5 Steps for a Successful Cabling Project
Whether you are experienced at company relocations or not, we all overlook things from time to time, especially amid the frenzy of packing up your office while still trying to conduct business as usual!
At Double Eagle, we frequently get calls for 'emergency' cabling work because, as obvious and important as it should be, the low-voltage voice and data network cabling sometimes gets lost among the myriad of other concerns during any remodeling or relocation project.
Five Things to Ease Your Next Cabling Project
Make A List **Before** You Need It!
While you may not (yet) be under the pressure of an imminent company move, take some time to jot down a few notes from your last company 'dislocation.' Gather ideas from others in your office who've been through the experience. Their comments can be invaluable! Give yourself lots of time.
It’s far better to plan the structured network cabling for a company move or remodeling project many weeks in advance rather than to suffer through the panic (and mistakes) of playing last-minute catch-up.
Don’t Ignore the Floor Plans.
If there is an architect involved*, be sure to provide them with any special requirements such as locations for printers, cameras, fax and postage machines, wireless access points, televisions, and any other net-worked devices that need connectivity to your Server or LAN Room.
* The architect incorporates all of your input into the drawings from which the General Contractor (GC,) through his Electrician, places all of the wall boxes, floor boxes, conduit, ‘rings and strings,’ blocking in the walls for TVs, and other support structures needed for the low-voltage cabling.
Then your network cabling installation company will run all of the copper and fiber optic cables, complete all of the terminations and conduct the appropriate standard continuity testing or certified network cable testing to create your complete end-to-end voice and / or data networks.
If your project doesn’t need an architect, ask your landlord if they have any floor plans for your new space or sketch-out your new offices for a rough idea of where everything will be.
Number all of the rooms and be sure to indicate where the Server or LAN Room is and the location of the Riser Closet for your connectivity to the Internet and phone services in the "street" through your building's demarcation room. The floorplan will become your central repository for all of the connectivity pertaining to your telephone and computer networks.
Determine Your Network Needs.
If you are the IT person, you already know what's needed to support your voice and data networks in your new location.
However, if you don’t have much IT experience, here is a checklist of some key factors to consider, from the low-voltage network cabling point of view:
Network speeds will impact the Category of cabling you will specify – Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6A. Each of these has its distance-related speed capabilities.
The size of your space may determine the need for additional “wiring closets” to be joined together with copper or fiber optic cabling. For example, Ethernet cabling has a length limit of 100 meters per run (just under 330 feet) that is not commonly known.
Fire Codes will dictate whether you specify the more-expensive Plenum or less-expensive Non-Plenum cabling. Your architect or landlord can help with this.
Various factors will decide the number of cables per user. For example:
Will you need separate cables for voice and data? Or will your staff use their computers through their IP telephones?
Will users need any other network ports like a connection to a separate (secure) network or any other networkable device like a fax machine or scanner?
Is your company signing a long-term lease that might have you thinking of future-proofing your new space with upgraded cabling or extra cable runs?
Consider other types of cabling like Coax or Ethernet for TVs, cameras, satellite dishes, FAX or postage machines or other devices; Audio wiring for a paging or sound system; Ethernet cabling for a phone system-connected doorbell or door-opening controller; Shielded cabling for security or protection from EM or RF Interference.
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Schedule Everything Carefully.
Cabling projects can have many moving parts and timing really is everything. A forgotten permit, a delay in material delivery, or any scheduling error can have rippling effects on your project.
Coordinate the structured cabling installation in conjunction with other work that contractors will be doing in the suite such as remodeling, painting or carpeting.
Be aware of permits and inspection dates. The General Contractor is usually responsible for the Building Permit, sub-permits and all of the inspections. However, you are the one who is relocating on moving day – or not! And that is greatly depen-dent upon the final inspection and the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy by your city or county jurisdiction.
So, while you’re busy keeping your network functioning until the last minute, safe-guarding your company’s data and then packing up your network and users’ PCs, the absolute last thing you need to sweat is whether you'll get the Certificate of Occupancy on time, or not.
Weekly progress meetings among the parties involved with the construction or remodeling, the low-voltage cabling and any others like a furniture supplier will help point out any issues well in time to avoid a calamity on moving day. Insist on periodic meetings. Remember, you’re the paying customer!
Taking your current Internet and phone service provider(s) or carrier(s) with you to the new location is usually relatively simple, but they still have to enter your critical dates and times into their schedule. Sometimes they have to do a pre-installation site survey or an installation visit before the actual turn-up of your circuit(s) on or just before moving day.
Changing to a new carrier for either Internet or phone service or both will require additional time (sometimes a few weeks) to allow the new carrier(s) to "port" your numbers from your existing carrier(s) to the new carrier's network. Remember, they may still need to conduct a site survey and pre-turn-up site work.
Occasionally, your new carrier may require additional work such as the installation of a conduit or the running of extra copper or fiber optic cabling from the building demarc to your Server or LAN Room.
Although communication, confirmation and documentation are essential throughout the process, they become critically important when coordinating the scheduling.
Document, Document, Document.
Having too much documentation is rare. Once you or your colleagues sign the lease and construction agreements, you'll find yourself in the middle of turning the space into your new home-away-from-home. As the situation evolves and you discover overlooked items, be sure to make any requests for changes in writing.
Talk to your cabling vendor first as some small changes can be accommodated informally in the field. Other changes may require additional work by the GC or the Electrician, and still others (that may affect the Permit,) may require intervention by the Architect.
In all cases, request and get written acknowledgment of the changes indicating the specifics and any differences in the contract pricing. Without thorough documentation, you’ll have a difficult time reconciling the final invoices.
Also, remember to request an “as-built” set of drawings from your cabling company showing the locations of every voice and data cabling port in your new space with proper voice and data jack numbering according to your preferred network numbering plan.
Remember that your network cabling installation is crucial to the proper functioning of your office communications and business services as you have designed them to perform over your voice and data Local Area Networks (LAN.)
Even with the best preparation and planning, great scheduling and thorough documentation, there may be things over which you have little control that can cause disruptions during a company relocation or remodeling project. So, allow enough time for any mid-course corrections or Plan B implementations.
Even the obvious can get overlooked ....
Our time and experience in the industry has taught us that things CAN and DO get overlooked and mistakes happen (even with the best-laid plans). So, even if you know all this stuff already, sometimes it helps to review the process.
Although there's nothing unique offered in the above list of tips; we still feel that it is advice worth offering.
Advice doesn't need to be profound to be helpful.
our goal is to make it a smooth process for you!
You have enough to worry about with your business!
Let us help take the stress out of your next cabling project.
Call us today for a no-cost, no-obligation discussion about your project!