"Heard On The Street" Column
Issue: October 2006
By: Frank Bisbee

Bisbee's Buzz

September was packed with news. The data center folks gathered in Orlando for AFCOM’s annual Data Center Conference. All of the attendees that we spoke with were pleased with the programs and the value that they extracted from the exhibitors. For information on AFCOM’s upcoming events visit

Mid-September the cabling industry gathered in Las Vegas for BICSI’s record-breaking fall conference.  The program was better than any we have seen in the past several years.  The stats are impressive and the interviews we had with attendees and exhibitors were virtually unanimous with a “big thumbs-up” for BICSI.  In addition to the educational credit units earned at the conference, everyone qualified for the Boy Scouts Hiking Merit Badge.  The BICSI staff should be commended for the outstanding job of organizing this smooth flowing event.  Many of the exhibitors used this venue for organizational status meetings.  With sales on the rise and commodity prices holding (for the time being), there was lots of positive feedback from their distribution partners. 

Hats off to David Cranmer the BICSI interim Executive Director.  His team broke records in all areas for this fall conference.  Check the BICSI website in the near future for details on this event. 

My favorites from the conference program and special presentations:

·         Fluke Networks presentation (by Adrian Young) and luncheon on 10Gig testing.

·         New products for residential cabling and connectors by Preformed Line Products, SMP Data, ERICO, and Hitachi HCM Cable

·         Presentation: Safety, Firestopping, and getting along with the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) by Mike Tobias Sr. – Unique Firestop Products

·         Special recognition to the presentation by Cynthia Montstream, RCDD/NTS and Dale Budenski, RCDD for the presentation “What the standards aren’t telling you may greatly impact your installation – especially 10G”

·         Graybar, Anixter, Accu-Tech, Rexel, and CSC distributors were all sending a strong message on convergence.  If your focus is limited to voice and data cabling, you are missing a huge set of valuable offerings with significant revenue.

·         Copper isn’t dead, not by a long shot.  However, fiber is outpacing all other types of media in the new cabling applications.  Every cabling manufacturer had exciting products in the fiber optic column. Check out the training opportunities with Corning. 

·         Wiring for wireless is HOT.  The exploding demand for Wi-Fi is universal and the cabling opportunities are everywhere. 

October brings new opportunities.  The 2006 NECA Show in Boston ( ) 

October 7-10, 2006.  Last years show was wiped out by hurricane Katrina and this year’s agenda is doubly packed with value.  This is a “must do” event for electrical contractors, and contractors involved in IBS (integrated building systems), and voice/data/video. The impact of convergence is especially strong in this sector. 

Remember, Safety is too important to ignore.

But that’s just my opinion….

Frank Bisbee
Editor – HOTS (Heard On The Street) monthly column
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RHINO Non-adhesive Tag Fills Labeling Market Void

RHINO, the industrial division of DYMO Corporation, a NewellRubbermaid company, to announced the addition of Non-adhesive Tag to its line of label printer cartridges. This new product was developed to fill a void that currently exists in non-adhesive labeling applications.

Non-adhesive labels are required in applications that use plastic holders, such as on distribution panels, electrical wiring, or modular outlets. To date, non-adhesive labeling products have posed a variety of problems. These labels are often manufacturer-exclusive and non-interchangeable among components, or they require a supply of books and cards of individual letters and numbers to be kept on hand. In some cases, they are on perforated sheets that must be printed using an office printer or plotter and can result in waste if only a few labels are needed.

“The problem with most non-adhesive labeling products,” explained Lea Ann Schmidt, Sr. Product Manager for RHINO,  “is that they either require printing at the office – which is just not feasible for efficient field installations, or they require many different products be carried into the field such as various size labels and books of letters and numbers. RHINO developed its new Non-adhesive Tag cartridges to eliminate both problems.”

New RHINO Non-adhesive Tag cartridges drop into hand-held, electronic RHINO label printers (RHINO 5000, 3000 and 1000) in the same way that other adhesive-style label cartridges do. Installers simply enter the label text and size they need and press “print”. The label information is output on the non-adhesive tag in the exact size the installer needs, right at the job site. The need for individual or various size tag inserts is eliminated, saving the installer space in his toolbox and money in his pocket. As a bonus, RHINO labels make installations look polished and professional.

Doug Waldal, Global Director of Rhino, added, “The benefit of the new RHINO Non-adhesive Tag cartridges is that they offer installers more flexibility on the spot, saving time and reducing labeling inventory levels and costs. Installers can cut the inserts exactly to the size they need – all from the same cartridge. And, an installer can print just one or many labels at any given time. It’s an incredibly flexible solution to a long-standing problem with non-adhesive labeling applications.”

The new RHINO Non-adhesive Tag cartridges are available in 1/4” (6mm), 3/8” (9mm), 1/2” (12mm) and 3/4” (19mm) widths, in lengths of 18’ (5.5 meters).  Available in both white and yellow colors, the label material is constructed of non-adhesive polypropylene, providing excellent durability, rigidity and printability. RHINO Non-adhesive Tag cartridges work in the RHINO 5000, RHINO 3000 and RHINO 1000 label printers.

RHINO Non-adhesive Tag cartridges retail from $15.99 - $17.99. The RHINO 5000 and RHINO 3000 retail for $149.99 and $99.99 respectively. All are available now through your local distributor.

Certified Communications For All Your Staffing Needs For The Electrical Voice & Data Industry

Certified Communications is an experienced recruiting firm that is well equipped to handle any staffing needs.  Our mission is to provide a quality service and contingent work force for the Electrical and Voice / Data industries. We provide skilled labor at levels of discipline that will allow the enhancement of your current staff. Through our cost effective services you will increase profit and productivity, while reaching project requirements and deadlines. Certified has a proven track record as one of the most successful staffing and recruiting firms in Texas. We are staffing specialists in the voice / data and electrical fields. With more than 30 years of staffing experience, Certified Communications has made a commitment to each of our clients and employees to remain confidential as well as attentive to all needs. We are excited about the potential this relationship represents for you as a client and for Certified as your Partner. We look forward to working together and we take this responsibility seriously. Our employment capabilities include but are not limited to:

Cable Installation Techs (Levels I, II, &III)

Fire Alarm Installer

CCTV Techs

Audio Visual Techs

Electrical Journeyman

Electrical Apprentice

Electrical Helper

Certified Communications is capable of covering the Texas region with offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

Certified Communications Inc would also like to welcome its newest addition in 

Tampa, FL.

As a BICSI Corporate member Certified has an Authorized Training Center in our Dallas facility offering BICSI installation classes and distribution fundamental certificate training.

NFPA’s Residential Wiring, 2nd Edition

NFPA’s Residential Wiring, 2nd Edition, by NECA Executive Director for Standards & Safety Brooke Stauffer, is available through the National Fire Protection Association.  Intended as a textbook, this practical guide provides room-by-room instructions on how to design and install wring systems for houses, apartments, and condos in accordance with the 2005 National Electric Code.  Reflecting new concerns with power security, it also has a new chapter on backup generators.  Priced at $57, it may be ordered at or by calling 1-800-344-3555.

Reprinted with permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine September 2006 issue –

Leviton Acquires Fiber Connect

The Leviton Manufacturing Company, North America’s largest producer of electrical and electronic wiring devices and manufacturer of voice and data solutions, today announced its acquisition of Fiber Connect Incorporated, a Chicago-based provider of Data Center fiber optic solutions.

“With this acquisition, our second fiber optic-related acquisition in less than 24 months, our Voice and Data division broadens its suite of Data Center products,” stated Daryoush Larizadeh, Leviton’s Senior Vice President. “This suite now includes quick-turn, custom, high-performance fiber solutions, a full range of Category-rated connectivity including 10G, as well as cable management and power solutions,” Larizadeh added.

 “As Fiber Connect reaches its tenth year in business, we are proud to join Leviton,” stated Ron Berrettini, President and founder of Fiber Connect.  “We can now better serve our clients with Leviton’s global manufacturing and logistics capabilities, as well as reach a new set of customers in cooperation with Leviton’s sales force.  As technology infrastructure evolves, and increases in importance, we will become a global integration organization.”

Data Center infrastructure spending is growing rapidly and increasing in complexity,” added Don Hendler, President of Leviton. “We have worked with Fiber Connect over the past few years and we look forward to bringing the benefits of a broad, high-performance solution to Leviton’s customers worldwide.”

With this acquisition, Leviton extends its leading-edge fiber solutions to a wider audience of distributors, contractors and end-users, with faster delivery, superior design and increased technical support for Plug-n-Play Fiber and Data Center applications. The complete Leviton fiber product line includes extensive pre-terminated and field-terminated fiber solutions, a broad selection of standard and made to order fiber optic cable assemblies (trunks), enclosures, cable management and overhead raceways.

Fiber Connect is a wholly owned subsidiary and reports into Leviton’s Voice and Data Division, which is led by Ross Goldman, Vice President and General Manager.

About Fiber Connect
A data center infrastructure firm, Fiber Connect provides solutions for the most advanced data centers in Fortune 1000 companies. Fiber Connect develops and manufactures fiber optic infrastructure solutions, and provides design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of data centers.  Fiber Connect's headquarters is located in St. Charles IL, just outside of Chicago.

About Leviton
Established in 1906, Leviton Manufacturing Company, Inc. is one of the world’s most diversified electrical manufacturing companies. Leviton has more than thirty facilities dedicated to engineering, manufacturing and distribution of over 25,000 products for nearly every connectivity need. Leviton’s Voice & Data division is dedicated to producing complete copper, fiber and wireless network infrastructure solutions for enterprise, data center, and service provider applications.

BICSI Fall Conference Offers Diverse Education, Networking Opportunities

Drawing more than 3,000 information transport systems (ITS) professionals and exhibitors from around the world dedicated to advancing the ITS industry, the 2006 BICSI Fall Conference was held September 18-21 at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

The conference offered an unrivaled educational line-up of interactive seminars, presentations, courses and state-of-the-art exhibits—from the latest developments in wireless network designs and firestop systems to advances in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology and audio/video applications.

“BICSI always manages to put on a conference that is world-class,” said Robert Langevin, a registered communications distribution designer (RCDD). “The information that is presented is constantly up-to-date and the best available.”

Following several well-received presentations during the General Session on Tuesday, September 19, conference attendees had the opportunity to design their own schedules on Wednesday from over 16 various Breakout Session presentations. The morning session topics included cable sharing, OSP permitting issues, NENP connector technology, WLAN, shielded and un-shielded cabling, wiring closet cooling needs, communicating with the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), and FTTE and implementation.

The afternoon sessions on Wednesday featured topics such as in-building Wi-Fi, residential and commercial wiring opportunities, smoke leakage, Master Format 2004, RFC2544, laser-optimized fiber, RoHS, and contamination problems and prevention.

The evening closed with the ever-successful BICSI Reception and Exhibits. “This is one of our better conferences that we are involved in throughout the year, states Ryan Goard, RCDD, with General Cable in Castle Rock, Colorado. “Everyone I’ve spoken to has been very satisfied, and it continually helps us to understand the customers that visit from other parts of the country and to make adjustments in our overall business approaches.”

Thursday, January 26, morning opened with presentations by Gregg Kelley of Lynx Broadband and Richard Reed, consultant for BICSI Government Relations. Kelley presented “Television on Twisted Pair Cable,” highlighting the extensive benefits, multiple applications and relative low cost of such systems versus coaxial installations. Reed summarized the major efforts taken on BICSI members’ behalf throughout the year in the governmental relations report.

BICSI Cares, Inc. was at the conference, collecting contributions from BICSI conference attendees, to donate 100% of the contributions to the Children’s Heart Foundation of Las Vegas. CHF received a total of $23,500 from BICSI membership and conference attendees. Originally, the large presentation check was only written for $22,000, but during the 15-minute break immediately before the presentation, BICSI Cares collected an additional $1,500.

The closing presentation was a memorable event. The President George W. Bush impersonator was a funny, quirky performance that BICSI membership enjoyed before traveling back home to recuperate from days filled with education, networking, and fun.

TPMA To Offer RCDD Training Program

The Telecommunications Project Management Association announced a melded Internet, instructor lead, distance learning, and “on site” test preparation class focused on the BICSI Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD). TPMA Executive Director Don Nelson announced the program. Current TPMA Specialty Exams focus on various Information Technology areas such as;

Premises Networks, Global Networks, Outside Plant, Wireless, CATV, Security, and Access Control Systems.

The technology Exam is a part of the Project Management test. “If you are building a wireless system, you want a PM who has technical knowledge in that field” Nelson said. “Many of our members find it useful to have additional certifications in a particular

Technology area. The RCDD is the gold standard in the area of premises distribution and information transport”.

The TPMA program will involve;

Self Study

Interactive internet based modules

Instructor lead distance learning

Intensive “on site” test preparation

Group study sessions

The cost of the program is $1499, which is very cost effective against

Other programs, and additionally, the travel and living costs are reduced. TPMA offers a free repeat of the program if a student doesn’t pass the Exam on the first attempt.

2007 Dates and locations for the TPMA RCDD Test Prep portion of the program are:

Orlando, FL               January 15 to January 18, 2007

Vancouver, BC         February 26 to March 1, 2007

Dallas, TX                  April 9 to April 12, 2007

Las Vegas, NV          September 3 to September 6, 2007

Students can join, and begin the Internet and distance learning classes at any time.

“Suitcase” RCDD Test Prep classes are also being scheduled.

Fluke Corp. Updates Electrical Measurement Safety Education Video

Flue Corp., a manufacturer of handheld electric test and measurement technology, has released an updated version of its Electrical Measurement Safety interactive video aimed at reducing hazards for people measuring electrical circuits.  It may help reduce risk liability for employers.

Electrical safety compliance training violations were No. 7 and 10 on the 2005 Top 10 list of the most frequently cited standards published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA regulations include a six-point plan to minimize potential arc flash danger for personnel that address issues such as requirements for safety programs, training and use of appropriate tools for safe working conditions.

The video has been revised to incorporate the most recent guidelines from the National Fire Protections Association (NFPA) 70E standard for electrical safety in the workplace, which specifically addresses arc flash hazards. 

Materials also incorporate safety information from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), International Elctrotechnical Conference (IEC), and other safety regulators.

The video includes the following:

·         Safety video:  This 25-minute video dramatizes the hazards of electrical measurement and explains the precautions that help defend against arc flashes.  It includes the experience of an electrician almost killed by an arc flash.

·         Test Tool post-test:  This quick test helps electrical professionals determine whether the test tools they are using meet today’s safety standards.

·         Interview with an arc-blast survivor:  This electrician survived an arc blast and is back on the job, though his recovery required months of skin grafts.  Hear what happened and what he learned.

·         Safety application notes: Each of these brief notes is designed to serve as the basis of a safety meeting discussion or as a chapter in the electrical safety reference library.

The video is available free of charge on CD through the Fluke Web site,

Reprinted with permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine September 2006 issue –

Preformed Line Products Company Announces Purchase Of Common Shares and Termination Of Controlled Company Status

Preformed Line Products Company (Nasdaq: PLPC - News) today announced that it has used a portion of its available cash to repurchase 365,311 common shares of the Company from Barbara P. Ruhlman in a privately negotiated transaction. Mrs. Ruhlman, the Company's largest shareholder, had determined to diversify her portfolio for estate planning reasons. Mrs. Ruhlman is a member of the Company's Board of Directors and the mother of Robert G. Ruhlman and Randall M. Ruhlman, both of whom are also members of the Board of Directors. Robert G. Ruhlman is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company.

The closing price of the Company's common shares today on the NASDAQ National Market System was $37.50 per share. The negotiated purchase price per share paid by the Company was $31.48, a 15% discount from the average closing price of the Company's common shares over the last 30 calendar days.

The repurchase was approved by both the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors of the Company and the Company's Board of Directors (with Mrs. Ruhlman abstaining). The Audit Committee, which is comprised solely of independent directors, acted as a special committee of the Board of Directors in connection with the review of the potential transaction with Mrs. Ruhlman. In connection with its review, the Audit Committee engaged Brown Gibbons Lang & Company to serve as its financial advisor.

In connection with the repurchase, the Company's status as a controlled company under the NASDAQ Corporate Governance Rules was terminated by the Company's shareholders who had previously formed a group owning over 50% of the Company's outstanding common shares by entering into a controlled company agreement.

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

Preformed's world headquarters are in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Company operates three domestic manufacturing centers located in Rogers, Arkansas, 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.

ACUTA Honors Duke, Florida State Communications Professionals With Top Leadership Awards

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

Tamara Closs of Duke University and Harvey “Buck” Buchanan of Florida State University were saluted by the organization, the only national group dedicated to serving the needs of higher education communications technology professionals. It represents some 2,000 individuals at 825 institutions.

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

Closs was the 2004-2005 ACUTA president, has been a director, and has chaired numerous committees. Currently assistant vice president of communications and systems infrastructure at Duke, she has been a member of ACUTA since 1990.

Buchanan, recently elected to the position of director-at-large, received the Ruth A. Michalecki Leadership Award, recognizing outstanding leadership by a member. In addition to chairing and serving on a number of important ACUTA committees, Buchanan is also a frequent speaker at ACUTA events. His educational sessions on customer service are particularly popular.

Buchanan is known for his creative and entrepreneurial approaches to developing campus communication services, and has been a mentor to scores of ACUTA newcomers. He has been an ACUTA member since 1992.

“No organization can thrive without the active involvement of volunteers,” said Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. “Tamara Closs and Buck Buchanan have consistently gone beyond the call of duty to support ACUTA and its members. Their leadership has helped us maintain ACUTA’s vitality and relevance.”   

The Best Trade Magazines in the Business – Security & Life Safety Systems Magazine Oct 2006

I come from the old school of journalism. I’m a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Chicago Headline Club and I often think, and hope, that there are still journalists out there who believe in ethics, in telling the story truthfully from all sides. We are story tellers, but we base these accounts on real life, real people and real quotes.

Fact checking and verifying information and research is 99 percent of the job. It’s all about making sure quotes are accurate, names are spelled right, and that’s how the story comes together and becomes engaging. You have to know about a topic or an industry to write about it. And, despite what some people might think about journalists, I often leave out information that might be harmful, such as when I get a manufacturer or other source to open up and they lend some “not so nice” comments about a person, place or thing.

It’s a blast being part of Electrical Contractor (EC) and Security and Life Safety Systems (S&LSS) magazines. We take our professional ethics from journalism and apply it to these books. EC is one of the oldest continuing published electrical magazines in the country—started out as Qualified Remodeler. NECA is such a cool association and the EC staff is the best. John Maisel is the Publisher and I can’t say enough about him as far as his abilities and his personality.  I helped launch S&LSS several years ago and it’s been a lot about telling our story—that electrical contractors are getting involved in low-voltage, security, fire, video and automated controls—and they are selecting the products to use in these jobs, not just terminating connections. They are the experts and we want to help them become even more proficient in these endeavors—through the pages of the magazines, our Web sites and now, new conferences and educational sessions we are conducting as part of the International Security Conferences & Expositions (ISC Expo). 

As the editor of SLSS magazine, I feel our chief goal is to educate the electrical contractors on all the opportunities in the industry and that people are turning to them for their expertise. There’s so much excitement in the industry. It’s not just about burglar alarms with a siren anymore. Fire alarms and life safety, as always, take precedence. It’s about all the parts and pieces of the building or residence that can talk to each other and make the premises safer, brighter, more convenient.

In the security industry, we began talking about automation in the 80s and even earlier. But now, it’s really here. Manufacturers don’t base their products on proprietary technologies. They look for ways to integrate with other products, or partner with other industries that make sense.

Technology is coming down in price and we’re at the cusp of adoption by many markets. Residential is hot, hot, hot! There’s so much that can be accomplished with low-voltage, all the EC needs is a little imagination and the wherewithal to learn about the discipline or the ability to hire someone who does (yes, you need information technology expertise).

EC and S&LSS are here to help. Together, with you, we are trusted partners in the success of the electrical contracting industry.

Deborah O’Mara

September 15, 2006

By Deborah L. O’Mara

Editor, Security & Life Safety Systems magazine

Senior Editor, Electrical Contractor magazine

Broadband Growth Continues On Record-Setting Pace

Broadband growth is on a tear, and according to several studies, shows no signs of slowing up.

According to the Durham, NH based Leichtman Research Group (LRG), cable and DSL providers in the United States acquired a record 3.06 million new subscribers in the first quarter of 2006.  Combined, the two groups of providers account for 94 percent of the broadband market with nearly 46 million high-speed Internet subscribers.

Of the two, DSL performed slightly better, adding a record 1.66 million subscribers, more than half of the net growth in the subscribers for the quarter.  Cable providers came in at a close second, with more than 1.4 million new subscribers.

LRG reports that 69 percent of all U.S. households now subscribe to an online service at home, and high-speed Internet services now account for about 60 percent of all online subscribers. 

With that kind of demand, broadband growth is poised to continue on other fronts as well.  According to the London-bases Informa Telecoms & Media, the number of 3.5 G mobile broadband subscribers worldwide will boom more than ten-fold from 2.5 million in 2006 to more than 300 million in 2011.

Although a lack of compelling devices and content will restrain growth in the near term, the company predicts that handsets will mature in 2008, leading to a sharp increase in 3.5 G Handset sales and subscribers in 2008-2009.

By 2011, 85 percent of 3.5G devices sold will be handsets.  The remaining 15 percent will be notebooks and PC cards. 

By Rick Laezman

Reprinted with permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine September 2006 issue –

NAED Announces 2006-2007 Meeting & Conference Itinerary

This year’s National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) events will help businesses stay connected with the topics, trends and technology that are currently shaping the electrical industry. The association offers a variety of meetings and conferences annually at the local, regional, and national levels, each featuring opportunities to enhance industry partnerships, professional development, and overall company profitability.

2006-2007 Meeting & Conference Schedule:

NAED Regional Conferences focus on the tactical issues and challenges facing distributors and suppliers in each of NAED’s three regions. Events like the Opening Session, Peer Networking Groups and the Women in Industry Luncheon provide networking and best practices. The regional conferences also feature sessions on topics relevant to the entire channel like this year’s “Pricing for Profit” and “Task Force Update: Implementing the Supply Chain Report Card.”

  • Eastern Region Conference, Nov. 8 - 11, 2006, San Antonio, Texas (registration currently open)— Featured Keynote Speaker: Vince Papale, the real life football hero behind the new Disney film release, Invincible.
  • Western Region Conference, Jan. 17 - 20, 2007, Las Vegas, Nev. (registration now open)Featured Keynote Speaker: Aron Ralston, an accomplished mountaineer who was pinned by an 800 lb. boulder in Colorado’s Blue John Canyon and had to make the difficult decision to cut off his arm or die.
  • South Central Region Conference, Feb. 28 - March 3, 2007, San Diego, Calif. (registration opens in October) Featured Keynote Speaker: The Afterburners Team, made up of top U.S. military fighter pilots, discuss key risk-assessment, leadership, and communication principles.

NAED Annual Meeting, May 5 - 9, 2007, Washington, D.C. (registration opens in December)—is designed to bring together the entire industry, providing the ideal time for distributors to solidify relationships and plan strategically with the estimated 225 suppliers in attendance. The Annual Meeting, to be held at the Marriott Wardman Park, offers interactive panel discussions, nationally-acclaimed speakers, and the latest results from cutting-edge research. Participants will also benefit from events such as the Opening Session, TED Magazine’s Best of the Best Awards Banquet, and the All-Industry Closing Event.

NAED Niche Meetings provide the ideal forum for specialized groups and individuals to address the topics most relevant to their area of the industry.    

  • AdVenture Electrical Sales & Marketing Conference, TBD—Distributor marketing and sales staff are invited to join their colleagues for three days of strategic planning, sharing best practices, and discovering the best way to market and sell electrical products.
  • Leadership Enhancement and Development (LEAD) Conference, July 26 - 29, 2007, Chicago, Ill.—Sponsored each summer by NAED’s Your Emerging Talent (YET) Committee, the event is designed to foster ongoing industry involvement and professional development among new leaders within the channel. Participants of the 2007 event, held at the InterContinental Chicago Hotel, will benefit from the practical insights of industry experts and valuable networking time with their peers.

NAED Area Marketing Meetings & Events offer more centralized opportunities for distributors to network with each other, build relationships with channel partners, and focus on the needs and issues specific to their locale.  

  • Tennessee Titans Event, Oct. 1

Titans Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.

  • Missouri River Club Conference, Oct. 8 - 10

Lodge of the Four Seasons, Lake Ozark, Mo.

  • Mid-Atlantic States Conference, Oct. 26 - 28

Ballantyne Resort, Charlotte, N.C.

  • Lake Michigan Holiday Party, Dec. 6

Marriott Oakbrook, Chicago, Ill.

  • Gulf Coast Conference, April 19 - 21, 2007

Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort, Destin, Fla.

To register or receive more information about these events, contact the NAED Conference Department at (888) 791-2512 or Registration is also available for NAED’s annual, regional, LEAD, and AdVenture Conferences at least three months in advance at under the “Meetings & Conferences” section.

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

New Enhancements For OptiFiber® Certifying OTDR Increase Fiber Optic Testing Capabilities In LAN/Campus Networks

Fluke Networks announced the availability of new test modules and software for its OptiFiber Certifying OTDR, the company's complete test solution for premises fiber optic networks.  These enhancements increase versatility and convenience for OptiFiber users, helping ensure the performance of mission critical fiber links

"With the new test modules and software enhancements OptiFiber is even more powerful than before," said Harley Lang, product manager.  "Users can now test longer fiber links in campus networks, as well as very short patch cords in data centers.  At the same time, software improvements make some popular troubleshooting features more accessible and easier to use."  

OptiFiber's new extended range singlemode module offers a 60 km range, shorter dead-zones and increased dynamic range to support premises, campus, and metro fiber optic network testing.  The modules have a new end-cap design, which features removable, easy to clean OTDR ports and interchangeable power meter ports.  A visual fault locator is also included for fast visual identification of fiber breaks or tight bends.   These new modules are available from Fluke Networks as options and in kits, to provide OptiFiber owners with a wide range of test capabilities.  A new line up of convenient accessories and kits, including hybrid launch fibers, for easier use with a wider range of connector types, have been added.

Software enhancements make real-time trace and optical return loss results easier to view in the field and save for later viewing and documentation purposes, providing users with added convenience and productivity.   Popular FiberInspector® end-face analysis is now even easier to operate. Free software downloads are available to current OptiFiber owners via the Fluke Networks website at

Product availability
The OptiFiber Certifying OTDR, its accompanying test modules and kits are available for immediate delivery from Fluke Networks' sales partners worldwide.

About Fluke Networks
Fluke Networks provides innovative solutions for the installation and certification, testing, monitoring and analysis of copper, fiber and wireless networks used by enterprises and telecommunications carriers. The company's comprehensive line of Network SuperVisiontm Solutions provide network installers, owners, and maintainers with superior vision, combining speed, accuracy and ease of use to optimize network performance. Headquartered in Everett, Washington, the company distributes its products in more than 50 countries. More information can be found by visiting Fluke Networks' Web site at

VoiceOne™ Unveils Universal Instant Messaging (IM) Platform For Click4Me.Net Members

VoiceOne(TM) Communications, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of VoIP, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: VOII), unveiled today its Click4Me.Net Universal Instant Messaging (IM) Platform that integrates Instant Messaging services from MSN (NASDAQ: MSFT), Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO), Time Warner-owned (NYSE:  TWX) AOL, and Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) gTalk. 

With the release of the Click4Me.Net service, for the first time ever Internet users can send Instant Messages between the four major IM services. All that's necessary is for a user to sign up for a free Click4Me account, through which IM communication is made possible between any users of any of the four IM systems. For instance, gTalk IM users can send Instant Messages to MSN IM users, or AOL IM users, or Yahoo! IM users - using Click4Me.Net - without having to use separate Instant Messaging clients for each service. All major IM clients are supported by Click4Me.Net, including Windows/PC, Mac, Linux, and of course, cell phones. 

VoiceOne has added this IM integrated functionality to its recently released beta version of Click4Me.Net, the world's first Web-click calling service that utilizes VoIP technology for free phone-to-phone calling, and now Instant Messaging across services.  Click4Me.Net is available for testing on VoiceOne's Virtual Lab at -- an open forum for users to preview, test free of charge, and provide feedback on new IP communications services developed by VoiceOne.

VoiceOne's COO and CTO Shawn Lewis commented, "Our Click4Me.Net service enables cross platform, cross network integration and communication convergence. The idea of convergence is not only related to 'tele'- communications, but communications as a whole. This is just the start. We will be introducing additional services and capabilities that not only will create a universal bridge between all methods of communication, from telephony, to instant messaging, text messaging (SMS), and multimedia messaging (MMS), but also add features and services that go beyond anything now available.  The robust, flexible technology platform created and owned by VoiceOne is making it all happen," he said.

During the next few weeks, VoiceOne will be announcing its own Instant Messaging clients, for PCs, PDAs and standard cell phones, as well as new services enabling any client of the various services to make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messaging, virtual file storage and sharing, click-2-call services integrated with instant messaging, and many other fully integrated services all built around the company's powerful new all-modes communication platform.

To start using the Click4Me.Net service, any person can simply log on and register (free of any charges or commitments) at http://Labs.VoiceOne.Com or at www.Click4Me.Net.  Members can then review, provide feedback on the Click4Me service or discuss additional IP communications services with VoIP Inc.'s development team at

Features for registered members of Click4Me.Net now include: SMS Text messaging to users, an online Inbox allowing people to leave messages for one another on the Click4Me.Net website, email and SMS text notifications of missed calls or new messages, and now Instant Messaging across popular IM services.  Many more expanded and new features will be added in the coming days and weeks.

User’s Guide To The NEC

User’s Guide to The NEC, also by Brooke Stauffer, is written for technical-vocational school students, beginning electrical apprentices, and first-year electrical engineering students.  Its 300 pages – which include more than 200 full-color illustratons, numerous tables and actual Code extract – provide information about how the NEC is organized and how to use it when designing and ensatlling electrical construction jobs.  To order User’s Guide to the National Electrical Code, visit or call 1-800-344-3555.  This book is available for $49.50.

Reprinted with permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine September 2006 issue –

Anixter International To Log 3Q Gain On IRS Refunds, Interest

Anixter International Inc., distributor of wiring systems, networking products, and fasteners, on Monday said it will have a gain of $18.1 million, or 41 cents per share, in refunds and interest in the third quarter after a settlement with the Internal Revenue Service.

The company also said interest received in the settlement -- net of taxes -- will be roughly $4.8 million, or 11 cents per share.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial forecast profit of $1.03 per share for the company in the third quarter.

Anixter said the settlement found it can deduct certain losses on its federal tax returns for 1996 through 1998 due to changes in IRS regulations that became effective in 1996. The refund associated with the tax issue is about $13.7 million, plus interest.

Shares of Anixter rose 46 cents to $57.51 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Hitachi Receives Rising Star Award For Outstanding Global Distribution Program

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi) today announced that it is a recipient of the Global Technology Distribution Council's (GTDC) Rising Star Award in the hardware category for outstanding sales growth through its global network of product distributors. Hitachi was presented with this honor alongside the world's leading IT vendors and distributors at the annual GTDC Summit taking place at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel, September 19-20, 2006.

In its inaugural year, the GTDC Rising Star Awards program is designed to recognize the fastest-growing vendors doing business through distributors. Winner selections are based on year-over-year growth reflected by NPD Distributor Track(SM) reporting for the 12 months ending May 2006. Vendors are required to have sold corresponding products through IT distributors for a minimum of one year with at least 20 percent year-over-year sales growth for hardware manufacturers.

"The GTDC member distributors represent more than $80 billion in annual sales, and it's an honor for us to be recognized by such an influential organization with real insight into the IT distributor business arena," said George Silva, senior vice president of worldwide sales, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. "As the hard drive industry prepares itself for continued growth, our distribution partners play an integral role in helping Hitachi achieve our business objectives. We look forward to stronger collaboration with the distribution community in the coming years."

"Hitachi products enjoyed exceptional growth over the past year in IT distribution's largest 'Rising Stars' hardware category," commented Timothy J. Curran, chief executive officer of the Global Technology Distribution Council. "This is a truly outstanding achievement considering the hundreds of other manufacturers doing business with our member distributors. Hitachi's strong commitment to channel partnerships clearly enables success of this magnitude."

Hitachi provides its channel partners with access to a broad product portfolio by offering hard drives in the one-inch, 1.8-inch, 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch categories. These products provide high-capacity storage for applications such as MP3 jukeboxes, digital still/video cameras, personal media centers, digital video recorders, PC gaming systems, external storage, notebook and desktop PCs, nearline storage, enterprise servers and more.

To learn more about Hitachi's channel programs, please visit the Hitachi Options web site at

About The Global Technology Distribution Council
The Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC) is a worldwide industry association dedicated to defining and promoting the role of wholesale distribution in a successful and healthy information technology channel. The Council is comprised of the computer industry's top wholesale distributors dedicated to serving "the channel," a network of skilled value-added resellers and retail stores focused on providing hardware, software, and services to businesses and consumers around the globe.

About Hitachi Global Storage Technologies
Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is a storage technology leader, founded in 2003 through the combination of Hitachi's and IBM's hard disk drive businesses. Hitachi GST enables users to fully engage in the digital lifestyle by providing high-value hard drives in formats suitable for the office, on the road and in the home.

With its legacy in hard drive invention, Hitachi GST will lead the industry in celebrating the hard drive's golden anniversary in 2006. After five decades of innovation, the hard drive has had a profound effect on the computing and consumer electronics industries. That heritage lives on at Hitachi GST through products that define the standard for hard drive miniaturization, capacity, performance and reliability.

With more than 30,000+ employees worldwide, Hitachi GST offers a comprehensive range of hard drive products for desktop computers, high-performance servers, notebooks and consumer devices. For more information, please visit the company's web site at

ANS Becomes Newest Member Of The Corning Total Access ProgramSM (TAP)

Corning Cable Systems, part of Corning Incorporated’s (NYSE: GLW) Telecommunications segment, announces ANS Advanced Network Services, LLC as the newest member of the selective Corning Total Access ProgramSM (TAP).

Corning’s TAP provides highly qualified design, engineering, furnishing and installation companies with the tools necessary to ensure successful fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments. Certified TAP members receive all-inclusive access to Corning’s innovative and reliable FTTH solutions. After completing specialized training in the installation of optical access networks, TAP members are able to offer their customers up to a 10-year extended product warranty on complete Corning FTTH solutions (drop cables and assemblies carry a 3-year warranty).

ANS is a premier provider of engineering, furnishing, installation, staffing, maintenance and consulting services. With a commitment to excellence in quality, responsiveness and value, ANS’ capabilities encompass all inside and outside communications environments, from the central office to the customer premises. Through the Total Access Program and its extended warranty, ANS plans to expand its existing service offerings to current and future customers, quickly responding to their changing demands while offering the same value that has earned praise from existing customers.

“We consider Corning to be the technology leader in FTTH end-to-end solutions,” said Cheer Dheeradhada, major accounts manager for ANS. “Armed with our current FTTx deployment experiences, we feel that the Total Access Program will enhance our FTTH capabilities and visibility with additional customers.”

Through its Evolant® Solutions for Access Networks, Corning Cable Systems

ANS Becomes Newest Member of Corning Total Access ProgramSM

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

NFPA Amends Codes, Includes Electronic Monitoring Of Fire Extinguishers

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) voted to amend NFPA 10 and NFPA 72 to include electronic monitoring in lieu of mandatory physical 30-day inspections.  The ruling went into effect at the beginning of September.

Strong support for the acceptance of the technology came from  fire officials, end-users and members of the fire protection industry.  According to the NFPA, electronically monitored  fire extinguishers allowed under their codes must include the ability to assess proper location , access without obstruction and pressurization.

Moreover, the system must provide record keeping in the form of an electronic event log at the control panel.  Specific changes to NFPA 10 include the addition of a definition of electronic monitoring in Chapter 3 and specific details in Chapter 7.  NFPA 72 included the addition of electronic monitoring definitions to Chapters 3,5 and 6.

Reprinted with permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine September 2006 issue –

CABA Annual General Meeting

the Annual General Meeting of the members of the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) will be held at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, San Diego, CA, on the 17th day of October, 2006, at the hour of 8:15 a.m., for the purpose of:

a)       Receiving the financial statements for the year ending June 30, 2006;

b)       Appointing auditors;

c)       Electing the CABA Board of Directors;

d)       Reviewing CABA Activities 2005-2006: and

e)       Receiving an update on CABA’s Strategic Plan including information on CABA's new Internet Home Alliance Research Council and CABA’s Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Council activities.

Dated in Ottawa, ON      Ronald J. Zimmer
September 19, 2005   CABA President & CEO

TED Magazine Articles On Special Pricing Authorizaiton (SPA) Challenges Featured In Textbook “Journalism That Matters”

TED Magazine, the official publication of the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), was selected for inclusion in a textbook, Journalism that Matters: How Business-to-Business Editors Change the Industries They Cover. The magazine is featured in the chapter, Switching the Current on Electrical Rebates, written by TED Editor Michael Martin.

The book’s editors, Robert Freedman and Steven Roll, selected the series of articles addressing Special Pricing Authorizations (SPA) because of the significant impact it had on the industry.

Freedman said the editors felt that the magazine shed a spotlight on the product rebate issue and helped spur the industry to look into and adopt reforms.

“TED magazine created a neutral forum for testing ideas and also helped keep parties focused on the long-term goal,” said Freedman. “To be sure, the magazine's relationship with the association was critical, because it was association resources and the association's conference that provided the backbone to getting the reforms made, but the magazine was the information conduit, and thus provided the glue that kept the effort together for the duration.”

The new book, Journalism that Matters: How B2B Editors Change the Industries They Cover, is a project of the American Society of Business Press Editors (ASBPE). It explores how editors of business-to-business publications drive industry. Conceived as a showcase for the hard-hitting, results-oriented journalism of many business-to-business publications, the book digs deep into the genesis of some exceptionally engrossing stories.

To access a pdf of the book chapter on TED Magazine, go to

To access the TED’s articles on the SPA issue, go to and click on the article link or follow this direct link.

The book, Journalism that Matters, is used by journalism students and magazine journalism professionals and is published by Marion Street Press, Inc. The book’s retail price is $16.95 and is available for purchase at The book was released July 15, 2006.

TED Magazine is the primary source of information for the electrical distribution channel across North America. The publication is dedicated to best practices for the electrical supply chain. In addition to its print edition, TED Magazine produces up-to-the minute news at The magazine’s award-winning editorial content and design is led by Editor Michael Martin, Managing Editor Misty Byers and Art Director Randi Vincent.

To sign up for NAED's weekly newsletter, go to  and click on "News Room" and then "Subscribe Newsletters." 

Wi-Fi Adoption Gains Momentum In China, VoIP Exports To Top 22 Milllion

The enterprise market from Wi-Fi technology in China is expected to increase fourfold over the next three years, with a 45 percent annual growth rate for the market as a whole, according to a new white paper sponsored by the Wi-Fi Alliance.  It is part of a wireless trend that is in genesis around the world.

Developed by Chinese research firm Analysys International, the report describes a new wave of Wi-Fi expansion in China, fueled by increased broadband penetration and less expensive Wi-Fi-enabled laptops, bringing the technology to homes, offices, and public places.

The market for non-embedded Wi-Fi equipment, such as access points and external network cards, is expected to exceed 10 billion by 2008.

“China is already an important strategic market for our industry, and we believe it presents a very attractive growth opportunity in the coming years,” said Frank Hanzlik, Wi-Fi Alliance managing director.  “The enterprise networking and voice application segments are particular areas of opportunity, and our Wi-Fi cerified programs help ensure that the Chinese Wi-Fi users have the very best experience with Wi-Fi devices as adoption becomes more widespread.”

“More Wi-Fi products will emerge in 2007, mobile office and mobile entertainment will continue to develop, and Wi-Fi home user market development will speed up,” said Ealge Zhang, Analysys international’s vice president of research.

“With it’s affordability, versatility, and high-data rate, Wi-Fi will continue to be an important part of the lager wireless ecosystem in China,” said Hanzlik.  “Chinese consumers are coming to demand seamless connectivity on devises ranging from laptops to home entertainment gear, and Wi-Fi has a major role in keeping all of those devices connected.”

In addition, greater China manufacturers are expected to produce 29 million voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) products in 2006, according to China Sourcing Report.  Exports are estimated to hit 22.66 million units-an increase of 14 percent over 2005.

“Telephony solutions are expected to drive growth in the worldwide VoIP market,” said Mark Saunderson, report Publisher.  “Telephony product exports for 2006 are forecast to increase 52 percent year-on-year, revolving around the integration of wireless technologies, lead by Bluetooth and WLAN [wireless local area networks].  The convergence of voice and video application is also expected to gain ground this year.  Several companies in Taiwan already are including VoIP videophones in their product line-ups.”

The report also found that worldwide subscription for residential VoIP is expected to hit 197.2 million users by 2010, up from 4.8 million in 2004.

Reprinted with permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine September 2006 issue –

Berk-Tek Hires New Regional Sales Manager

Copper and fiber optic cabling technology and solutions leader Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company, is pleased to announce the addition of Beau Gabriel as the new regional sales manager, central region.

Reporting to Paul Trunk, senior vice president of sales and marketing, Gabriel is responsible for establishing and meeting sales goals and objectives through direct sales, reps and distribution for the central U.S. states. He will work out of his Schaumburg, IL, office.

“Beau brings a wide variety of experience in the realm of electronic components,” notes Trunk. “Combining his technical expertise with his reputable customer relations, he will be an asset to our sales team.”

Before joining Berk-Tek, Gabriel spent 10 years at FCI USA, Inc., a manufacturer of electronic and electrical connectors for automotive, telecom, industrial, data, consumer and energy markets. Most recently, he was their senior account/territory manager. He has also held a variety of technical and sales positions at Andrew Corporation and Cinch. He holds his MBA at Roosevelt University and a Bachelor’s in Electronics Engineering Technology from DeVry University in Chicago.

OFS Offers ROHS-Compliant Products

OFS, designer, manufacturer, and supplier of leading-edge fiber optic products, announced that it offers premises cables and optical connectivity products that are fully RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) compliant.  Also known as Directive 2002/95/EC, the RoHS initiative originated in the European Union (EU) and restricts the use of six hazardous materials in electrical and electronic products, a class that includes optical cables, connectors and apparatus.  All applicable products sold in the EU market starting July 1, 2006 must be RoHS compliant.  Similar regulations will be coming into effect in China in the near future.

“At OFS we integrate environmental and safety considerations into our corporate activities -- including the design, production, distribution and support of our products,” said Bill Kloss, President of the North American FTTx, Cable & Connectivity Divisions at OFS. “We are also grateful to our suppliers that helped us achieve this goal without compromising the quality of our portfolio,” Mr. Kloss added.

OFS also offers an extensive line of low smoke zero halogen (LSOH) premises cordage and cable products that are compliant not only with the RoHS directive but also with IEC requirements for smoke density and acid gas generation during combustion.

As a dedicated corporate citizen, OFS is fully committed to protecting the environment and safety of its people, its customers, and the communities where it operates. 

The company will continue to offer premises cables and connectivity products that serve specific market applications, or meet certain customers’ precise requirements.

Ideal Donates Tool Kits To IBEW For Training

Ideal Industries has donated tool kits to the International Brother hood of Electric Workers (IBEW) for use at the Nation al Training Institute (NTI), Sponsored by the IBEW and National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

“These kits will help NTI students and instructors a great deal,” said Harry Ohde, IBEW representative.

Each donated kit features professional-grade Ideal tools, including conduit benders, screwdrivers, markers and tape measures. 

“the tools we have donated to help NTI instructors provide students with the hands-on experience they need to perform their jobs correctly, safely and efficiently,” said Bruce Hartranft, business unit manger for Ideal.

NTI courses are offered year round.  Electricians interested in attending any upcoming NTI Courses should visit

Reprinted with permission of Electrical Contractor Magazine September 2006 issue –

IMC Networks Announces New Compact SNMP-Manageable Optical Ethernet Demarcation Unit

The new IE-MiniFiberLinX-II provides Industrial-Grade delivery of transparent LAN services over fiber, with media conversion, carrier-grade remote management and line-provisioning capabilities in one compact device.

Foothill Ranch, CA – August 24, 2006 - IMC Networks today announced a new line of “Industrial Ethernet” grade, SNMP-manageable, optical Ethernet demarcation units in a sturdy, standalone format, based on its best-selling FiberLinX line of FTTx products.  Combining copper-to-fiber conversion, robust management, advanced VLAN tagging capabilities, extended temperature performance, plug-and-play operation, miniature size and multiple powering options, the IE-MiniFiberLinX-II is one of the most versatile fiber optic devices available on the market today.  Designed for network operators or service providers, the IE-MiniFiberLinX-II functions as a Network Interface Device (NID), provisioning point-to-point fiber optic connections and providing a unique management tool to monitor the entire link between two locations.  

“The IE-MiniFiberLinX-II makes it easier than ever for network operators to deliver affordable, managed Ethernet services over fiber“, said Jerry Roby, CEO of privately-held IMC Networks.  “We’ve added advanced management capabilities to lower network operating costs, and the compact, extended temperature form factor with DC powering option allow installation in outdoor and other difficult environments.”

With the ability to be managed as a single entity, the IE-MiniFiberLinX-II allows for remote configuration and provides vital alerts to network administrators.  As a copper-to-fiber media converter, it allows operators to use lower cost copper switches, rather than expensive optical switches, to connect to the fiber network. 

The IE-MiniFiberLinX-II comes equipped with one 100 Mbps fiber port for data and management, one 10/100 twisted pair port for customer data, as well as an RS-232 craft port for local configuration on the unit during installation.

Offering unparalleled flexibility, the IE-MiniFiberLinX-II supports multiple fiber types including multi-mode and single-mode as well as single-strand fiber.  Versions supporting a full range of Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing (CWDM) wavelengths are also available.

How Smart Are Intelligent Buildings?

By Abigail Gray

It has been roughly a quarter of a century since the notion of the “intelligent building” first appeared on the facility-management horizon. Back then, the term was used broadly: An “intelligent” building was one with high-tech bells and whistles that elevated it above the ranks of the common building. Beneath the surface, however, “intelligent building” didn’t mean anything specific, and often it didn’t mean much at all.

More recently — within the past 15 years or so — the notion of building intelligence evolved as some once-futuristic technologies moved into the real world. The term “intelligent building” began to be applied more narrowly, referring, in general, to a building with automation features that offered better control over various building systems.

Now, building automation systems of all stripes are commonplace, and the notion of the intelligent building has undergone yet another transformation. Discussions about building intelligence extend well beyond building automation to issues such as security, communication, and environmental monitoring and control, and focus as much on how facilities use their technology as whether they possess it. The intelligent building of today not only boasts systems automation and control, but is also able to generate data and share it among systems to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the whole facility.

“The intelligent building of today is taking those standalone systems and integrating them,” says Ron Zimmer, president and CEO, Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA).

“In an intelligent building as we defined it 15 years ago, you would never see sharing of data between a fire system and a security system,” says Frank Spitzer, senior associate, IBI Group. “You might have seen an HVAC building automation system, but it didn’t give you the opportunity to turn the HVAC on and off in small sections of the building based on occupancy. Now all of these essential functions can communicate with one another and operate based on information received from a sensor in a room.”

Advances in technology have, to a large extent, driven this evolution. In the past, many buildings operated on closed or proprietary systems that could not communicate with one another. “Developments like LonMark and BACnet were major steps forward,” says Zimmer.

As a result, say experts, building systems are becoming more interoperable and are allowing more facilities to reach the next level of building intelligence. “Tremendous amounts of data can be pulled and shared, and communications devices allow sharing between systems and even between buildings,” Zimmer says.

The reality of building intelligence today is very different from what it was in the past, Zimmer says. “Now we’ve got technology that is much better, at costs that have been reduced substantially. And we’re looking at quantum leaps forward in the functionality of the systems and in opportunities for linking them together to improve the performance of a building as a whole.”

Intelligence Matters

Building-intelligence experts have a lot to say about the benefits an intelligent building offers — benefits that contribute to the bottom line.

“I think of the benefits in terms of several different issues — the efficiency aspect, the cost aspect, the environmental aspect, the health aspect and the security aspect,” says Jiri Skopek, director, ECD Energy and Environment Canada Ltd.

From an energy perspective, the efficiency benefits of building intelligence are familiar to many facility executives. To cite one common application, a building that knows when and where it is occupied can limit its own energy use by confining the operation of power-hungry HVAC and lighting systems to the hours and areas of the building they are needed. Sensors that provide occupancy data to HVAC and lighting systems are seeing increasing use for exactly this reason.

Cutting energy use is one environmental benefit of intelligent buildings. In addition, they can improve indoor air quality through continual ventilation adjustments and air-quality monitoring, or maximize daylighting by automating shading systems.

Intelligent Security

Experts draw links between building intelligence and security.

“A lot of the 9-11 type concerns have fueled discussion about intelligent buildings,” says Spitzer. “Now you have surveillance cameras everywhere, but in intelligent buildings security activities are linked closely with other building functions in ways that enable you to have a much better understanding of whether there may be someone in your building who should not be.”

In addition, Spitzer explains, intelligent buildings’ security operation can be more cost-effective — one security guard may be able to keep an eye on security functions, see who is where in the building, lock and unlock doors, and monitor the fire system from a single location, eliminating the need for a group of security personnel making rounds.

In the most intelligent facilities, the moment an employee enters during off-hours, the access control system informs the building management system who has arrived. By accessing tenant data, the building management system can adjust temperature and lighting for the area of the building where that individual works. To further reduce energy consumption and enhance comfort, it can also increase outdoor airflow to that area, or open window shades that had been closed to minimize heat gain. Doors to the area where the employee works can be unlocked automatically while other doors remain locked, and elevator security configurations can be changed to allow access to certain floors. Security cameras can be cued if necessary. And when the employee leaves, the area can return to its secure, low-energy, off-hours state.

What’s more, says Zimmer, intelligent buildings are more attractive to prospective tenants, and that translates to higher retention rates, higher rental rates and higher occupant satisfaction.

Despite these and other purported benefits, experts say that many facility executives have not yet begun to take full advantage of the opportunities intelligent buildings present. In some cases, that is because existing systems in older buildings do not permit interoperability, and retrofits are not in the budget. When it comes to building intelligence, however, experts say a little bit can go a long way.

“A building that has even two of its systems brought together — say access control and HVAC — could be considered ‘intelligent,’” says Zimmer. “Does that make it rate a 100 on a scale of 100? No, but it may be very appropriate given that specific building’s needs.”

According to Spitzer, a facility’s intelligence level can be increased by a series of baby steps — not necessarily a major one-time investment.

“The move to access control — a card system instead of keys — is one many people are comfortable with, so they can take that step first and then down the road they may take the next step to real energy management,” he says. “A lot of people don’t have confidence in this idea yet or an understanding of how it can help them.”

Help is on the way

Facility executives interested in taking steps — be they large or small — toward “intelligent building” status will soon have access to an important resource. CABA has commissioned development of a Building Intelligence Quotient (BIQ) — an online rating tool that will enable facility executives at existing facilities, or engineers involved with new construction, to gauge a building’s intelligence and identify ways to increase it.

“The BIQ is a way to determine how well a specific facility is achieving the goals of an intelligent building,” says Spitzer, who sits on the CABA committee spearheading the development effort. CABA launched the development of BIQ roughly two years ago.

Process of development

BIQ will provide facility executives with a numeric score for a facility based on an analysis of a series of data points related to the building’s use, location, size and features. The questionnaire that guides the data-entry process is in the final stages of development; however, it will encompass a long list of issues, including:

·         Demographics related to the facility’s location, occupancy and use

·         Specifics about building systems, including training and maintenance practices and the extent to which systems are automated and integrated

·         The ease with which new tenants can move in and set up

·         Data-sharing characteristics

·         Information about communications systems like the Internet and intranets

·         Capabilities for tracking and adjusting the indoor environment, including IAQ

·         Capabilities for using technology in emergency procedures

·         Specifics of the elevators and other components

·         Emergency power resources

Using all this information, the BIQ generates an online report that not only assigns the rating, but also provides recommendations about ways to improve the score.

“It will amplify the information by linking users to specific Web sites, so if you don’t use automated shades, it may recommend that you do so and also give links to more information about shades and how they work,” says Skopek. “It is certainly not a replacement for an engineering study, but it is a way to make you aware of issues you may want to address and help you get started addressing them.”

Skopek and Spitzer, along with David Katz of Sustainable Energy Solutions, are the members of the BIQ Consortium, which developed the tool for CABA.

An alpha version of the BIQ tool was presented to CABA’s Integrated and Intelligent Buildings Council in June. A beta version of the tool, which reflects feedback from the council, will be tested by 11 CABA members. “They will answer the questions online for specific buildings and give us feedback about the tool,” says Katz, project manager for BIQ. “How easy is it to use? Did we include all the right things? Were the scores fair?”

Comments from the beta test will be incorporated into a final version of BIQ.

The initial version of the tool, which will be overseen by CABA, will target multiunit commercial buildings, though applications for other market sectors may soon follow.

The process of evaluating a facility using the BIQ is fairly simple and does not require extensive homework in advance; a sound knowledge of a facility’s components and characteristics is all it demands. And, Skopek says, the Web-based nature of the tool will make it affordable and easily accessible.

Factoring in life-cycle costs

In its current form, the BIQ is more qualitative than quantitative. It generates ratings and recommendations, but does not provide payback or cost information related to the enhancements it suggests. But through linkage with another new, CABA-developed tool, the BIQ may soon offer facility executives financial analyses as well. Developed in collaboration with Reed Construction Data and R.S. Means, CABA’s Life-Cycle Cost Analysis tool will work in tandem with the BIQ.

“The Life-Cycle Cost Analysis tool is a set of online cost calculators that will be accessible on the CABA Web site,” says Rawlson O’Neil King, communications director, CABA. The tool will provide detailed cost models and life-cycle costs for three types of buildings — commercial office, educational and government — using the R.S. Means Construction Cost Index. “The tool is also expected to draw upon standards determined by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) Subcommittee E06.81 on Building Economics for determining building life cycle costs,” King says. The tool should be available at the end of November.

“The idea is that someone who uses the BIQ can then link over to the Life-Cycle Cost Analysis tool and determine very quickly the benefits in terms of savings and payback of taking the recommended steps,” says Zimmer.

The primary drawback of a self-reported Web tool, of course, is that the results are not verifiable. So to the extent that facility executives hope to leverage their facilities’ BIQs for favorable financing or leasing purposes, the tool may be only moderately useful in its current form. Down the road, however, CABA hopes to implement a verification program whereby trained inspectors corroborate and certify the results of an online analysis. This may represent an important step toward two of CABA’s other goals: building a system for measuring building intelligence that complements other rating systems for facilities, and advocating for an increased awareness of the operational and environmental impact of building-intelligence measures.

“We’d like to see greater emphasis placed on this issue,” says Zimmer. As one example, Zimmer says, CABA hopes to see the U.S. Green Buildings Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program increase the number of points facilities can earn for having energy management systems. It’s a goal that he believes is well within reach, as the energy-saving benefits of intelligent buildings continue to speak for themselves.

“Our objective is really to produce buildings which use less energy, cost less to operate, are safe and secure, and are healthier, more productive, and more comfortable,” says Skopek. “Helping educate people about the fact that intelligent buildings really offer all of that is a big part of our plan.”

Abigail Gray, a contributing edi