Cabling 101: What you need to know and why

Three reasons why you need to take control of your plant’s cabling infrastructure.

How well do you understand your current cabling infrastructure? How much unplanned downtime can be traced back to loose connections?

For many plant managers, the answer is often “I don’t know. Someone else handles that.” In an age of connected smart devices and increasingly data-driven decisions, ignoring the impact of cabling on your reliability initiatives adds additional risk to your operations.

It’s time to expand your knowledge and make cable management a priority. Here are three can’t-miss articles that will introduce you to basic cabling techniques, and outline the impact proper cabling and maintenance can have on your facility.

"Knowledge Is Power: Cabling for Project Managers"
Electrical Contractor

As the old saying goes, the buck stops here. Responsibility for the successes or failure of your cabling infrastructure and plant as a whole ultimately rests on your shoulders. If you don’t have the necessary cabling knowledge, it could have costly, long-term consequences.

According to Jim Hayes for Electrical Contractor: "I’ve seen quite a few instances of project problems caused by poor management, and many of the help calls we get at the Fiber Optics Association (FOA) indicate the manager’s lack of fiber optics knowledge.

"Some of the problems we receive at the FOA are amazing. An IT manager for a large metropolitan area found that the cable plant he had installed didn’t work because it had 4,000 bad connectors. Another sent us optical time-domain reflectometer (OTDR) traces submitted by his contractor for documentation that showed the cables were too short to test with an OTDR. In one big project, contractors subcontracted to firms that had no fiber experience but still were digging up and breaking underground utilities daily.

"These kinds of problems can be solved if the managers have some basic knowledge of fiber optics in several important areas.”

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"Cabling Infrastructure for the Internet of Things"
Cabling Installation & Maintenance

The internet of things (IoT) is more than a buzzword; it is an inevitable step in the evolution of the modern facility. The lure of accessing any data at any time from any place can be tempting, but without the right cabling infrastructure in place, the IoT dream can never be fully realized.

According to Jason Finnegan and Justin Baillargeon, Legrand, for Cabling Installation & Maintenance: " 'Connected devices’ can refer to a wide variety of ‘things’ such as smart thermostats, telephones, security cameras, access control systems and more. These devices support various applications by collecting useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously communicating the data between other devices to make enhancements to the surrounding environment without human interaction. Connected devices often leverage the IP and many are already able to be powered and networked using a single cable with existing Power over Ethernet (PoE) technologies.

" ‘Enabling infrastructure’ refers to the structure beyond the ‘things’ that make the IoT philosophy possible. It includes the platforms that facilitate a common language for all devices to communicate freely, the ‘collect and act’ scenarios that are the essence of the IoT movement and the ‘enablers,’ such as PoE, wireless access points, gateways and edge devices. The cabling infrastructure that makes up the ‘physical’ deployment of the IoT installment is at the core of these systems. A structured cabling infrastructure provides the required foundation to support these applications."

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"The Basics of Cable Pulling”
Electrical Construction & Maintenance

Before you can utilize cable management to support your plant-wide initiatives, you need to understand the basics tenants of proper installation. Even the seemingly ordinary task of pulling cable can have disastrous consequences if not fully understood or correctly implemented.

According to Eddie Guidry, Senior Fellow, Fluor Enterprises, Inc., for Electrical Construction & Maintenance: "Every electrical installation requires the pulling of cable. Although this is a routine task, guessing whether a cable pull is going to be successful or not is definitely not wise. That’s why applying certain calculations can ensure your next pull is smooth and clean.

"There are no direct National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements for pulling cable. However, there are indirect NEC requirements that affect cable pulling, such as pull box and fitting sizes, conduit fill, bending radii of the conduit and cable, and the listing of the cable itself.

"To understand cable pulling, a few basic terms must be understood, some of which include:

  • Pulling tension
  • Weight correction factors
  • Sidewall pressure
  • Coefficient of dynamic friction
  • Jam ratios"

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