with floor plans and
drawings. Add to that the performance
test results from the certification process for the cable and the absolute
requirement for labeling at both ends of the cable as well as the connecting
facilities (jacks and patch panels). Now
you have an asset, which may be reused, recycled, or transferred to
another user. This simple process
may reduce or eliminate a big ticket for the removal of abandoned cable.
Value added practices
Michael Shannahan, VP
Operations – Communication Planning Corp. (Jacksonville, FL) said “We require
our technicians to carry and use the DYMO Industrial Rhino Pro 5000 or 6000
Labeling System to every job. All of our cable installations are tested with the
Fluke Networks DTX 1800 & OptiFiber Cable analyzer.“ Shannahan said the
results are saved and given to the customer on a CD and a printed version along
with cut sheets, material specifications and as built information. This makes
administering the facility faster and less expensive.
National Electrical Code
Abandoned cable is defined in
the National Electrical Code (NEC) as “ accessible installed communications
cable that is not terminated at both ends at a connector or other equipment and
not identified “For Future Use” with a tag.”
The NEC establishes the
performance issue, but does not assign financial responsibility for removal and
disposal of the abandoned cable. The inspector for the AHJ generally will
specify what cables have to be removed in order for the job to pass electrical
inspection. Failure to get a certificate for occupancy is a nightmare.
The NEC includes rules
intended to ensure safety during installation, use and/or disposal of
materials, components, fixtures, and systems. The NEC is developed and revised
every three years by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the
secretariat to the Code. In 2002, a new provision to this code required the
removal of abandoned cable. This was the first major change to cabling
requirements in the NEC in more than 20 years. Cabling is the only
combustible material allowed in the ceiling plenum, thus the changes were made
to reduce the fuel, smoke, and toxic gas potential caused by an excess of
unused cabling. The 2005 version of the NEC also reflected this provision. No
change for this requirement is proposed in the NEC 2008. NEC 2002
Article 770.3(B) for optical fiber and Article 800.52(B) for communications
cabling states that all accessible abandoned cable, unless marked for future
use, must be removed. Abandoned cable can
easily be found in hospitals, schools and office buildings that were built many
years ago, and then expanded in recent years. Particularly vulnerable and in
need of urgent corrective action is the healthcare industry and the education
sector, where abandoned cables abound and safety concerns are a high priority.
The NEC requirements do not
have the effect of law; however, the majority of jurisdictions in the United
States adopt the NEC by reference into local building and fire codes, which are
then enforced by the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). If your
jurisdiction adopted the NEC 2002 or 2005, you must be aware of its potential
impact on your site and projects.
Any cable that does not meet
the permitted use specifications should be removed immediately. For example:
cable not rated CMP (for use in return air plenum spaces) that has been
installed in the return air plenum is big “no-no”.
New language added to leases
Many building owners are adding
additional language to the leases to address the abandoned cable
responsibility. BOMA (Building Owners & Managers Association cautions their
members: “Your leases should clearly state that tenants must remove any cabling
that is abandoned during the term of their tenancy, and/or your license
agreements should require service providers to remove all wires upon the
termination of the contract. We recommend that you review your leases and
license agreements to ascertain exactly who was responsible for the
installation and/or abandoning of the cabling and whether you have recourse to
recover any of the funds needed to remove the wire. Next, make any amendments
necessary if you are not already protected by these agreements.” The National
Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) is likewise advising
its members of the potential problems and risks associated with abandoned cable
removal code. Commercial real estate interests are quietly gearing up for this
issue as many cities are beginning to enforce the new code on cabling. Numerous
municipalities are beginning to address the abandoned cable issue, including
Dallas, Baltimore, Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Waste disposal nightmares
With no code focused on the
volume of abandoned cable that is found in a typical office building today, the
volume has grown to biblical proportions. According to Dupont in a recent
presentation to BICSI, there is “over 60 billion feet of cable installed in
plenum spaces” alone in the U.S.
workplace. As much as 11 ½ million miles of abandoned cable may be still there.
Computer technology demanded
cabling upgrades as transmission speeds continued to soar. Category 3 cabling
was followed by Category 4 and 5 cabling, then Category 5e, and now we have Cat
6 and 6A cables. 10 gigabit Ethernet is also pushing the envelope. Until the
NEC 2002, there was no rule saying that the old cable needed to be removed,
often it was simply left in place.
By the time the codes began
catching up to the problem, so much cable was tangled in the average office
building's plenum that no one really wanted to address it. Many buildings in
localities where the AHJ is still using the 1999 (or early) edition of the
National Electrical Code are not required to remove abandoned cable, even if
the volume is so great that it may be interrupting the flow of air in HVAC
plenum spaces or weighing down suspended ceilings.
During the development cycle
of the cables from pre-Category 3 cables until today, there are many different
materials used in the construction of cables.
For example, plenum cables (CMP) began with DuPont Teflon® FEP jackets
and all Teflon insulation. Then the
insulation migrated to several different fluoropolymers. The jackets evolved to
fire resistant PVC as the demand for Teflon exceeded the supply. Later shortages of FEP (Teflon) resulted in
hybrid constructions of 4x0, 3x1, 2x2, and 0x4.
This myriad of cables with different constructions has made the
recycling effort into a nightmare. Labor
wise it is not feasible to separate these cables for recycling efforts.
However, the copper contained in the cables is a no-brainer because of the sky
rocketing value of the metal. Most of
the jacketing and insulating material becomes un-recyclable waste.
fire is not the only safety problem,” says John Michlovic, manager of technical
services and marketing for H.H. Robertson Floor Systems. The plastics used in
the insulation and jacketing may also release toxic gasses and smoke in a fire
scenario. The fire doesn't necessarily ignite the cabling jackets immediately,
but the heat can cause it to release clear or white toxic gases that are highly
dangerous. These gases can be blind you or shutdown your respiratory system. Incapacitation
of the building occupants is a real problem that is not addressed by the
testing or the NEC.
rated cabling may start burning in 35 to 40 seconds to a couple of
minutes," says Michlovic. "Currently, there's no toxic gasses-developed criteria for
plenum-rated cable, no fuel load standard. Worst of all, there are no
toxicity standard and no acid level requirements."
industry estimates: 1,000 feet of four-pair unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable
weighs about 24 pounds -10 pounds of copper and 14 pounds of plastic jacketing
cables are installed in a plenum air handling space, exposure to airflow makes
the risk from heat or fire generated toxic gasses and smoke especially
dangerous for building occupants when fire breaks out," says John Moritz,
principal of JMME consulting firm, well-known safety advocate and NFPA/NEC
(like DuPont Teflon® FEP) insulated and/or jacketed cabling releases many toxic
gases under heat decomposition. Some of the deadly gasses like Hydrogen
Fluoride are highly reactive. HF gas, when in contact with any moisture,
including humidity, forms hydrofluoric acid. Moritz said, "Hydrofluoric
acid is so corrosive that it can destroy most glass and eat away most metals
and metal oxides. The damage potential
posed by HF to the human body is immediate and it can affect your eyes, throat,
and lungs incapacitating someone on exposure.
Incapacitation can and does lead to many fire related causalities." Remember: Safety is too important to ignore.
Frank Bisbee, President of Communication Planning Corp. (Jacksonville, FL) and
Editor of “HOTS – Heard On The Street”
monthly column on www.wireville.com
with full permission of CBM – August issue 2007 www.cablingbusiness.com
Check out what’s new for Cabling Business Magazine’s October 2007 issue!
of hot new products, timely industry columns and of course, the latest
technology news you’ve come to expect every month!
Optical Loss Test Sets – the Latest
By Harley B. Lang III, RCDD
IDF Equipment Mounting Challenges
By David Wegricht
Where Have All The
By Bob Eskew
Fiber Optic Connector 3D
By Eric Lindmark, Ph.D.
Enhance Productivity and Clean
Up That Workspace!
By Paul Holstein
- The Leadership Link By New Commons
Reel Time By Berk-Tek, A Nexans
- Testing the Experts By Fluke Networks
- Engineering and Design Professionals
- Latest Published TIA Standards
OTDRs, Fiber Optic
Connectors, Cable Ties, Raceway Systems, Power over Ethernet switch product
lines, 10G UTP Cabling Systems, Broadband,
Wireless, Ethernet Services, latest industry CD-ROMs, training, catalog
offerings and much, much more!
readers can log on to the magazine Web site at www.cablingbusiness.com and
download the latest issue online! Be sure not to miss out!
REMEMBER TO RECYCLE, REDUCE AND REUSE