Industry Insights

Preterminated Cabling Systems – Part IV - Planning and Deploying a Preterminated Cabling System

Wednesday, December 21, 2016 | by Rudy Montgelas

Planning a Preterminated Cabling System:

An important thing to consider in planning a preterminated cabling system is to gather as much information up front about the cabling network and infrastructure as possible with a site survey walk-through and a study of the transmission equipment operational specifications and limits. Obtaining as much information up front about the equipment and cabling requirements will help facilitate the design process for the cabling network.

A loss budgets analysis is key to proper system operation and cabling system performance. It includes:

  • Number of connections   
  • Cabling lengths     
  • Product Specifications  
  • Connection Polarity and gender

Accurately measuring lengths of cabling runs and the port positions on the transmission equipment can make the difference between having enough cable to reach the required end point or having too much cable to hand with excess slack left over to manage and store. However, it is also important to leave enough slack to enable field repairs or additional maintenance in patch panels and enclosures.
After the surveys are completed, and transmission equipment requirements are defined, talk to the preterm cabling manufacturer and component suppliers to help identify the required part numbers and descriptions so that an accurate Bill of Materials list can be generated including the component costs.
Then, it is important to also identify and procure the proper installation and testing equipment and train the technicians on the proper use of that equipment and the handling of the components, including inspection and testing of the completed system. The test data for each link is often required to be documented and maintained to obtain applicable warrantees from the manufacturer.
Plan for the timing and proper delivery locations of the cabling components so that they are on the site at the right times and at the proper locations. Significant time and dollars can be wasted if materials and trained and experienced technicians are not deployed to be at the right site locations.

Deploying a Preterminated Cabling System:

When deploying a preterminated cabling system it is important to follow the correct installation requirements.  Adhering to TIA and BICSI guidelines, as well as the component manufacturer’s installation instructions, can help assure a successful project and avoid situations like that shown in the photo at the top right.

A common mistake is that some technicians or contractors assume that they are experienced with installing cabling system components from one source because they have used another manufacturer’s product that is similar.  This assumption is often not the case as one particular product may have different and subtle installation requirements and cannot be handled in the same manner.
Observe proper cable management methods such as employing bend radius limiters where needed and employ proper routing of the cables so that it is neatly deployed. There is nothing worse than having to go back to fish through messy bundles of cables to locate a failed connection later.
Cleaning and inspecting fiber optic connections before plugging the connectors into the optical ports is essential to obtaining a successful fiber optic connection. Many of the problems encountered with fiber systems are the result of dirt and debris in the optical ports or on the ends of the fiber ferrules. This is especially true for single mode fiber connections. 
As mentioned previously, proper testing and documentation and logging of the test results can result in a final approved manufacturer’s warranty for parts and labor as well as ease troubleshooting and system maintenance down the road.

Summing it all up:

Preterminated systems can offer significant benefits over field installed cabling systems. An exercise one might consider would be to run some cost comparisons and on-the-job time savings estimates for each aspect of an installed infrastructure to determine where and when to best use a preterminated cabling system.
Knowing the particular application requirements and types of connected equipment to be installed at the start of a project can facilitate the planning, installation and testing process. Proper planning and preparation when specifying and installing the cabling components can lead to a better chance for success on a project as well as avoiding unnecessary “surprises” down the road. Talk to the equipment and cabling component manufacturers before creating any plans and putting together bills-of-materials to make sure that the right products have been selected for the application.
Finally, make sure to use standards compliant products, rather than proprietary solutions wherever possible, to ensure future system compatibility, performance and expected results.

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