More than 2,000 V/D/V industry professionals were drawn to the BICSI 2003 Winter Conference at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., January 13-16 by the promise of information on standards and products that can increase the value of a structured cabling system, such as supporting security and broadband video systems. Also on display were some of the advances in the manufacturing of balanced twisted pair cabling (Cat. 6) and the latest developments in laser-based optical fiber. In presentations and at display booths, cabling specialists also learned about the continual migration of the Ethernet protocol into industrial and commercial control networks and the security market.

Technical Session Highlights

  • John George, fiber development manager, OFS, Norcross, Ga., explained that thanks to the growing bandwidth demand in short reach applications, 50-micron multi-mode optical fiber’s ability to offer lowest cost for 10Mb/s through 40Gb/s in short reach systems and its ability to overcome the limits of conventional multi-mode fiber will make it a popular choice in the future.

  • Dave Fillinger, surge protection sales manager, Erico, Solon, Ohio, discussed the basics of an electrical protection system that can prevent lighting strikes and surges from damaging transmission and data line equipment. He also reviewed a practical five-point protection plan applicable to most facilities: channel the lightning strike to a preferred point; conduct the strike to ground safely; dissipate the energy into the earth; bond to create an equipotential ground plane; and protect incoming power, telephone, and data circuits with transient voltage suppressors.

  • William Sewell, vice president, DJH + N System Solutions, Arlington, Va., discussed the evolution of the industrial Ethernet protocol and the new requirements for structured cabling in the manufacturing environment. He explained the protocol by dividing it into a three-level structure: device level networks at the factory floor, cell level networks (field busses) at the manufacturing level, and 10/100 Ethernet networks for communications back to a branch office or company headquarters.

    Sewell also reviewed the latest activities of the committee working on the new TIATR-42.9 standard and spotlighted some of the new products, such as plugs, jacks, and switches, capable of withstanding the harsh field conditions of a factory or similar facilities. He also highlighted other concerns, including the need for added grounding, the need to define pathways and spaces, the fact that the channel may have up to six connections, and the fact that patch panels aren’t required and in some cases, not desired. Because of the potentially damaging environments that can be encountered, telecom equipment used in an industrial setting is necessarily more expensive than telecom products used in an office space.

  • M. Scott Simpson, eastern regional sales manager, American Access Technologies, Lexington, Ky., reviewed the application of zone cabling, which can offer increased flexibility and reduce the cost of moves/adds/changes when open office furniture is relocated. The equipment enclosures can be located above the ceiling and beneath a raised floor or a “mini-telco closet” or installed on a solid wall or a partition wall close to the desks served. Better brackets and improved cable routing are bringing enclosures out of the telecom room and closer to the user.

  • A panel discussion titled “Why Category 6 Cabling Systems Are Needed in the Market” brought together six members of the Cat. 6 Consortium, a group working to create market and industry awareness – as well as demand – for cabling systems and components based on the new Cat. 6 cabling standard. The panelists described the benefits of Cat. 6 cabling, including higher throughput capabilities and the support of more demanding applications. The presentation covered cable performance, hardware performance, installation/certification and testing of this new cable type.

News and Product Announcements

  • Anixter introduced a video surveillance system that runs video, power, and control signals over a single UTP cable. The Closed Circuit Twisted Pair (CCTP) system is designed for integration with an existing structured cabling system in a building or other facility. Central to the system is a special four-pair, 100 ohm, balanced UTP cable, developed by Anixter and Belden, that is fully TIA/EIA-568-B.2-1 Cat 6 compliant. In addition to IP-based video cameras, the cable supports 10/100/1000BaseT premise data, IP devices like wireless access points and voice-over-IP telephone, power-over-Ethernet, and any other TIA-compliant channel or link no more than 100 meters long.

  • Specified Technologies, Somerville, N.J., introduced the EZ-Path cable pathway and fire stop device. The galvanized steel pathway (3 in. x 3 in. x 10.5 in. long) is lined with intumescent materials and provides greater cable loading than a conventional 4-in. sleeve. Cables can be added or changed without removing or reinstalling the fire stopping materials to provide the necessary fire barrier for 1-hr and 2-hr rated wall constructions.

  • Chatsworth Products, Westlake Village, Calif., a manufacturer of cabinet, rack, and cable management systems called upon a software developer to develop a sophisticated yet easy-to-use online catalog for its customers. Using an XML-based Web-platform, the Intelligent Catalog provides point-and-click bill of material preparation with automated rules enforced. The system also generates accurate CAD drawing during product selection and configuration, and automatically prompts necessary add-ons and accessories, thus reducing bid preparation time.

  • Draka Comteq USA, Franklin, Mass., used the BICSI meeting to announce its new name. The creation of this company consolidates the copper and fiber optic cable products of Helix/HiTemp Cables and Chromatic Technologies, respectively. The firm plans to use the fusion of the two former companies to increase its focus on specialty markets, including robotics, military and defense, medical facilities, OEM, and power plants, according to Jeff Mahall, director of marketing.

  • Graybar, St. Louis, announced its VIP Fiber program, which tested components from 11 suppliers of multi-mode fiber optic cabling system products for their performance and interoperability in advance of installation.