Recognizing innovative cabling systems, projects and programs

Dec. 23, 2020

By Patrick McLaughlin

For the sixth consecutive year, Cabling Installation & Maintenance honors organizations and people who drive the information and communications technology (ICT) industry forward through the Cabling Innovator Awards. The program celebrates products, systems, projects, and programs that and enable better, more-efficient communications for users of information and communications technologies around the world. The program recognizes ingenuity and innovation wherever it is found in the value chain of cabling-system design, installation and administration.

Our judging panel comprises industry professionals with vast experience in the specification, design, installation, evaluation, and administration of ICT systems. That panel evaluated each entry based on six criteria.

  • ·      Innovative approach to product, system, program or project design and implementation
  • ·       Value to the user, which can be measured by qualities including return on investment, loss prevention, or business-efficiency gains
  • ·       Sustainability, characterized by overall eco-friendliness, long-term value, or lifecycle cost-effectiveness
  • ·       Meeting a defined need as a well-conceived and well-executed initiative that fully meets specific user requirements
  • ·       Collaboration, which can include communication and cooperation throughout the value chain through which the entry was developed, produced, procured, or deployed
  • ·       Impact, recognized as the difference that an innovation makes on the professionals involved, on the productivity of its ultimate users, or on society as a whole

Based on our judges’ evaluations, worthy applicants are being recognized as having achieved Silver, Gold, or Platinum status for their innovations.

Silver awards: Marked improvement

A Silver level Cabling Innovator Award is granted to an innovation that has resulted in not just incremental improvement, but in marked improvement over previous methods, approaches, or use of systems and products.

Here are the 2020 Cabling Innovators Silver Award honorees.

CommScope’s M-LOC Cluster Connector System installs with a single push/lock motion that reduces installation time by more than 75% and uses a keyed feature that ensures accuracy in port mating—saving installation time, cost, and worries. The M-LOC jumper uses a metal/polymer construction for durability that additionally reduces site rental fees with a lighter-weight design. The M-LOC cluster jumper family supports connectivity to 4 or 5 antenna ports with a single latching connection, while offering excellent performance for both time division duplex (TDD) and future frequency division duplex (FDD) cluster connector systems.

The MIC 250 2.0 cable from Corning is optimized for splicing and utilization with pigtail cassettes. The cable’s design uses subunits made up of 12x250-µm colored fibers. This design helps address challenges arising from the neverending need for increasing bandwidth, specifically including the growing popularity of pigtail splicing with cassettes. “Although tight-buffered cables can be fusion spliced to other tight-buffered cables as well as loose-tube cables, splicing tight-buffered fiber to loose-tube fiber is inefficient,” Corning explains. “Fusion splicing tight-buffered cables into cassettes using 250-µm fibers requires arduous processes.” Historically, an indoor loose-tube fiber cable optimized for fusion splicing with cassettes has not been widely available. Corning gathered installer feedback on the use of splice cassette installation with tight-buffered cabling solutions, and used that feedback to drive the creation of MIC 250 2.0, a splice-optimized indoor plenum loose-tube cabling solution.

The PSI-15 protection sleeve insertion tool from Jonard Tools is designed to make loading protection sleeves onto fiber a quick and easy process. Inserting fiber into a protection sleeve is a precision process. The 250-µm fiber must fit into a sleeve opening that is between 1 and 2 mm. Aligning the fiber to the sleeve can be tedious. The PSI-15 can store 15 protection sleeves. Its conical fiber-feed surface guides fiber directly to the protection sleeve, and the tool facilitates fiber loading by providing a guide for the fiber to load directly into the protection sleeve. When one sleeve is loaded and removed from the tool, another sleeve falls into place.

Legrand’s Infinium Quantum end-to-end fiber system provides a 0.75-dB channel link loss—a 67% improvement over standard systems and a 55% improvement over other ultra-low-loss optical fiber systems available. Available in both singlemode and multimode, Infinium Quantum was exclusively designed to allow a fast, reliable migration path to 400G and beyond by reducing or eliminating the need to replace cabling components. In addition to its low total loss (0.75dB total channel connection loss for both SM and MM; 49dB total channel connection return loss for SM; 34dB total channel connection return loss for MM), the system reduces the need for fusion splicing to obtain low link loss and maintains the ability to add crossconnections, signal drops, splitting, or switching components into the link.
J-Tray is a UL-listed tray that installs using MonoSystems’ J-Hook system, which allows the designer or installer to add pathways easily. J-Tray is an aesthetic, organized alternative to conduit for low-voltage cabling in open ceilings, MonoSystems explains. It provides a solution that is often missing from other cable-support systems. “Many designers are specifying J-Tray as an alternative to extra-large conduit, given its ability to easily add tiers using our J-Hooks,” MonoSystems explains. J-Tray comes in mill finish aluminum and may be painted for interior design aesthetics or to help with pathway identification.

The Miller MB-07 Cable Slitter from Ripley Tools is designed specifically for Corning’s RocketRibbon Extreme Density Cable, which has a fiber count of 1728. “Corning required a reliable tool to access fiber in midspan applications with higher repeatability than using a field knife, which has the potential to damage cable and fiber,” Ripley explains. The MB07-7000 midspan access tool has been certified by Corning for use with the RocketRibbon 1728. The slitter is constructed with an aluminum body; it enables end or midspan cable preparation to access subunits and ripcords without damaging the fiber. The design includes a safety shielded factory-set tool steel blade with a unique finger “comfort grip” and brass guide wheel to reduce drag while performing longitudinal cuts.

Gold awards: Excellent innovations

Gold-level awards are earned by organizations whose innovations are judged to be excellent, and whose benefits are clear. Each gold-level innovation makes a substantial improvement over previous methods employed, approaches taken, or products and systems used.

Following are 2020 Cabling Innovators Gold Award recipients.

The WideOptix measurement system from AEM offers a purpose-built eye-diagram based bandwidth verification system for multimode fiber-optic cables and components. Standards organizations such as TIA and ISO require certification testing of fiber-optic cables after installation. While the certification testing is necessary, its effect is limited to identifying light-blocking events along the fiber run. It does not confirm whether the fiber is good enough for the intended speed. WideOptix test system is designed to detect bandwidth limitations before deploying actual data services. With its fast testing and detailed and clear reporting, with pass/fail indication, WideOptix is an easy-to-operate test system. WideOptix-SR4 measurement system can be viewed as a sophisticated and purpose-built combination of a signal generator and an oscilloscope for extremely high-speed signals ranging in 25-GHz frequencies.
The 90S is the latest core-alignment splicer from Fujikura, and offered by AFL. It is designed to provide high-quality splices. The 90S kit solves common problems seem in the field today, from splicing poor quality legacy fiber to automated equipment maintenance and upkeep The 90S can be used in any field splicing application seen today: bend-insensitive fibers in drop cables, long-haul terrestrial and submarine LEAF fibers, loose buffer fiber, splice-on connectors and more. The 90S’s speed and accuracy make it suitable for certain production and specialty environments, where high output, tight packaging, and low-loss requirements are needed.
Belden developed a product that includes its highly flexible Category 6 SF/UTP Ethernet cable and industrial field attachable REVConnect RJ45 Plug. It ensures synchronized IP networking, faster installation, ease of use, and safe operation, Belden says. The cable is designed to meet up to 10 million flexing cycles that cover most critical scenarios in industrial automation. It is also highly ruggedized with excellent flame ratings and halogen-free property. These products were created for meeting the strict requirement of Ethernet cabling installation on the passenger boarding bridges at one of the world’s largest international airports in China. In collaboration with the airport authority, passenger bridge manufacturer, and system integrator, Belden initiated the development of the highly flexible Category 6 SF/UTP halogen-free PUR cable.
Brady’s A5500 Flag Printer Applicator tackles difficult flagging issues including consistent application, connectivity, and reduced waste. Brady says the A5500 is an efficient, labor-saving device that boosts production. Using software-driven automation, the BradyPrinter A5500 prints and flags wires and cables in 5 seconds. Other features include a 300-dpi printhead that prints barcodes, logos and text and applies cable flags that can communicate large amounts of information; the ability to identify cables from 0.06 inches to 0.6 inches in diameter; a 7-inch intuitive touchscreen; and Print Smart technology that allows the printer communicate with label and ribbon for faster setup and changeover.
eConnect Power Distribution Units (PDUs) are Chatsworth Products’ (CPI) answer to the growing demand for reliable, intelligent power distribution at the rack level. eConnect combines valuable features and integrates three hardware systems (power management, environmental monitoring and access control). This greatly lowers the cost of networking for remote monitoring at the rack level—one of the challenges for organizations that see value in data-driven power management. In 2020 CPI added several features to its eConnect line, including the following. 1) Phase-balance outlets on three-phase models to ensure equal loading across all phases. 2) The addition of field-replaceable controllers for easy serviceability and upgradeability while maintaining power to critical loads. 3) Switched eConnect models with bistable latching relays for reduced energy consumption and increased service reliability. 4) A newly patented locking outlet that not only prevents accidental disconnections, but also is easily accessible from the front of the PDU. 5) A Redundancy Pack to help easily identify the primary and secondary (failover) unit. The pack uses color coding to identify the A and B feed PDUs. 6) Outlet labels that are printed onto the PDU chassis, ensuring individual outlets, including high-outlet-density units, are labeled permanently and neatly. 7) The eConnect RFID Electronic Lock Kit, which uses a modular, integrated swinghandle and reader.

PowerShift 2000FA is the latest addition to CommScope’s PowerShift family of intelligent plug-and-play DC power supplies. In cellular networks, PowerShift regulates the voltage at the remote radio unit (RRU), keeping it at a constant -54 VDC on a steady basis without a tower-top converter. “Cell sites are steadily demanding more and more power at the top of the tower,” CommScope explains. “New radios, as well as those in development, need more energy to help meet the world’s insatiable thirst for more capacity and faster throughput. These radios, whether in an LTE network or a new 5G network with massive MIMO architecture, have raised the average wattage requirements per RRU from 100 to 300 watts at the turn of the century to 1 to 2 kilowatts today. Moreover, operators are installing more RRUs at the tower top than ever before.” Typically, thicker and heavier copper cables would be used to deliver power to these new RRUs. “What the industry needed was a way to keep using the same copper cables that were on a cell site, even as the radio’s power requirements increased,” CommScope further explained. “This would enable a simpler, less-expensive upgrade. It also would allow a company to standardize its cabling, deploying the same diameter cables across all sites, effectively lowering inventory costs.” The PowerShift 2000FA can supply up to 2000W per RRU in a one-rack chassis, supporting up to 4 RRUs per rack, with both ganged and front inputs to make connections easy in tight spaces. It also increases battery backup times by as much as 50%.

LanTEK IV is a copper and fiber cable certifier that provides a unique way to certify, bringing a new standard to the industry and enabling 7-second Category 6A test times. LanTEK IV includes the patent-pending VisiLINQ permanent link adapter, which Ideal Networks describes as “a unique way to test that gives users everything needed to initiate testing and view the results in the palm of their hand. This innovation helps technicians to work smarter, saving time and increasing productivity. The RJ45 tip on the VisiLINQ Permanent Link Modules are also field-replaceable to reduce cost of ownership.” LanTEK IV includes a Live Wiremap feature, which allows installers to instantly see a fault before the autotest even begins, so no time is wasted waiting for the test to complete. Time-domain reflectometry enables LanTEK IV to show an accurate distance to fault. The test platform incorporates the IDEAL AnyWARE cloud test management system, which allows real-time collaboration between project managers and technicians.
Leviton launched its Shuttered LC Cassettes and Adapter Plates in early 2020. The innovative shuttered feature is available in multiple Leviton patching platforms, including the HDX ultra-high-density system, e2XHD high-density system, and SDX standard density system, as well as individual QuickPort adapters. “The U.S.-made Leviton internal shutters provide unique benefits for network managers, to make network installation and maintenance easier, cleaner and safer,” Leviton explains. The shuttered LC components have an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of IP5x, which validates there is a tight seal around the shutter door that minimizes ingress of dust or other fine contaminants during manufacturing, assembly, shipping, installation and operation. Leviton had it shuttered cassettes, adapter plates, splice modules, and adapters undergo testing by an independent lab to confirm the IP5x rating for dust protection, per IEC 60529 standards. The samples were exposed to 8 hours of settling dust with a circulating fan, and all the Leviton shuttered LC adapters passed the inspection with no ingress of dust. The shuttered doors also provide front-facing highly visible B-A polarity identification. The internal shutters allow for easy visual fault locator traceability.

The HD Fusion Fiber Wall Mount Splice Enclosure from Panduit houses, organizes, manages and protects cable-to-cable fusion splice connections. It accommodates large-count fiber-optic cables typically coming in from outside the building, transitioning to smaller-count cables within the data center. This enclosure features splice trays that can accommodate individual or ribbon fiber and comes in two different sizes to splice up to 3456 fibers or 6912 fibers. The enclosure’s versatility makes it an ideal choice for a variety of applications including building entrance facilities/meet-me rooms, data centers, hyperscale, colocation, and telecommunications. Among the wall-mount enclosure’s benefits for users is the ability to pay-as-you-grow. Multiple enclosures can be ganged together either horizontally or vertically, so enclosures are added only when necessary. The tray can rotate, so it can be easily viewed even when fully populated. The door can be removed and installed without tools, and includes an integrated work surface that can store on the door when not in use.

The HD Flex Raised Floor Enclosure saves real estate by providing space below the raised floor to mount TIA 19-inch rack-mountable patch panels, thereby relieving congestion in racks and cabinets for installing network equipment. Panduit says the enclosure is an ideal data center and colocation solution as a consolidation point or zone distribution area (ZDA). For mainframes or storage area network applications, a ZDA can also save floor space by locating a termination point in a raised floor enclosure rather than in an adjacent cabinet. The raised floor enclosure is capable of accommodating field terminated or preterminated copper or fiber cassettes as a ZDA for rapid data center deployments and reconfigurations. The enclosure provides an efficient and cost-effective method to design and deploy structured cabling systems for open office architectures in any raised floor application.

Panduit’s PatchRunner 2 Cable Manager family was completed with the addition of the PatchRunner 2 Horizontal Cable Managers, which complement the PatchRunner 2 Vertical Cable Managers to deliver an optimized cable management experience. The product family provides value to users on several fronts, all of which impact the bottom line. For example, managers and doors are orderable as a single part number, and arrive preassembled, with the doors attached. This means fewer components to order, inventory and install, resulting in cost savings, and less packaging waste. The managers are robust and sturdy yet lightweight and easy to handle, so one person can install them with ease. Even vertical managers quickly attach with a couple bolts by a single installer. Added space within the managers and between fingers makes it easier and faster for technicians to complete moves, adds, and changes, thereby lowering labor costs. A significant value comes in optimizing space within the telecommunications room. The Enhanced Vertical Manager includes the ability to mount standard 19-inch accessories—including patch panels—within the cable manager, freeing up valuable rack real estate for other equipment.

Circuit integrity cables, required by code to ensure survivability of critical circuits in order to protect people and property in the event of a fire, have been available for nearly 20 years. But their design has not significantly changed in that time. Many fire-alarm and area-of-refuge systems require multipair cable constructions, but most traditional pathway survivability cable options have been limited to one-pair constructions. The DuraLIfe II multi-conductor Fire Rated Cable from Radix Wire & Cable changes the way circuit integrity cables are installed. “No more messing around with multiple one-pair cables,” Radix explains. “DuraLife multi-conductor can provide up to four pairs under one jacket. In free-air installations, DuraLife multi-conductor will provide a more orderly appearance and reduce labor time. For in-conduit systems, the cable not only allows for smaller conduits, but also more conductors within the conduit, thus providing economical savings and ease of installation.” The DuraLife II Multi-Conductor Fire Rated Cable is available in 18-AWG through 12-AWG in both shielded and non-shielded constructions.
Rosenberger OSI’s PreCONNECT SEDECIM is a parallel-optic system optimized for 400GBase-SR8. It uses the MTP/MPO16 connector system, which is the MDI of 400GBase-SR8 transceivers. The connector enables data transfer of 400 Gbits/sec via 8 parallel full-duplex transmission lanes of 50 Gbits/sec each with PAM4 coding (8x50G) over a range of up to 100 meters. One of PreCONNECT SEDECIM’s innovations is that the ferrule endfaces of the MTP/MPO 16-fiber multimode connector are 8-degree APC angularly polished. This angled polish enables the return loss to be significantly improved, to a minimum of 50 dB. “The APC 8-degree angled polish has so far only been used from the outset for singlemode MTP/MPO ferrule endfaces to achieve reliable return loss,” Rosenberger says. “In contrast to this, only the PC 0-degree straight polish was previously used for multimode MTP/MPO ferrule endfaces. Due to their PC 0-degree straight polish design, multimode MTP/MPO connectors were previously particularly susceptible to performance problems caused by dirt particles, which in the past often led to unreliable too low return-loss values. In recent years, this problem has become increasingly sever due to the sharp rise in application data rates. The introduction of reflection-sensitive PAM4 coding at 400GBase-SR8 and other multimode applications with serial lane speeds of 50 Gbits/sec has shown its full extent.”

Senko’s IP-9 connector series’ compact footprint helps make enclosure and terminal sizes smaller, the company says. “With the IP-9, you can double the port density in the same footprint without compromising performance. While the size is small, it still provides an IP-68 water and dust protection rating and mechanically withstands 50 pounds of pull force.” All Senko’s IP-9 connectors are equipped with the company’s safe lock feature, which prevents accidental disconnects. The IP-9 series is available for SC, SN, and MT configurations. “This enables IP-9 connectors to support multiple deployment scenarios with one footprint, such as single fiber SC for FTTH drop, dual fiber connection SN for wireless networks, or multifiber MT for drop terminal applications,” the company adds. “Wireline and wireless network convergence is a key trend in the market, and IP-9 is the most suitable connector for the job.”

LiveLight is the newest feature of Softing’s NetXpert XG. It is a trend plot of the dB loss across a fiber from tester to tester. “That’s dB loss from an SFP at one end of the fiber to the SFP on the other end of the cable,” Softing explains. “You will see the dB loss vs. time on a trend plot on the NetXpert XG in real time. As conditions change, such as effects due to moving a bad connector, you will see loss levels change on a real-time trend chart display.” When describing the common real-world scenarios that gave rise to LiveLight’s development, Softing says, “What if you are testing fiber, and you get an unacceptable loss measurement? Then you retake the measurement, and this time, magically, the reading is good. This is frustrating. Is it the test cables? Did I do something wrong? Could it be an intermittent problem? What if I need to test cables that move as machines move?” Instead of taking a single snapshot, LiveLight offers a continuous light-loss measurement and enables users to view the results continuously on a live streaming plot.

Located blocks from the U.S. Capitol building in the heart of Washington D.C., the new 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible was five years in the making from initial design work to its grand opening in November 2017. The building was originally constructed in 1922 as a refrigerated warehouse. The museum’s leadership and its partners—including Superior Essex and Legrand—have repurposed the 8-story brick building and transformed it into a technological spectacle that encompasses high-tech displays, theme-park-style interactive exhibits, expansive theaters, thousands of artifacts and attractive event spaces. These all work together to attract visitors from different countries and cultures to experience the bible’s impact on the modern world. The museum partnered with integrator S2N Technology Group LLC to review technology requirements and then design each exhibit’s low-voltage application. Manufacturing rep Network Products Inc. specified and supplied the cable necessary to connect these complex, networked AV systems. Superior Essex delivered the fiber and copper cabling solutions, and Legrand supplied cable management and connectivity in the telecom and AV equipment rooms. Throughout the fast-tracked construction schedule of just under 2 years, S2N worked with Superior Essex and Legrand to design and equip more than 20 telecom and AV rooms, which housed all the active equipment and termination components for every application connected by the structured cabling, as well as to each exhibit. By completion, the low-voltage installer Net100 Ltd. had spent more than 26,000 hours installing more than 735,000 feet of Superior Essex fiber and copper cables to provide data, voice, power and AV to more than 2200 devices throughout the museum.
The EZ-Mount DIN-Rail Cassette from Vertical Cable provides flexibility in application configurations and convenience in installation and service. Its modular design includes two standard components: a universal cassette that can be used to create multiple configurations, as well as a 35-mm DIN-rail-mountable bay that holds everything in place. The cassette’s modular design allows it to be placed in three different positions within the bay: 1) Full depth (operating position, in which the cassette is completely covered and protected by the bay); 2) Half depth (which allows the user to perform manipulations on the LGX adapter plate connections without removing the cassette from the bay); and 3) Zero depth (in which all cassette internal components can be accessed for servicing and adjustments). The half-depth and zero-depth positions allow quick and safe access to the cassette internal components without removing the mounting module from the bay or removing the bay from the DIN rail.
The Vertiv eSure C48/58-1000 Power Extend Converter economically boosts voltage up to -58 VDC to support increasing power needs of remote radio heads on cell towers. The compact device, which is small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, plugs into an existing DC distribution panel in the same position as a single-pole bullet circuit breaker, conserving usable space. Describing the technological circumstances that make the eSure C48/58-1000 Power Extend Converter a valuable innovation, Vertiv explains, “5G-friendly radios require more power at the top of cell towers. A voltage drop between the power system at the tower’s base and the radio at the top can trigger a shutdown of the remote radio head before the equipment provider’s backup battery fully discharges.” The eSure Power Extend Converter consumes 0 units of additional rack space. Multiple units can operate in parallel to support radios requiring up to 3 kW of input power. Vertiv has developed a calculator to help operators determine the number of converters required to power the radios at their site, and how to position the devices optimally in the distribution panel.

Platinum awards: Breaking new ground

Our final set of awards, the Platinums, have been judged to be superb innovations, characterized by a groundbreaking approach to meeting a need, or establishing a new level of performance, efficiency, ease-of-use, and other beneficial qualities. Here are our 2020 Cabling Innovators Platinum Award honorees.

Belden’s Hirschmann Suzhou plant has been certified by Verband der Elektrotechnik (VDE)’s Test Data Acceptance Program (TDAP), and the MachFlex Super 350 cables have been registered by VDE., “This certification helps Belden and our customers to explore the Industrial Internet of Things world, which is aiming for user-friendly, energy-efficient, instant communication,” Belden says. “Our products and services synergize these requirements. Certified by one of the world’s most stringent laboratories, the Belden Hirschmann Suzhou plant, along with the MachFlex Super 350 Cable family, are ready to serve and connect the world with safety.” The company further adds that it is the first in the world to successfully test automation control cables in compliance to EN 50525-2-11:2011 (Flexible cables with thermoplastic PVC insulation), EN 50525-2-51:2011 (Oil-resistant control cables with thermoplastic PVC insulation), and VDE-PB-0022:2018-07 (Flexible cables for the industry), and granted VDE registration for MachFlex Super 350 product family and TDAP for the R&D testing laboratory under the same standard scopes. “With this certification, Belden can now research and test the entire listed requirements within our own laboratory and submit the data for VDE review and approval,” Belden adds. “The certified test equipment as part of this program includes drag chain testers, torsion testers, bending testers, flame testing machine, tensile elongation tester, micrometers, oscilloscope, oil bath tester, DCR bridge and more.”

Connectivity Solutions Direct’s (CSD) n+1 platform is a modular solution for multiple application spaces, capable of deploying 96 ports per 1RU. That’s a 33% increase in port density when compared to conventional high-density systems. CSD explains that it “provides customers with a unique collection of products that deliver port density, quality, versatility and simplicity in a cost-effective solution.” The n+1 platform supports a full range of network topologies including Base-8, Base-12, Base-16, and Base-24 MPO trunks. The platform maintains a port density of 96 per RU for simplex SC, duplex LC, and MPO ports. Available in 1RU, 2RU, and 4RU housings, the platform’s modular design enables easy migration to and from duplex to parallel connectivity, even allowing both within a common housing if desired. The n+1 housing is engineered with efficiency in mind, CSD adds. The cable-management system enables cassette trays to slide in and out for easy installation and access. Two interchangeable cassettes serve as the building blocks for the CSD n+1 platform. The modular design provides flexibility and functionality without sacrificing density. 8 and 12 port cassettes can be deployed within the same n+1 housing, and even on the same internal tray without any reduction in port density. These unique cassettes feature interchangeable adapters and internal components allowing cassettes to be configured for Conversion, Patching, Splicing, Taps, Splitters or Fanouts. CSD’s n+1 platform features standards-based cabling and n+1 internal cassette polarity. The same cassette is used at both ends of the link; cassette or patch cord flipping is not required.
The Corning CleanAdvantage solution, introduced in February 2020, is the culmination of the company convening a cross-functional team of engineers, technicians, and scientists, with input from major data center customers, to address the fact that endface contamination in a connector is the most common cause of network failures and packet corruption. CleanAdvantage uses proprietary cleaning technology for the entire connector ferrule, with an optimized cap design, to ensure a factory-clean connector ready for installation. The technology is included, at no extra cost, on all MTP and LC uniboot connectors within Corning’s EDGE and EDGE8 structured cabling solutions. “CleanAdvantage eliminates the need to clean and scope MTP and LC connectors prior to the first mating connection,” Corning explains. “As a result, installation time for customers can be reduced by up to 17% and the cost of cleaning consumables cut by up to 95%. In doing so, CleanAdvantage enables operators to reclaim time and money, placing them on a faster path to revenue generation. CleanAdvantage connectors also ensures that every first-time installation is free of contaminants, increasing network reliability.”

The $54-billion improvement and expansion project for Seattle’s light-rail infrastructure, called the Northgate Extension, was primarily a tunnel section that will accommodate an estimated daily ridership of 41,000 to 49,000 by 2022. For the project, public safety and seamless communication with the rest of the systems were priorities. The project needed an innovative product that would work well in the confined spaces and tunnels, and would seamlessly connect with outside plant, using standard couplers, tools, and installation techniques. The Northgate Extension project used more than 22,500 feet of Dura-Line’s 1-inch Low Smoke Zero Halogen conduit, which was reformulated and launched in 2018. The product offering’s low coefficient of friction provides less stress on the fiber cable, allowing for greater air-jetting installation distances. The installation crews, which worked between the hours of 1:30 and 3:30am for several days in order to complete the conduit installation, pulled the conduit in vault to vault. The 1-inch LSZH conduit were inserted into a larger 4-inch duct, which was encased in concrete and ran the entire length of the Northgate Extension, over 22,500 feet. The crew was able to air-jet fiber cable for the entire length from the safety of their access points. Air-jetting allowed the fiber cable to be inserted at 200 feet per minute. Future upgrades and changes can be made just as easily, from the safe access points, and avoiding disrupting the light rail schedule.

The Ethernet Alliance’s Gen 2 PoE Certification Program enables power sourcing equipment (PSE) and powered device (PD) manufacturers to deliver the functionality end users expect, while helping to reduce the time needed to get interoperable PoE-related equipment to market—something that is in the best interest of both the Ethernet ecosystem and customers alike. “PoE has made great strides recently and its advantages are well-documented,” the Ethernet Alliance says. “As PoE proliferates, so have the range of PoE-capable devices using different brand names and terminology with no visible way to distinguish between standardized and non-standardized solutions. As a result, interoperability issues and market confusion have increased. The EA Gen 2 PoE Certification Program features an exhaustive test regimen built around IEEE 802.3bt PSE and PD equipment that pass these tests can be identified by the appropriate “EA Certified” logo that not only shows compliance but also indicates the power level sourced or required by the device. This allows customers to easily identify compliant PoE devices and their power capabilities/requirements.”

Modular Photonics’s OMPlex singlemode emulator family is based on a passive plug-and-play silica photonic chip that solves the modal dispersion problem and enables multimode fiber to perform like singlemode fiber. OMPlex delivers fast data rates over long distances, supporting 1-, 10-, 25-, 40-, and 100-Gbit/sec transmission over 2 kilometers of all multimode fiber types. Modular Photonics explains it developed its products “after extensive consultation and analysis of customer problems, constraints, and market pressures.” The OMPlex family offers the following characteristics: Minimum 100x improvement in maximum data speed over MMF; low insertion loss (<2.5dB back-to-back) to stay within transceiver power budget; low product cost (substantially less than recabling a fiber link); small footprint (compatible with SFP components); quick installation time; a passive solution that avoids cost of additional electronics; transparent to IT protocols (compatible with 1310- and 1550-nm bands as well as wavelength-division multiplexing formats); long-life operation and compliance to non-hazardous material requirements. “The OMPlex upgrade solution for a single duplex fiber link has a typical cost point of $2,000, comprising $1,500 for a pair of the OMPlex duplex devices, $400 for a pair of generic high-speed transceivers, and $100 labor,” explains Modular Photonics. “This cost point is independent of the link length or type of multimode fiber used.”
Panduit and General Cable have been the network-infrastructure providers at the UC Davis Medical Center for 14 years. The center serves a 65,000-square-mile area that includes 33 counties and 6 million residents across Northern and Central California. Today, General Cable’s GenSpeed 10 and Panduit connectivity is the standard for all network cabling projects. Over the past 14 years, PanGen has supported hundreds of projects, including more than 50 large projects ranging from new buildings to renovations, including a wireless access point upgrade project that included the installation of 680 APs. Another nine large projects are currently under construction or planned. The medical center is supported by four data centers (one on-premises and three colocation facilities), and more than 250 telecommunications rooms. The campus has more than 70,000 cable drops, which means more than 140,000 Panduit connectors, and more than 12 million feet (more than 2,300 miles) of cable from General Cable.

PATCHBOX’s Setup.exe is a rack-component installation support that provides a competitive advantages, increased well-being, safer working environment, and equal opportunities in the information technology sector, PATCHBOX points out. “Using the physical stability of an equilateral triangle the Setup.exe is mounted effortlessly to any 19-inch network rack, forming a secure triangular support,” PATCHBOX further explains. “In seconds, the Setup.exe is secured facing either inside or out of a rack, creating a sturdy and robust support to carry the weight of both rack equipment and laptops, or diagnostic tools, for instance.” When mounted facing into a rack, the Setup.exe securely takes the weight of equipment up to 15 kilograms [30 pounds], for example, switches. During the task of component/hardware installation, the Setup.exe provides technicians the benefit of maintained control of the component, allowing the hands to remain free to complete the task with greater ease and comfort. When mounted facing out of a rack, the Setup.exe creates an ideal workspace for laptops and diagnostic tools, such as when terminating a patch panel. Setup.exe includes a rubberized surface and tool slots.

Radix Wire & Cable collaborated with Champion Fiberglass to develop the first-ever Two Hour Fire Rated 300V CIC (cable in conduit) system approved for installation in phenolic conduit. DuraLife II Two Hour Fire Rated CI/CIC Cable in Phenolic Conduit meets the need for a corrosion-resistant, zero-smoke/zero-halogen conduit option for mechanical protection of two-hour fire-rated 300V fire alarm systems used in emergency circuits for transit applications and other damp locations such as underground facilities. “The Radix engineering team led the way in this product’s development, with their extensive knowledge of high-temperature silicone compounds and previous experience with developing cables to meet the extreme environments of the UL2196 two-hour fire-rated test,” Radix explains. “Internal testing began at the company lab, in order to determine optimum cable fill ratios and narrow down the best conduit options. Preliminary testing results revealed a frontrunner, with Champion’s Flame Shield XW Phenolic, and the two companies proceeded to the full-scale fire rating testing at the UL facility in Northbrook, IL. The cable system, including all components, was subjected to the extreme rigors of the UL2196 test, which includes both horizontal and vertical orientation.” The product gives contractors an attractive option to protect critical circuits in transit and underground applications.

The SWK Connector from Swick Designs is a wholly reimagined fiber-optic connector that was created by a data center engineer who was frustrated and dissatisfied with the technology he had to work with when building data centers. Steve Cheng developed the patented SWK Connector because “incremental improvements to older technologies aren’t the answer, nor are ideas dreamed up in a lab by people who have never pulled cable,” Swick Designs asserts. “We need new, revolutionary innovations in connector technology that are practical and usable.” The SWK Connector is a self-cleaning, self-protecting connector that Swick Designs explains “makes supplemental cleaning and dust caps things of the past. The connector’s cylindrical shape allows for quick on-the-fly polarity and key flips, while its extended handle allows for connector operation away from the patch panel.” Key features of the SWK Connector include the ability to support between 24 and 192 fibers; self-cleaning capability to eliminate dust and debris; a self-protecting shield shroud; low insertion loss and return loss; high density; quick polarity flips and gender changes; easy reach and push-twist connect operation. The SWK product line includes patented patch panels and fanout cables to adapt the connector to LC, MPO, and QSFP. The connector is manufactured by Sumitomo Electric Industries.

Tripp Lite’s NRFP Robotic Fiber Panel System provides “simple, effective fiber network management through automation,” the company says. “To help data centers add, move and change fiber connections with agility, Tripp Lite offers new Robotic Fiber Panel Systems. These rack-mounted crossconnects make physical fiber connections using robotic latching and remote management. They offer IT professionals unprecedented opportunities to manage their Layer 1 connections on reliable and efficient schedules, with less of the time and expense of strictly hands-on management.” The Robotic Fiber Panel Systems are available in singlemode LC or multimode LC fiber configurations. Each version comes in 2 sizes: a 512-port option and a 204-port mini option. By interconnecting multiple units, users can scale up to a total of 500,000 ports. The units can be configured for all optical signals and all network protocols, Tripp Lite adds. “Using a specially designed mechanical latch, Robotic Fiber Panel Systems typically reconfigure a connection in 20 seconds, as opposed to the hours or days it might take for network engineering to arrive on-site,” Tripp Lite explains. “RFPSs include custom software that controls a 1U logical control unit, installed above the main chassis. They give IT professionals the flexibility to plan network management tasks based on business demands, rather than what fits on-site engineering schedules.”

Patrick McLaughlin is our chief editor.

About the Author

Patrick McLaughlin | Chief Editor

Patrick McLaughlin, chief editor of Cabling Installation & Maintenance, has covered the cabling industry for more than 20 years. He has authored hundreds of articles on technical and business topics related to the specification, design, installation, and management of information communications technology systems. McLaughlin has presented at live in-person and online events, and he has spearheaded's webcast seminar programs for 15 years.

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