PennWell MACs use existing cable for maximum efficiency

PennWell Corp., the publisher of Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine, has launched an aggressive recabling project for its Advanced Technology Division (ATD) in Nashua, NH.

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PennWell Corp., the publisher of Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine, has launched an aggressive recabling project for its Advanced Technology Division (ATD) in Nashua, NH.

The project for the media company is designed to use existing cable to, for some departments, bring more advanced bandwidth capabilities. The overall project will supply voice and data capabilities to a tighter workforce.

The project was prompted by a yearlong change in the ATD's organizational structure. It was designed to gain the most use out of the existing cabling infrastructure, and to minimize workflow disruption. The end goal of the project is to open up space for employees.

The installation team originally sought to maximize the bandwidth capacity of each floor. Their plan called for two data and one voice connection to every cubicle.

A revised, more economical plan called for the cabling team to work with the building's existing copper backbone, and drop cable down to standard-size cubicle layouts, fitting and wiring each workstation in the building. This plan would allow the installation team to undergo moves adds and changes (MACs), creating some larger workstations and opening up space while reducing costs. The team would use a surplus of existing cable that could be handled in ceiling drops. Using Hubbell Premise Wiring (www.hubbell-premise.com) connectors, the installation team dropped two Category 5e and one Category 3 cable to each cube in one consistent drop.


PennWell's Bill MacRae pulls cable from a ceiling at the company's Advanced Technology Division in Nashua, NH-home of Cabling Installation & Maintenance.
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All four floors of the building will be affected by the project, which will create larger workstations for some employees, and group other sets of employees into cubicle clusters. When the project is complete, marketing representatives will be located on the first floor. Publishing services, including advertising traffic, art production and administration, will be located on the fourth floor. The ATD's editorial staffs will be located on the other two floors.

More than 100 workstations have now been revamped, and roughly 100 workstations must be rewired before the project is complete. Through the course of the project, the installation team will work with existing cable, keeping 10 megabytes of bandwidth at cubicle workstations on the first three floors, and 100 megabytes for the production and graphic arts departments on the building's fourth floor.

"Most of the cubes we did were pre-wired," says Bruce Pooler, desktop support specialist. "We used whatever cables were there."

The installation team set up a staging area with about 15 computers to oversee the project. When completed, the project will involve 132 user systems. Team members, made up of facility supervisors and staff, were broken into groups to conduct the installation—networking, IT, and telecom. Each were given assignments to complete.

"The idea is to make everyone more productive," says Pooler. "A big part of this was to get everyone on the same operating system."

Prior to the renovations, most of the floors in the building had about 70 cable drops for 70 workstations per floor. When the recabling project is completed, there will be between 40 and 50 drops per floor.

On the first floor alone, for example, two offices were taken down and reconfigured into an area that houses printers, copiers and fax machines in a central location. "The end result is to lose two offices and build one more on the end," says Bruce Demaine, computer information systems manager for PennWell.

The only difficulties the installation team has encountered have been occasional cables that were crimped or cut.

The move is being carried out in stages. "We are bringing it down through the ceiling so we don't have to pull new cable when we need it in the future," says Demaine. "It will be a good strategy."

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