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Structured cabling is essentially the practice of taking a deliberate, thoughtful and organized approach to your organization’s network cabling infrastructure. It takes the need for future maintenance, modification, reliability, and network growth into consideration. The goal, ultimately, is to put your network infrastructure on sound footing so it runs predictably, reliably, and consistently.
All of this sounds great as a concept. But, when it comes to putting in the time to plan and the (potentially higher) cost of doing things right the first time, you may face the temptation to cut corners, and go with a less than expert, ‘good enough for now’ solution.
But, cutting corners in your data cabling layout can (and often, will) lead to mistakes. And those mistakes could mean serious challenges and painful expenses when you try and modify or maintain a cabling system.
Here are the most common mistakes Tridon’s Cabling Technicians have come across so far.
Several questions need to be asked and answered before anyone starts laying cable: How many rooms require connectivity? What speeds are needed? What devices will be connected? What type of cable is best for this project? What is the best path for the cable to take? What are your plans to add devices to the network? These are just some of the basics.
A system built by a non-professional might take a more ad-hoc approach, leaving you with a network that doesn’t run as expected and can’t easily be scaled up or maintained. Relying on experienced professionals from the beginning is the best way to sidestep these problems. Work closely with them, let them know your organization’s needs and goals (short term and long term) and you can start designing a layout that works for you.
Ignoring Cable Management
The first image shows how a system can turn into a mess when cable management has been ignored. The second image shows what the end result can be when cable management is made a priority.
Taking the time to color co-ordinate, label, bundle and rack network cables may seem unnecessary at first, but the need for it is clearly demonstrated by these two examples.
Imagine the difficulties a technician would have trying to track down, diagnose, repair or replace a faulty cable in the first example. A considerable amount of time would be wasted simply searching for the source of a problem. Any system moves, add-ons, or changes would be equally challenging, and you could end up paying an uncomfortably expensive maintenance fee.
Compare that to the second example. Significant amounts of effort were invested in bundling, racking, coordinating and labeling the cables. As a result, the system is one that can be maintained far more efficiently. Faulty cables can be located and replaced more quickly because of how the bundles have been organized and moves, add-ons or changes to the network can be carried out much more easily. Any recurring IT costs related to system maintenance will be substantially reduced because cable management was made a priority.
Using Zip Ties Improperly
This point is something of a caveat to the last mistake discussed. Zip ties are commonly used in cable management, and for good reason: they’re extremely useful. But, unlike electrical cabling, data cabling is much more fragile and can’t stand up to the same wear and tear. Overtightening zip ties can leave data cables crimped or even crushed. The end result could be slow, spotty, or nonexistent network access.
Running Network Cables Parallel to Power Cords
When current runs through electrical cables, electromagnetic fields are generated that may reduce the effectiveness of network cabling lying in parallel. Interference can lead to slower speeds, intermittent network access, or an inability to access the network altogether.
Running Cable Too Close to Electronic Equipment
Just like electrical cabling, equipment that uses power also generates an electromagnetic field that can interfere with the normal function of data cabling. Things like fluorescent lighting, fans and AC units are among the biggest sources of interference. Avoiding this challenge will require thoughtful planning in your cable system design as well as the placement of any power-dependent equipment.
The larger and more complex your operation grows, the more your data cabling infrastructure will matter. That’s why getting the installation right is so critical to your operation. It will save you an endless amount of frustration and a considerable amount of money when it comes to future upgrades, system modifications, and routine maintenance.
So if you’re planning a new facility that needs reliable infrastructure or you want your current cabling layout examined by a fresh set of eyes, Contact Us. Our Cabling Technicians, Communications Engineers, and Client Support Specialists are here to help build a system that works for you.
Tridon is a full solution Telecom Systems Integrator with CSA certification and licensed by APEGA. Our Engineering, Service and Tower Divisions collaborate with customers to build engineered solutions including communications systems design, tower inspections and co-location, wireless broadband, fiber optic cabling, site security, and two-way radio communication.