Senior Associate Editor
On the National Public Radio program "News from Lake Wobegon," noted American humorist Garrison Keillor describes Lake Wobegon, MN, as a place where "all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." I have discovered a similar phenomenon among cabling-installation companies. It seems that they, too, are all above average. At least, that`s how it appears from my vantage point.
As editor responsible for features for Cabling Installation & Maintenance, I review case studies that are submitted for publication in our magazine. Having read dozens of such articles over the past year, I`ve noticed that they share a common theme: The installations they describe all had to be completed within a "very tight timeframe," which is invariably a six-week period.
Webster`s dictionary defines "average" as "being about midway between two extremes"--in other words, the norm. Judging from the case studies that cross my desk, nearly all of the installations being done today must be completed within a six-week period. If a six-week window is the norm rather than the exception for an installation, why do we still refer to it as a "tight timeframe"? Even more important, why is six weeks the norm for an installation that can involve hundreds of thousands of square feet and a thousand or so drops?
What is causing this demand for faster installations? Perhaps the cabling installation business is simply reflecting the faster pace of everyday life. Just as we expect instant communications and instant money, perhaps clients expect instant installations as well.
On the other hand, could the reason for this state of affairs be that contractors are working more efficiently than ever, and as they prove that they can do the job in less time, more is demanded of them?
Or could it be that the communications infrastructure of a building is always an afterthought to the main construction, as Thomas Rauscher, president of Archi-Technology llc, argued in his articles earlier this year (see "Division 17 lets our industry speak in its own voice," February 1999, page 80, and "Why the industry needs Division 17," April 1999, page 39). If this is the case, the installation of the structured cabling system has to be sandwiched in between other deadlines, with little understanding on the part of the client, the architect, or the general contractor of how much time it really takes to do the job well.
It may be that my viewpoint is skewed. Perhaps the installations that are reported to Cabling Installation & Maintenance represent not the norm but the crème de la crème. Whichever is the case, we`d like to hear from you on this issue. Are cabling contractors feeling ever more pressure to work faster and accomplish the job within an ever-shrinking amount of time? If so, how are you coping with these demands?
Finally, we`re always interested in hearing real-life stories from the field, so keep them coming. And if the case studies continue to describe six-week installations, that`s OK, we understand. After all, here at Cabling Installation & Maintenance all of us are above average, too.