Contractor Q&A: How smart labeling tools make a difference on the jobsite

Sept. 1, 2017
Questions-and-answers with a cabling contractor provide insight about work crews' ability to manage labeling on large jobs.

By Craig Robinson, RCDD, Brother Mobile Solutions

Brother Mobile Solutions recently launched the P-Touch Edge PT-E110 tool kit, which is a compact and affordable industrial handheld labeling system in a convenient carrying case. Built around the economical Brother Edge industrial lineup, the upgraded labeling tool features functional enhancements and accessories to help contractors and installers of data centers, enterprise networks, and electrical, security and audio/visual systems, increase the speed and productivity of their jobsite labeling.

Bill Lenz, RCDD, a BICSI-registered Technician, former BICSI instructor and vice president of sales for Genesis Cabling, recently field tested the new tool kit. In this question-and-answer dialogue, Lenz shares insights about how it can help contractors and their installation work crews better manage cabling and component labeling of large and complex jobsites.

Q: From your perspective as a contractor, how has the proliferation of big data, cloud technology, and rapid rise of data center construction affected your day-to-day business?

A: We’ve all witnessed the phenomenal global growth of big data in recent years, in tandem with the evolution of cloud technology. There’s no doubt that these trends have driven the growth of data center construction. That’s good news for our industry, and I’m pleased to report that our firm has been experiencing similar growth.

The PT-E110 tool kit includes the PT-E110 labeling system, label cutter, wrist strap and full-length tape, in a carrying case.

That said, to accommodate growing demand as new data centers are built or their footprints expanded, as contractors we’re always seeking solution innovations that can ramp up the speed and productivity of jobsite labeling. After all, network cabling is at the core of the data center infrastructure and essential to reliable performance and uptime.

Q: What are some of the challenges contractors and your on-site installation teams might experience relative to creating and applying standards-compliant labels?

A: Getting the infrastructure management system right can be one of the toughest, most-demanding steps in implementing a standards-based data center infrastructure. Onsite workers must ensure that all cables, wires and system components in this large, complex installation are clearly marked and documented with long-lasting ID labels to simplify future management, upgrades, and repairs if needed.

Like most contractors, we work on multiple projects at a time, so we dispatch work crews that vary in size, depending on the scope of each job at each location. The challenge is to make it as easy as possible for the onsite crews to do their work quickly, efficiently, and accurately. It’s job one for us to ensure our crews are equipped with the right tools and materials.

The QWERTY keyboard style is one characteristic that makes labeling with the PT-E110 “as easy as sending a text,” according to Bill Lenz, RCDD.

One reason we decided to check out Brother’s PT-E110 tool kit is because it offers new and innovative smart features - and these features really make creating a label as easy as sending a text.

Our crews love features like the new QWERTY-style keyboard - it’s more like a typewriter - and the handheld tools have built-in automatic label design and font sizing capabilities, intuitive navigation, and a large, easy-to-understand display screen. These features help get our work crews up and running fast without having to read a manual or download instructions.

Q: Are there any other challenges you’d like to mention relative to issues that can slow down an installation team’s workflow speed and efficiency?

A: Depending on the data center site and the size and scope of the job, challenges can run the gamut. Here are just a few situations that can hamper an installer’s labeling speeds and productivity.

  • Can’t locate the right label printer for a particular task, or someone else is using the available tools.
  • Don’t have the right type label stock on hand to mark components other than cabling, such as faceplates, cabinets, etc., and must wait for tapes to be delivered.
  • Crew members are using different brands of labelers, which can mean purchasing and stocking different types of tapes.
  • Some labeling tools are awkward and uncomfortable to use, causing users to drop the tool or to experience hand and wrist pain.
  • Older labeling tools often have small keypads and display screens that make it impossible to gauge whether the label will print properly in ANSI/TIA long-form or short-form formats.

One thing that impressed us about Brother’s new tool kit is that it holds everything you need to start labeling right out of the box. The PT-E110 labeler weighs less than a pound and comes with its own carrying case, along with a label cutter, full-length tape and a wrist strap. The wrist strap helps protect worker safety by preventing accidental drops - especially important when working at heights within the worksite.

Extra tape cartridges like this one can fit into the carrying case.

The self-contained case can also hold the optional AC adapter, extra tape cartridges, and spare batteries. And, the PT-E110 system is compatible with Brother TZe and He tapes that come in easy-to-load, drop-in cartridges and use thermal technology to print tough, UL-compatible laminated labels that withstand fading, smearing, abrasion, extreme temperatures, moisture and harsh chemicals.

Q: How important is budget when you’re assessing the feasibility of purchasing new labeling systems for your installation operations?

A: Budget is always a key consideration when evaluating new equipment purchases, and the attractive price point of the PT-100 means we can literally give one to every member of our crew. In addition to price, we also consider value. In our judgment, the PT-E110 tool kit is rich in both features and value. What Brother is essentially offering is the whole convenient tool kit in a carrying case for the price of the labeling tool alone.

For our company, we’re experiencing on-the-job, ROI-related results such as increased labeling speed, accuracy, and efficiency. Our crews are experiencing less frustration from cumbersome, hard-to-use equipment - and more productive uptime to get the job done right.

Craig Robinson, RCDD manages strategic business development and channel initiatives for P-Touch Edge at Brother (www.brothermobile

Bill Lenz, RCDD, said one condition that can hamper an installer’s labeling speed and productivity is not having the right label stock on hand to mark components including faceplates and outlets.

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