With sophisticated technology, this copper and fiber optic cable manufacturer installs a showcase network at its expanded headquarters.

Adding thousands of square feet to existing corporate offices - while leaving the plant in full operation - takes a lot of coordination. A major expansion of office and manufacturing space provided the perfect opportunity for Berk-Tek, a Nexans company located in New Holland, Pa., to take on such a project. Expanding its headquarters, this company installed its own sophisticated local area network (LAN) - incorporating the best available technology, including the company's own high-performance enhanced UTP copper and fiber optic cables without interrupting the plant's operation.

Berk-Tek is currently putting the finishing touches on this multimillion-dollar expansion that adds about 50,000 sq ft to the company's existing corporate offices and manufacturing plant - significantly expanding its copper product line. The new LAN is a global installation of NetClear, an alliance of Berk-Tek and Ortronics, of New London, Conn. This solution uses Berk-Tek's GIGAlite[TM] optical fiber and Adventum[TM] fiber optic cables and LANmark[TM]-1000 and LANmark[TM]-350 enhanced UTP copper data cables.

Using more than 350,000 ft of cable, the network has more than 400 fiber drops on the shop floor and in existing offices, nearly 450 UTP drops in the new and existing offices, and more than 360 phone drops. Berk-Tek's Fuquay-Varina, N.C., complex made the fiber optic cables.

The system includes administrative and manufacturing Ethernet and a voice network with 100Base-T to the desk and a 1000Base-T fiber backbone. Berk-Tek is also implementing touchscreen technology with a custom software program, Pegasus, to save time and improve product quality.

Phil Radics, former Berk-Tek Manager of Marketing Programs and now the company's Western and Pacific Regional Manager, designed Berk-Tek's new switched Ethernet network. Tom Repetski, a project foreman with Black Box Network Services (formerly The Delaney Companies, Blue Bell, Pa.) installed the system.

According to Repetski, the biggest challenge was doing this while the plant was in operation. "We totally changed their original infrastructure. Now everything is color-coded and separated with Velcro strips, which makes everything a lot neater and less susceptible to damage because it is no longer exposed," he says.

By running fiber to the shop floor, the company has eliminated some of the problems previously experienced with copper - such as those caused by attenuation, crosstalk, and magnetic and radio-frequency interference. The network is now up and running and able to run longer distances with fiber to reduce signal loss. With about 100 new employees and the building essentially completed, Berk-Tek accomplished its objectives.