Setting Up Your Next Cabling Project for Success

Side view at two construction crew workers separated by wall while renovating house, copy space. portrait of young people electrician connecting cables in wires cabinet while renovating house, copy space

Integrated data and communications systems are critical to the success of every organization, making cabling the backbone on which connectivity depends. Cabling infrastructure needs to support IOT convergence and Power over Ethernet (PoE) to connect a plethora of end devices from surveillance cameras to wireless access points and everything in between. Encore is a long-time player in the cabling game, and we’ve learned a few lessons along the way for ensuring cabling projects go smoothly.

Provide Detailed Building Plans

Ensuring your building plans are up to date is without a doubt the most crucial part of preparation for an upcoming cabling project, as it directly affects not only what you can expect to spend, but the overall project timeline. The more details you include, the better! Be sure to jot down the locations of hard-wired end devices like wireless access points, TVs, smartboards, printers, surveillance cameras, or anything that requires network connection—no matter how seemingly small.

Also important to note is the type of building materials used in the installation environment; should the technicians expect to drill through cinderblock, sheetrock, or something else? Are your walls fire-rated above the ceiling? If so, your project will require additional hardware and labor to maintain your building’s fire rating. Speaking of heat resistance, will the cables occupy the same space your HVAC uses for recycling air? This space, called a Plenum, requires specially coated cabling that does not release toxic fumes when exposed to heat, making them up to 50% more expensive than other types of cables. With so many details to keep track of, a thorough walkthrough of the site is recommended prior to a final quote to ensure nothing is overlooked.

Understand Your Network Needs

Taking a realistic assessment of your current infrastructure and what you need for your network will help you get the most out of your cabling investment. The size of your space and a rough estimate of end devices determines the type of cabling needed and the number of wiring closets. Each type of cable has different distance-related speed capabilities, but most need to be within 328 feet of a wiring closet, otherwise the manufacturer’s warranty guaranteeing their performance is void. The further a point is from the main data closet, the slower the signal will travel, so planning your cabling system with multiple data pathways to your main hub is advisable. Factors that influence the number of cables needed include: whether workers use a traditional telephone system vs. VoIP; the number of network ports needed at each workstation; and how long you expect to stay in your current space, as many long-term tenants opt to future proof their space by adding more cable runs.

Create a Clear & Decisive Scope of Work

Large cabling projects require a lot of planning and coordination to execute successfully. Define all your expectations and the full extent of the labor to be completed upfront so that both your employees and the installation team agree on the budget and timeline. Designate one or two responsive points of contact who can be readily available at the installation site to ensure that when issues arise, they can be resolved quickly with consistent information. If changes to the work order are necessary, be sure to request and get written acknowledgment of the changes indicating the specifics and any differences in the contract pricing. When a cabling installation team comes in behind another contractor, a defined scope of work and documentation is even more important, specifically information related to ANSI compliance.

An often-overlooked aspect of cabling projects that should be included in the work scope is building accessibility; can technicians be on-site during the day, or will they need to complete work after business hours? Set a clear work schedule to ensure your employees are not inconvenienced and any privacy policies are not compromised. If your security policies allow, provide the installation team with a master key for all doors or key code access to all rooms so that even when your team is not on site, technicians can still get to all the nooks and crannies where cabling needs to go.

Because we understand the technologies cabling connects, our turnkey approach provides both budget and schedule efficiencies. Our approach to cabling is rooted in seamless planning and documentation to ensure cables are safely installed but readily accessible when needed. Reach out to discuss your cabling needs and learn how Encore can deliver bottom-line value to your next project.